Monday, April 28, 2014

Blog Tour: The Fearless by Emma Pass (A Day in the Life of a Writer)

In the mood for some action-packed post-apocalyptic intrigue that's also a standalone? Then you've come to the right place!

The world changed when Cass was ten years old. A cure developed for soldiers' PTSD turned them into highly functioning zombies who took over the world in a matter of weeks. Cass's family had connections, so she was whisked away to the safety of an island community called Hope. Seven years later, the real world comes calling in the form of a fearless girl who kidnaps her younger brother Jori.

Told from three perspectives to get the most wide-ranging perspectives on this frightening new reality, THE FEARLESS leads you on a harrowing journey where not everyone is who they seem to be.

Find out more about THE FEARLESS. Out now in the UK, coming in early 2015 to the US.

I'm thrilled to welcome Emma to the blog today to talk about what her dream writing day looks vs her actual writing day. 

The Dream

I begin the day with some yoga or a gentle run – it's a well-known fact that getting the endorphins flowing boosts creativity. After that, I eat breakfast and drink a cup of green tea before disappearing into my study. And it's still only 6am!

I love my study. Spacious and lined with bookshelves, it's flooded with natural light and has a view over fields and woods. I boot up my computer and, with soft classical music playing over the speakers, I dive back into the story I'm writing. The words flow like water. This is my best book yet – my editor is going to love it. With 2K written before lunch, there's time to go for another run. Then it's back to it. By the end of the day, I have 4K written and the end is in sight. Perfect! Now for a light, healthy dinner, and perhaps a movie – I've earned it!

The Reality

Peel open an eyelid. Crap. It's 9am already. Why did I stay up so late last night watching TV? Better get up. G-Dog needs feeding. And I need coffee. COFFEE.

Stumble downstairs. Start to spoon coffee into dog bowl before realizing mistake. Somehow get dog fed and self caffeinated. Stumble into living room (I don't have a study; my office is the sofa). Better switch on the computer and start writing, seeing as my deadline is, like, a week away. But I need to check my emails. And Facebook. And Twitter. And my emails again. And look, there's a funny story about cats on The Poke…

Argh! 11am already. Right. Time to do some work. Oh, wait, G-Dog needs a walk. Better take him or he'll start barking at me and running circuits round the living room.

12pm. TIME TO START WORK. Actually, I'm a bit hungry. What's for lunch?

1pm. Come on, brain. 1K words today or else. Ugh, look at the dust under the armchairs! I need to clean this house now.

3pm. OK. House is clean. That's much better. I can think now. Time to – Wait, I have 10 new emails? Better check them. They might be important.

Dammit, they're all from Amazon. OK. I really must stop messing about and WORK. If only I wasn't so stuck with this chapter. Why the hell did I leave my heroine adrift in a hot air balloon? Maybe I should just delete this bit and start again.

4.30pm. I've written 200 words! That deserves a Facebook break, surely.

6pm. Argh, is it that time already? G-Dog needs feeding again. And there's no time to cook. Thank goodness the local Chinese delivers. It's a bit embarrassing that they know me by name, but never mind…

9pm. 500 words. Hooray! I'd better take G-Dog for another walk – he's giving me The Look. And then I'm going to get an early night. No, really…

Thank you Emma! My writing day looks pretty similar to the latter, substituting cats for the dog...

Follow the entire tour:

FTC disclosure: Book provided by author

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Readathon Wrap-Up

Another readathon has come to an end. It's always fun to follow the #readathon hashtag on twitter and see all the books that everyone is devouring!

I ended up reading 1000 pages.

I started out with DISSONANCE by Erica O'Rourke. This YA science fiction multiverse novel clocks in at 500 pages (!!!) and has some of the most intricate worldbuilding I've read in a long time.  Look for it in July.

Then I read a short story on, NOMA GIRL by Elizabeth Fama. It's a companion to PLUS ONE and tells the story of how Gigi met Sol's brother Ciel.

