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Blog Tour: HIS COUNTRY BRIDE by Debra Holt, Review and Novel Secrets
Apr 15th, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

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ABOUT HIS COUNTRY BRIDE:His Country Bride cover 19mar2016_blurbs

Sheriff’s Department! Raise your hands above your head and don’t move.

She’s a runaway bride who left her two-timing fiance at the altar. He’s a county sheriff determined to keep the peace in his country and leave city girls alone after his own fiance left him for the bright lights of the city. Neither of them planned on running straight into each other…over a burning wedding dress.

Ellie and Lucas planned on never trusting their hearts to love again. When danger follows her from the city, the sheriff must do his duty to protect her. However, it isn’t long before he discovers the real danger may be to his heart. Ellie just might teach him that even a city girl can be a country girl at heart.

 

REVIEW:

His Country BrideHis Country Bride by Debra Holt

Bring on the tough, but sensitive sheriff and the school teacher in a beautiful setting! Small town, inherited old house, and a fire to burn that bridal gown! HIS COUNTRY BRIDE is a sweet, sweep-you-off-your-feet, quick read adult romance that will definitely please anyone who loves a HEA.

Thanks you so much to the publisher for providing a review copy!

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon

Book Trailer:

ABOUT DEBRA HOLT:Debra Holt

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers. Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most. She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).
Debra’s real pride and joys, however, are her son, an aspiring film actor, and a daughter with aspirations to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (more story ideas!) When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure. She read her first romance…Janet Dailey’s Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary western romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs… to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.
Debra invites you to visit her website at www.debraholtbooks.com. She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at debraholtbooks@gmail.com.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

4/4: The Irish Banana Review

4/5: Emily Reads Everything

4/6: In Wonderland

4/7: Life According to a Bibliophile

4/8: Emilie’s Book World

Week 2:

4/11: Kimberly Faye Reads

4/12: Polished Page Turners

4/13: Books Are Love

4/14: Silk & Serif

4/15: Who R U Blog

 

Novel Secrets:

His Country Bride was my first contemporary romance and it was fun to write. It also has so many elements in it of my hometown area, my love of all things country, and the dog in the book has special meaning for me, too. The idea for HCB came about as I was driving along a beautiful road next to a river in the Texas hill country. On one side was the river and the other was a ditch filled with spring wildflowers…notably my favorite Bluebonnets, some pink primroses, and Indian Paintbrush. Then there was an old barb-wired fence separating the ditch from a beautiful pasture where peach trees were just filling out.

My brain began to go into its own mysterious mode (for want of better description) and in my mind I did a what-if game…what if a hero…say a county sheriff… was driving along this road and on that old barbed-wire fence post was something that caught his eye? And that something was a bridal veil? That would certainly catch his attention. So he stops, gathers up the veil, his gaze seeking the errant bride and he spies some smoke across the pasture. Naturally, he must investigate. That was the original beginning to His Country Bride…as simple as that. Of course, as editors do, changes are made and the beginning changed a bit but I still got that veil in there in another scene!

People always ask, “where do your story ideas come from?” Well, they come in a blink of an eye…no warning, at any time and any place. It could start with a bit of conversation overheard in a café, or catching a quick glimpse of a billboard next to a highway, or in the steady gaze of a real Texas Ranger. (I write many books with Texas lawmen as the heroes) I often have no warning before they strike. That is why my initial notes or chapters have been scribbled in longhand on things such as paper napkins, café menus, or pieces of cardboard… whatever I could reach the fastest to get the words recorded that pour from my brain like turning on a water tap. Friends who are with me at these times, have gotten used to this. One telling the waitress who was afraid I was having some sort of fit at the table… “don’t worry…she’s just a genius at work.” LOL  I am no genius…just a writer of romance. I hope you enjoy reading about the runaway bride and the country sheriff who captures her heart.

Blog Tour: ABOUT ESSENTIAL MAPS FOR THE LOST-Novel Secrets, Review & Giveaway
Apr 12th, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

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ESSENTIAL MAPS FOR THE LOST Blog Tour

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

About ESSENTIAL MAPS FOR THE LOST:

When Madison makes a startling discovery, the body of a dead woman floating in the middle of a lake, the summer after her senior year becomes more complicated than she ever expected.

Madison (Mads to everyone who knows her) is staying with her aunt and uncle in Seattle after graduating from high school. Being away from Essentials Maps for the Lost - Coverher needy, unstable mother who’s been pressuring her to take over the family business is such a relief. Now all Mads has to worry about is taking classes, swimming laps, and fighting off the sadness that threatens to overtake her.

That is, until the traumatic moment Mads collides with a body in the middle of the lake. After swimming the body back to shore, Mads becomes obsessed with uncovering the identity of the woman and what drove her to leap off of the Aurora Bridge. Determined to discover more, Mads parks outside the woman’s home and sees the woman’s son: the sweet and tormented Billy Youngwolf Floyd.

Through a series of not-so-happenstance meetings, Mads and Billy realize that desperate mothers and rescue missions are not the only thing that bonds them. Billy carries a map in his pocket; the one of the museum from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; and it’s his dream to visit the museum one day. And though book-loving Mads is expected to return home to her already-decided future, her dream is to run away to a life of her choosing.

As the unlikely pair fall hard for each other and as the summer draws to a close, Billy and Mads must decide whose story to follow: their family’s or their own.

