31 October 2014

Book Club Review: Dangerous Boys

DANGEROUS BOYS
by Abigail Haas


Pages: 336 (paperback)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
Publication Date: August 14th 2014
ISBN: 9781471119163


Links to Mine and Emma's spoiler free reviews of Dangerous Boys


Dangerous Boys
Book Club Discussion
**SPOILERS**


What were your first thoughts after finishing Dangerous Boys?

Mily: Oh. My. God.
What am I meant to do with my life now?
What the hell just happened?!?

This book was addictive but that last page changed the whole damn thing. I’ve never known an author to be able to switch my outlook on a character so dramatically. It was epic! I mean it was a complete and utter head f**k but I want more. I know it’s got nothing to do with Dangerous Boys but I need to read Dangerous Girls now because I need more of this ladies writing!

Emma“wait… what? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!”
I felt like I had just had the ground pulled from beneath me. I also realized I had been siding with Chloe the whole way without really knowing it! That and, like Mily says, “I need Dangerous Girls”. I had heard it was even better and I didn’t believe it could get any better!


How did you feel about the love triangle?

MilyI went through several fazes with this one. To start with it felt a little predictable, like ‘oh sure start falling for the good guys bad brother’. But as it developed and the story became more about who Chloe was and having Oliver there to encourage her darker side made the love triangle aspect much more intense. It took on a new and twisted tone. Which in turn, made it exciting and disturbing all at the same time.

EmmaI am usually very “anti” romance and definitely don’t choose books with a strong relationship theme. However, it has got to be said that this love triangle was darkly intense and I loved it! I liked that Oliver was the rebel, the bad boy, and therefore, as tradition dictates, “the alluring, hot one”. However, nothing is as it seems in this book and everything gets flipped on its head and it was such a thrilling ride!
That said, blood kissing was 100% weird!

MilyOMG! The blood kiss was really creepy. And yet, I don’t know about you, but it pulled me right into the story. I think that was the moment I realized that there was a much darker side to Chloe.

What did you think about the change in Chloe’s character through out the book?

MilyIt was unexpected! I mean you could see it wasn’t going to end well because of all the books layout. But it constantly kept me guessing. I didn’t know which brother she would save. I didn’t know why she did any of the things she did. This book turned from a generic love triangle YA to a dark and almost perverted look into human nature. The needs and desires that were unlocked with in Chloe made for an powerful and unpredictable book. As I said, I couldn’t have guessed the Chloe we read on the last page. It was like a whole new character.

EmmaIt was clever and paced soooo well. I’m wary to say I kind of related to Chloe in the first half of this book – ha! The need to get out of a small town and experience a bit of the unknown…  I never went to university either and things can get monotonous and stifling. BUT, I would like to think I drew a line at rebelliousness before it hit a certain point! I thought Chloe’s actions under Oliver’s influence were unpredictable and at times shocking. I had absolutely NO idea which brother she was going to be saving at any point!

MilyI was the same. It wasn’t until the told us which brother it was that I knew. A part of me hoped she was a good person and would safe the right brother but there was so much supporting her darker side. By the time we find out which brother was saved I was shocked that it wasn’t the other.

Would you want to hear the story told from one of the brother’s points of view?

Mily: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!! I’d love a book from Oliver’s point of view. I think it would be fascinating to read what was going through his head and the reasoning’s he gave himself for all the things he did. It would literally be like stepping inside a psychopath’s brain and I think it would make for an intriguing and simply terrifying read.

EmmaNo, I don’t think so. I think Dangerous Boys had such an interesting angle coming from Chloe – she was a completely open book, involved equally with both brothers, and perhaps even the “truest” psychopath of the novel.  I also felt I got a good enough sense of the brothers that new viewpoints wouldn’t give much in the way of new insight?! They’d just be more biased?!

What was your least favorite part of the book?

Mily: I always add in this question but I actually don’t think I have a least favourite part of this book! It was all epic and beautifully written.