I also read another 70 or so pages of the secret 2015 novel.

Finally, I read FEARLESS by Emma Pass. It's a YA post-apocalyptic out now. I'll be talking more about it tomorrow on the Fearless Blog Tour.

And I'm out ...

How'd you do?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Readathon Kick-Off

I have a bunch of books I want to read by the end of the month, and I saw that the Readathon was happening today, so I decided to join in!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Home in Frankfurt, Germany. It's a little past 2 pm, and sunny! I'll probably read on the balcony to enjoy the nice weather.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I have a bunch of eGalleys I need to read before they expire. And I have a book by a 2015 debut author which is SO GOOD. I can't wait to get back to it.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Whoops. Forgot the snacks.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I did hot yoga this morning, my 13th session this month!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I've participated in a few. Usually I get tripped up by trying to read a book that's going too slow for me. If that happens, I'll put it down and move on.

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blog Tour: Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

Welcome to my stop on the BURN OUT blog tour. I'm especially excited to interview Author Kristi Helvig today because I loved BURN OUT so much, I blurbed it. See?

I was fascinated by Tora's story from page one. Imagine being the only person left on a dying, scorching Earth and knowing that if you don't somehow get off the planet, your days are numbered. That's what Tora is facing, and yet she doesn't give up hope. And she has the guts to protect her father's legacy at all costs.

The official summary (you might see something familiar...)

A futuristic blend of Beth Revis's Across the Universe and Lenore Appelhans's Level 2, Burn Out will satisfy the growing desire for science fiction with a thrilling story of survival, intrigue, and adventure.

Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth's final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns "red giant," but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.
And now, please welcome Kristi!

I think thanks to BURN OUT’s summary, the first question all of my blog readers are going to have is, in what way is BURN OUT like LEVEL 2 (aka THE MEMORY OF AFTER)? And who had the idea to use LEVEL 2 as a comp title?

I think both books are similar in that they imagine a world very different than the one we live in today, and though the settings of our books our quite different, both worlds are navigated by strong, female heroines. Our heroines both struggle with complicated feelings toward certain members of the opposite sex, while dealing with life and death issues at the same time. Neither world is easy and the main characters become stronger in some ways, yet more vulnerable in others. It was my editor’s idea to use LEVEL 2 as a comp title, so naturally, I read it that same night and loved it! I can’t wait for Chasing Before to come out this summer!

While I was reading BURN OUT, no joke, I was clutching a bottle of water the whole time. It just made me so thirsty! Were you the same way while writing? Did exploring the concept of the Earth heating up change anything about the way you live?

Ha, yes, I wrote the first draft of BURN OUT in the summer and remember how scorching hot it was on some of those days. Writing the book made me even more conscious about the value of our natural resources and though I’ve always tried to be eco-friendly, I’ve definitely stepped things up a notch. My seven-year-old just learned a song about “water-wasters” for Earth Day at school, so we’re trying to keep the faucet off while we brush our teeth, etc. Sometimes, I’ll get filtered water from the fridge tap and feel intense gratitude that I have clean water on demand. That’s sadly not the case for many parts of the world.

Your supporting characters are so complex and fleshed-out. Is there one of them you could see being the star of his/her own novel? Or maybe one of those eShorts that are so popular these days?

Thank you—they were so much fun to write. I just turned in the sequel to BURN OUT and Markus became my favorite character in the book, so I could see him him being the star of his own novel. He’d certainly think he deserved it and that it would be the best book ever!

Tora's father built a secret room to store all their weapons. If you had a secret room in your house, what would you store in there?

Books. I loved that whole secret book labyrinth in The Shadow of the Wind. Maybe some good bottles of wine too. That way, I can enjoy some great vintages with some great reads.

And just for fun, how do you think Tora would react if she landed in the world of FROZEN and met Elsa?