Novel Secrets: A peek behind the scenes of Essential Maps for the Lost

I once lived part-time in one of the houseboats on Lake Union. These are not the kinds of boats you drive – think “Sleepless in Seattle,” a home on top of water. On the houseboat docks it’s all magic – seaplanes and twinkling city lights, sprinkled with an assortment of wacky neighbors and charming tugs, barges, sailboats and kayaks cruising past. Often, the sailors will wave as they glide by, and you will wave back as you stand at the dock. But the houseboats can be a bit eerie and atmospheric, too – things are a little off kilter there. Yes, they’re charming and shingled and dripping with gorgeous flowers. Ducks paddle past, and sailboats swoop out to the lake, and it’s glorious. Still, the houses and boats rock and clang. The old piers sway and creak. On a rainy day, it’s almost spooky. On any day, it’s all slightly unhinged.

In other words, it’s a perfect place to set a book, or in my case, many books. The first book I ever set there was an unpublished novel I wrote many years ago. The son from that novel became Sebastian in The Nature of Jade, who lives with his baby boy in his aunt’s houseboat. Clara and Christian in Stay also visit Lake Union one night, and my first novel for adults, He’s Gone, is set entirely on the same dock as Nature of Jade. Sebastian’s aunts and some of the old neighbors from Jade make an appearance in that one, as Dani Keller tries to find out where her husband has vanished. (And, as a bonus “novel secret” – all of my books have interconnecting characters and locations. If you read them closely, you’ll even find out what happens to certain characters, major and minor, in their future.)

Essential Maps for the Lost begins when Mads is swimming in Lake Union and bumps into the body of a woman who jumped off the nearby Aurora Bridge. In her desire to find out why this woman took her own life and understand her own depression, Mads becomes involved with the woman’s son, Billy Youngwolf Floyd, who now lives with his grandma in one of the houseboats near the bridge. When I lived on the lake, a friend who owned a houseboat near the same bridge told me how a similar event happened to him – he had seen a body in the water, but while driving a boat. I swam a lot in the lake when I lived there, and I never forgot his story. I’m hoping my latest novel, Essential Maps for the Lost, will be a story you’ll remember, too.

REVIEW:

Essential Maps for the LostEssential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti

Thank you so much to the publisher for the ARC.

An eye-opening look into depression, suicide, family dynamics, serendipity, and how two lost souls find each other and fall in love. A journey that will leave readers cheering for the characters and hoping that they’ll find a happy future together.

Depression is a serious topic and Deb Caletti holds a spotlight to it by intertwining the lives of two teens in an emotional, honest, heartbreaking and healing journey. Madison has a needy, self-absorbed, demanding mother who centers her life around her daughter, expecting her to be her best friend. She’s also mapped out Madison’s life by making her a partner in her real estate business.
Billy is a teen living with his cranky, verbally abusive grandma. His mom suffered from depression and when she killed herself by jumping off a bridge, Billy grieves deeply and is a lost soul.

Both Madison and Billy have a strong desire to save others—Billy works at an animal shelter and Madison babysits a little girl with messed up parents. They definitely understand each other.

Things I loved:
1. Madison’s aunt and uncle—they really care about her. And she needs them. I love how they stand up for her
2. Billy’s gentle ways and how he cares for and rescues animals
3. Madison’s love for the child she babysits for
4. How Madison and Billy find strength to follow their own paths
5. Integrating The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler into the story
6. Sweet romance. I definitely felt the chemistry between these characters and looked forward to watching it develop and sizzle
7. A hopeful ending

Definitely recommended for YA realistic contemporary fans!

ABOUT DEB CALETTI:Deb Caletti

Deb Caletti is an award winning author and National Book Award finalist. Her many books for young adults include “The Nature of Jade,” “Stay,” “The Last Forever,” and “Honey, Baby Sweetheart,” winner of the Washington State Book award, the PNBA Best Book Award, and a finalist for the PEN USA Award. Her first book for adults, “He’s Gone,” was released from Random House in 2012, and was followed with “The Secrets She Keeps” in 2015. Coming this April: “Essential Maps for the Lost,” her eleventh book for young adults. She lives with her family in Seattle.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
 
Week 2:
 

Giveaway:

3 Finished Copies of ESSENTIAL MAPS FOR THE LOST (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RT Book Lovers Convention/RT Teen Day Party: Spotlight—YA author Wendy Higgins
Apr 11th, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

RT

RT Booklovers Convention

Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. 

The dates are of the event are April 12-17.

Details here: Convention and RT TEEN DAY PARTY

For those fortunate enough to be attending this wonderful event, I have no doubt, it’ll be one of the most memorable evenings of your life. For the rest of us, we’ll live vicariously through you! Please share your experience on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! I want to see pictures. :)

To get into the spirit of RT, here’s a short, but awesome interview with Wendy Higgins!

Interview with RT author attendee, Wendy Higgins

Contact Wendy Higgins: Goodreads | Twitter |Website

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?4279785

I’ve written seven and three-quarters books. The book of my heart is my very first story, Sweet Evil.

How about characters? Is there any of your characters you like best?

Kaidan Rowe from the Sweet series–English drummer, son of the demon of Lust–yeah, he’ll always have the biggest place in my heart since he spent so much time in my head over a five year timespan.

What’s up next for you?

I’m currently working on my first NA series. Book one, titled Unknown, is coming out this summer, August 2016. It’s an apocalyptic sci-fi romance and I’m loving it!!

