Interview & Giveaway: Witchtown by Cory Putman Oakes

WITCH TOWN9780544765573_hresGoodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | TBD

syn

When sixteen-year-old Macie O’Sullivan and her masterfully manipulative mother Aubra arrive at the gates of Witchtown—the most famous and mysterious witch-only haven in the world—they have one goal in mind: to rob it for all it’s worth.

But that plan derails when Macie and Aubra start to dig deeper into Witchtown’s history and uncover that there is more to the quirky haven than meets the eye.

Exploring the haven by herself, Macie finds that secrets are worth more than money in Witchtown.

Secrets have their own power.

int

YABM: Witchtown is an unexpected story. Often you find characters trying to get into some place special like Witchtown to be a part of the community, but the main characters want nothing more than to destroy. What are their motivations? What made you decide to take that route in the story?

CPO: There are a lot of stories about witches that involve a main character (a witch) desperately wanting to fit in with the “normal” folks and be part of the community. PRACTICAL MAGIC (by Alice Hoffman) is a wonderful example of this – I love those kinds of stories because I think they speak to a need we all have (to one degree or another) to be accepted for who we really are. When I was writing WITCHTOWN I thought it might be fun to turn that idea on its head – what if the main character was non-magical and all the “normal” folks in town were witches? What would that look like? And to go a step further, what if the main character wasn’t trying to fit in because of a pure, deep desire for belonging. What if her motives were more nefarious (or at least she thinks they are at the outset). It’s a twist on the more well-known witch story formula but I think it’s fun and it explores the need to belong in a different way.

YABM: Tell me about Macie. Why should we root for her? What are some of her best and worst qualities?

CPO: Macie was an interesting character to write. She and her mom are thieves, and they enter these witch-only towns (called havens) with the intent of stealing everything they can from the inhabitants and then using magic to erase the town-people’s memories so they can move on to the next haven and steal more. Macie is a liar, she sees people only as potential marks, and she has a really depressing, non-emotional way of analyzing every situation. On the surface, she’s not very likeable. But once you get to know her you start to understand that Macie has never had a chance to be good – or even to figure out for herself what “good” is. She’s been raised by a truly terrible human being (her mother) who has taught Macie that her only value lies in what she can steal. Because of their lifestyle, the constant moving and the mind erasing, she has no one in her life but her mother. Everybody else she has ever met has literally forgotten about her. On top of that, Macie depends on her mother to help hide who she really is (non-magical people, called “Voids” are not allowed in havens) so even after she starts to question their lives of crime, she doesn’t see a way of escaping it.

You meet Macie just as she has decided she doesn’t want to steal any more. Her mother convinces her to do one last big heist at the most mysterious (and wealthiest) haven of them all – Witchtown. Macie reluctantly agrees and then has to decide how far she’s willing to go (and how many people she’s willing to hurt) to free herself from her mother. When you break it down, she’s someone who desperately wants to be good but has no idea how to do it. She doesn’t always get it right. I hope people will root for her – I know I did!

YABM: Is the magic in Witchtown based off of any magical communities in real life?

CPO: The magic traditions in WITCHTOWN are based loosely on modern day paganism. I’m not religious myself, but I have a great deal of respect for modern pagans and it was really important to me to get that part of the story right. I ended up adding some things (for example, the distinction between “Natural” witches and “Learned” witches) for story purposes, but there are a lot of things in the book that came from my reading and talking with people who practice Wicca and other pagan belief systems. The idea of doing no harm, the holidays, the structure of the rituals, and the way that ancient beliefs interplay with modern life are all based on reality. So, I don’t know if there’s really a “Witchtown” somewhere – it would be insanely cool if there were. But there are people who practice religions similar to the one in WITCHTOWN and it was very important to me to portray that part of the story in a respectful and realistic way, while still being entertaining and serving the story. I really hope I managed to do that.

authorCoryWebsite | Twitter  | Facebook |  Goodreads

Sometime around sixth grade, Cory was forced to face the sad truth that being a heroine in a Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, or Madeleine L’Engle book was not, in fact, a valid future career choice. But since she thought it might be almost as much fun to grow up to be Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, or Madeleine L’Engle, she decided to do just that. She’s still working on it.

Cory’s path to being an author did not go in a straight line. There was the whole “maybe-I’ll-be-a-psychologist” thing (just on the side, until the writing took off) which led her to UCLA and an eventual B.A. in Psychology. Then there was the “maybe-I’ll-be-a-lawyer” thing (just on the side, until the writing took off) which led her to Cornell Law School, a J.D., and a year of working as a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell. There was also a brief “maybe-I’ll-teach-law” phase (just on the . . . well, you know) where she taught business law to undergraduates at Texas State University.

But the writing thing was a bug that she just couldn’t shake, and she officially made her sixth grade dream come true in 2011, with her debut young adult novel, THE VEIL. Cory’s debut middle grade, DINOSAUR BOY, came out from Sourcebooks in February of 2015 and it’s sequel, DINOSAUR BOY SAVES MARS, launched in February 2016. Cory’s next young adult novel, WITCHTOWN, will come out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers on July 18, 2017.

Cory lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Mark (who, luckily for all concerned, decided to stick with the whole “maybe-I’ll-be-a-lawyer” thing), their two kids, and their pets. In addition to writing, Cory enjoys running, cooking, and hanging out with her family. She is proud to be represented by Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency. Photo by Sam Bond Photography.