Thanks to my seven-year-old, I’ve seen the movie about fifty times already. I think Tora would be in absolute awe of the snow and ice, since it’s something she’s never experienced. She’d probably love Elsa and ask her to make snow cones for her on a daily basis, though Tora might ask her to stop singing after the fiftieth rendition of “Let it Go.” Or maybe that’s just me. ;)

Thanks again for having me! :)


Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy author. She muses about Star Trek, space monkeys, and other assorted topics on her blog and Twitter. Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, two kiddos, and behaviorally-challenged dogs. Grab a copy of BURN OUT on Amazon, Indiebound, or Barnes & Noble.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are loving this week:


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Characters Who Are ... CATS!

It's Top Ten Tuesday and also Cat Tuesday, so I couldn't resist combining the two today.

My favorite cat characters:

1. Hamweenie from The Amazing Hamweenie by Patty Bowman

2. Fat Cat from What Will Fat Sit On? by Jan Thomas

3. Fabian from Hondo And Fabian by Peter McCarty

4. Pete the Cat from Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean

5. Prin from Fashion Cats

6. Junkyard Cat (aka, Special Agent Jack Bauer) from the TV series It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

7. Grimalkin from The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa

8. Maruman from The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody

9. The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland

10. The Aristocats

Bonus photo of Emmy and Kaia:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: Enders by Lissa Price

You might recall how much I enjoyed STARTERS, and ENDERS is just as entertaining, fast-paced and twisty.

ENDERS focuses on the Starters who joined up with Prime Destinations and got the chip in their heads. They are now called Metals (probably a more apt title for this installment than Enders, if you ask me), and the head of the now destroyed Prime Destinations is rounding them up and controlling them remotely.

Callie is especially prized because she is the only one of the Metals who has overcome her no-kill programming, and she's also a talented sharp-shooter. She hears the icky voice of the Old Man in her head and he threatens to kill her younger brother if she doesn't cooperate with him. But just as she surrenders herself, a competitor to the old man rescues her as thus begins an epic battle of technology and wills.

What I especially loved about ENDERS was how unpredictable it was. I had no idea where the plot was going and I was genuinely shocked by many of the developments and reveals. The end was satisfying, but made me wish that there were going to be more books in this series.

ENDERS is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: Bought. The author is a personal friend. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review: She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

This was a great find for me because probably about ten years ago I became obsessed with coincidence after reading a bunch of books about coincidence by coincidence.

Those books were:

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland
The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done by Sandra Newman
The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

So this was a A LOT of fun for me for that reason, but I also loved the puzzles, the quirky details, the history lessons and the sheer absurdity of the plotline.

Laureth (named after a shampoo ingredient) answers her father's fan mail (he's an author!) and get a message from someone who has found one of his writing notebooks in New York. But her father is not supposed to be in New York so Laureth worries something is wrong. She worries so much in fact that she kidnaps her younger brother and takes a flight from England to NYC to search for him. 

Laureth is blind, so she needs her brother to help her find her way. Sedgwick does an amazing job of putting us in Laureth's shoes, imagining what it might be like to be visually impaired. Even though Laureth is reckless, she wins points for her endearing relationship with her brother and her drive to never give up.

In addition to the mini-lectures on coincidence, Sedgwick also explores how first impressions can be deceiving to great effect. 

SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE is available now in the UK and comes out in the US next Tuesday. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: Review copy from the publisher via Netgalley

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

David's parents join a cult that claims to know the date of the rapture (which they call the rush) - the night of David's prom. When David sneaks out on rush night, and then comes home to find his parents gone and their clothes laid out on the bed, he and his sister begin a frantic search for them. Or did the rapture really happen?

There were so many aspects of this novel that I enjoyed. I loved the narrative tension that Smith-Ready creates with this premise. I needed to find out what happened to the parents and that kept me reading, even through the parts that dragged. Also, David's characterization is nicely handled. He's a Christian who has doubts and asks questions, but still keeps his faith, and I liked that. I thought his interactions with his sister Mara were great too. She's completely fed up with her parents and criticizes David frequently, and yet you can see that they genuinely love and support each other.