Why do you enjoy coming to RT/what are you looking forward to at RT?

This will be my first RT, though I’ve wanted to come for years! Being surrounded by other romance readers and writers means I’m going to be in my element. Book people have such positive, exciting energy. I cannot wait!

What’s your favorite romance story?

This is too hard! I’m currently reading an adult high fantasy romance called the Tairen Soul series by C.L. Wilson, and they have immediately jumped to my favorites shelf. So good!! On the YA side, I love the Poison Princess series by Kresley Cole, and the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Some of the authors attending RT Booklovers Convention—Full list available on the website. 

 General Adult Fiction

Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery

Brenda Jackson
Sabrina Jeffries
Christina Lauren
Lora Leigh
Susan Mallery
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Mary Jo Putney
Julia Quinn
Alexa Riley
Lynsay Sands
Nalini Singh
Nancy Thayer

Kristen Ashley
Robyn Carr
Kresley Cole
Sylvia Day
Sonali Dev
Christine Feehan
Heather Graham
Larissa Ione
-aka Sydney Croft

Jennifer Armentrout

Jennifer Armentrout

YOUNG ADULT

Kody Keplinger
Julie Murphy
Kiera Cass
Kass Morgan
Lauren Oliver
Katie McGarry
Kami Garcia
Jennifer L. Armentrout
-aka J. Lynn
Julie Kagawa
Alexandra Bracken
Ellen Hopkins
Tamora Pierce
Victoria Aveyard
Richelle Mead

NEW ADULT

Cora Carmack

Cora Carmack

Cora Carmack
Kristin Cast
Jay Crownover
Anna Todd
Rachel Van Dyken

Blog Tour: THE DOOR BY THE STAIRCASE by Kathrine Marsh — Novel Secrets & #Giveaway
Mar 7th, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

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THE DOOR BY THE STAIRCASE

by Katherine Marsh

with illustrations by Kelly Murphy

Published January 5, 2016

by Disney-Hyperion

LINKS:

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | The Book Depository

ABOUT THE DOOR BY THE STAIRCASE:

A Junior Library Guild Selection

“Well-drawn characters, an original setting, and a satisfying resolution are the ingredients that make this carefully crafted middle-grade adventure a highly rewarding read.”
   —Kirkus, Starred Review

“A sparkling tale full of adventure, magic, and folklore…Imagine Little Orphan Annie crossed with Russian folklore, plunked down in the spiritualist community of Lily Dale, NY, with a dash of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away on top.”
   —School Library Journal, Starred Review

“This book is a splendid mix of traditional Russian folkloric details, magical adventure, and hints of historical fiction.”
   —The Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books, Starred Review

“An engaging, almost cinematic story.”
   —The Wall Street Journal, “Children’s Books: Inspiring Awe”

Door Staircase

Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can’t stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn’t go quite as well as she’d hoped, Mary fears she’ll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever.

The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary, and the matron’s all too happy to get the girl off her hands. Soon, Mary is fed a hearty meal, dressed in a clean, new nightgown and shown to a soft bed with blankets piled high. She can hardly believe she isn’t dreaming!

But when Mary begins to explore the strange nearby town with the help of her new friend, Jacob, she learns a terrifying secret about Madame Z’s true identity. If Mary’s not careful, her new home might just turn into a nightmare.

KM Author

Katherine Marsh

KATHERINE MARSH LINKS:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 


I‘m Katherine Marsh. I write books about kids. Some are alive. Some are dead. Some lived hundreds of years ago. All of them find themselves in unusual situations and places. Some of them are unusual themselves.

If you’ve ever wondered about witches, ghosts, the lives of court dwarfs, the power of magic, the invincibility of death, and how (and how not) to care for a fire-breathing horse, then you’ll probably enjoy my books. Warning: They may make you laugh. They will almost certainly make you cry.

My debut novel, The Night Tourist, won the Edgar® Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. It was published in translation in ten countries and there’s even a sequel, The Twilight Prisoner.

My third book, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars was a New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Books of 2012 and a Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2012, among other accolades.

The Door by the Staircase is available now from Disney Hyperion. It’s a fairy tale adventure story for middle grade readers inspired by Russian folklore. Other influences include my love of cooking and magic acts, my cat Egg, and my family’s onetime ownership of a small flock of chickens.

NOVEL SECRETS:

One of my favorite childhood photographs is this one: Me, aged 4, sitting behind a big bowl of my grandmother’s homemade borscht.IMG_5033

My grandmother was born in Russia. She came to this country in 1928, opened a bar and restaurant, and still loved to cook when my parents and I moved in with her in the late 1970s. The comfort food in my house growing up was her food. And although she could win any American bake-off with her apple or lemon meringue pies, the food I remember most was her Russian cooking—pierogi and blini, stuffed cabbage, and of course, borscht, the chicken soup of the Slavic soul.

There was something magical about her cooking—the old recipes that she knew by heart and would never write down; the hours of invisible prep-work—that became even more magical to me as an adult. As hard as I tried, I could never recreate her dishes. I didn’t have any recipes but even if I did, I felt she’d always added something more than I could give: time, patience, love.