EmmaEthan! Haha! He’s just totally not my favourite kind of male character… When he walked into the diner at the start and I realized he would actually be a main character, I almost put the book down. Thank goodness Chloe didn’t instalove him else I’d never have made it to all the awesomeness that ensued!

MilyHaha. Really? I found Ethan a little on the clingy side (as far as boyfriends go) but I didn’t dislike him.

Abigail has a unique writing style to her books. What did you think of the switching between past and present?

MilyLOVED IT! The constant back and forth made it exciting. That’s not even mentioning the fact Abby has this way of lulling me into a false sense of security where I think I’ve figured it out and then with a sentence she can unravel and change the whole book. I can’t wait to reread this as I think it’s going to be like reading a completely different story.

EmmaIt was brilliant! It kept me guessing the whole way through, revealing just enough to ensure I couldn’t put the book down before switching. So much fun! I definitely agree that the sense of false security is the biggest thing with Abigail’s writing style. And oh, the way she rips it from you!

What was the main thing you took away from the book?

MilyThat human’s a messed up and complicated! That it doesn’t take much to unlock that side of us… I’ve always believed in choice, and that we have the potential to be good or bad and it’s the choices we make that determine that. Well, this book shows that to the extreme.

EmmaBlood kissing?! I literally cannot forget that scene!

Chloe and Oliver’s relationship throughout the book was very dark, but do you blame Oliver for the change in Chloe’s character?

MilyNo. I think he flipped a switch but I think Chloe was always like that. I think it was only a matter of time.

EmmaTotally agree with Mily. Oliver definitely didn’t encourage light and sunflowers(!) but I imagine his game is setting things up to watch them tumble beneath their own weight. That’s what I think he did to Chloe; the darkness was there to manipulate from the beginning, he just watched it crack.

MilyExactly! I think that’s also what made Oliver all the more dangerous. He could see something in her and it was a game to him. He loved the power that came with being able to bring out Chloe’s darker side.


What was your favourite moment from Dangerous Boys?

Mily: The ending for sure! I know we (Emma and I) have spoken about it before and I’m still confused. This book messes with your mind and the very last page is so insanely brilliant that I don’t even care that I still have no idea what happened.

EmmaThe ending. I seriously can’t fully process what it means - for the past or for the future! Can I have a sequel please?!

MilyAGREED! Need a sequel.


29 October 2014

Tour Post: The Empress Chronicles


Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for Suzy Vitello's new book The Empress Chronicles. Read for all the details about this great read as well as a little Q&A with the lady herself. 

Enjoy x

THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES
by Suzy Vitello

Pages: 254
Publication Date: September 4th 2014
Publisher: Diversion Books

BUY
Amazon || Barnes & Noble || iBooks || Kobo



In this dazzling first book in the EMPRESS CHRONICLES series by the author of THE MOMENT BEFORE, one courageous girl seeks keys to the past to unlock the future… 

When city girl Liz is banished to a rural goat farm on the outskirts of Portland, the 15-year-old feels her life spiraling out of control.  She can’t connect to her father or his young girlfriend, and past trauma adds to her sense of upheaval.  The only person who seems to keep her sane is a troubled boy who is fighting his own demons.  But all of this changes in one historical instant.
*
One-hundred fifty years earlier, Elisabeth of Bavaria has troubles of her own.  Her childhood is coming to a crashing end, and her destiny is written in the form of a soothsaying locket that has the ability to predict true love.  But evil is afoot in the form of a wicked enchantress who connives to wield the power of the locket for her own destructive ends.
*
When Liz finds a timeworn diary, and within it a locket, she discovers the secrets and desires of the young Bavarian princess who will one day grow up to be the legendary Empress of Austria. It is in the pages of the diary that these two heroines will meet, and it is through their interwoven story that Liz will discover she has the power to rewrite history—including her own… 
 
Readers of books like Rachel Harris’s MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY will love THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES


About The Author


Suzy Vitello is a proud founding member of a critique group recently dubbed The Hottest Writing Group in Portland, and her short stories have won fellowships and prizes (including the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Award, and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship).