Oh and the father's dialogue? Hilariously clever. It amused me to no end that he only spoke in bible verses and it showed how single-mindedly dedicated he was to the cult.

I was less interested in David's romance with Bailey. Smith-Ready alternates between a "then" and "now" timeline and most of the "then" chapters deal with David falling in love with his math cave classmate. Bailey's family does make a fascinating contrast to David's, at least on paper. Whereas he is home schooled for conservative religious reasons, she is home schooled because her parents are liberal iconoclasts. This extreme difference carves out ripe possibilities for a forbidden romance, but I never felt the tension. I found myself becoming increasingly impatient during David and Bailey's scenes because I was so much more invested in the "now" timeline and the mystery surrounding David's parents and wanted to get back to it.

THIS SIDE OF SALVATION is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: The publisher provided me with a free eGalley of this book via Edelweiss. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bookanista Review: Noggin by John Corey Whaley

When I first saw the concept of this book, that a 16 year old boy's head is cut off, cryogenically frozen and then reattached to another body five years later, I thought it was too absurd NOT to read. (I love absurdity in my fiction after all)

What I expected from the cover was an all out comedy, but while there were parts of this novel that were funny and I did laugh out loud quite a bit, it was actually quite an honest and heartbreaking look at facing death and getting a second chance at life.

Recently I watched the French TV series The Returned, and what fascinated me most about it was the look at how these people who came back from the dead years later no longer fit into their lives and how they and their loved ones came to terms with that (or not). Noggin explores this as well, and Travis's situation was similar to Simon's in the TV series, where he came back to find his girlfriend was engaged to another man.

Noggin has none of the creepiness of The Returned, though. Despite its' absurd sci-fi premise, it feels very contemporary. Travis's voice is yearning and sweet as he pines for his old life (without the body that let him down) and his soulmate Cate. The subplots and sub-themes support the main plot and theme well (with a surprising twist too) and everything just gelled for me story-wise. I definitely had some tears in my eyes at the end.

Noggin is out in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FTC disclosure: Won in a GoodReads Giveaway

What the other Bookanistas are reading this week:

Tracy Banghart swoons for STAR CURSED by Jessica Spotswood
Rebecca Behrens raves about PUSH GIRL by Bookanista Jessica Love
Christine Fonseca is riveted by SEKRET by Lindsay Smith
Jessica Love sings the praises of OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord
Kimberly Sabatini loves BRAZEN by Katherine Longshore
Katy Upperman is crazy for THE SYMPTOMS OF MY INSANITY by Mindy Raf

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Return of Cat Tuesday (87) - VIDEO!

Yesterday Emmy objected to being brushed rather strongly:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

On Setting Goals: The April Challenge

After six relatively unproductive months of surgery and recuperation (I say relatively, because I wrote, revised and checked copyedits and first pass pages on THE BEST THINGS IN DEATH (12K), + checked copyedits and first pass pages on CHASING BEFORE, + revised a picture book for a resubmit), now that I am mostly healed, I decided I wanted to make April a very productive month.

How? I pledged per day to:
- write 1k a on Works in Progress
- participate in some form of exercise (no sit-ups allowed until May though)
- run at least one errand from my to-do list
- read a book for one hour

I've now been on this regimen for 6 days and so far I have:
- written a little over 6k on two different novels
- done hot yoga 3 times, hiked twice and the shred once
- managed to check off 6 items from my to-do list
- read one book (400 pages) + 60 pages on another

Writing-wise, my words are flowing well. I am trying to turn off my editing brain, and it's sort of working. This prose is definitely rougher than I'm used to.

Yoga has been challenging but invigorating. The shred was a nightmare to come back to. It's a little sad to see how out of shape I am after 6 months of hibernation.

