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Author Interview - Cara Ruegg + Giveaway

Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Today, I'm interviewing Cara Ruegg, who recently self-published her first novel First, to Dream of Love! I adored her book when I first read it on Inkpop and am still as much in love with Eliza and Michael's epic romance as when I first read the book.

Book Synopsis
The Luminarium princess, Eliza, a devout Catholic, visits the dreams of Michael: a dark, satanic prince. Tragedy and fate bring the two of them together, only for malevolent forces to attempt to tear them apart. As their struggle progresses, their love is tested. Both face the prospect of being ostracized from their respective families. In order to secure peace, the lovers make great sacrifices. As their bond grows the powers who seek to destroy them become more and more determined – the attacks upon them more brutal and dangerous.

Together they must rule, or divided, the darkness will encompass all of Secretum.

Author Bio
Cara Ruegg is the author of First, to Dream of Love, a YA fantasy romance. Born and bred in Maryland, she’s been honing her craft as storyteller since she was old enough to speak. She enjoys reading and photography, but most all she enjoys playing her hand at the impossible task of trying to put into words emotions that are too strong to describe.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

Would you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a writer?
How I became a writer…that’s a hard one. I can’t really say. Sometimes I like to think I was just born that way, that it was like in my blood or something. From my earliest memories, I had wanted to write. In fourth grade my teacher would always tell the whole class about my stories, encouraging me to read them aloud, and even inviting a poet to class to come talk to me. I think it was then, because of his encouragement and belief in me, that I decided: I’m going to become an author.

What was the inspiration behind First, to Dream of Love?
Well, one day I was driving to a camping site in PA with one of my friends. Her mom had turned on Loreena Mckenitt’s music. I have a tendency to direct my thoughts to whatever music I’m listening to; so, like, if it’s romantic, I think of something romantic. If it’s dark, I think of something dark. Well, I started playing out in my head this medieval Romeo and Juliet with princes and knights and soldiers, and all that cool stuff, because that’s what the music sounded like, like it came from a medieval era.

I also need to give credit to my Guardian angel. He was super influential too, and I think the main reason this book is what it is. I used to actually talk to him about plot ideas, etc. etc. It probably sounds a little crazy, but it really helped, and while Eliza isn’t based at all on me, her guardian angel, I like to think, is based a bit on how I imagine mine to be.

What experiences did you draw from while writing the story? Was there anything that required research?
I did have to research a bit to try and get a feel for the medieval scenery, the clothes, the way they talked, and so forth. It’s fantasy, though, so I used that as my excuse to throw away rules whenever it fit my whims.

First, to Dream of Love is filled with political intrigue and forces working against Michael and Eliza's relationship. Tell us how you worked this into the story.
Well, it’s very Romeo and Juliet. Two kingdoms, two families, and two sides – good and evil. So, of course, with opposing sides, there’s got to be political drama. It’s pretty much a requirement. Without it, the book lacks its spine.

Michael is a "dark, satanic prince," yet Eliza falls for him. What do you believe makes him so endearing?
In the beginning, I don’t think there are any endearing qualities about him. It’s mainly just divine intervention that brings them together. At an early age, before they even know if the other exists or not, they start to dream of each other. It’s these dreams that really play a role in messing with their emotions, hence the title of the book.

If you were to take readers on a tour of Eliza and Michael's world, where would you take them and why?
I’d probably have to say St. Michael’s Mount in England, not necessarily because of the outward scenery, but because of the symbolic meaning I think each detail gives. First, the vision of the Archangel Michael, which makes me think of the angel Ducaminis in FtDoL, and second because it’s surrounded by water, which makes me think of the look of impossibility regarding Eliza and Michael’s relationship. Throughout the entire novel, it’s doubted that they will stay together. The life of their relationship is in the middle of the water, seemingly impossible to reach, but then the water dies down and leaves a path to their love, like how at low tide St. Michael’s mount is accessible on foot but at high tide, you’ll drown.

Would you share a short excerpt for readers? Why did you choose this particular excerpt?
Love. That is how I plan to save them. That is the weapon I wield. I wield the weapon of love. Like blood it drips down the sword. It knows not hate; it knows not anger; it knows not envy or pride. Love can change hearts. Love can take a stone and mold it into gold. Hatred is love’s curse, but hatred holds no grounds. Love comes at it like fire and smothers it before it can breathe. Love is more powerful than any of the virtues; it is hard to attain and even harder to hold onto, but love is God and God has made all things that have been made. With God all things are possible.

Michael, only twelve and yet more wicked than any man on earth, lays breathing under the blade. It might not work. Striking a mere mortal with a love that is destined does not change the fact that they still have free will – that they can still do as they please, turn their back and walk away into the darkness. Still, I know what I was called here to do. I strike down hard. I watch him bleed. He does not feel. He won’t yet feel. When he awakes there’ll be no blood; his shirt will be white and his hands will be clean, but on the inside I pray I would have sparked something.

This excerpt is from the first two paragraphs of the novel, told from the angel’s perspective, so I didn’t exactly dig very deep, but I feel like it gives a clear picture of the novel. It shows how the love is destined more than it is chosen, which, personally, I think is the most romantic of loves. In our own hands, love can die pretty easily, but in God’s, it’s going to last.

What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on a general fiction novel. It’s about a girl whose father is at war and whose mom is dating someone else. Urged by depression, she starts living a fairly bad life, relying on drugs and temporary pleasure that don’t really do her much good in the long run. She seems pretty hopeless, but then she meets a cancer patient who inspires her to dig a bit deeper to find out who she really is. I haven’t gotten very far into it. It’s just a skeleton without skin right now.

Thank you so much for this, Kris! I really had fun answering these questions.

I enjoyed interviewing with you as well. Congrats on your publication and thanks for joining us today!