The magic of cooking is something I worked into THE DOOR BY THE STAIRCASE. The book, after all, is about eating—initially in the worst possible way. Twelve-year old orphan Mary Hayes is finally adopted only to discover that her new guardian is the child-eating Russian witch Baba Yaga. But Mary confounds the witch by daring to stick around and demanding she teach her magic. Will Baba Yaga eat Mary or love her? What follows is a tale that is really about the ingredients of family, particularly mothers and daughters. But it also a secret catalogue of those special dishes my grandmother cooked for me.

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

3/7: Who R U Blog – Novel Secrets

3/8: Books for Thought – Excerpt

3/9: Quite the Novel Idea – Guest Post

3/10: Mundie Kids – Excerpt

3/11: The Cover Contessa – Q&A

Week 2:

3/14: Once Upon A Twilight – Excerpt

3/15: The Story Sanctuary – Top 10

3/16: I Turn the Pages – Q&A

3/17: I Am Shelfless – Excerpt

3/18: Books Are Love – Playlist

GIVEAWAY: 3 Finished Copies of THE DOOR BY THE STAIRCASE (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour: THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner – Crazy awesome behind-the-scenes novel secrets!
Mar 3rd, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

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THE SERPENT KING

Jeff Zentner, photo credit: J Hernandez

Jeff Zentner, photo credit: J Hernandez

by singer-songwriter Jeff Zentner

(On sale March 8, 2016 / $17.99 / Ages 14 & up)

Buying guide: IndieBound | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

 

About the book:

In this emotional story, the son of a Pentecostal preacher faces his personal demons as he and his two outcast friends try to make it through their senior year of high school in rural Forrestville, Tennessee, without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Drawing from his own roots growing up in the south, Zentner’s debut is haunting, heartbreaking, and hopeful, and is  in the vein of beloved novels The Perks of Being a WallflowerLooking for Alaska, and Eleanor & Park.

I loved this book. Buy it! Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!

Here’s my review:

The Serpent KingThe Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fascinating, painful family dynamics. The power of friendship and love. Self-discovery, courage, and daring to bet on oneself.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Wow! WOW! WOW! Sob. Sob. Sob. Someone give me a hug! Sigh. YES! Swoon! Ahhhh! I love this book!

Okay, so I never imagined that one of my new favorite books would be about Gill, an eighteen-year-old boy whose father had been a snake-handling preacher and Lydia, a quirky girl who had a popular fashion blog and their best friend Travis, who’s obsessed with a fantasy series. But these characters were so unique, so interesting, so revealing and real that I couldn’t help but be swept into their story and fall in love with each of them. They found strength and courage from one another. They found ways to break out of their small town life and family history.

I love this quote: “I’m tired of many things,” Mr. Burson said, fighting for composure… “I’m tired of watching children perish. I’m tired of watching the world grind up gentle people. I’m tired of outliving those I shouldn’t be outliving. I’ve made books my life because they let me escape this world of cruelty and savagery. I needed to say that out loud to somebody other than my cats. Please take care of yourselves, my young friends.”

Things I loved:

1. Travis and how comfortable he is in his own skin.
2. Lydia and her kick-ass attitude, her relationship with her parents, and how to pushes Dill and Travis to be more, yet also loves them for who they are.
3. Dill and how he has such a HUGE HEART!
4. Lydia’s parents, especially her dad.
5. Lydia’s fashion sense.
6. Walmart reference.
7. Music references.
8. I’m terrified of snakes but this didn’t freak me out.
9. Dill’s struggles and the strength he finds to follow his own path.
10. The romance.
11. The hopeful ending!

Bravo and congrats, Jeff! THE SERPENT KING is definitely on my 2016 favorites list.

One of Paste Magazine’s “10 Most Anticipated YA Books of 2016”

 “Zentner’s prose wraps you up like a warm, Southern hug and packs the punches of a sweaty country brawl…The Serpent King is a debut you won’t be able to resist or forget. The Southern Boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page.”

—John Corey Whaley, author of Where Things Come Back, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award and William C. Morris Award

The Serpent King gripped me in its coils and kept me turning pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity.”

—Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling author

“[T]his sepia-toned portrait of small-town life serves as a moving testament to love, loyalty, faith, and reaching through the darkness to find light and hope. Zentner explores difficult themes head on—including the desire to escape the sins of the father and the fragility of happiness—while tempering them with the saving grace of enduring friendship.”— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Thorough characterization and artful prose allow readers to intimately experience the highs and lows of these three friends . . . Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.”— School Library Journal

“Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel’s strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and grace—a new voice to savor.”— Kirkus ReviewsStarred Review

 “A musician himself, Zentner transitions to prose easily in his debut, pulling in complex issues that range from struggles with faith to abuse to grief. Refreshingly, this novel isn’t driven by romance—though it rears its head—but by the importance of pursuing individual passions and forging one’s own path. A promising new voice in YA.”— Booklist

 “A moving debut novel of friendship and forgiveness that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it, I’m calling it now… The Serpent King is already one of my favorite books of 2016.”— Eric Smith for BookRiot

“Characters, incidents, dialogue, the poverty of the rural South, enduring friendship, a desperate clinging to strange faiths, fear of the unknown, and an awareness of the courage it takes to survive, let alone thrive, are among this fine novel’s strengths. Zentner writes with understanding and grace—a new voice to savor.”— Kirkus ReviewsStarred Review

NOVEL SECRETS:

I asked Jeff to share some behind-the-scenes details about his novel. Information you wouldn’t know just from reading the novel! His answers add some great insight into the workings of this book. Enjoy!!!!