Q&A with Suzy

What was the inspiration behind The Empress Chronicles?

My fascination with 19th-century Europe generally, and the historical figure, Sisi – the last Empress of Austria.

What was your favourite fairy tale growing up?

I loved the fairy tales with sisters in them. Rose Red and Snow White, for instance. Something about having two girls with different temperaments in a single narrative has always interested me.

Think quick! Vampires or Werewolves?

Vampires. Sort of. Neither, if pressed.

Who was your favourite character to write and why?

I found Liz’s voice fairly easily. I relate to the outlier personality. A teenager who tends to be interior rather than outgoing. Sisi was harder to write – and more tragic. Sisi started out robust and full of spirit, and as time went on, external conditions tamped her down – whereas my plans for Liz (I have two other Empress books outlined) have her going from shy and introverted to outspoken and brave.

Where did your love for writing come from?

A need to find an outlet for an overactive imagination. I turn observation into narrative in my every day life, and if I didn’t write my head would explode.

If you could pick anyone, whom would you cast in a movie adaptation of The Empress Chronicles?

There is a stunning young Polish actress named Agata Trzebuchowska (in an indie film, Ida), and I think she’d be perfect for Sisi. As for Liz, definitely an actress with serious emotional chops. Like Shailene Woodley. Cory could be played by a roughed up version of Jamie Blackley. Lauren Lee Smith for
Willow. 

What three books would you recommend to readers of The Empress Chronicles?

MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY by Rachel Harris
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Kari Luna
Any of the Stephanie Perkins books: ANNA, LOLA, ISLA …

Here’s a random one for you. If you were living in a Dystopian world that’s ALREADY been written, which one would you choose and why?

Probably THE STEPFORD WIVES. Ha! Seriously – I had a somewhat chaotic upbringing. Young eccentric parents who were also mostly students when I was a kid. I had this secret fascination with what it might be like to have an ordered, pristine household. A mom who wore lipstick and made pot roast. That sort of thing. Of course, I’d last about a day in the dystopian world of Stepford. I’d probably drop an f-bomb at the wrong moment, and that would be that.

What’s the most challenging part of the writing process for you?

Sitting in one place for too long. The physical aches and pains of looking at a screen for hours a day. I have to take long walks to shake my ideas to the next level of depth.

Why did you choose to write for this particular genre?

Young adult? Historical? Contemporary? It wasn’t the genre that I wrote for – it was just a couple of characters who had a story to tell, and when I’d written a draft, I had to find a category for the book in order to sell it (and me) to an agent. (Even though this book is being pubbed after THE MOMENT BEFORE, it’s my debut chronologically.)

What is your favourite genre to read?

Realistic fiction. Family saga – type stories.

Another random one to keep you on your toes. Prince Charming turns up on your doorstep with a glass slipper. It fits, but isn’t yours! What do you do?

Fun question!  I ‘m a huge believer in going with intuition. If the shoe feels like the perfect fit, I say, it’s meant to be!

Lastly, tell us WHY we should read The Empress Chronicles?

It’s the first of three books I have planned that explore the idea of “the road not taken” for one of the most intriguing marriages of the 19th century. It’s the foundation for a fantastical adventure in which a girl from our time tackles her crippling phobias through the interaction with an historical legend. It’s a metaphor for the power of imagination. If those ideas appeal – and you’re the type of reader who can patiently suspend disbelief while being transported to a different time and place, please read THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES!