Cara has generously offered two copies of First, to Dream of Love. The giveaway is open through August 14th for residents in the United States, Canda, or the United Kingdom.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview. You can receive extra entries each for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of First, to Dream of Love. Then fill out the form below. Do not include your email in the comments section.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

July Winners

Monday, July 30, 2012
The winners of The Magic Warble by Victoria Simcox were Leanor, Soma, and wni.

The winner of So Close to You by Rachel Carter was Kat.

The winner of the signed copy of Darkness Before Dawn was Jenelle R

The winner of The Queen of Kentucky was TayteH

My Summer Reads Giveaway winners were Valerie and Ileana, and they received copies of Savage by Willow Rose!

Winners have all been notified.

Review - Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)
by Sarah J. Maas

Publication: August 7, 2012
Pages: 416
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Celaena is a wonderful character. Despite being an assassin, her heart hasn't died. She helps out her fellow laborers in Endovier, and she loves life. She is also snarky, witty, and extremely talented in her craft. The book is told from various perspectives as needed to build the plot, so we get to see through the prince's and Captain Westfall's minds in addition to others (for lesser amounts of time). As such, I knew almost immediately that I would love Westfall, an honorable and kind man, while I didn't approve of the prince, a player and a selfish man who takes interest in Celaena mostly because she is different and without regard to his position and duties to the land.

Still, there were elements that I found hard to believe. Celaena was trained as an assassin from a young age, and she spent a year in Endovier, a notorious hard labor camp where workers typically die out quickly. So then why is it so easy for Celaena to relax in the castle of the king she hates? And how does she fall for a poison trap so easily (happens towards the end)? The synopsis suggests that there is a love triangle, but Celaena shows little interest in Captain Westfall other than her initial note that he's pretty goodlooking. Mostly, she take interest in the prince, which was a bit odd to me. Celaena has something against his house, and she also seems to understand how court life works. She knows that a romance with a prince will lead nowhere, yet she continues to get involved with him to the last chapter of this book.

There are series of prequels available online that tell how Celaena came to work in the salt mines. I don't plan on buying these as I didn't like Throne of Glass that much, though I have this nagging feeling these prequels may be necessary to understand Throne of Glass itself. The story doesn't reveal much about Celaena's past, and it doesn't fully build her world and how much of the lands came under the king's tyrannic rule. So while I have an idea of Celaena's vendetta against the king, I don't know specifically what she has against him and his house. And I have no idea who exactly is this Sam she misses so much and what happened to him.

For all the flaws, I did enjoy this book, though it isn't one that I would buy or reread. I am intrigued by Celaena's roots and what the evil king has in store for her. There is so much potential to this world. The Throne of Glass has a shaky foundation, and I'm hoping to see the story fleshed out. Consequently, I'll probably be reading book two.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Imagine My Mailbox (27)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kris's Mailbox

For Review
(Ecopy ARCs)

Speechless by Hannah Harrington
I adored Saving June, so I immediately got my copy of Speechless when I saw that it was by the same author. The plot is also intriguing. What secret did the protagonist Chelsea share that got someone almost killed? How will she learn to forgive herself and earn forgiveness?

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
It's not easy to find books about college students out there, which is a shame since college students are another age group where coming-of-age stories would be relevant. It is about new beginnings and learning who you are as an individual, where tween coming-of-age stories are about who you are as a family member, as a member of the community. Beautiful Disaster sounds like an interesting book, and I can't wait to download it on my Kindle and read it)!

Thanks to Harlequin Teen and Simon & Schuster

How about you?
What books have you gotten recently? Leave a link to your mailbox post, and I'll drop by!

Imagine This: Lock up that villain!

Saturday, July 28, 2012
Imagine This is a feature hosted by Austin at Imaginary Reads where he comes up with a question that asks readers to explore a book and come up with an outcome using the power of imagination.

This week's question:
I am creating an intergalactic prison for the most evil villains in literature. I need your help creating the wanted list.

I am offering a prize for the one who comes up with the biggest, baddest villain.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and tell me who should be locked up and why. Whoever can convince me that the villain they name is the worst out there will receive a book of their choice from our books for grab list.

Giveaway open to US only, but anyone is free to comment. Extra entry for tweeting the following message provided below:

Which literary villain would you lock up? Tell us @ImaginaryReads for a chance to #win a book of your choice! #Giveaway

Don't forget to leave a link to your tweet in the comments section to be entered.

Giveaway is open through August 10th.

Review - Circle of Silence

Circle of Silence (WiHi #2)
by Carol M. Tanzman

Publication: July 24, 2012 (Hardback)
Pages: 304
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository


It's my turn to run a "Campus News" crew, and I've put together a team that can break stories wide open. And Washington Irving High has a truly great one to cover, if only we can find a lead.

A secret society has formed in our school. It announced its presence with pranks: underwear on the flagpole, a toilet in the hallway, cryptic notes. A circle of silence keeps the society a mystery. No one knows its members, agenda or initiation secrets-until a student lands in the hospital under "strange" circumstances.

I "will" blow this story wide open and stop others from being hurt...or worse. And while my ex, Jagger, might want to help, I don't trust him yet. (And, no, not because of our past together. That is "not" important to this story.)

But whether you find me, Valerie Gaines, reporting in front of the camera, or a victim in the top story of the sure to watch "Campus News" at 9:00 a.m. this Friday.

Carol M. Tanzman has a gift for writing contemporary stories that explore the real, gritty side of high school life in a way that keeps the reader captivated and hanging onto her every word. Honestly, I'm not fond of the synopsis. It doesn't capture the thrill and shivers and dread that I felt while reading this book. It doesn't capture the essence of the story as did the synopsis for dancergirl (WiHi #1). However, I had read dancergirl, and I remembered how much I loved that book. With high expectations, I picked up Circle of Silence, and I loved it.

Although this is the second book in a series, what ties the books together is that they take place in the same high school. (You can read this without having read dancergirl!) The character are all different, but for a couple references to Ali, which was pretty exciting. I cheered, "I KNOW THAT GIRL!!" in my head, as though I'd spotted a celebrity. In a way, I did. I'm that big of a book nerd.

