Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The time I moved

Hi guys!

If you follow me at all on a regular basis, you've seen me talk about moving from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress.  Well, I've done it. 

This blog will remain up under the old blogspot address, but it will not update. For all future shenanigans, go to

I hope to see you there!!

Friday, January 31, 2014

The time it was the January real book recap

Hi guys!  So, we're one month into the real book challenge and this is my first recap!

As I said in the introductory post, I challenged myself to read 150 real books in 2014. In the month of January, I read 35 total books with 15 of them being real books.  And here they are:

So.  15 down, 135 to go.  What books have you read this month?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The time it was a recommendation

I got an arc of Red Rising at WonderCon last year with the explicit instructions to read it immediately. Of course I didn't. It went into my TBR stacks and eventually I ended up giving it away. Flash forward to a couple of days ago and my phone started going crazy with people emailing me and texting me about Pierce's launch party.

It was a last minute decision to go. Mostly because I saw a glowing review from Entertainment Weekly and they're so picky. I knew that if I didn't go, it would be something that I would get pissed about later. 

We got down to Mysterious Galaxy before 6pm. There was all sorts of snacks set up, including a cake [it was Pierce's birthday]. But the most impressive thing was the book display. 

Pierce got to the store around 6:30 and went to work on signing the stacks of books that were around the store. 

Patrick started at 7. His introduction talked about how a year ago he started talking about the book and 8 months ago he was pimping out the arc. Now he can actually sell the book. 

Pierce did a brief introduction. He talked about this being his very first event and that he didn't have anything prepared like a lecture. There was talk about his childhood and parents, but I was taking photos and didn't get any of it. 

Also? I have a disclaimer: Pierce talks fast and smiles so pretty so my recap isn't anywhere near to being complete. Consider yourself warned about the hot mess that's about to happen.

There will be more?

Yes. It's a planned trilogy. It's always been 3 books for me. I don't want to prostitute the story for money. There could be more stories, but most of it will be told in 3 acts. There could be future stories set in the same world. I have a big black book that I try to hide that has info about the world and characters. 

Without discussing the plot, what is the set up for building the world?

It's sort of like those CDs "Now That's What I Call Music": a compilation of all of your favorite things. My first coloring book was about the Greek and Roman wars. Have you ever seen the great illustrated classics? My parents gave me those. They became part of my childhood. World building is my favorite. 

This book quickly became a revenge book and as I went on, it became about justice. There's a lot of Antigone. There's probably some Hardy Boys in there.  There's some Serenity

How did you get the idea for the book? Did you pick Mars because of the color or the god?

The first thing I knew was that on Mars there's a flower called a blood blossom and that was the first line and I don't know where it came from. [There was WAY more to this...somehow this was all I got down]

Were you an English major?

Nope. Political science and economics major. I couldn't get into AP English. They told me that I didn't write correctly. Economics really helped me with the story.

Will there be deleted scenes?

That's a question my editor should answer. I'm hoping that before book 1 and 2 there will be little episodes. I would like to show Darrow as a lancer. That would be fun. 

How did you end up getting assigned an editor and how do you decide work that way?

I've been trying since I was 18 to get an agent. I wrote books and query letters for each one. It took me 3 books, well my first book was 720 pages... Five books later, I finally got an agent. I had been rejected by 24 agents and I was working at a tech start up and I wasn't really liking it. 

An agent's former assistant contacted me and asked to be my agent. She was now an agent and I would be her first client. There's a lot of negatives to that, but the upside would be that they have a lot of time on their hands. And she helped me edit it. 

All of the publishers wanted to change something. And at Del Rey, they didn't want to change any of it. Then my editor ended up leaving to go to Amazon. My new editor, Mike, is amazing and we work well together. A good editor will champion your work and you don't have to argue about content. I know that if he sees there's something wrong in the book, there probably is. 

What modern day authors influenced you?

Gene Wolfe. Shadow and Claw traumatized me.  George RR Martin. Patrick Rothfuss's work is great. I like Neil Gaiman a lot, his world building second to none, except maybe Joss Whedon. They can battle it out. 

Did you try to draw in politics that are happening now and put them in dystopian situations?

No. I don't like to do that because it seems like I'm preaching. I haven't lived enough to have those sorts of opinions on humanity. I know they will change. When I'm 45 it'll be different, when I have kids, it'll be different.

Do you watch tv? 

Not as much as I used to. I like a lot of premium channels. I love the idea between revolution, but I couldn't get into the show. And I love Being Human, but I don't really watch. I love anything that JJ Abrams puts his stamp on, so I watch a lot of Buffy and Serenity

Are you anticipating studios contacting you?

Yes. I had a studio send me a gift today. I said that I loved a particular movie and they sent me 4 different copies of it and huge poster. I wasn't home and they sent a huge package and my roommate wanted to open it. So he did and videoed the entire thing. 