Tour Schedule

Week One:

7/10/2017- Brittany’s Book Rambles- Interview

7/11/2017- Book Briefs- Review

7/12/2017- Always Me- Guest Post

7/13/2017- The Blonde Bookworm- Review

7/14/2017- YA and Wine- Interview

Week Two:

7/17/2017- Savings in Seconds- Review

7/18/2017- Wandering Bark Books- Guest Post

7/19/2017- Eli to the nth- Review

7/20/2017- Don’t Judge, Read- Review

7/21/2017- YA Book Madness- Interview

giveaway

3 winners will receive a hardcover of WITCHTOWN! US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Advertisements

Exclusive Interview with Victoria Scott on Violet Grenade

violet-grenade-coverGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/Book Depository/Indie Bound

Release Date: May 16, 2017

syn

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

 

Interview: There’s Something About Nik by Sara Hantz

theressomethingaboutnik_500x750-1Goodreads/Amazon/B&N

syn

Nik Gustafsson has a secret: He’s not really Nik Gustafsson.

He’s not a spy. He’s not crazy.

He’s just the son and heir to one of the most important families in Europe—one where duty always comes first. And his posh, too-public life is suffocating him. So when he gets the chance to attend boarding school in America, pretending to be an average exchange student is too big of a temptation to pass up.

Then he literally runs into Amber on campus. And she hates him at first sight.

It’s kind of exhilarating to be hated for who he is, not for his family name or his wealth. Maybe if he turns up the charm and turns down the aloof mask he habitually wears, he can win her over. Even though a bad past experience has made her swear off dating this year.

But the more he gets to know her, the more uncomfortable he is keeping things from her.

Because Nik Gustafsson has a secret. And it’s a big one.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a hot boy who’s the strong and silent type, a studious girl who refuses to believe in fairy-tale romance, and one epic secret that could be disastrous if it comes to light.

int

Thanks Jordan for inviting me onto your blog to talk about There’s Something About Nik.

YABM: In the story Nik comes from a small principality in Europe, is this country modeled off on any real life place? Or if not, where would you compare Lutgenstadt to?

SARA: Lutgenstadt is a country that I made up. If I was to compare it with any other country it would be Monaco, which is small and very wealthy.

YABM: The storyline is similar to The Prince & Me, a romantic favorite. What would you say inspired you to write this story?

SARA: I haven’t actually read The Prince and Me. I was inspired to write the story because of my interest in the British royal family – I come from the UK and royal watching seems to be a national pastime.

YABM: In the book, Amber is in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, how would you say that influenced Amber’s characterization? 

SARA: The illness definitely influenced Amber’s character. She went through a terrible experience, made even worse by the way her ex-boyfriend treated her. It made her very wary, but also made her stronger.

YABM: Sometimes cancer is presented like a dirty secret that people need to hide in order not to make others feel uncomfortable, this is addressed in the book. What made you choose that route? 

SARA: I chose to have it this way based on an experience of someone I know and how others reacted toward them.

YABM: What do you want the reader to take away from this story?

SARA: I’d like readers to take away the view that trust is one of the most important things to have in a relationship. Lack of trust can only lead to disaster.

YABM: Tell us about Amber in 5 words or less.

SARA: Amber is: strong, vulnerable, warm, unaffected and humorous.

YABM: What makes Nik special?

SARA: Nik is special because he’s loyal and always wants to do the right thing. He’s very serious about his royal duties, even though he finds them suffocating.

YABM: Friendship is huge in this story. What is your favorite TV friendship?

SARA: My favorite TV friendship is Penny and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. I love how two people so very different can also be close friends and help each other.

YABM: You make referenced to Darcy in the story, who are some of your favorite literary couples?

SARA: My favorite literary couple is Darcy and Lizzie, from Pride and Prejudice. I also love Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra.

YABM: What are some of your book pet peeves?

SARA: I get really frustrated with books that have too much description. I also don’t like glaring logical errors.

YABM: What would you like to see more of in YA books?

SARA: I’d like to see even more darker contemporary YA books, which focus on uncomfortable, but realistic, areas of human life.

YABM: Tell me about your writing habits.

SARA: I have trouble concentrating for long periods of time, so I always try to write little and often. That way, I don’t have to keep going over what I’ve written earlier because it’s been so long since I read it. It also means that I’m okay with interruptions.

authorsara-hantzFacebook/Twitter/Website/Instagram

Sara Hantz has been a prolific reader all her life, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that she got the writing bug. She writes contemporary adult and young adult fiction and her debut book The Second Virginity of Suzy Green made the prestigious list ‘New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age’. Sara lectured for many years before deciding to devote more time to her writing and working in the family hospitality business. She has two grown-up children and when not writing, working, or online with her friends, she spends more time than most people she knows watching TV – in fact if TV watching was an Olympic sport she’d win gold.

Playful reading, 

Jordan

 

 

Tour, Interview, & Giveaway: Flicker and Mist by Mary G. Thompson

flicker-and-mistflickrandmistAmazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Pub. Date: January 3, 2017

syn

Romance, intrigue, and plenty of action are woven into a rich and suspenseful narrative in this powerful YA fantasy.

The mixed-race heroine Myra is a Flickerkin and can flicker (become invisible) at will. She hasn’t cultivated or revealed this ability, since Flickerkin are persecuted as potential criminals and spies. When invisible people become tricksters and then murderers, Myra’s Flickerkin heritage becomes a deadly secret, putting her relationship with the leader’s son—and her own life—in jeopardy. Loyalties shift and difficult choices are made before Myra understands who she wants to be. 

int

YA: What inspired you to write Flicker and Mist?