The story focuses on Val's perspective; however, every now and then, the mysterious leader behind the society gets a word in. Each time, I knew that something bad was going to happen. Because the leader doesn't have anything good to say. What we see is plotting--plotting on how to use the other members of the society, what new and dangerous prank to pull, and who should be eliminated. Each prank is more daring and threatening than the last, and I was hanging off the edge of a mental cliff, worrying that Val and her team wouldn't expose the truth in time to prevent something irreversible from happening. As it is, they come across many close calls.

Val is a very different narrator from Ali. Both have large amounts of pressure put onto them, and both are courageous in their own ways. Ali for going after a stalker; Val for pursuing the truth of the story at all costs. The difference is that Val seems more energetic and with more drive, which comes from the reporter within her. As an aspiring journalist, she is always pushing after the truth, after the story, and her curiosity often gets her into trouble. (And having a stalker isn't very energizing. It's downright scary.) Oftentimes, it causes her to forget about what matters. However, that is at the heart of this story: learning to accept yourself and the proper way to go about doing that. I loved watching Val and her team pursue the story on the mysterious society

Val is a courage girl. It takes a lot of guts to pursue a story as dangerous as this one, especially when you know that the authorities won't do anything to help. With this second book, Tanzman has established herself as one of my favorite authors. I absolutely cannot wait to read the next book that she has lying in store for us!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

YA Spill Feature

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hi everyone!

Today, I'm being featured in the YA Spill with an interview by Cindy Thomas. I hope you'll check it out and maybe give Cindy a follow. Here's the link!

Review - Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits
by Katie McGarry

Publication: July 31, 2012 (Hardback)
Pages: 384
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Buy it: Amazon | KindleB&N | Book Depository

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Noah and Echo are two very real and human characters. Echo cannot remember the day when she got the scars on her arms. Her family is affluent, but her family is broken and she wants to get out of her house. Noah used to be the golden boy until he got stuck in the foster system; for personal reasons, he can't wait until he turns eighteen and graduates high school. Both characters have been assigned to the new school counselor, who is very interested and gets very involved in their lives. While I knew she meant the best for them, I couldn't help but hate her along--and everyone else-- along with Noah and Echo in the beginning. The emotions are so powerful and there.

Noah and Echo help each other to heal from their troubled pasts, I would certainly recommend it based off this premise. The romance is edgy and will appeal to those who love passionate love stories with a slightly forbidden element because of the couple's different social circles. For some reason, it didn't work very well for me, which may be because Noah and Echo don't really commit to each other until towards the end of the book. Mostly, they're using each other in order to resolve their respective conflicts while mostly trying to ignore their strong attraction for each other.

I like Noah's friends much more than Echo's friends. While Noah's friends are stoners, they feel real. Echo's friends are concerned with image and pressure Echo into sitting at the cafeteria and trying to regain her old status in the school when she doesn't want it anymore. They think that she was happy with her old boyfriend and try to set them up with each other, although their relationship was over even before her "accident." I do not approve of friends pressuring friends to do something they don't want to do, much less to have sex. As if sex can fix a broken relationship, especially when that's why a couple broke up. I don't like how Echo allows her friends to push her into doing things that she doesn't want to do, though I understand that she wants life to go back to normal just as much as her friends. And I'm happy about how she grows over the course of the novel and learns how to speak her mind and do what makes her happy.

Pushing the Limits is about letting go of the past and moving towards the future; it is about healing. It is filled with raw emotions and a chemistry that Noah and Echo cannot ignore. It is frustrating. Noah and Echo want things, but they are constantly battered by obstacles: parents, memory loss, social care, the law, youth and inexperience. Much more than a love story, it is about two broken individuals trying to make a place for themselves in the world. The story explores the topics of foster care, memory loss, and bipolar disorder. There is language and suspicion of a suicide attempt. I would not recommend this to a younger teenage audience because of the contemplations of marriage immediately after high school and mentions of sex and drugs.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Author Interview - Melanie Card + Giveaway

Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Today, I'm excited to be interviewing with Melanie Card, author of Ward Against Death, book one in the Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer.

Book Synopsis
Twenty-year-old Ward de’Ath expected this to be a simple job—bring a nobleman’s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can’t be a surgeon—the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying—so bringing people back from the dead it is.

But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she’s been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can’t bring himself to break his damned physician’s Oath and desert her.

However, nothing is as it seems—including Celia. One second, she’s treating Ward like sewage, the next she’s kissing him. And for a nobleman’s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive…

Author Bio
I have always been drawn to story telling. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling a story in my head or on paper. In grade school, we had journal writing time which I turned into story telling time, weaving tales of magic and adventure that mimicked the fairy tales and myths that I loved to read. It was there, with the help of two very special teachers, that I nurtured this love and started my journey as a writer.

I write fantasy, paranormal romance, and everything in between, seasoned with a good dash of adventure and mystery. Join me on my tales of magic, adventure, and romance.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thanks for joining us today, Melanie. Would you tell readers a little bit about yourself and how writing impacts your life?
Thanks for inviting me on your blog today, Kris. I’m excited to be here. I write stories with dark magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romances. I’m addicted to theatre and chocolate… coffee, too, and I have a serious weakness for my husband and my cat. Writing for me has been a constant, I just may not have realized that at the beginning. There have been peaks and valleys in my writing, times when I’ve written like crazy and times when I’ve had no words at all, but regardless of what’s going on in my life I always return to writing. In a way I wish I’d come to this realization sooner—I certainly would have taken fewer detours on my way to embracing a career as a writer. But I think those detours were important and helped me realize how, when everything around me was in chaos, I always came back to writing.

I'm glad that you always come back to writing because we readers get to read your books! What is the best writing environment for you?
At the moment… any place away from the internet. Facebook and Twitter can be addicting, particularly when I’m trying to figure out a difficult scene.