Sock Sunday! Jeff knows how to wear 'em!

Sock Sunday! Jeff knows how to wear ’em!

Here are some random facts about me. I collect vintage cast-iron skillets. I have one from 1917 that I still use. As I was thinking about where to go creatively after music, there was actually a period where I was thinking about getting hard core into cooking. I’m pretty decent at it. I was thinking of taking classes and everything. But ultimately, I love to create art for a mass audience and it’s hard to do that as a cook unless you open a restaurant, which, nope.

I speak Portuguese fluently from living in the Amazon region of Brazil, where I owned a pet sloth for several months before I released him back into the wild. I’ve eaten piranha, crocodile, and boa constrictor. I’ve lain on the roof of a boat going up the Amazon at night and let me tell you, you can see some stars. I spent two years there with no TV, no radio, no movies, no music, and only sporadic electricity and running water. I came back to the U.S. and knew almost nothing about what had gone on (impeachment of Bill Clinton, Columbine, war in Bosnia). To this day, mid-1997 to mid-1999 are lost years for me. I know a lot about what went on in the jungle. That’s it.

Oh, and the country star Vince Gill used to own my house before he was famous.

And now some random facts about how The Serpent King came to be. In the mid-2000s, I played with a band called Creech Holler. We played electrified versions of old Appalachian songs and murder ballads. Our bass player was from a part of Eastern Tennessee where snakehandlers were active. He said that we sounded like the music from the snakehandling churches. So we began to use snakehandler imagery in our songs and band’s persona. Our first album was called “With Signs Following,” referring to Mark 16:18, where it says that signs will follow the faithful, including that they’ll be able to pick up snakes and drink deadly things without being harmed. I started really studying these snakehandling sects. One of my main sources was a book called Salvation on Sand Mountain. I highly recommend this book to anyone, by the way.

When I went to write The Serpent King, I wrote it as I write all of my novels, which is to take everything I was interested in and cram it into one novel. I was interested in faith, so I created a character who struggled with faith. I was interested in writing about rural Tennessee, so I gave that character a faith unique to rural Tennessee and not written about much in YA. To further make sure I got the details of snakehandling right for the book, I talked with my buddy Jarrod (his wife Stephanie Perkins wrote Anna and the French Kiss) who had attended services at a snakehandling church. He helped me get little details right, like the sort of boxes they keep the snakes in.

At the time I was getting ready to write The Serpent King, I was also interested in teens who use the Internet to be part of the national conversation. That was the inspiration for Lydia and her fashion blog. I started reading a bunch of fashion blogs (primarily Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie). And I started following a bunch of teen fashion bloggers on Twitter so that I could be a fly on the wall to their conversations. That’s how I developed Lydia’s voice.

To research Forrestville, I made several visits to Sparta, Tennessee, the model for Forrestville. Why invent a town instead of just using Sparta? Because Sparta is in the perfect location—an hour and a half from every major city—but it’s a really nice little town. I wanted my setting to suck more. But just like in Sparta, there’s a little bookstore in Forrestville called Riverbank Books. The last time I was in the real Riverbank Books, a kid came in and started talking about the Game of Thrones books with the store owner, just like Travis talks about the Bloodfall books with the owner of the fictional Riverbank Books. I was freaking out.

Before I ever started writing The Serpent King, Dill, Travis, and Lydia took up residence in my brain and started having conversations. Only a fraction of their interactions ended up in the book. There was going to be a fourth member of their crew, but he would never tell me his name or anything about himself, so he never made the book. Maybe he ended up in my second book?  By the time I finally started writing, they’d been talking to me for months. Because of this, the first draft of The Serpent King took about twenty-five days. That’s how all of my books go. Months of thinking followed by a furious one or two months of drafting.

While I was writing The Serpent King, during the times when I wasn’t writing on the bus, I’d keep several books at my

Jeff writing on a bus.

Jeff writing on a bus.

elbow, which I’d dip into for inspiration. These are books I could open to any page and find something I loved. They included: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, and Just Kids by Patti Smith.

One final random fact about The Serpent King. There are passing mentions to one of Lydia’s friends named Heidi. That’s Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere. My editor emailed me one night and gave me about a half hour to write Lydia some other past friendships, since she was concerned that there were no allusions to her having had any friends other than Dill and Travis. I tweeted that the first woman who liked my tweet would get her name in my book. Heidi won.

 

About Jeff:

Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.

Links for Jeff Zentner: Goodreads | Twitter | Website

SOME OF THE PARTS by Hannah Barnaby – Review
Feb 21st, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

SOME OF THE PARTS24680262

by Hannah Barnaby – Review

Buying links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Book Depository

“A touching depiction of the pain of grief”— Kirkus Reviews

“Barnaby’s elegant, well-paced novel stands out from others examining the death of a loved one both for its understated writing and for its penetrating exploration of the outer limits of grief and guilt… A deeply affecting depiction of moving on after a great loss.” — Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

From Goodreads:

Sometimes bad things happen, and we are not the same when they are over.
For months, Tallie McGovern has been coping with the death of her older brother the only way she knows how: by smiling bravely and pretending that she’s okay. She’s managed to fool her friends, her parents, and her teachers so far, yet she can’t even say his name out loud: “N—” is as far as she can go. But when Tallie comes across a letter in the mail, it only takes two words to crack the careful façade she’s built around herself:

ORGAN DONOR.