Hollywood is really good at first dates. I don't want to be stuck in development. If the right team comes along, sure. But I haven't given up my rights. 

How do you approach swearing?

I fucking love it. [There was more to this answer, but I just didn't catch it. I mean, really.  What more do you need?]

How do you categorize this? YA?

I wrote it to be YA, but quickly realized that I can't write YA. I find that in a lot of YA, they cater to what they think people want, to get readers. Like the love triangle. TFiOS is an amazing book and it's considered YA. Harry Potter is considered YA and that just literature. 

When I realized at page 20 that I was going to kill someone, I had to abandon the idea that it was YA.

Are you going to let them see your previous 6 books if they ask?

Oh god no. I don't think I could even read them. There's some good characters in there. 

Do you write with an outline?

No. And they hate that. I feel that outlines will keep away epiphanies while writing. I do always know where I'm going. The last scene of every book, it's all in my head. 

Social media? 

Pagers. No, twitter and facebook are the best. My email is a lost cause. I should be writing, but I could be doing that instead. I always answer. 

Then he started talking all about book two, giving us some of the plot and the title. I don't want to post that info, just in case...

The signing started around 7:45. Everyone in my row lined up like normal, only to find that we had to move to a different line up spot. So instead of being 3rd in line, I was near the end. 

I got up to Pierce almost an hour after the signing started. We talked about hot peppers, Scooby-Doo snuggies, raw cookie dough, London, living in LA, tater tots, throwing things at him and social security numbers...all within 5 minutes. He's chatty and adorable. 

I can't tell you anything about Red Rising other than the fact that it came very highly recommended by people I trust and Pierce is charismatic and everything I could want in an author when it comes to interacting with readers. 

That should be enough, right?

Monday, January 27, 2014

The time it was about Into the Still Blue

My love for Veronica Rossi knows no bounds.  I've been lucky enough to meet her several times and she's always so sweet and puts up with my fangirling like a champ.  I've been in love with her books from the beginning and after reading Into the Still Blue [and tweeting the hell out of my feels], I asked Veronica if she would be available to do an interview.  And she said yes!  

But, before we get to her answers, let's check out the book, shall we?
The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi's "masterpiece" Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Times bestselling Through the Ever Night (

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.
Sounds good, right? [Hint: It's amazing!]

1. How did the idea for the series come about?

Through lots of staring at walls, and imagining a world comprised of opposites. An advanced society, and a primitive one. The idea of safety and danger. Shelter and exposure. Male, female. It came to me that way, and also in images. I "saw" Perry first. Then I started imagining his world, his home, his problems. Aria came right afterward.

2. I could make a list of reasons why I love Aria and Perry. Why do you love them and why should we root for them?

There are lots of reasons, but I'll mention one of my favorite qualities -- one they both possess: they are driven. Neither one sits back and lets life happen to them. They have agency. They aren't afraid to take action.

3. Did you know the ending right away?


4. What is the weirdest thing you googled while researching?

Can tattoo ink poison your bloodstream if it's been infused with hemlock? That's not that weird, but that one comes to mind first.

5. What was your favorite part about writing this series?

The fans. The bloggers. The writing itself. All of it.

6. Describe Into the Still Blue in 5 words.

How about three?

Thrilling. Epic. Romantic.

Speed [ish] round:

1. You get the call/email that you're being published for the first time. What happens next?

Lots of silence and catatonic staring, alternating with bouts of utter hysteria. Then, eventually, champagne!

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

Perry, Roar and Aria.

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life.  What is it?

Something by Jane Austen. Maybe PERSUASION.

4. Who are your favorite swoony boys? 

Ugh, so many. Gale. Finnick. Gale.... Finnick.

5. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?

TONS. Megatons. I'm a booklover! Totally freak out of authors who can suck me into their stories, and their words.


Huge thanks to Veronica for always dealing with my fangirling taking the time.  Make sure you're following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, subscribing to her blog and adding all of her books to your GoodReads shelf. 

Now.  To celebrate the release of Into the Still Blue, I've got a copy of for grabs! Giveaway is international, as long as The Book Depository ships to you for free.

Rules for the giveaway are under "terms and conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget. 

**Good Luck!!**
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The time it was about Infinite

Jodi Meadows is a lot of fun.  I've been lucky enough to catch her on the west coast and she's even more fun in person.  So of course, when it was getting close to Infinite being released, I bugged asked her if she would do an interview.  And she said yes!

But before we get to her awesome answers, let's check out the book, shall we?
The Year of Souls begins with an earthquake—an alarming rumble from deep within the earth—and it’s only the first of greater dangers to come. The Range caldera is preparing to erupt. Ana knows that as Soul Night approaches, everything near Heart will be at risk.