Mary: I’ve wanted to write about invisibility for many years, and I finally found the right story. One time a boyfriend asked me, “If you could have a superpower, would you rather have flight or invisibility?” I said invisibility, and we laughed about all the dishonest and immoral things one could do with that power, like stealing money and spying on people. When I was writing Flicker and Mist, I thought about all the ways people without the ability would fear those who had it, and that led to the structure of this world, where the majority use their fear to oppress the minority.

YA: The main character, Myra, is of mixed-race. Incorporating diversity in YA is a challenge that so many authors are doing a fabulous job of, adding such rich characters to the genre. What are some of your favorite diverse books?

Mary: I’m making a New Year’s resolution to read more books in translation. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami is a classic. There’s a scene near the beginning that haunts me literally every time I get on a bus. For fantasy by US authors, I loved Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. It takes place in Nigeria and introduced me to something new. Recently I enjoyed Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith, which is a classic historical fantasy set in the 1930s.

YA: Tell me about Myra. What makes her a heroine we’ll root for?

Mary: Myra is secretly a Flickerkin, a person who can become invisible. She has to hide her ability because the government fears spies. She wants to be able to fit in with the majority race, the Plats, but since she’s half Leftie, she always feels a little bit out of place. When strange things begin occurring in New Heart City and Flickerkin are blamed, the government starts torturing Lefties to see if they’re Flickerkin. Now Myra has to confront the prejudice that’s always been all around her. She has to embrace her ability in order to survive and to help change the world for the better. Along the way, she has to work out her relationship with Caster, who is the son of the person responsible for torturing Lefties. He’s the opposite of his father, but how will he react to learning the truth? I think we all can relate to a character who feels like she has something to hide. Women and girls are always being told that they have to look and act and be a certain way. Myra’s situation is more extreme, but I think her journey toward accepting herself and demanding that others appreciate her will make sense to a lot of people.

YA: Describe Flicker and Mist in the length of a tweet.

Mary: Myra’s ability to become invisible is illegal. Now it’s time to stop hiding. Can she have her safe life and also become who she’s meant to be?

YA: What are some of the broad concepts in Flicker and Mist? What do you want the reader to get out of the story?

Mary: First there’s the thought experiment of what the world would be like if only some people could become invisible. How would other people react? In this world there’s a racial component to the ability, so there are issues of racial prejudice. The government also uses the people’s fear of Flickerkin to justify taking Leftie resources, so there’s the question of how real the fear is versus how it’s convenient for the ruling group. There’s the issue of war and peace and the importance of human life. In this world, weapons have been banned since a devastating war, but some people are willing to take up arms again. When is it necessary to kill, and when can society’s problems be solved through peaceful means?

On a personal level for Myra, there’s the question of who to trust. She loves Caster, but since he doesn’t know her secret, she’s never sure how far his love goes. The Flickerkin boy who likes her, Nolan, treats her with less respect but understands her on a different level because he knows her secret. She has to learn to trust her instincts about who will be there when things get tough.

There is no specific message that I hope readers will get out of the story. I just hope that people will think about all these issues. If you were in the situation Myra is in at the end of the book, what choice would you make? How can the Lefties best gain their rights and how can the Plats learn to overcome their fear of Flickerkin? How should this society tackle the negative aspects of their religion, which contributes to racial prejudice?

YA: What are some of the challenges Myra faces?

Mary: Myra’s most important challenge is to embrace all the aspects of herself, including her ability. It’s only after she learns how to use it and to accept that it’s a positive and not a negative quality that she can take action. She has to figure out how to save her mother and other Flickerkin who face possible execution, solve the mystery of who committed an attack that killed her friend, and try to prevent another war. Along the way, she has to figure out who to trust and learn to rely on her own judgment.

YA: How would you describe the story, pure fantasy, action, thriller?

Mary: I would describe it as high fantasy, since it takes place in a world not our own. Some have called it dystopian, but I don’t think that label quite fits.

YA: Is there romance?

Mary: Yes! Myra is in love with Caster, but she also has some feelings for Nolan, who is a Flickerkin in hiding.

YA: Do you have a favorite line that you’d like to share?

Mary: The very last line of the book. I won’t quote it, since it would be a spoiler, but it was very satisfying to me.

authormarygthompson_med_hrWebsite | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Mary G. Thompson was raised in Cottage Grove and Eugene, OR. She was a practicing attorney for more than seven years, including almost five years in the US Navy, and is now a law librarian in Washington, DC. She received her BA from Boston University, her JD from the University of Oregon, and her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School.

giveaway

3 winners will receive a signed finished copy of FLICKER AND MIST, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

12/26/2016- Twinning for Books- Interview

12/27/2016- Seeing Double In Neverland- Review

12/28/2016- Wandering Bark Books- Guest Post

12/29/2016- Fiktshun- Review

12/30/2016- YA Book Madness- Interview

 

Week Two:

1/2/2017- Fiction Fare- Review

1/3/2017- A Gingerly Review- Excerpt

1/4/2017- Curling Up With A Good Book – Excerpt

1/5/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

1/6/2017- Nerdophiles- Review

Fantastic reading, 

Jordan

Review, Excerpt, Q + A, & Giveaway: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

freeksfreeks-coverMacmillan/Books-A-Million/Barnes & Noble/Amazon/Goodreads

syn

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Excerpt

5. Carnival

Unlike many of the other members of the sideshow, I didn’t have a specific job. My mom was a fortune- teller, Gideon did a magic show, Zeke had his tigers, Brendon and his family did acrobatics, Seth was a strongman. My best friend Roxie Smith was in two acts— she helped out Zeke, and did a peepshow revue with two other girls.