26 October 2014

Tour Post: The Fall

THE FALL
by Bethany Griffin

Pages: 432
Publisher: Orion Childrens
Publication Date: October 2nd 2014




Summary 


For Madeline, the House of Usher is a nightmare to live in - but impossible to leave - in this brand new Gothic novel from Bethany Griffin, author of the Masque of the Red Death sequence. 
Madeline and her twin brother Roderick have the Usher name, the Usher house - and the Usher disease. Something is wrong with the family's blood - and it seems to have spread to the house itself. Sometimes Madeline even thinks that the house is alive... When Roderick is sent away to school, the house seems to want revenge on the one member of the Usher family left behind: Madeline herself. 
A gorgeous, eerie, darkly Gothic tale, THE FALL is guaranteed to intrigue and enthrall its readers, winning legions of new fans for the talented Bethany Griffin. Perfect for fans of Laini Taylor, Becca Fitzpatrick and Cassandra Clare.


Click photo to go to Bethany's website


Giveaway

UK and Ireland the publisher has been very kind and given me a copy of THE FALL to giveaway!! Enter for a change to win this epic book. 

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23 October 2014

Book Blitz: The Secret Diamond Sisters



The Secret Diamond Sisters (The Secret Diamond Sisters #1)
Release Date: 02/25/13
Harlequin Teen
381 pages

Summary from Goodreads:
Savannah. Courtney. Peyton.

The three sisters grew up not knowing their father and not quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-lost dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite.

Suddenly the Strip's most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.


Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Book Depository | iBookstore

Praise:
"Sexy and often electrifying ... Gossip Girl meets The Princess Diaries in a city that never sleeps." 
--Booklist

"This quick and entertaining read is filled with glitz and glamour ... get ready for one crazy and fabulous ride." 
--RT Book Reviews



Courtney is sixteen years old, and is the middle Diamond sister. She’s the responsible one—she studies hard, does well in school, is a student tutor, and works after school and on weekends to help out her family. Her main goal is to keep up her grades and do well on her SATs so she can get into Stanford, her dream school. She wants to major in English and someday get a career in publishing. She’s competitive with herself and always strives to do her best. 
Courtney’s closest friends are her sisters—with all the time she spends on school and work, she doesn’t have time for anyone else. She’s never had a boyfriend and is fine with waiting to date until college. (She doesn’t need any distractions right now!) She’s not into the high school party scene, and whenever she has time in her busy schedule, her favorite thing to do is read novels. She also loves listening to Broadway music (Phantom of the Opera and Wicked are her favorites) and would love to see a live show someday. 
She’s a natural early bird, and is always awake before her sisters. She could happily wear jeans, t-shirts, and flip-flops every day, and always goes natural with her makeup. Her favorite drink is chai tea. She’s quiet and reserved while first meeting someone, but she will do anything for the people she loves. She would love to travel the world to see historic sites and well-known museums, but it’s always felt more like a dream than a possible reality.

Book Two:
(cover linked to Goodreads)
(Available for Pre-Order)


About the Author
Michelle Madow was inspired to write The Secret Diamond Sisters series while walking through her favorite hotel in Las Vegas. The next book in the series, Diamonds in the Rough, launches in October. Prior to The Secret Diamond Sisters, she successfully self-published The Transcend Time Saga. A tireless promoter of her work, Michelle is active on social media networks and has toured across America to promote her books and encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing. A graduate of Rollins College, Michelle lives in Florida ... but she loves going to Vegas.

To chat with Michelle and other fans about her books, joinMichelle Madow's Street Team on Facebook!


Author Links:
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GIVEAWAY:
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Book Blitz Organized by:

21 October 2014

Q&A with Shonna Slayton

CINDERELLA'S DRESS
by Shonna Slayton

Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: June 3rd 2014
Pages: 340
ISBN: 1622663403


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW OF CINDERELLA'S DRESSES HERE

Being seventeen during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dress is even tougher.
Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she's working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dress, life gets complicated.Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.

BUY HERE



Interview with Shonna Slayton
Author of Cinderella's Dress



What made you want to write this story? What inspired you?

There were two story sparks for Cinderella’s Dress. One was for the dress; the other was for the 1940’s time period.

Browsing through the pictures books with my (then) young daughter, I saw a book by the same name, Cinderella’s Dress, and was drawn in by the cover illustration by Jane Dyer. It’s a drawing of a girl in a ball gown sliding down a banister. I immediately had the idea that Cinderella kept her dress and passed it down as a family heirloom. (The picture book is actually about the animals making the dress.)