Ana’s exile is frightening, but it may also be fortuitous, especially if she can convince her friends to flee Heart and Range with her. They’ll go north, seeking answers and allies to stop Janan’s ascension. And with any luck, the newsouls will be safe from harm’s reach.

The oldsouls might have forgotten the choice they made to give themselves limitless lifetimes, but Ana knows the true cost of reincarnation. What she doesn’t know is whether she’ll have the chance to finish this one sweet life with Sam, especially if she returns to Heart to stop Janan once and for all.

With gorgeous romance and thrilling action, the final book in the Incarnate trilogy offers a brilliant conclusion to the compelling questions of this fascinating world, where one new girl is the key to the lives of millions.
 Sounds amazing, right?

1. Where did the idea for the series come from?

Fairies and sawdust and more caffeine that I care to admit.

No, okay. The truth is, a lot of times, authors aren't sure where ideas come from. They happen with "what if...?' a lot, but that's not the complete idea. Those questions just kind of circle in the back of a writer's mind for a while until other things stick to it. Answers to the "what if...?' and more questions. Sometimes people. Sometimes places. Eventually an idea is born.

2. Let's talk Ana and Sam. I could give you a list of reasons why I adore them, but why do you love them and why should we root for them?

Obviously I love them because they were born in my brain. You should root for them because I will come after you if you don't.

Wait, no, that's not an appropriate answer. Um.

Root for them because they like coffee. Sam is a coffee snob. Ana is not.

3. What was the weirdest thing you googled while doing research?

Probably not the weirdest, but it definitely sounds strange: I had to look up how to survive a drop into a body of water from a good height. (Answer: cover your mouth and nose so water doesn't rush up. Also, er, your nether regions. And clench those butt muscles. For all the same reasons.)

4. You've completed your trilogy, hooray! What was your favorite part of writing these books?

I enjoyed all of the writing! But if I had to choose, I think writing the first draft of INCARNATE was probably the best. I'd just come out of a dark emotional place and I was feeling free to write about whatever the heck I wanted to write about. INCARNATE was very healing for me. It was difficult, but it was just what I needed at that point.

5. Describe the series in 5 words.

Ana is new. Everything sucks.

Speed [ish] round:

1. Describe what your writing area looks like.

A desk. Ferrets. Lots of books, yarn, and lately, calligraphy supplies.

Jars filled with the tears of my readers. They make the room smell nice.

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

How did I end up on the desert island? Did you leave me there? Were we going on a trip and you abandoned me??? Maybe our plane crashed and now, in addition to have to survive this desert island alone, I'm feeling sad about how violently and senselessly you died during the crash, right after we had that argument about which Hogwarts house we'd be in.

Gosh, this is a sad question. But here are the things I'd prefer to have, which I probably wouldn't have if that last scenario is how I got on the island. But if you left me there (WHY?)  and I was able to pack:

*Survivor manual
*Canteen with a built-in filter
*Satellite phone with a fully charged batter so I could call for help.

(I thought about saying a boat, but I figured I'd just get more lost once I was actually on the ocean. I'm hoping the survivor manual will have some clues on natural sunscreen and stuff.)

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

Is the rest of my life really short or something? Do you hate me? I thought we were friends, in spite of that whole desert island incident.

Okay, the Bible. There are lots of stories.

4. Who are your favorite swoony boys?

Logan from DEFIANCE by CJ Redwine.
Titus from THE BURNING SKY by Sherry Thomas.
Hector from THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson.

5. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?

Yes, but I can't say who because I don't want them to take out a restraining order against me. I have to play it cool. One day, they'll realize we were meant to be together forever, though.


Huge thanks and and endless supply of yarn to Jodi for taking the time to deal with my fangirling answer the questions.  Make sure you're following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, subscribing to her blog and adding all of her books to your GoodReads shelf.

Now.  To celebrate the release of Infinite, I've got one up for grabs.  The book will be coming from The Book Depository, so it is international, as long as TBD ships to you for free.  

Rules for the giveaway are under "terms and conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget. 

**Good Luck!!**
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The time I reviewed a book -- 6

Susan Bishop Crispell has always been a huge supporter of this blog, so when she emailed me to ask if I would be interested in reading her book and doing a review for the blog tour, I jumped at the chance to support her. 

But before we get to the review, let's check out the book, yes?

For Jaclyn “Jack” Pace, sensing what sweets people crave is as easy as breathing. But it’s not enough to keep her cupcake bakery in the black.

So, when her estranged sister Harper comes back to town with an affinity for making art out of icing—and a past full of secrets—she reluctantly gives Harper a job and a place to crash.

As their sisterly relationship begins to thaw, the one with her business partner Graham starts to heat up. Given the legend that says Hollingsworth men will recognize their soul mates at first touch, Jack’s always been resigned to the fact that she’s not his.