I had no talent. No special ability, making me essentially a roadie. I did what was needed of me, which usually involved helping set up and take down, and various menial tasks. I cleaned the tiger cages and emptied out latrines when I had to. It wasn’t a glamorous job, but it was crucial to our way of life.

Since Roxie worked with the tigers, Mahilā actually tolerated her. Roxie was helping me clean out the tiger cage they traveled in. The cage was open to a fenced-in enclosure Seth had built, so the tigers could roam as they pleased.

Safēda lounged in the grass, the sun shining brightly on her white fur. Whenever we stopped, Safēda seemed content to just lay in the sun, sleeping the entire time, but as the older tiger, it made sense.

Mahilā paced along the fence, occasionally emitting an irritated guttural noise in between casting furtive glances back toward Roxie and me. Her golden fur was mottled with scars from her past life in the abusive circus, including a nasty one that ran across her nose.

“So where did you go last night?” Roxie asked, her voice lilting in a sing song playful way. She was out in the run, using a hose to fill up a blue plastic kiddie pool so the tigers could play in it, while I was on my hands and knees scrubbing dung off the cage floor.

Her bleached blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and the sleeves of her white T- shirt were rolled up, revealing her well-toned arms. The cut- off jean shorts she wore barely covered her bum, and her old cowboy boots went up to her knees— her chosen footwear anytime she was at risk of stepping in tiger poop.

With fair skin, full lips, large blue eyes, and a dainty nose, Roxie was pretty and deceptively tough. Being a beautiful carnie was not an easy job, and dancing in the revue under the stage name “Foxy Roxie” didn’t help that. But she made decent money doing it, and Roxie never put up with anybody’s crap. I’d seen her deck guys much bigger than her and lay them out flat on their backs.

“I was just at a party,” I said as I rinsed the brush off in a bucket of bleach and warm water.

“A party?” Roxie looked over at me with a hand on her hip.

 “How’d you get invited to a party so fast?”

I shrugged. “I was just exploring town, and I saw some people hanging outside of this big house party, and they invited me in.”

“So what are the people like here? Are they nice?”

Safēda had gotten up and climbed into the pool, and then she flopped down in it, splashing Roxie as she did. Roxie took a step back, but kept looking at me.

“I don’t know. The people I met last night seemed nice, and they were superrich, so that bodes well for the town, I guess.”

“Like how rich?” Roxie asked.

“Like their house is practically a mansion.” I dropped the brush in the water and sat back on my knees, taking a break to talk to her. “It was the nicest house I’ve ever been in, hands down.”

“Is that why you spent the night there?”

Roxie understood my fascination with houses. Well, “understood” wasn’t the right word. It was more like she knew of it, but didn’t understand it all. She’d grown up in an upper- middleclass family, in nice houses with basements, and thought they were about as boring and lame as she could imagine.

“Partly.” I nodded. “It was a really amazing house. There were pillars out front, and the front hall was bigger than my trailer.”

“It’s just a house, Mara.” Roxie shook her head.

“I know but . . .” I trailed off, trying to think of how to explain it to her. “You know how you felt when you first joined the sideshow two years ago? How everything seemed so exciting and fun, and I was like, ‘We live in cramped trailers. It kinda sucks.’”

Roxie nodded. “Yeah. But I still think this life is a million times better than my old life. I get to see everything. I get to decide things for myself. I can leave whenever I want. There’s nothing to hold me back or tie me down.”

She’d finished filling up the pool, so she twisted the nozzle on the hose to shut it off. Stepping carefully over an old tire and a large branch that the tigers used as toys, she went to the edge of the run and tossed the hose over the fence, before Mahilā decided to play with it and tore it up.

She walked over to the cage and scraped her boots on the edge, to be sure she didn’t track any poop inside, before climbing up inside it.

“So what was the other reason?” Roxie asked.

I kept scrubbing for a moment and didn’t look up at her when I said, “Gabe.”

Gabe?” Roxie asked. “That sounds like a boy’s name.”

“That’s because it is.”

“Did you have sex with him?”

“No.” I shot her a look. “We just made out a little.”

“What what what?” Luka Zajiček happened to be walking by just in time to hear that, and he changed his course to walk over to the tiger cage. “Is that what you were up to last night?”

“That’s what sucks about living in a community so small. Whenever anything happens, everybody knows about it right away,” I muttered.

Luka put his arms through the cage bars and leaned against it, in the area I’d cleaned already. Since he was rather short, the floor came up to his chest, and his black hair fell into his eyes.

His eyes were the same shade of gray as mine, but his olive skin was slightly lighter than mine. We first met him when he joined the carnival four years ago, and the first thing my mom said was that she was certain that we were related somehow.

Unfortunately, Mom knew next to nothing about our family tree to be able to prove it. All she could really tell me was that we were a mixture of Egyptian, Turkish, and Filipino, with a bit of German thrown in for good measure.

Luka had been born in Czechoslovakia, but he’d moved here with his family when he was young, so he’d lost his accent.

He had recently roped me into helping him with a trick. He’d stand with his back against a wall, while I fired a crossbow around him. Originally, Blossom had been the one to help him, but she kept missing and shooting him in the leg or arm, so he’d asked me to do it because I had a steadier hand.

“So you made out with some local guy last night?” Luka asked, smirking at me. “Are you gonna see him again?”

“He’s a local guy. What do you think?” I asked, and gave him a hard look.

Luka shrugged. “Sometimes you bump into them again.”

“And that goes so well when they find out that I work and live with a traveling sideshow,” I said.