The 1940s setting came from this quote from Service and Style by Jan Whitaker:

“Until the personnel shortage of World War II, department store window display staff were all male.”

This quote caught my eye because when I was in high school I worked in a sportswear store and had the opportunity to create a few window displays. It was so much fun, so why were women kept from doing this until the WWII era? *more fun research* It turns out there were several reasons, and I wanted to explore this time in history.

Mix those two ideas together in my brain, and out pops a YA novel, Cinderella’s Dress.

What was your favourite fairy tale growing up?

Confession time. I never read a lot of fairy tales when I was younger. I was a big mystery girl (Nancy Drew, and others.) I rediscovered fairy tales as an adult through the writings of Gail Carson Levine. I picked up a copy of one of her Princess Tales titles, and when I got to her retelling of the Princess and the Pea, I was hooked.

I think the most iconic part of Cinderella is the glass slipper, so why did you choose to focus on her dresses?

I’ve always wondered why the glass slippers didn’t disappear. I guess it bothered me that all the other magical items went *poof*, but not the slippers. What selective magic is this? And if the slippers could endure, why not the dress?

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Aunt Elsie was pretty demanding. She was originally going to be part of the Prologue, and then pass away during the trip to America, leaving poor Uncle Adalbert with the responsibility of explaining everything to my main character, Kate. As it turns out, Elsie was very much alive when I went to write the scene where Kate meets her uncle. I couldn’t believe it when I saw her standing in the hallway! So I rolled with it and wrote her in. She is dear to me, now. (I posted that original Prologue to a secret place on my website. Newsletter subscribers are given the password. Tempted?? You can subscribe here: http://shonnaslayton.com)

How much research went into this book?

Too much! LOL. It is so easy to get pulled into historical rabbit trails. The hardest part was reading all these tragic and heroic tales of WWII, and finding a balance of writing a more light-hearted American home-front story. But if you are reading along and wonder: Is this true? Or Is this a real thing? It probably is (outside of the obvious fairy-tale bits.) I keep several boards on Pinterest (Pinterest.com/shonnaslayton/) to help me keep my research straight. 1940s Homefront, 1940s New York, Poland, and of course, a Cinderella board.

If you could pick anyone, whom would you cast in a movie adaptation of Cinderella’s Dress?

I would like a cast of amazing unknowns! We debuts need to stick together.

I adored the strong family aspect of this book. Was that always your intention when writing this story?

Actually, when I first started writing, the story was going to parallel the traditional Cinderella tale a lot more—complete with evil stepmother and nasty stepsisters for Kate. But I had just finished a fairy-tale binge read and wanted to do something different. So as I was writing, I completely changed course. The more I wrote, the more the story became its own entity.

What’s the most challenging part of the writing process for you?

The first draft. Ugh. I’m so happy once that is over. It hurts my brain.

Why did you choose to write for YA?

I started out writing for YA (magazine articles) and then when I became a mom, my reading level went down to picture books, then chapter books. When my kids became more independent, I had time to write again, and started writing middle grade because I was surrounded by it. But then, when the Cinderella’s Dress idea hit, I was finding it difficult to keep it at the middle grade level. The content and voice kept creeping up into YA. So, I guess I’m back where I started.

 Lastly, what are you working on at the moment?

The sequel! (Likely titled Cinderella’s Shoes, out Fall 2015.) I did leave some threads hanging in case I would get a chance to write the rest of the story. This novel will have the characters going to post WWII Europe. In my mind, the two books are all part of one big thought. I’m excited to show my readers the full idea and I hope they think it’s as cool as I do!



About Shonna


Shonna Slayton finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. While writing Cinderella’s Dress she reflected on her days as a high-school senior in British Columbia when she convinced her supervisors at a sportswear store to let her design a few windows—it was glorious fun while it lasted. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona. You can visit her website at shonnaslayton.com