But when she starts sensing desires that are decidedly not dessert-related, it’ll take all of her magic to set things right with customers and make her own desires come true.

Love and Cupcakes is a delightfully sweet and sensual romance from Susan Bishop Crispell.
Sounds good, right?  Now for the review....

**Thanks to my pretty prancy PA AKA Christina from The Book Hookup for letting me steal borrow her review format**

Rating & First Reaction:

4 stars. I love the idea of a person who can sense what people want in flavors and cupcakes are a win-win in my book. Throw in a sort of BFF-to-more situation set in the south and I'm in.


Jaclyn: I really liked Jack.  She's been in love with Graham pretty much her entire life, but hasn't really done anything about it.  She's an every day type of person, aside from her magical ability [which only gets a vague description as to how it all started] and loves cupcakes.  Her idea to start a business formed quickly and it has become quite a passion.

What really sold me on her, was the scene where she names an oven.  I name pretty much all of my electronics and cars, so seeing her do something that I do all the time made me really relate to her.  I also wanted to hug her a lot.

Graham: He's a baker. Do I need to say more? Okay...fine. He's been raised to believe that the men in his family will know their soul mate upon touching them for the first time, so he's hesitant to believe anything he feels.  We don't really get a lot of details on this phenomenon of sorts and even though we do get some Graham POV, he seems to be just as confused about it as I was.

His attentiveness to Jack is adorable and their mounting attraction [and his struggle] was interesting to read. I absolutely loved the requisite big brother talk between Graham and Hutton, even though there were times I wanted to throw some punches myself.

There were swoons sprinkled about in the story, but I'll leave those for you to find.  I will tell you that you should prepare yourself for an ungodly amount of UST, brief touches and across-the-room stares filled with longing. 

Secondary characters:

Harper: The baby of the family, she sarcastic, headstrong and adds a lot of levity throughout.  She's also hiding a few things herself. Harper's story is revealed to us in increments and I really liked it that way.  I enjoyed reading into every nuance and dissecting conversations to see if I could figure it out.

Hutton: As Jack's and Harper's older brother, he provides a lot of the conflict in the book. I don't want to say too much about him because I don't want to spoil anything.  I will say that he's exactly what I imagine a big brother would be like. 

Townspeople: Being set in the south, you know there's going to be a lot of nosy, fun characters and this book didn't disappoint.  I loved both Jack's and Graham's "mama" and the extra characters that I won't mention due to spoilers all made for a delicious assortment of personalities.

Plot & Pacing:

It was a bit of a slow burn for me.  There was a lot of build up with the past relationships of everyone involved.  And when we finally get the big reveal between Graham and Jack, the book is pretty much over.  I would have liked to have had more of their HEA, instead of the seemingly abrupt ending we got, but all in all, it was hopeful and happy.

Also, a little more of a background on both Jack's and Graham's abilities would have been good. We got brief explanations of both, but there was a definite opportunity to make it something more.  And of course, because I'm a greedy whore, an epilogue [or even one more chapter] would have been perfection. 

Rec It?

Yes.  If you're in the mood for a sweet, magical romance that's heavy on the sugar and cupcakes, this book is for you.


Huge thanks to Susan for the invitation and to Swoon Romance for providing the arc! Make sure you're following Susan on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, subscribing to her blog and adding Love & Cupcakes to your GoodReads shelf.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The time it was about Landry Park

I was given an arc of Landry Park a couple of months ago and I absolutely loved it.  So, of course, when I saw that there was an upcoming blog tour going on for Bethany, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.

But, before we get to her interview, let's check out the book, shall we?

Downton Abbey meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.
 Sounds good, right?

1. Where did the idea for Landry Park come from?

The short (ish) answer is that is came from the long days spent working at a local history museum, cleaning Plexiglass cases and staring at the old pictures inside.  The long(er) answer is that it came from more than a decade of loving Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte and King Arthur and Science Channel documentaries.  I think our brains are like crock pots.  Or percolators.  Or brewing vats...I'm not really sure where I'm going with this metaphor, but what I mean is that our brains are these vessels that things we love/wonder about/obsess over fall over into.  Our favorite movies and music and quotes and gifs--and then they all stew together and mix and reduce into a sludge from whence newly birthed ideas crawl shakily forth.  (Sludge sounds bad.  Goo?  Nectar?  Whatever it is, it's made of rainbows and angst.)

2.What do you like most about Madeline and David and why should we root for them?

I think my favorite thing about Madeline and David is that they challenge each other in a very dynamic way.  A lot of couples enjoy each other's company because they affirm and reassure each other; this is why so many (but not all) people marry inside their particular educational/cultural/class/political demographics, because it's very easy to be with someone who believes the exact same things you do. But somebody who forces you to examine your beliefs and your actions--that can be both very painful and very rewarding. I think David and Madeline demonstrate this well.