Social media is very addicting. I can testify to that myself! What draws you to the fantasy genre? Will you always be writing fantasy, or do you have plan to branch out into other genres?
I’m honestly not entirely sure what draws me to the fantasy genre. I think, like writing itself, it’s in my DNA. Growing up my house was filled with books and every member of the family had a well-used library card. There were books of all kinds available to me but I always picked the fairy tales, the myths, and the fantasies. I loved the feeling of being immersed in another world where magic was real and where heroes had swordfights with terrible villains. I loved the sense of adventure and olden-times and—if I look back at it with what I’ve learned from school—the romanticized sense of good defeating evil, love conquering all, and an ordinary person becoming extraordinary. I will never say I will always write fantasy, but at the moment I have no plans to branch out into other genres. Fantasy is pretty broad. I can write in any setting, historical or contemporary, I can have lots of magic (like in a more fairy tale type setting) or little magic (in a more magical realism type story), and I can have just about any plot structure I want (like in Ward Against Death I have a mixed mystery/adventure plot with a sweet romance.)

I love reading fantasy for the same reason. It has the most potential for diversity out of all the genres, and I love reading about whole other worlds. How would you describe Ward Against Death in ten or less words?
Reluctant necromancer tricked into helping undead assassin solve her murder.

Haha... I love that line. It describes Ward and his situation perfectly. Having explored fantasy and magic from a young age, you must have come up with many ideas.
Lol. There are sooo many ideas and so little time. And actually for me, it’s more like there are so many characters and so little time. When I start a book I usually have an idea of the type of world it will take place in (low magic vs high magic, historical vs contemporary), and a character or set of characters whose lives I want to turn upside down. It’s those characters and their troubles that draws me to story telling.

Ward's story drew me in from the beginning with its delightful cast of characters and the situations they get into. What about his story impacted you to write about it and submit it for publication?
What made me write Ward’s story is Ward. I have a huge crush on Ward, although you’d never know it by the terrible things I do to him. What I love about Ward is that he’s an average guy who accepts the challenges thrown at him and meets them with determination and integrity. I also love that he’s honorable and respecting and is willing to do just about anything to make sure the right thing gets done. I submitted the story for publication because I had decided I was going to pursue a career as a writer. It took Ward a long time to find a publisher. Ward is not your typical hero and he received many rejections over a number of years before I found a publisher who loved his quirks as much as I did.

I adore Ward, and I'm really happy that you found someone who loves him, quirks and all, or I would never have gotten to meet him! If you were to visit Ward and Celia's world, where would you go sight seeing (assuming you could get away with anything unscathed, even visiting the lair of infamous criminals if you so desired)?
I would want to see everything! Even the stinking sewers just to see if the witch-stone veins are as I imagined them. I would want to dance in the prince of Brawenal’s court at a great feast, I would want to sneak in and overhear a session of the Grewdian Council. I’d want to take sword fighting lessons in the Collegiate of the Quayestri, and I’d want to have lunch on the patio of the Three Ships CafĂ©. And then, I’d pack up my bags and explore the other principalities in the Union.

That sounds like quite the tour! I'd really like to pick up on some of Celia's skills if I wouldn't get mixed up in any funny business. What do you enjoy most about hearing from readers?
I love hearing from readers in general. I love how everyone enjoys something different about the book. It’s wonderful to learn about favorite character and scenes and why. But that’s something I love about writing in general: everyone sees things differently and the story is always just a little bit different for everyone.

Thank you, Kris, for inviting me here today!

Thanks for joining us!

Melanie Card has offered an e-copy of Ward Against Death to one international winner! The giveaway is open through August 6th.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview (in the comment, also let us know if you're entering for the U.S. copy or the international copy). Extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of Unraveling. Then fill out the form below. Do not leave your email in the comments section.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review - First, to Dream of Love

Monday, July 23, 2012
First, to Dream of Love
by Cara Ruegg

Publication: June 2012
Pages: 339
Publisher: Self-published
Buy it: Amazon | Kindle

The Luminarium princess, Eliza, a devout Catholic, visits the dreams of Michael: a dark, satanic prince. Tragedy and fate bring the two of them together, only for malevolent forces to attempt to tear them apart. As their struggle progresses, their love is tested. Both face the prospect of being ostracized from their respective families. In order to secure peace, the lovers make great sacrifices. As their bond grows the powers who seek to destroy them become more and more determined – the attacks upon them more brutal and dangerous.

Together they must rule, or divided, the darkness will encompass all of Secretum.

I first met Cara at Inkpop and fell in love with her writing there. That was where I first read this book, so when Cara told me that she had self-published and was looking for a review, I immediately agreed and she mailed me a copy. As expected, I am still in love with Eliza and Michael's story. Their love is the love of legends. It is a starcrossed love that requires great sacrifice and holds the power to unite their lands, ending the long war between their kingdoms. It is one that will haunt you from the first pages.

Eliza is a devout Catholic, and her undying faith in her God gives her great strength and purity that give her saint-like qualities. Michael has been tempted by demons since as young child; the reason isn't fully explained, but I'm guessing that it is because his land is a dark land. It is mentioned that before meeting Eliza, Michael would kill the devout as much as the Luminariums. This story may be read in many ways. On the one hand, Eliza's faith and her love that saves Michael from the darkness surrounding him may be read into with religious significance. At the same time, this book can be read as a fantasy where heavenly forces are close at hand and play a significant role in the lives of mortals. Above all, this book may be read as the love story that it is. This book has themes and meanings for everyone.