Two words that had apparently been checked off on her brother’s driver’s license; two words that her parents knew about—and never confided to her. All at once, everything Tallie thought she understood about her brother’s death feels like a lie. And although a part of her knows he’s gone forever, another part of her wonders if finding the letter might be a sign. That if she can just track down the people on the other end of those two words, it might somehow bring him back.

Hannah Barnaby’s deeply moving novel asks questions there are no easy answers to as it follows a family struggling to pick up the pieces, and a girl determined to find the brother she wasn’t ready to let go of.

About Hannah Barnaby:5079315

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

From her website:

I love books. Almost every job I’ve ever had was, in some way, related to books. I have catalogued them, repaired them, barcoded them, shelved them, sold them, edited them, reviewed them. And now I get to write them!

Of course, I have many other things on my “to do” list, but there’s nothing I like better than sneaking away for a few minutes and jotting down an idea for a new story. Beginnings are my favorite part of writing because everything is possible–I haven’t had to make any tough choices yet, and my characters aren’t sad or troubled or in danger. All of that comes later. It has to, or there’s no plot!

I also love to cook, knit, read, and watch television (but only shows with truly great writing). Here are some of my current favorites:

1. Damages

2. Dexter

3. The Knick

4. True Detective (Season 1 — we can talk about Season 2 another time)

Notice a pattern? They’re all dark, serious dramas with high stakes and lots of plot twists. Exactly like the books I aspire to write.

From her publisher:

HANNAH BARNABY has worked as a children’s book editor (HMH), a bookseller at independent children’s bookstores, and a teacher of writing for children and young adults. She holds an MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She began writing her first novel, during her time as the first Children’s Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library. She lives in Charlottesville, VA.

 

Review:

Thank you to Knopf for a copy of the novel in exchange for a review:

How does one grieve when a sister feels responsible for a brother’s death? Do you move on? Hide your feelings? Cling to material items belonging to the loved one? Listen to his music? Pretend to be normal? This is the the heart of one of the storylines in SOME OF THE PARTS. Tallie struggles to cope with the loss of her brother Nate, until one day she overhears her parents arguing about the desire to receive a letter from one of his organ recipients. Her mother wants to make contact and her father wants to move on. Tallie takes matters into her own hands, seeking answers and pretending to be her mom to get more information from the recipients. The journey is aided by a boy named Chase, who’s father is a surgeon and has connections to a doctor doing a study on those who got a second chance at life. Chase also has an interesting connection to death, one readers might find either endearing or morbid (but hopefully in a good, Tim Burton way—as my dear friend Kelly said. We both loved it!), depending on perspective.

The journey for Tallie to come to emotional terms and to grieve is an extremely difficult one. She’s lost her friends, her best friend in particular, and is taken under the wing of a girl by the name of Mel, who enjoys her “family” business of taxidermy. For anyone who may be concerned, Mel doesn’t kill animals and there are a some humorous roadkill scenes. Mel doesn’t mince words with Tallie. No special treatment for Tallie, just because he brother’s dead.

The SOME OF ALL PARTS is a window into grief and a window into organ donation. For those who will be getting their driver’s licenses, this will be a fascinating look at the responsibility and impact checking that box can potentially have as a donor and on those who might receive “the parts.” And don’t at all be surprised if you find yourself loving Chase’s quirky side as he helps Tallie with her grief and recovery. Raw. Emotional. Revealing window into organ donation.

 

#Love-A-Thon Questionnaire
Feb 21st, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

loveathon

LOVE-A-THON is hosted by  Cee of The Novel HermitHazel of Stay Bookish Mel of The Daily Prophecy and Alexa Loves Books 

Visit any of their sites to join in the fun!

Sadly, I won’t have much time to participate, even though I love this blogging event. But it’s for a great reason. I’m preparing for some school visits for my novel Hello?.  Enjoy!

QUESTIONNAIRE

1. What’s your name? Liza Wiemer
2. Where in the world are you blogging from? Milwaukee, WI
3. How did you get into blogging in the first place? I loved how books have the power to change people’s lives. 
4. How did you come up with your blog name? WhoRu Blog – I wanted to feature books and topics that impact our perception of self. Who are you? As time evolved, I featured more and more authors, books, and topics that impact us every day.
5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog? I read mostly YA, some MG, but I will occasionally read romance, adult fiction, and non-fiction.
6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews? I love posts about “Novel Secrets” – the behind-the-scenes to writing a novel. I often have giveaways and Q & A. 
7. Best blogging experience so far? Meeting blogger friends at events, spending time with them!
8. Favorite thing about the blogging community? Sharing a passion for books and developing meaningful, lasting friendships.
9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016! The Beauty of Darkness, The Winner’s Kiss, The Power, The Problem with Forever, A Court of Mist and Fury, Two Summers
10. Name the 5 books you want to read this 2016 that you didn’t get to in previous years! All the Bright Places, Six Crows, Everything, Everything
11. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?
12. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF? Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series
13. Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend? Lucas from Easy
14. Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad (5 characters max) Karou, Akiva from Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series Rare from the Remnant Chronicles series
15. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests? Writing, cooking, speaking at school
16. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for? I despise shopping for clothes. I love going to grocery stores. :)
17. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing? “Hello” by Adele.
18. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.
19. What would your dream library look like? Floor to ceiling bookshelves, leather chairs and couches, snack bar/mini-fridge and a fireplace
20. Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with? Nora Roberts.