3. How did you go about building your dystopian world and the rebellion?

I started with the atmosphere, the set pieces.  Once I began spinning this world of balls and glowing nuclear charges, I knew there would have to be people who handled the nuclear waste.  I came up with a name for them--Rootless--out of nowhere, and from that name, I realized the didn't have money or capital or even real homes.  Once I realized what their lives looked like compared to what the gentry's looked like, a rebellion was fairly easy to imagine.  Systems of oppression are ultimately unstable because they rely on fear to crush every other feeling and need.  And luckily, that's not how people work.

4. What was the weirdest thing you googled while researching?

I am probably on so many FBI watch-lists right now.  I've googled bomb-making, how to load and fire automatic weapons and how to start fires.  The thing that made my husband go "Really? While I'm trying to eat?" was the time I was scrutinizing pictures of radiation victims (so I could accurately describe their wounds.)  It wasn't pretty stuff.

5. Describe Landry Park in 5 words.

Glowing, dancing, kissing, rebelling elegance.

Speed [ish] round:

1. You get the call/email/letter that says you're being published for the first time.  What happens next?

Screaming.  Hugging.  Frantic texting to critique partners.  Usually you'll get a congratulatory chat on the phone with your editor, and then it's on to waiting for that first edit letter.

2. What three tings would you take to a desert island?

An e-reader, a wifi connection and a bottle of scotch.

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life.  What is it?

Jane Eyre.  Always.

4. Who are your favorite swoony boys?

Edward Rochester and Fitzwilliam Darcy, definitely. Also Max de Winter from Rebecca, Sebastian Flyte from Brideshead Revisited and Matthew St. Clair from A Discovery of Witches. The more tortured, the better.

5. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?

Too many to name! I would faint if I ever got to meet Elizabeth Wein or Laini Taylor.  I think on every level--technical and artistic--they are telling some of the best stories out there today.


Huge thanks to Bethany for taking the time!  Make sure you're following her on Twitter, subscribing to her blog and adding Landry Park to your GoodReads shelf!

Click here to see the list of other blogs participating the tour and see what goodies they're doing. And...Bethany is hosting a giveaway, so go forth and enter!

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 13, 2014

The time it was Jared's point of view

You guys.  I loved Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin.  As you all know, I'm a bit of a whore for Jane Austen retellings and this one was definitely one of my favorites.  So, of course when Tracey was offering an extra scene to post, I jumped all over it.

Before we get to that, let's check out the book, yes?
What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?
Sounds good, right? [It totally is.  You can check out my review on GoodReads here]

And now the extra scene in Jared POV:

“Dude, I can’t believe you’re doing this.”
Mike’s shaking his head at me from the doorway. Ignoring the disbelief in his voice, I toss my empty Coke can in his recycle bin and grab my guitar. “You’ve said that like five times now. I’m doing this. Let’s go.”
Let’s go before the event is over. Let’s go before Mike’s asshole roommate, Zach, shows up. Let’s go before I decide trying to win my ex-girlfriend back using the very same method that made her hate me is not the best decision I ever made.
Let’s fucking go.
Mike unlocks his car, and I carefully strap in my guitar case on the back seat. Smacking a mosquito, I climb in the front. Let’s go before I contract Lyme Disease or Triple E.
Neither of us say much on the drive to Eliot Beach. I don’t know what Mike’s thinking as he plays with the radio, but my mind is so far away I can barely hear the music. Connecticut, New Hampshire, Connecticut… My memories ping pong back and forth until I’m dizzy with them.
For the past two years, my last memory of Claire was the way her lip trembled that day in the mall, her brown eyes wide and almost eerily unseeing. Her face vacant and distressed. It didn’t make for a good last memory, not for a girl whose smile used to make my heart stop, and whose one-liners used to make me wonder how I’d duped her into thinking I was smart enough to hang out with her, and whose lips on my skin...
I should stop there. She’s not mine to kiss anymore, and if I follow that line of thought, I’ll just get depressed.
Point is, that scene didn’t make for a good last memory, but I’m the one who made it my last memory. Until a few weeks ago, that is, when I ran into her in the strangest, most unlikely place in the entire country. How does that happen? What kind of twisted deity arranged for that?
I hadn’t wanted a second chance. I’d told myself I’d moved on. But her constant presence was too much.
I didn’t deserve a second chance. So I told myself she was better off. But the way she played that day in the park was too irresistible. I knew then I had to have her back anyway. She’s either my muse or some demon sent to torment me.
So here I am, either about to do something really romantic or something incredibly stupid. With my luck, probably stupid. If I hadn’t been an idiot two years ago, I might not have lost all that time.
My stomach twists thinking about it, and I consider that downing that Coke so fast was not a good move. I close my eyes, concentrating on my new song and playing air guitar with my seatbelt. It helps relax me, but it’s not performing the song tonight that’s making my insides roll like the waves.
Finally, Mike parks under a streetlamp by the house where Claire’s family is staying. I force myself to breathe. I inhale the scent of the beach through the open car window and realize I’m about to spin my thumb ring off.
Mike realizes it too. “You sure you—”
“Yes, damn it.” I pry my fingers away from the ring and open the door. “Don’t ask me that again.”
But he asks me that again when we reach the coffee shop, too.
I shoot him a nasty look, and he laughs, and now I know he’s just trying to bug me. “Come on.” I push him into the crowd.
The shop is packed, laughing and whispering people spilling onto the boardwalk. Over the ocean, the sky is already turning dark and the temperature is dropping as fast as the light is fading. But inside the store, it’s barely brighter.
The show’s begun and the lights have been dimmed. I follow Mike to the counter, grateful that no one’s paying any attention to the guy the with the guitar case for a change. That’s because some other guy with a guitar is already performing, regaling everybody with my least favorite Dylan song. I tune him out, just like I always try to tune out Dylan whenever anyone puts on his music.
After signing some paper and buying some over-priced coffee, I worm my way to the back. Mike’s head is swiveling around, searching for Claire and company, I guess. I let him look out for friends. I have to look out for my guitar. There’s not enough room for all of us.
“Found them,” he whispers at last, just as the guy on the makeshift stage finishes. Mike motions with his cup to the other side of the room, and I push hair out of my eyes, squinting through the mass of bodies that block my view.
It’s Claire that I find first. Of course. It could be that crazy orange hair—what the hell was she thinking dyeing it orange of all colors?—but I think it’s just that my gaze will hone in on her no matter what. Especially with that hair, she’s like a flame. I can’t not stare.
But she doesn’t seem to notice me. She’s not noticing much if I had to guess. Her face is strained. She looks nervous. I can’t tell from here, but I’d bet she’s gripping her case strap with white knuckles.
Poor Claire. I used to tell her all the time she shouldn’t be nervous about performing because damn, she’s good. But I don’t think she ever believed me.
If she’d let me, I’d make her believe it. But I’m not sure she will.
My hand runs to the Buddha charm hanging around my neck, a tiny silver thing that she once gave me for my birthday. Although I’d stopped wearing it because it was too painful after we split, I kept the charm in my guitar case this whole time. When I finally put it back on tonight, I was thinking I needed the Zen. From the looks of it, though, Claire might need it more than me.
That’s it. I have to go to her now. I have to say something.
I pick up my case, ready to risk clocking a bunch of innocent people with it in order to cross the shop, but then the guy at the mic calls out her name. Too late.
As usual for me.
I settle back against the counter instead, drinking coffee I don’t really want.
“You coming?” Mike asks while Claire gets settled up front.
There’s only one seat open at the table since she got up, so I shrug. Not worth assaulting people to get to it. “I’m good.”
As soon as Mike moves away, I return my attention to Claire. She’s tuning her guitar and saying something to the owner. Even from this distance, I can feel the spark in her—the heat and the life—and I wonder if other people can too. It’s this crazy way she lights up a room that make my lips dry, as though needing her to wet them for me. Her wide nervous eyes and that smile filled with self-doubt only add to her presence. It makes her charming too. And it’s making me crazy.
Some girls think they’re the hottest things on the planet, and I’ve met way more than my share of them. But they have no idea.
She is, without question, the hottest thing on the planet, and she doesn’t even know it. And if she did, she wouldn’t care. That’s part of what makes it so true.
Claire’s talking, and I have to refocus to hear her. “But I did have an ex who wrote more than one unflattering song about me. So this is the song I wrote about the experience.”
I cringe and drink more. If that’s the worst she has to say about that whole ordeal, she’s being too nice. I’m guessing “Romeo Must Die” is one of the least angry songs she wrote in retaliation. Not sure I want to hear the others.
Then she starts to play, and even though I’ve watched videos of her performing this song online, watching her live is amazing. She’s changed so much. Gotten so much better.
And right there I decide she’s the hottest, most talented girl on the planet, too. I might be a bit biased, but screw it. I’m allowed to be. She sounds damn good. Someone else can play critic.
I can’t drag my gaze away until she finishes, and then I assess the audience. They’re smiling and staring at her like I was. That’s my girl, I start to think, except she’s not.
“Um, yeah. New song,” Claire’s saying. “Let’s hope I don’t forget it like I’m forgetting what I’m saying, you know? It’s called ‘That Girl.’”
I lean forward with interest until I hear her lyrics. The words wrap around my chest like a rope, pulling me toward her and crushing the life from me at the same time. I’m not sure what to think, what to make of this plea that she’s singing. But it’s directed at me. I can sense that through and through.
At one point I almost catch her eye but she quickly looks away, and for a half beat, she fumbles. I hear the rhythm crash like the breakers on the rocks. Then she recovers, almost seamlessly.
I don’t, and I close my eyes.
“So why can’t I make you see?
That girl is gone
This girl is here
That girl’s a ghost
This girl is near
That girl hurt you
This girl hurts too
This girl’s sorry for what she did to you”
As her clear, silky voice fades, the room bursts into applause, but I can’t move. Why is she apologizing? I’m the one who’s supposed to apologize. She did that years ago. I’m the one who refused to listen.
I’m the one. And she’s the one. It’s my job to make her see, not the other way around.
For the first time tonight, I feel a little less crazy about what I’m going to do. Not any less nervous because there’s probably never a time when telling the girl you love that you need her in your life is not going to be vomit-inducing, but less crazy. Hopeful even.
I remain by the counter, finishing my coffee for several more performers, but I don’t hear a damn thing until my name. When the owner calls out “Jared Steele,” sounding hilariously confused, I’m ready. Inside, I know I’ve been ready for longer than I care to admit. Claire’s been stuck in my head and heart like the catchiest damn tune ever, so it’s time to make good on this unexpected second chance.
What music hurt, it must also be able to heal.