There is a dreamlike quality to this writing, as though it truly is relating the love of legend that is unfolding between Eliza and Michael--the love that was foretold to bring peace to their land. It is beautiful and poetic, and it tells the story without getting bogged down in details. Nevertheless, I did find some backstory lacking. While I have the gist of what's happening, which may be enough for some people, I feel as though I know next to nothing about the war that has been taking place between Eliza and Michael's kingdom. I would have also liked to see the initial stages of their romance played out: more of the dreams and their secret hopes and fears before they finally come face-to-face, more of the demonic struggle that Michael goes through (for I find it hard to believe that he could conquer his demons so easily). I also wonder--as much of a saint as Eliza is, can it be so easy for her to follow some of her guardian angel's commands, such as entering war and forgiving what happens to her brother?

Overall, I do love this book. Its is one of my favorites. It is a very different read from all the other YA books out there and has one of the most epic and beautiful romances that I have encountered in YA lit. The ending foreshadows that while one chapter in the story of Eliza and Michael's heritage has ended, there is more tragedy to come for the kingdom to conquer. Here's to hoping that we see another book set in their world!

Come back July 31st for an author interview with Cara and the chance to win a copy of First, to Dream of Love!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review from the author. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.

Imagine My Mailbox (26)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kris's Mailbox

For Review
(Hardcopy ARCs)

Surprise package sent by HarperCollins

(Ecopy ARCs)

Drain You by M. Beth Bloom
This arrived in the mail back in the United States (I have my sources...) as part of a package sent to me by HarperTeen (the three hardcopy ARCs you see listed). I looked up the synopsis and have no idea what to expect. We'll see when I get back and get the chance to read it!

Sweet Shadows by Tera Lynn Childs
I haven't read book one, as I never got around to it. I honestly have no time or means to read book one, so cheers to hoping I don't get lost while reading this without having read the first book!

Destiny by Gillian Shields
I have not read any of the first three books in this series, though I did skim through book one in the bookstore way back in the day (or did I read all of it?). This is the first book told from Helen's perspective, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to read this as a standalone. Currently ignoring the raging temptation to read the first three books (or I will fall even more behind my TBR&Review pile).

The Unfailing Light by Robin Bridges
 I absolutely LOVE the first book and cannot wait to get started on book two and see where it all goes! But I'm stuck in the U.K. right now and can't download my review copy *twitch* Kindles just won't let you use a public WiFi service to download books, will they?

Two and Twenty Dark Tales by various authors
I recognize some author names and am interested in seeing what dark retellings they have come up with for Mother Goose Rhymes.

Thanks to HarperCollins, Random House, and Month9Books!

How about you?
What books have you gotten recently? Leave a link to your IMM, and I'll drop by!

Hollowed Cover Reveal + Mini Interview

Friday, July 20, 2012
Title: Hollowed
Author: Kelley York
Release Date: August 15th
Author: Website | Twitter
Book: Goodreads

All 18-year-old Briar Greyson wanted was to figure out this whole living-away-from-your-parents thing. Apartment, steady job, cool roommate? Check. Noah, her adorable (albeit elusive) boyfriend? Check. Everything in the life of Briar was pretty good.

Then she and her roommate are attacked on their way home one night. Briar wasn't supposed to survive.

Instead, according to the two guys who saved her, she's turning into the things that attacked her: a vampire. Totally crazy and Not Okay. Now Noah's secrets are coming to light, and he wants Briar dead. Then there are the vampires who attacked Briar to lure out her sister.

Her sister...who died years ago.

(Didn't she?)

The city's body count is rising, and Briar wants to help put a stop to it. But first, she has to figure out who the real enemy is: the vampires, the boy she loves, or the sister she thought she'd lost.

Mini Interview

Describe Hollowed in ten words.
A fast-paced adventure, complete with lies, vampires, shape-shifters, and witches.

How would you define a vampire?
I would define a vampire as a creature who relies solely on blood as nourishment to survive. There have been so many depictions of vampires in books. Mine are a blend of science and magic, and perhaps lean a little more toward human than most. (They breathe, have a pulse, and can starve to death, for instance.)

Describe Briar in five words.
Sassy, uncertain, defensive, loyal, loving.

Describe Noah in five words.
Noah would throw "bad ass" or "international man of mystery" in there somewhere, but I'd say: closet-dork, stubborn, protective, longing, vengeful.

Cover reveal at Kelley's site

Author Interview: Angela Morrison

Today, I'm delighted to be interviewing with Angela Morrison, author of Taken By Storm.

Thanks for interviewing with us, Angela! Tell us a little about yourself and life as a writer.
Sure, Kris. Thanks so much for hosting me today.

In kindergarten I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then I went to first grade and learned how to write. I've been a scribbler ever since--but it took me until I was a grandmother to have my first book published. I'm a NAUI advanced, Nitrox certified scuba diver. I grew up on a wheat farm outside a small town on the Washington/Idaho border--the only Mormon girl in town, except my sisters. In my first book, Taken by Storm, I blended those two worlds to create a stormy romance.

I debuted with Penguin's Razorbill imprint in 2009. My second book with Penguin, Sing me to Sleep, won the Best Books 2011 Award for Young Adult Fiction and was a 2010 GoodReads Choice Nominee. When my editor left Penguin and her boss decided not publish Taken by Storm's sequel, I listened to the encouragement of readers and bloggers who were clamoring to read it and released it independently. To thank them for their loyalty and love, I decided to write Cayman Summer, scene-by-scene, post-by-post on a blog. I loved that experience. I wish I could write every book that way. I love to write, but it gets lonely and can sometimes feel selfish. Having a cheering chorus and instant feedback was incredible.

I signed with a new agent who is working hard to sell my books to big-time traditional publishers, so I can't blog my books anymore. But it's the wild, wild west in the publishing world these days. Who knows? I might end up blogging everything!

It's really cool how you decided to put the sequel up on a blog and went through the book with your readeres! In your About page you also mention that you wrote an amazing about a picture of a white kitten in a colander of spaghetti noodles given to you by your teacher. Would you tell us more about this?
That was first grade, and I wrote it on the chalkboard. Alas, it didn't survive! That creative teacher converted me. I was a writer ever after by the time I hit second grade.