The floor was spotless, or at least as spotless as tiger cages can get, and I tossed my brush in the bucket and took off my yellow rubber gloves.

“We can’t all meet our boyfriends in the sideshow,” I reminded Luka as I stood up, and it only made him grin wider. He’d been dating Tim— one of the Flying Phoenixes— for the past three months.

“But you didn’t see Blossom anywhere in town last night?” Roxie asked, and Luka’s smile instantly fell away.

A sour feeling stirred in my stomach, and I looked out around camp through the bars of the cage, as if Blossom would suddenly appear standing beside a trailer. As I’d been doing my chores all morning, I kept scanning the campsite for her, expecting her to return at any moment with a funny story about how she’d gotten lost in town.

But so far, she hadn’t. And the longer she went without coming back, the worse the feeling in my stomach got. I shook my head. “No. I didn’t see her at all last night.”

“She’s gotta turn up, though, right?” Luka asked. “I mean, it’s not like there are really that many places she could’ve gone considering she has no money or car and she’s in a small town.”

The tigers were still down in the run, so I opened the side gate and hopped down out of the cage. Roxie got out behind me, then we closed the door.

“I should talk to Gideon,” I decided as Roxie locked the cage up behind me. “It’s not like Blossom to do this.”

“It’s not totally unlike her, though,” Roxie pointed out.

“When we were in Toledo six months ago, she dis appeared for a few days with that weird commune, and came back just before we were leaving, totally baked out of her mind.”

Blossom had grown up with parents who pretended to be hippies but were really just a couple of drug addicts. That— along with her unexplainable telekinesis— led to her dabbling with drugs and alcohol at a young age, before the state intervened and shipped her off to a group home.

My mom tried to keep her clean of her bad habits, but sometimes Blossom just liked to run off and do her own thing. That wasn’t that unusual for people who lived in the carnival.

“But if you’re worried, you should talk to Gideon,” Roxie suggested. “Luka’s right in that Blossom really couldn’t have gone far. Maybe you can scope out Caudry.”

“Since that sounds like a mission that may take a bit of time, can you help me and Hutch with the museum before you talk to Gideon?” Luka asked. “The exit door is jammed, and we can’t get it open, and Seth is busy helping set up the tents.”

“Sure. Between me and Mara, I’m sure the two of us can get the door unstuck,” Roxie said.

I dropped off the bucket with the other tiger supplies, and then followed Roxie and Luka away from our campsite to the fairgrounds on the other side of a chain- link fence. We always stayed close to the rides, the midway, and the circus tent, but we didn’t actually sleep there. It was much better for every one if we kept our private lives separate from the crowds.

Many of the games were already set up, and the Ferris wheel was in the process of being erected as we passed. Near the end of the midway was a long black trailer painted with all kinds of frightening images of werewolves and specters, along with happier pictures of mermaids and unicorns, and the sign was written in bloodred:

Beneath that were several smaller signs warning “Enter at your own risk. The creatures inside can be DISTURBING and cause NIGHTMARES.”

The entrance to the left was open, but the exit door at the other end was still shut. Wearing a pair of workman’s gloves, Hutch was pulling at the door with all his might. His neon green tank showed that his muscles were flexed and straining in effort. The bandana kept his dark brown hair off his face, but sweat was dripping down his brow.

“Let me have a try, Hutch,” Roxie said.

“What?” He turned to look back at her. “Door’s stuck.”

“I can see that. That’s why I said let me have a try.”

“Okay.” Hutch shrugged and stepped back.

Hutch’s real name was Donald Hutchence, but nobody ever called him anything but Hutch. He didn’t have any special powers, unless you considered being really agreeable and easygoing a super power, so, like me, he was left doing whatever else needed to be done.

Roxie grabbed the door and started pulling on it, and when it didn’t budge, I joined her.

“Luka, go and push from the inside,” Roxie commanded through gritted teeth.

Both Luka and Hutch went inside, pushing as Roxie and I pulled. And then all at once, the door gave way, and we all fell back on the gravel. I landed on my back, scraping my elbow on the rocks.

Roxie made it out unscathed, and Hutch fell painfully on top of me, so he’d avoided injury. Luka crashed right on the gravel, though, and the rocks tore through his jeans and ripped up his knees and the palms of his hands pretty badly.

“Do you need me to get a Band- Aid or anything?” Hutch asked as he helped me to my feet.

“No, I’ll be okay.” I glanced over at Luka and the blood dripping down his knees. “What about you? Do you want anything?”

“Nah. Just give it a few minutes.” Luka waved it off and sat down on the steps leading up to the museum door.

No matter how many times I saw it, I couldn’t help but watch. His knee was shredded, with bits of gravel sticking in the skin. Right before my eyes, the bleeding stopped, and the rocks started falling out, as if pushed by his flesh, and the skin grew back, reattaching itself where it had been little mangled flaps.

Within a few minutes, Luka’s knee was healed completely.

Copyright © 2017 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

int

  1.     Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?

If it’s just the characters from FREEKS, and only one could win, I would put my money on Luka or maybe Roxie. Luka because he can heal from injuries, which gives him a crazy advantage, but Roxie is smart and she’s a survivor. Plus, she has the power of pyrokinesis, which I think I would come in handy in a battle to the death.

  1.     What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?

I almost always listen to music when I write, unless I’m writing a really difficult scene. Sometimes the silence helps me focus, but most of the time, I prefer music. For FREEKS, I got to make a really fun 80s playlist, so I especially enjoyed working to that.