Huge thanks to Tracey for letting me be part of this.  Make sure you're following her on Twitter, checking out her website and adding all of her books to your GoodReads shelf. 

Now.  Tracey is so graciously hosting a giveaway, so go forth and enter!!

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The time it was bookish mail -- 8

Welcome to another episode of Look What I Got in the Mail!  Let's proceed, shall we?

When I contacted Tellulah Darling about getting some signed copies of My Ex from Hell and My Date from Hell to giveaway during her interview post, I had also wanted to get a set for myself.  Not only did she donate the set for me to giveaway, Tellulah is just so awesome that she donated my set as well.  If you haven't read these books yet, you really need to.

When The Dream Thieves was about to be released, Fountain Bookstore, had an awesome pre-order thing set up with Maggie.  If you pre-ordered before a certain date, a pretty doodle of a raven would be added to Maggie's signature. So, of course I ordered a copy.  When I realized I didn't have a finished copy of The Raven Boys, I ordered one of those too. And when the copy came, I was blown was more than I was expecting.


When I read The Infinite Moment of Us, I instantly fell in love with it.  I started stalking Lauren's website, hoping for a chance for her to tour near me at some point.  Alas, she was not.  When I saw that Kristen was going to Austen Teen Book Fest, I begged asked her to take my arc to get signed.  And since Kristen is so amazing, she agreed!

I got The Rule of Thirds from NetGalley and completely devoured it.  Seeing that Chantel was in Canada, I DM'd her on Twitter asking if there was a way to get signed copies.  She gave me the options to either send her a copy that she would sign and send back or to buy one through PayPal.  There was a bit of a shipping snafu, but eventually that pretty pretty book got into my hands!

If you follow me on Twitter, I'm sure you have seen my fangirling over A.G. Howard. Kristin from Beneath Shining Stars gave me an arc of Splintered and even though it took me some time to get to it [because it was swallowed by my TBR stacks], when I did, I was dying for more.  I may or may not have taken to Twitter and started harassing talking to Anita about Unhinged.

There is a long, detailed love story between us and I am far too lazy to chronicle it here.  I will tell you that it involves an Eggman, wine, Godiva and a not-so-secret rendezvous in Vegas. Needless to say, one day, this gorgeous thing showed up in my mailbox. Oh, and Anita gave me Jeb, I have proof.

We've established that I'm a spoiled brat and I love it. What pretties have you gotten recently?

Monday, January 6, 2014

The time it was a real book challenge

So, the lovely ladies at Fic Fare and Swoony Boys Podcast are putting together a fun type of challenge without any serious rules [my kind of challenge] and I've decided to join in on the action. 

I give you the 2014 Real Book Challenge!

Basically, it's just a challenge to put down the pesky e-reader and pick up more real books. And since I've recently become mildly addicted to my Kindle Paperwhite, I thought it would be fun.

I'm challenging myself to read 150 real books for the year. 

You guys should all join me! Besides being a fun and laid back sort of challenge, there's a GoodReads group and there's going to be monthly giveaways. Click here to go to the page at Fic Fare. Jaime explains everything in detail. I hope to see some of you guys signing up!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The time it was all about Wonderland

By now we all know about my undying love and affection for A.G. Howard, yes? So, it sort of goes without saying that of course I was going to do whatever I could to help promote Unhinged. I bugged asked Anita if she would do an interview, she agreed.  And then I read The Moth in the Mirror and had another set of questions I wanted to ask... So, we had a redo.