We can all thank your teacher for bringing you into the writing world then! I saw that you like to write about coming-of-age, break-your-heart coming-of-age YA romances. Why are you drawn to this aspect of YA romance?
I wrote YA before it was cool to write YA. I earned an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2004 and learned from master's of the field--Norma Fox Mazer, M.T. Anderson, Ron Koertge, Susan Fletcher, Sharon Darrow, and Louise Hawes. As I studied their novels and other classic young adult and children's books--especially from Katherine Paterson--I discovered that every story was about the struggle to come-of-age.

Some people define coming-of-age as having sex for the first time. That's not what I mean by it. These classic YA authors explore the difficult journey everyone must traverse between childhood and adulthood. They put their characters in tough situations and force them to navigate on their own. I loved that and wanted to attempt it. I'm a romantic so everything I try to write turns into a love story. I blended the two--and that's where the break-your-heart part of the equation evolved.

The YA market was tiny pre-Twilight. And romance was banished to chick-lit. I couldn't find a publisher until Stephanie Meyer blew YA wide open and set off the tidal wave that swept me along with it. Twilight is definitely break-your-heart, coming of age YA romance.

I love coming-of-age YA lit where characters are put in tough situations and grow from their experiences. How do you feel Taken By Storm falls into this category?
Taken by Storm alternates between Michael and Leesie's points-of-view, so I had to give them both a challenge to overcome as the came-of-age. I started off by throwing a hurricane at Michael. He gets swept off a live-aboard dive boat when the storm surge capsizes it. Michael survives. His parents and all his dive buddies don't. To make matters worse, I made him go live with his ailing grandmother in my home town. He goes from spoiled only child who lives in Phoenix and summers in a condo in the Florida Keys--scuba diving and free diving his brains out--to a bereft soul locked in his dad's old bedroom staring at a crack on the wall. Leesie's challenge was easy: Michael. She's a good Mormon girl who keeps the rules (like no sex before marriage), but Michael needs her--emotionally and physically--like no one has before. They come of age together. And hearts will be broken.

Michael and Leesie's situations are unique and interesting. What inspired you to write about the romance between a Mormon girl and a diver?
My husband and I were in Cozumel, Mexico scuba diving when we heard about a hurricane that had hit just south of us in Belize and killed a boatload of divers. I didn't believe it. Divers don't drown. The story haunted me. When I got home, I looked it up. It was true. I followed it online and began asking myself, "What if?" What if a senior guy survived that tragedy but his parents didn't? What would he do? Where would he go? And most of all, who would love him?

I sent him to my home town and used memories and high school journals to create a Mormon girl for him to fall in love with. I couldn't make it easy for him. Leesie's faith added a unique challenge that I could portray with truth and authenticity.

Michael from Taken By Storm and you are both sea divers. What experiences have you drawn upon for the novel?
Well, of course, that was the fun of it. I could use my experience as a diver to create underwater scenes and give Michael authentic memories of the underwater world. When you descend and look around at the landscape of coral tubes and waving fans, blue, yellow, orange fish fitting in tiny coral caves, it feels like an alien world. I loved drawing out my memories and playing with words to find the best way to describe them. I also began paying close attention to the dive masters and instructors we met on our travels. I borrowed eye-lashes from one, curling dark hair on the back of his neck from another, and diver-guy talk from them all.

One thing, though, I knew nothing about: breath-hold or free diving. No tanks. Michael is an elite free diver--his training helps him survive the storm--and I knew nothing about free diving. My wonderful husband took an entire day off scuba diving in Grand Cayman (our favorite place to dive) to take a certification course with me. I was awful at it. But he was great. He did a 55' deep dive by the end of the day.

Wow. Free divers are amazing. I don't think I could go even one-tenth of that length! Taken By Storm is told in a unique way through online chats, Leesie's poems, and Michael's dive log. Why did you decide to tel the story in this format?
Storm started off a dual-first person, he-said-she-said novel. Quite a challenge for a first novel. Readers connect far better to a single, intimate first-person narrator. But I had to have them both. Michael and Leesie's online chats woke me up in the middle of the night, so I worked those in the scenes like dialogue. Michael's sections included intense flashback to the hurricane and the life he lost. Leesie was a poet, and shared a personal poem with Michael, but she narrated in prose.

With some tough advice from Ron Koertge, cheering from Sharon Darrow, and more tough criticism from Louise Hawes, I finished the book and revised it enough for it to be my MFA creative thesis. I kept working on it post-MFA, traded it with colleagues for critique. I decided to turn Michael's sections into dive log entries and let Leesie narrate the rest of the book.

A few editors came close to buying it. One told me if I rewrote the book entirely from Michaels POV, she'd take another look at it. I rewrote it. She missed the dive logs. I rewrote it again for her--this time she asked for third person with dive logs introducing every chapter. Bleck. By the time she rejected that version, my book was broken.

I'd recently attended a SCBWI Conference that featured Markus Zusak. I studied how he crafted The Book Thief from assorted bits and pieces. I'm a fan of poetry novels and considered that format, too. I decided to try something completely different: a collage.

I started with Michael's dive logs. Then I let Leesie be the poet she always wanted to be. I struggled with her character until I let her write it all in free verse. I pulled out all their online chats added more and let them stand on their own as chat logs. And voila! The parts built an amazing whole!

What are you working on right now?
I just sent a new book off to my agent. She wanted something for younger readers. No kissing scenes? No angst? No tears? What's left to write about? I'm nervous. It's called, "The Order of the Flick" and is about a 12-year-old nerd and a 200-year-old automaton (think "Hugo") who save the world. I hope she likes it. I'm trying not to think about.

While I wait for her, I'm delving back into the musical stage adaptation I wrote for Sing me to Sleep. My composer is hard at work writing the music, and I just got some revision notes from her husband, who will direct the first production. I've got some new songs to write and old songs to compress into one giant number. I've started blogging about the project at .