  1. What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?

There are sooo many things. For FREEKS, I had to do fun stuff like, “What does a dead body smell like?” and “How much blood can a human lose?” And then after those macabre questions, I did a bunch of googling on fireflies and tarot cards. My search history when I’m working can be pretty exciting like that.

  1. What was your favorite part of writing FREEKS?

I love Southern Gothics and I love pulpy 80s horror movies, so I was excited to be able incorporate those things in FREEKS. But my favorite part was actually Mara and Gabe. I think they complement each other well, and it was fun writing their banter and flirtations.

  1. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from FREEKS?

For Mara, I envisioned Cassie Steele from the start. I used to be a hardcore Degrassi fan, and I loved Cassie Steele on that. For Gabe, I like Ryan Guzman. I saw him in a Jennifer Lopez movie, and I was like, “Yep. That could be Gabe.”

  1.  Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I usually write between 11 am and 7 pm. I’ve tried to write earlier in the day and have more of a 8-5 type schedule, but I am not a morning person. My brain just doesn’t want to work much before noon.

  1.   Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I usually have a goal in mind before I start writing, but it varies. Some days, it’s slow going and I hope to get at least 500 words out. Other days, I fly through with thousands of words. So it depends on where I’m at in the book, when it’s due, and how I’m feeling about the whole thing.

  1. When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?

With all my main characters, I have a really good idea of who they are, and it’s just a matter of showing that to the readers. With the side characters, they tend to be rather one-dimensional, and they grow into the story as they’re needed.

  1. How did writing Freeks differ from your writing your previous novels?

FREEKS was the first thing I had written in awhile that was started out just for me. For most of the past ten years, I have been writing my books with the intention of publishing them, with the audience and readers and trends in mind. I think I had gotten a little burnt out on trying to make everyone happy (mostly because it is impossible to please all readers all the time), and I just wanted to write something that for the sake of writing it.

And that turned out to be a gothic love story about a teenage girl travelling with a band of misfits in the 1980s. It was a very cathartic writing experience for me, and it reminded me of exactly why I loved writing in the first place – I love getting lost in the world, with the characters.

  1. If Freeks had a theme song what would it be?

Either “Hush” by Limousines or “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears.

  1.   Can you please tell us a little bit about Freeks and where you got the inspiration to write it?

I was going through a rough patch, creatively speaking, and so I just sat back and tried to think of my favorite and what I loved most that I would want to write about.

When I was a kid, I used to get old books at garage sales all the time, and I distinctly remember getting Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King and a few old V. C. Andrews novels, which are pulpy Southern Gothic-esque novels. I also watched The Lost Boys and Pretty in Pink over and over again (I think I literally ruined the old VHS of The Lost Boys from watching it too much).

So I basically threw all those things together in a soup, and I picked apart the things I liked and wanted to explore more. That became a travelling sideshow in the 80s stopping Louisiana, where a supernatural monster is afoot, and a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is smith with a local boy with secrets of his own.

  1.   Freeks is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?

Mara and Gabe are my obvious favorites, since they’re the main characters because I was drawn to them and their story the most. Both of them of them have complex feelings about family and personal identity, and their instant chemistry was fun to write.

But I think Gideon – the namesake and head of sideshow – was actually the biggest surprise, which made him fun in a different way. In the original outlines of the story, he was much a different character – very one-note and cruel – but he completely changed and evolved as I was writing.  

  1.   The book is based off of a type of traveling circus that is full of many mysterious acts. If you were to attend a Freekshow, which act would you want to see most?

My favorites are usually the acrobatics, but I think if I attended Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, I would be most excited to see Gideon’s magic act. With his skills and knowledge, I think it would be a really amazing show.

  1.   What do you hope readers will take away from FREEKS after reading it?

With some of my other novels, I deal with heavy themes like life and death, identity, honor, mortality, classism, and family. And while I do definitely touch on those themes in FREEKS, I mostly wrote it as an escape for myself, and that’s what I hope it is for other readers. Life can be hard and frustrating, and I just wanted to write a fun book that readers could get lost in for awhile.

  1. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Probably how chronically shy I am. Writing is a weird profession, because a good 90% of it is perfect for introverts – you sit alone by yourself and make up imaginary friends to go on adventures. But the last 10% – which involves introducing the whole word to your imaginary friends – is the most exciting and rewarding part, but it’s also the most difficult when you’re as shy as I am.

review3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC via NetGalley, St. Martins, and with participation in this tour in exchange for an honest review 

PROS:

  • Mara is spontaneous, responsible, and terrified to get too close because she knows with her lifestyle love can’t last and once they find out that she lives with a traveling show it’s all over. Mara has grown up fast and loves her eclectic bunch-they’re family. She’s got secrets, she’s completely calm and collected about the supernatural, it’s her life. Mara does more than anyone to find out what’s going on at their camp. She’s likable, thoughtful, and so brave. As a heroine, she’s not particularly special in the typical YA way, she just uses her head, makes connections, and is determined to beat this invisible enemy. 
  • What Amanda Hocking is particularly skilled at is making her secondary characters memorable and unique. You might not like them, but you certainly will not forget them. Each member of the sideshow has a great back story and tons of personality. Roxie is a fiery (she’s has the gift of pyrokinesis), flirty, and sassy little thing. She’s a real minx. I adored her character, I only wish there had been more of her. Her story is made of fierce survival and overcoming her horrific past. Gideon is just as intriguing. From the scars on his back, his past, everything about his is suspect, but at the same time full of a heroic desperation to save his army of misfits. 
  • The concept is AMAZING. I mean super creepy and gory attacks on a sideshow. There’s an abundance of just not right, chilling things that you can’t put your finger on that will keep you on edge about what’s really going on. 
  • I usually loathe instalove, but I didn’t mind this one. Gabe is sexy, sensual, and just the right amount of mysterious/brooding. The chemistry is spot on and you’ll definitely crave more of them, even if they have very few conversations with substance. Lots of hot make out scenes though. 