But, before we get to the interview: take two, let's check out the book, yes?

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.
 Sounds amazing, right? [It totally is.]

 1. How did the idea of Splintered come to you?

I've always been a Carroll junkie. The man was a literary genius. But the idea first came to me when I went to see the Tim Burton & Disney Alice adaptation. The cinematography was so vivid and evocative that it stayed with me, and I started playing out my own Wonderland scenarios in my mind. One evening, I went to my writer's critique group and pitched the idea of a modern day Wonderland -- though darker and more twisted -- with a teen protagonist who was related to Alice Liddell, Carroll's real-life inspiration. My group's enthusiasm was palpable, and I knew I was onto something.

2. Alyssa. She's feisty and smart and unique. I absolutely adore her. What do you love most about her and why should we root for her?

Thank you! I'm pretty sweet on her, too. ;) My favorite thing about Alyssa is that she's 100% human, even though she's not, if that makes sense? She's having to navigate the high school teen waters and feeling all the same insecurities as we do (did), albeit with the added obstacle of otherworldly stuff going on in her life. But even with that, the core of her insecurity stems from not yet knowing who she is, and we've all been there. I think this is what makes her human and relatable.

3. You recently wrote a novella featuring Jeb/Morpheus POV. Who was easier to work? Was it easier to  be in one of their head than in Alyssa's?

Haha. Pulling out the tough questions now, are you? ;) Both guys are complex individuals with their own dark pasts, but Jeb was easier because I once wrote from his POV. In the earliest version of SPLINTERED Alyssa and Jeb had alternating chapters. So I already knew his voice and thoughts inside and out. Plus, Jeb is first and foremost a gentleman, and didn't make life too difficult. Morpheus was a bit more of a challenge. Even when I was "in his head", I didn't always know what his motives were...or what he was going to say or do next. It was the same way in SPLINTERED and UNHINGED. He's often surprising me and taking the story on detours I didn't see coming. My job is to decide whether to follow his lead, or reign him in. Most often, I let him have his way (he can be quite persuasive). But sometimes I have to pull the boss card. He's definitely the most demanding character I've ever written. And Alyssa's head is the easiest to write from because I myself was once a teenage girl and living *some* of her issues.

4. Can we mention the last chapter in Splintered? There was a pretty big reveal and some satisfying closure, but it was sort of cliffhangery [or was that just me?]. Did you already know it was going to be a trilogy? 

I sold it to Amulet as a standalone with a two book potential. That's why the ending was closed with one thread left loose. I signed a two book contract, so I knew there would be another YA book, but they hadn't okayed a second Splintered. They had me set it aside and in fact had me working on a Phantom of the Opera spinoff instead. But when presale numbers started coming in for Splintered, they were ready to invest in UNHINGED. The problem was, we waited so long that my deadline was swiftly approaching so everything was rushed. When I got to the end of book 2, we all knew there would have to be a third, or I would have to change some major plotlines. But they had a meeting, and everyone loved the story as it was, so they signed me for the third book. All that to say, no. I didn't know it would be a trilogy and neither did my publisher, but I'm happy it worked out that way. I wasn't quite read to say goodbye to these characters yet.

5. What has been your favorite part about writing these books?

Rereading and studying Lewis Carroll's masterpieces.

6. Describe Unhinged in 5 words.


Speed [ish] round:

1. What three things would you take to a desert island?

Since you didn't specify whether the desert island is real or fantasy based, I'm choosing fantasy. Which means I only have to pack one thing: a genie in a bottle.

2. What are you reading right now?

I'm at the tail end of So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev. It's the last in a YA fantasy trilogy. I've read them all and love the uniqueness of the premise.

3. Who are your favorite swoony boys?

Living or fictional? Ryan Gosling, Jr. for my live guy. And for my fictional, Hareton from Wuthering Heights. One of the most underappreciated book heroes. He was loyal, devoted and patient, even in the face of abuse and scorn from the two people he loved most in the world. He was the one redeeming character in the story (If you've read it, reread the last 30 pages to see my point). He's definitely swoon-worthy.

4. Are there any authors that you fangirl over?

Heck yah! Here are my top six: Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman, Charlotte Bronte, Melissa Marr, Christina Rossetti, and of course Lewis Carroll.


Huge thanks, boxes of Godiva and squishy hugs to Anita for being so EPIC and taking the time to deal with my fangirling answer the questions.  Make sure you're following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page, subscribing to her blog and adding all of her books to your GoodReads shelves.

To celebrate the upcoming release of Unhinged, I've got a signed hardcover copy of Splintered up for grabs.  Rules for the giveaway are under "terms and conditions" on the Rafflecopter widget and this contest is international! Also? Don't forget that Jeb is mine, I have proof.

**Good Luck!!** 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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