My agent has on submission a couple more YA projects I had to shelve when I was under contract with Penguin. I try not to think about that, either. Any day now she could call me with amazing news. Or awful news. Patience is required in this business. But they are my babies. I love to talk about them.

In My Only Love, I turned my great, great, great grandmother's big brother into the hottest coal mining lad who ever had to leave the lass he loved behind in Scotland and emigrate to dig mines in a new land. It's different from my other books because it's historical, but it has the same intense--break-your-heart coming of age romance at its core.

Slipped is Jane Eyre meets the Terminator--but my post-nuclear winter, rogue, time-traveling assassin, who vows to destroy the past to save the future, ain't no robot. My beta readers tell me he's my hottest hero yet.

Thanks so much for interviewing me, Kris. I'll stopping by throughout the day, so if your readers have any more questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

Thanks for interviewing. I'm excited to hear about your new projects and will be on the lookout for them! As Angela mentioned, she'll be answering questions, so if you have any or just want to leave a note for Angela, please do so in the comments section!

Author Interview - Elizabeth Norris + Giveaway

Thursday, July 19, 2012
Today, I'm delighted to be interviewing with Elizabeth Norris, whose debut novel Unraveling came out April 24th.

Book Synopsis
Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her reincarnation, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI-agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

Author Bio
Elizabeth Norris briefly taught high school English and history before trading the southern California beaches and sunshine for Manhattan's recent snowpocalyptic winter.

She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea, fortunately not all together.

Would you tell us a little about yourself and how you became a YA author?
I always really loved to write. When I was younger, I would go to "bed" and turn off all the lights and then write in a notebook with only a flashlight. I taught high school students in San Diego for several years and writing a YA novel seemed to come pretty naturally.

I read that your long-distance relationship with your boyfriend inspired Unraveling. What other experiences did you draw upon for the writing?
My teaching experiences were definitely an inspiration. The high school Janelle goes to has some similarities to the high school where I taught, and the classroom scenes are books and lessons that I taught. I also drew on the different relationships in my life as I plotted the book and thought about all of the characters. None of Janelle's relationships with her friends or parents are quite the same as mine but a lot of the emotion that she goes through is inspired by what I've gone through.

It's cool how you took past experiences and turned them into something different for your characters. What would Janelle and Ben say to someone facing the possibility of a long-distance relationship?
It's going to be hard. The emotional highs and lows will be exhausting and there will be times you want to just throw in the towel. You just have to hold onto the good moments and remember why you got into this relationship in the first place.

Great advice! Sci-fi, the FBI, and bipolar disorder. You hit some heavy topics in Unraveling. What kind of research did you do for the book?
I actually didn't do too much research. I have a subscription to Scientific American and they've done some really great articles that served as inspiration for the science fiction elements in the book. As did a number of the sci fi movies and television shows that I've watched.

A friend of mine from high school works for the FBI now and he was inspiration for Janelle's dad and Struz, and while I was plotting Unraveling I got a really bad case of flu and was home sick for a week which I spent watching the first two seasons of Lie to Me. That inspired me to do a little research on perception. I kept thinking with a dad in the FBI, it would be really hard to lie to or trick your parents.

The biopolar disorder was also something that I've seen firsthand, and I read a few articles about the disorder and the effects it had on people who lived with someone who wasn't completely functional on their own.

That's a great arsenal of resources you have there. Haha... I imagine it'd be hard to lie to a parent with the FBI. I saw that you like to outline before writing. During the drafting process, did the story change or surprise you in any way?
I do outline, and my outlines tend to be pretty elaborate. My outline for Unbreakable, the sequel, was over thirty pages. Without outlining I would write myself into corners and probably not be able to finish anything. I still do manage to surprise myself though. I get a little surprised while I'm outlining. I'll think of something dismiss it and then think of something crazier and know I have to make it work.

Then when I'm writing every once in a while things change. I'll be working on a scene and it won't matter what the outline says, I'll move in a slightly different direction. I've killed characters when I'm writing a scene even though they're in the rest of the outline. But the real surprises come after I've written the first draft and I go back over the manuscript to do a read through and edit. For instance Cecily wasn't even a character in my first draft of Unraveling, and Janelle and Ben didn't go on a date in the first draft either.

I'm glad Janelle and Ben's date made it into the novel, though Janelle's day out with her brother is a close rival! What do you feel makes Janelle such an endearing and relatable character?
I think Janelle is real and that makes her relatable. She's got flaws and somewhat of an attitude. She's made mistakes and she makes some in the book too. She's misjudged people and been wrapped up in her own problems, but she's tough too and she's trying to do the right thing, and she's not too proud to learn from her own mistakes. At least, those are the things I like about her.

I love Janelle for her misperfections as well, but the biggest factor that made her so relatable to me was family. Janelle looks out for her brother--as a big sister too, I was able to relate to her feelings--and she has a strong relationship with her father. How important was the idea of family when writing Unraveling?
Family was really important to me as I was writing. I think parents and family are a big influence on most teenagers, even if the parents are absent. For Janelle, the person she is has to do with the experiences and the personalities of her family as much as the experiences she's had on her own.

That's true. I wouldn't be who I am today without my family. Many of the characters have dealt with pain and loss. If you could talk to them, what would you say?
I think I'd probably say the same thing to any of them. "I'm sorry. It sucks now, but you'll get through this."

Would you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?
Unbreakable is finished so I'm working on my third book. It's a YA mystery featuring a teenage girl who wakes up barefoot, in the middle of the woods with no memory of the last four days, only to find out that her best friend is dead and her sister is missing.

Elizabeth Norris has offered a signed copy of Unraveling to two winners. One U.S winner and one international winner! The giveaway is open through August 2nd.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview (in the comment, also let us know if you're entering for the U.S. copy or the international copy). Extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of Unraveling. Then fill out the form below. Do not leave your email in the comments section.