14 Days of Fictional Swooning – Romantic spot favorite fictional couple would visit
Feb 1st, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

14 days big

Thanks so much to Jaime and Erin from Fiction Fare and Meg and Kassiah from Swoony Boys Podcast for hosting this event! www.fictionfare.blogspot.com & www.swoonyboyspodcast.com

My hidden word for the scavenger hunt words is in red!

Recently, I was thinking of one of my favorite fantasy novel couples —Karou and Akiva from Laini Taylor’s Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 7.09.19 AMDaughter of Smoke and Bones Series—and thought it would be amazing if they could have a romantic getaway on Washington Island, Wisconsin, the setting for my YA contemporary novel, Hello?. After their epic battle to save humankind, spending time in a place of exquisite beauty and quiet, sounds exactly what they would need. I know they love the exotic, have seen and created the exotic, so I thought they could use some down time to focus each other, to enjoy the different beaches, stroll hand and hand, watching the sunrise and the sunset. Fall in love even farther. They’d rent a magnificent home along their own private beach. There are lavender fields they’d walk through, nature trails they’d explore. With their ability to fly, they’d discover the caves that rarely get explored because you’d need some rock climbing equipment to reach them. These caves are 1/2 way down Boyer’s Bluff, but from what I’ve been told, they’re really cool. And I can imagine Karou and Akiva meeting my Emerson and Tricia. Since they both believe in angels and don’t mind crazy colored hair, I’m certain they’d get along beautifully. Tricia would most definitely invite them into the lighthouse for a tour, and I can imagine Zuzana and Mic showing up and the six of them would listen to Mic play his violin around the bonfire pit Tricia has on Boyer’s bluff, roast brats soaked in beer and marshmallows for s’mores. After an amazing night, they’d rise early to watch the sunrise and the thousands of birds at Jackson Harbor, then crash until noon. :)

This is a video I shot of a sunrise at Jackson Harbor. Click on the IMG.

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This is a sunrise at Jackson Harbor on Washington Island. It was taken by Steve Waldron and was utilized on the cover of my novel, HELLO?.

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14 Days of Fictional Swooning Schedule

 

Win a copy of HELLO? – international!

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Blog Tour: Novel Secrets for CONCENTR8 by William Sutcliffe, plus giveaway!
Jan 18th, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

Concentr8 Tour Banner

CONCENTR8

by William Sutcliffe

Published by Bloomsbury

Pub date: January 19, 2016

 

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

ABOUT CONCENTR8:Concentr8

In a not-so-distant future London, riots have become the norm. But when the government suddenly stops distributing Concentr8–a behavioral modification “miracle” drug akin to Ritalin–the city’s residents rise up fiercer than they ever have before.

Amidst the chaos, five teens pick a man seemingly at random and chain him up as a hostage in a warehouse. Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet sidekick–the only person he has ever trusted. But even Troy didn’t see this coming, and as their story unfolds over six tense days, one thing is clear–none of them will ever be the same again.

Told from the perspective of multiple characters in a world familiar to our own, this searing look at a group of teens who push back from the margins of society is perfect for fans of thoughtful fiction like Panic and The Program series.

 

 

NOVEL SECRETS – a behind the scenes look into CONCENTR8!

Sometimes the idea for a book takes shape slowly, with various thoughts gradually coming together. Concentr8 wasn’t like that. It came to me in a flash, during a conversation with a friend of mine who is a child psychiatrist. I asked how her work was going, and she started telling me about a problem that was troubling her. The issue was with ADHD and Ritalin.

She told me that she suspected some parents were bringing children to her who were perhaps naughty, or misbehaving in school, but essentially perfectly healthy, and pressuring her for an ADHD diagnosis. She spoke to me at length about cultural pressures to conform and succeed; about a medical orthodoxy the tends to see drugs as a quick-fix solution to all problems; and also about how some parents will get extra welfare if their child has an ADHD diagnosis. She also added that Ritalin was very similar to the amphetamines that adults take recreationally, usually referred to as “speed”.

I was horrified and outraged, but the novelist in me felt an immediate spark of excitement. Horror and outrage are the jet fuel that often get me started on a project. More than this, I felt that I had stumbled on something that sounded like the premise for a speculative sci-fi novel – a malevolent state drugging “bad” children – which was in fact happening in right here, right now.

I had just finished a novel called The Wall set in a seemingly fictional dystopia that was also a real place – The West Bank – and this premise seemed like a perfect companion to that novel. I quickly came up with the idea of Concentr8, a fictional drug similar to Ritalin, which a fictional London mayor dishes out to ever-increasing numbers of children in the wake of riots similar to those which hit the city 2011. As soon as I had Concentr8, I was on the path to Concentr8. I knew the book would be very different in tone and setting to The Wall, which preceded it, but I liked the idea of playing a similar game with readers, where as you read you learn that the seemingly fantastical setting is far closer to reality than it at first seemed. In both books, I want readers to sense the ground shifting under their feet as they progress through the book.

But I could never have written this novel if it wasn’t for one other experience, which happened to me almost ten years ago. I was in a London park, and a group of drunk people attacked me, for no reason. I was punched, pushed to the ground, and kicked in the head. The assault left me with lingering headaches but didn’t do any lasting physical damage. I was quite traumatised, though, tormented by fear and anger which circled round my head without any outlet.