CONS:

  • The story is set in the 1980s; while there are some randomly inserted references, there weren’t enough of them to feel fully cemented in the time period. The book could have been set in any time range, but maybe because the prevalence of “freak shows” has gone way down since the 1950s. Because there are a limited number of references, they feel like you’re being hit over the head with them whenever they do come up. A more fleshed out setting would have helped with total immersion in the story. 
  • Pacing lagged despite the disappearances, murders, and general supernatural encounters. Some sections were more everyday monotony than working to solve the crimes and harassment against the sideshow members. A ton of focus was placed on the instalove portion of the story, while I didn’t mind the romance, a whole lot of making out some conversation made scenes longer than they actually were. 

authoramanda-hocking-new-credit-mariah-paaverud-with-chimera-photographyAuthor Website/Twitter /Facebook/Author Blog/Pinterest/GoodReads

Amanda Hocking is a lifelong Minnesotan obsessed with Batman and Jim Henson. In between watching cooking shows, taking care of her menagerie of pets, and drinking too much Red Bull Zero, she writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Several of her books have made the New York Times Bestsellers list, including the Trylle trilogy and Kanin Chronicles.  Her zombie series, The Hollows, has been adapted into a graphic novel by Dynamite. She has published over fifteen novels, including the Watersong quartet and My Blood Approves series. Frostfire, Ice Kissed, and Crystal Kingdom  – all three books in her latest trilogy, The Kanin Chronicles – are out now.

Her next book will be Swear, the final book in the My Blood Approves series, and it will be out November 9, 2016. After that, her next book is Freeks – a standalone YA paranormal romance novel set in the 1980s that follows a traveling sideshow. It will be out sometime in early 2017, with the St. Martin’s Griffin.

-via Goodreads

giveaway

For your chance to win a hardcover copy of FREEKS comment with your favorite Amanda Hocking book or encounter either on this blog post, via Twitter @jw08k, or on the Facebook blog page 

U.S. ONLY. Ends 11:59 p.m. EST on 12/28 

Fantastic reading, 

Jordan

Tour, Interview & Giveaway: Wax by Gina Damico

WAXWAX cover_hresAmazon/Barnes & Noble/iBooks/Goodreads

Pub. Date: August 2, 2016

syn

Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady. Poppy hightails it home, only to be shocked when one of the figures—a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is—jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop—and the old woman is nowhere to be seen.

With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire. But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren’t always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn’t as pure as its reputation—and that some of the townspeople she’s known her entire life may not be as human as they once were. In fact, they’re starting to look a little . . . waxy. Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that’s taking hold of their town before it’s too late?

int

  1. Describe Wax in the length of a tweet.

Girl sneaks into creepy candle factory, girl meets creepy old lady who sculpts wax figures, girl accidentally adopts wax boy who comes to life, chaos ensues.

  1. What inspired you to write Wax?

I’d been itching to write a book with a character like Dud, someone who has suddenly been thrust into being without any past or childhood or context with which to view the world. Someone who’s just been dropped off on earth without any explanation and needs to figure out how to be human. Also, I really wanted to write about a crazy candle factory. I live near a rather popular flagship candle store and the insanity therein was something I couldn’t not write about.

  1. Poppy is quite the sleuth, who are some of your favorite pop culture investigators?

Veronica Mars has them all beat. Snark is the most powerful tool to have in one’s arsenal.

  1. How would you classify Wax? Is it more horror than mystery or is there a little romance on the horizon?

I’d argue it’s more humor than anything, but there’s certainly enough horror and mystery to keep it humming.

  1. Why should we root for Poppy?

When we first meet Poppy, she’s still raw from the most mortifying event in her life – appearing on a reality show talent competition where she slipped and fell and bled all over the stage, and all of it captured on national television. Her humiliation has gone viral, she’s a national joke, and her dignity is all but gone. But Poppy doesn’t want the rest of her life to be dictated by those few precious seconds, and so she’s striving to push past all that, to restore some of her reputation, and to do something that actually matters.

  1. Wax sounds a little like a fairy tale, would you say you draw inspiration from that?

A twisted fairy tale, absolutely. There’s a reason so many fairy tales are set in and around forests –they’re scary, dark, inscrutable places where magic lays in wait and almost anything can happen. Like rumors of living wax creatures skulking through the trees…

  1. Describe Dud in five words.

Puppy dog in “human” form.

  1. Do you have any favorite lines from Wax?

When Poppy and her friend Jill visit the Grosholtz Candle Factory: 

Poppy tried to ignore the costumed musical atrocity that was befalling the food court, but it was not designed to be ignored. A dancing pig dressed in overalls swung his bucket oh so merrily across a raised stage while a trio of cows sang and wiggled their udders. There was also a terrifying anthropomorphic representation of the state of Vermont ambling and cavorting about, his ceaseless, dead stare no doubt sucking the souls from the slack-jawed children who had the misfortune to fall under his tyranny.

“I will miss my eyes,” said Jill, “when I gouge them out. But I see no other course of action.”

  1. What do you want the reader to take away from Wax?

As always, I just want the reader to have fun. If I’ve made you laugh, I’ve done my job. Though an increased awareness of sentient wax beings possibly STANDING RIGHT BEHIND YOU would be beneficial to readers as well.