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Tiger Lily Tour Stop + Giveaway

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Today, I'm excited to be interviewing with Jodi Lynn Anderosn as part of the blog tour for her latest YA title Tiger Lily, a brilliant work of literature. I fell in love with the book from the first pages. Actually, the first line of the synopsis!

Book Synopsis
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Author Bio
I write books about vaguely magical peach orchards, resorts in the afterlife, enigmatic island princesses beloved by Tinkerbell, and...civics! I was an awkward and strange child who kept lots of secrets. Now I live with a sweet Basenji dog named Peanut who loves to eat shoes, and a sweet husband who is good at all the things I'm bad at, like being organized and thinking things through. I've loved writing and reading about mythical and strange things since I can remember.

Thanks for joining us today, Jodi! First, would you tell us a little about yourself and how you become a writer? 
Excellent questions! Thank you!

I was a secretive child and I kept secret notebooks under my bed filled with stories and journal entries. I was always so private about my writing, and I never dreamed I’d publish books. I studied English literature in college but was too shy to take a writing class – still, all that reading helped to mold the way I wrote. Eventually I became an editor, because I loved working with other people on their books. And eventually, all that editing helped me lose my shyness and start sharing my own writing. From there it just grew – I left my job to write full time.

What inspired you to retell Peter Pan with the focus on Tiger Lily, and why through Tink's perspective?
J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy is one of my favorite books. During a late night conversation with my best friend about book characters whose stories hadn’t been told, I thought of the native princess Tiger Lily. I started asking myself why, with a courageous and beautiful girl like her on the island, Peter would have devoted himself to Wendy. And that was it: I had a strong, sudden sense of a great and difficult love story, and two people letting each other down, and I felt like I had to write it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I'm so glad that you decided to do so. I love the new take on Neverland. I'm sure a lot of us are asking the same question: Why did you decide to make it as dark and dangerous a world as it is?
I really tried to take a cue off of Barrie’s original book, in which Neverland is such a dangerous place. In Barrie’s story, it represents the darkest and wildest parts of our imaginations. So I wanted everything to be truly scary; the pirates are seriously creepy, the mermaids are deadly. And I wanted to contrast that to the appeal of safe, civilized, far-away London – I wanted London to dangle like a carrot in the distance, tempting Peter and the lost boys with its safety. Iwanted there to be this conflict between being true to the wilderness in one’s soul, and being comfortable and safe.

Many of the characters' actions are reminiscent of the original story, yet they are different at the same time. What kind of challenges did you face while retelling the story in a new fashion and keeping true to it at the same time? 
I have such deep respect for the original book, which is such a masterpiece! I knew I was walking on tender ground, and that making Peter older was taking a huge liberty. But I tried to respectfully stick to Barrie’s themes: growing up, individuality, loss. And I tried to touch playfully on all the major story points: the crocodile with the clock in its belly, for instance (in my version, the clock belongs to Tiger Lily’s father, who loves gadgets). Also, in the past, Tiger Lily’s tribe has been portrayed pretty offensively, so I tried to approach that very tenderly and consciously. I tried to base the tribe on small town life in general, rather than on any real group of tribal people: I tried to take small town life to fairy tale proportions. The whole thing was a tender process – I felt like I was carrying a precious and breakable egg and trying not to drop it!

I appreciate how you took liberties while balancing it with the original story. It is what makes Tiger Lily such a unique and wonderful read. Peter is a boy who hasn't fully matured, yet he's shouldered the great responsibility of caring for the lost boys in a dangerous world, forcing him to grow up a bit quickly. How did you balance his vulnerability with his leadership role?
That was definitely tough, and I turned to the original story a lot for clues on how to deal with that. I tried my best to show Peter’s inner conflicts – he’s constantly strong but also, constantly vulnerable. One minute, you think he doesn’t have a care in the world, and the next, it seems like the weight of the world is on his shoulders. With the lost boys, it’s this combination of wanting to lead them but also, wanting to be taken care of. That’s where Wendy comes in.

Peter is a wonderfully complex character, and it really shows through his actions. How have the characters changed since you first envisioned them? Was there a character in particular that surprised you? 
Tik Tok and Pine Sap seemed to come out of nowhere as I wrote, which is so weird, because now the story couldn’t exist without them! Tik Tok, with his love of wearing dresses and giving himself fancy hair-dos--combined with his wisdom about human nature--stole my heart. And Pine Sap…he’s Tiger Lily’s best friend and unconditional ally. To me, he is a true hero.

I adored Pine Sap as well and was so glad that he was a constant throughout the story. Do you see Neverland as being an island in our world? Why did you decide to make the setting as it is?
Interesting question! I picture Neverland as an isolated tropical island -- somewhere far off the beaten path (it doesn’t come up on Trip Advisor, but it’s still out there!) I like the idea that reality can be magical, so instead of making Neverland fantastical, I made it isolated --- so that life could have evolved differently there: hence the mermaids, and faeries, and people who never grow old. Also, it’s so interesting to me that just a couple of hundred years ago, people didn’t know what surprises lurked on the other side of the globe: it seemed pretty possible to them that there might be sea monsters and mermaids. I love trying to put myself in those shoes.

We all know how Peter's story will end and thus where a part of Tiger Lily's story ends. Where do you feel the heart of your story is and how did you go about getting there?
I think the heart of this story is the idea that a love that doesn’t work can still be a great love, and can still change your life in enormous ways. At heart, this is a true and difficult love story.

What can readers next expect from you?
I’m working on a chilly ghost story set on a peninsula in Wisconsin, about two girls who live next door to each other but have vastly different lives. And I’m working on a middle grade book called The Ordinary World, about a journey across the earth.

Because I love this book so much, I am giving away a Kindle copy of Tiger Lily to one international reader. The giveaway is open through August 7th.

To enter, follow Imaginary Reads and leave a meaningful comment on the interview, then fill out the form below. Extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway and commenting on my review of Tiger Lily. Do not leave your email in the comments section.

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