So far so good! I'll update you on my progress again next week.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Top Ten List of Date Ideas for Smudges: Elizabeth Fama on Plus One (+Giveaway)

I read PLUS ONE recently and adored it. I wrote this blurb for Bloggers Recommend:

Don't call it dystopian, but Fama's thrilling new novel tackles a society where people have permission to either be out during the day (rays) or the night (smudges), but not both. While trying to do a favor for her dying grandfather, Smudge Sol breaks her curfew and goes on the run with a day boy, setting up an epic star-crossed romance. Plus One is heartbreakingly perfect.

So obviously I jumped at the chance to be part of Elizabeth's blog tour.

I asked Elizabeth to share with us what kind of dates a smudge might go on. And here's what she had to say:

I'm so happy to be on Lenore's blog! Can I admit that it has been a secret dream of mine for years?! I may even have written a novel with a dystopia feel just to achieve it. :)

The Top Ten List of Date Ideas for Smudges:

10. Watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan from a boat.
In the world of PLUS ONE, the open seas (and Great Lakes) are the only places that are not subject to curfew. (The curfew bell sounds exactly when the upper edge of the sun breaks the horizon, at sunrise and sunset.) Thus, many Smudges and Rays in Chicago may never have seen a sunrise over the water, unless they live in a high-rise along the lakefront or own a boat.

9. Hide from Hour Guards in the steam tunnels under the University of Chicago. 
Granted, the tunnels are really hot and humid, but in a pinch you can spend daylight hours there, all alone together. ("Warning: Check with a doctor before use if pregnant, in poor health, or under medical care. Breathing heated air in conjunction with consumption of alcohol, drugs, or medication could result in unconsciousness.")

8. Meet the 'rents! 
You're taking your relationship to a new level. Time to figure out the complexity of his family dynamics, and endeavor not to say something stupid, all while feeling feverish!

7. Hunker down under Lake Shore Drive and whisper into the night. 
Your feet near his face, his feet near your face. Hey, it's a lot more romantic than it sounds.

6. Run out of gas in another state. 
Oh, darn! *snaps fingers in dramatic resignation* You're stuck with each other now!

5. Look at the stars while lying in a field.
Contemplate something bigger than yourself, savor the moment of being quietly together. The Milky Way was on your bucket list anyway.

4. Sleep side by side in a cave.
Ugh, it's damp and chilly and sandy and there are bats! But the guy you're with is awesome. You're feeling warm after all!

3. Get a (Noma) makeover.
Mullets were in fashion once. Maybe it could happen again? Besides, nothing signals togetherness more than getting pierced, dyed, and tattooed together!

2. Negotiate a hostage situation. 
Anyone can grab a pizza on their date, but only power couples can navigate the game theory of kidnappings and come out on top.

1. Steal a baby. 
The basis for many great relationships in history! (Hmm, come to think of it, maybe there's only one other: Hi and Ed McDunnough in Raising Arizona.)

More about the book:

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story

Add to Goodreads

Buy at:

Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Author Bio:

ELIZABETH FAMA is the YA author most recently of Plus One, an alternate-history thriller set in contemporary Chicago. Her other books include Monstrous Beauty, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection and an Odyssey honor winner, and Overboard, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a society of Midland Authors honor book, and a nominee for five state awards. A graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in biology and an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in economics, she lives with (and cannot live without) her boisterous, creative family in Chicago.

Check out her:

Website / Twitter / Tumblr

Follow the tour: (a chance to win the book at every stop!)

March 31st - Fiction Fare
April 1st - The Starry Eyed Revue
April 2nd - Ivy Book Bindings
April 3rd - Carina's Books
April 4th - Presenting Lenore
April 5th - Shae Has Left the Room
April 6th - The Best Books Ever
April 7th - Teen Librarian Toolbox
April 8th - Love is Not a Triangle (Release Day)
April 9th - The Bevy Bibliotheque

Win the book:

I have one hardcover copy of PLUS ONE up for grabs. Fill out this form by April 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm CST. Restricted to US and Canadian residents. Prize shipped by tour operator.

FTC disclosure: Netgalley