  1. Is Poppy a heroine? If so, what makes her so?

Yes, but for more subtle reasons than plucky-heroine-saves-the-world. She soldiers on even though literally everyone in the country thinks that she’s a failure and a laughingstock. She knows what people think of her, and still she looks them in the eye and defiantly holds their gaze. She knows she’s better than the horrible thing that happened to her, and she is determined to prove it. And then she goes and does just that.

authginadamicoGina Damico is the author of Croak, Scorch, and Rogue, the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy. She has also dabbled as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. A native of Syracuse, New York, she now lives outside Boston with her husband, two cats, and one dog, and while she has never visited hell in person, she has spent countless waking hours at the Albany Regional Bus Terminal, which is pretty darn close. Visit her website at www.ginadami.co.

Website | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Goodreads

giveaway

3 winners will receive a hardcover of WAX! US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CHECK OUT THE OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR 

8/1/2016- Here’s to Happy Endings- Review

8/2/2016- Ohana Reads- Guest Post

8/3/2016- A Dream Within A Dream- Review

8/4/2016- YA Book Madness- Interview

8/5/2016- A Gingerly Review- Review

Happy reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour and Interview: Enthrall-M.R. Reed

syn

After years of being a helpless witness to his alcoholic father’s abuse towards his family, seventeen-year-old Miles Boswell has just about reached his breaking point. He dreams of the day where he can leave everything behind and begin a new life on his own — that is, until he discovers that he has the ability to control people’s minds. Suddenly, the odds are overwhelmingly in his favor.

But what begins as the answer to all of his problems soon causes him to question his every thought when he captures the attention of August Sylvan, who seems to be the girl of his dreams. As someone who has limited experience with girls, Miles can’t help but wonder — where do his powers end, and where does reality begin?

At the same time, he finds himself at constant odds with his morals and his potentially warped sense of justice…and soon discovers that nothing is as simple as it seems

***This book contains strong language, violent scenes, and some sexual content.

int

  1. Enthrall deals with the heavy subjects of alcohol and abuse, was it challenging to write those scenes?

            It wasn’t challenging so much as the fact that it needed to come out. I grew up in a household with an alcoholic mom, and a dad who beat my mom, and it was due time for me to write about it as a way to cope with it myself.

  1. Miles struggles with morality. Sometimes the lines of right and wrong, good and bad can blur, how does this affect Miles’ character?

            It affects Miles’ character immensely! He’s faced with the reality that he can do anything he wants, with no potential repercussions. I think it’s something that anybody would struggle with, because even though –most of us– are taught right from wrong, the lure of getting away with doing immoral things is always going to be there. And his battle with that seduction to the dark side is what begins to distance him from those whom he loves the most.

  1. What do you want the reader to take away from Enthrall?

            Most importantly, I want readers to see that not all relationships run a perfect course. Sometimes people in a relationship mess up, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. I hate seeing guys being horrible to girls in books/movies, and then the girl pouts a little bit and she’s over it. That’s so insulting to the girl involved, and to anyone who may think that it’s acceptable or normal! So…respect yourself! If you don’t like the way that someone is treating you or the things that they’re doing, don’t be afraid to walk away.

  1. What are some important themes in the book?

            Absolute power corrupts absolutely, for starters. I think it’s a great lesson in what happens when you let your demons take over. The premise may be fictional, but we all have our problems that can take control over us if we allow them. And then there’s the idea that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. I really love Miles and August, but what’s interesting about a story where nothing ever goes wrong? 🙂 I also really like how August learns to value her family and understand how important they can be in a person’s life.

  1. Do you have a favorite line?

            I have many, but this one definitely stands out: “[It was]One of the most fulfilling and gratifying unions I had ever experienced, teetering on a wire dividing common sense and devotion.”

  1. What are some of the things you love about Miles and August?

            For Miles, one of the things that I love about him is the fact that he thinks he knows everything, but he’s so hopelessly clueless. I find that adorable, for some reason. I also love that he’s so devoted to the people he loves, even if he doesn’t always like to admit it. For August, she’s everything I wish I could have been as a teenager in many ways. She’s not flawless, but the fact that she cares so little about what others think about her is a trait to be desired, especially for a sixteen-year-old. I also admire that she knows the difference between right and wrong — an instinct in which Miles is sorely lacking — and she tries to instill that in him. And even if she’s unsuccessful, she doesn’t stray from what she knows is the right thing to do.

auth
Our formative years are the ones that stick with us the most–you know, those tirelessly frustrating yet unforgettably magical moments that shape us into the people that we will become. The music that I liked as a teenager, the books that I read, the relationships that I created (and destroyed)…those are the things that I think truly formed the adult that I am today. I still love those things. I still think about those things. I still harbor a lot of anger in relation to the events that I experienced as a teenager, and it does nothing but fuel my creative spirit.
 
And that’s what I like to write about: Teenagers, and all of their idiosyncrasies, and concerns, and that whole unintentionally egocentric view that they have about their worlds. I find it fascinating. I’m thankful every day that I’m no longer a teenager, but I have to admit that it’s a interesting time to look back on.
Miles and August encompass a lot of me, and my experiences, and my observations. The music, books, and beliefs that I held at that time inspired me to write about the events that take place in Enthrall. My intense hope is that somebody reads it and is able to relate, or get through a difficult time, and just know that somebody understands what he/she is going through (at least a little bit.) That’s what music and books did for me. I hope to pay it forward.
Keep reading, 
Jordan