Not long after this, an email from a friend arrived, asking for volunteers to mentor troubled teenagers in Camden. I decided this would be a good way to psychologically turn a corner. If my mentee was from the same world as the people who attacked me, this would be a way to confront my fears and turn them into something positive.

As it turned out my mentee was not white, like my attackers, but was a 16-year-old black kid who had been excluded from school, had a very challenging home life, no qualifications, and felt he had no career prospects whatsoever. For one year, we met more or less every week for a coffee. We slowly came to a mutual understanding and respect. In the end I don’t think I did anything to improve his life chances, but I did listen to everything he said, which seemed to be a new and empowering experience for him. I’m pretty sure, though, that I learnt more from him than he did from me.

I didn’t do it to research a novel, except in the sense that when you are a writer every experience you have is, in a sense, research. When I started writing Concentr8, almost a decade after my year of mentoring, this boy’s voice came back to me. The way he talked, the way he sat, his mannerisms and his perpetual worry about “the feds” – it all bubbled up to the surface and came out on the page. There is nothing of his direct experience in the book, but his voice is right there in the voices of the kids in the novel. Thanks to him, I also have a bedrock of understanding about how it feels to be intelligent yet failed by the education system; bright but with a feeling that society has given you no opportunities for the slightest self-advancement. Without our friendship, I wouldn’t have had the empathy or understanding to write this novel.

I no longer live in London and I’m no longer in touch with him, but, nonetheless, it is to my mentee, Darren, that I have dedicated the book.

 

ABOUT WILLIAM SUTCLIFFE:William Sutcliffe c. Maggie O'Farrell

William Sutcliffe is the author of the young adult novel The Wall, which was published in 2013 to much critical acclaim, including being short-listed for the 2014 Carnegie Medal and long-listed for the 2013 Guardian Fiction Prize. He also wrote five adult novels, including the international bestseller, Are You Experienced, and a middle-grade novel, Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom. William currently lives in Edinburgh.

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

1/18: Who R U Blog – Guest Post

1/19: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes – Pocket Letter

1/20: A Book & A Latte – How I Write

1/21: Kelly Vision – Review

1/22: The Cover Contessa – Q&A

 

Week 2:

1/25: The Petite Book Blogger – Review

1/26: Go Read A Book – Top 10

1/27: Resch Reads & Reviews – Review

1/28: Emily Reads Everything – Q&A

1/29: Avid Reader – Review

Giveaway: (US)

2 Finished Copies of CONCENTR8

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Cover reveal for ILLUSION by Martina Boone, plus awesome giveaway!
Jan 17th, 2016 by Liza Wiemer

Illusion (Heirs of Watson Island, Book 3)

Please know that I absolutely LOVE this entire series! So, I highly recommend that you get your hands on book 1—COMPULSION! :)

Isn't it gorgeous???

Isn’t it gorgeous???

by Martina Boone
Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse 
Oct 25, 2016

Caged by secrets all around her and haunted by mistakes that have estranged her from Eight Beaufort, Barrie Watson is desperate to break the curse that puts her family in danger—without breaking the beautiful magic that protects Watson’s Landing. To do that, she must heal the rifts that have split the families of the island apart for three hundred years, unravel the mystery of the Fire Carrier and the spirits he guards, and take control of forces so deadly and awe-inspiring they threaten to overwhelm her.
 
With the spirits that cursed Watson Island centuries ago awake and more dangerous than ever, she finds an unlikely ally in the haunting and enigmatic Obadiah, whose motivations and power she still can’t read—or trust. His help comes at a price, however, plunging Barrie into a deadly maze of magic and wonder, mystery and intrigue that leads through history to places she never imagined she could go.

Add to Goodreads 

watson_island_series

Compulsion (Heirs of Watson Island, Book 1)
by Martina Boone
Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse 
Oct 28, 2014

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead—a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

Add to Goodreads  | Buy Now: Barnes & Noble | Amazon 

Persuasion (Heirs of Watson Island, Book 2)
by Martina Boone
Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse 
Oct 27, 2015

Beautiful Creatures meets Gone with the Wind in the spellbinding second novel in the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy that “skillfully blends rich magic and folklore with adventure, sweeping romance, and hidden treasure” (Publishers Weekly, on Compulsion).

Grieving the death of her godfather and haunted by her cousin Cassie’s betrayal, Barrie returns from a trip to San Francisco to find the Watson plantation under siege. Ghost-hunters hope to glimpse the ancient spirit who sets the river on fire each night, and reporters chase rumors of a stolen shipment of Civil War gold that may be hidden at Colesworth Place. The chaos turns dangerous as Cassie hires a team of archeologists to excavate beneath the mansion ruins. Because more is buried there than treasure.

A stranger filled with magic arrives at Watson’s Landing claiming that the key to the Watson and Beaufort gifts—and the Colesworth curse—also lies beneath the mansion. With a mix of threats and promises, the man convinces Barrie and Cassie to cast a spell there at midnight. But what he conjures may have deadly consequences.

While Barrie struggles to make sense of the escalating peril and her growing feelings for Eight Beaufort, it’s impossible to know whom to trust and what to fight for—Eight or herself. Millions of dollars and the fate of the founding families is at stake. Now Barrie must choose between what she feels deep in her heart and what will keep Watson’s Landing safe in this stunning addition to a series filled with “decadent settings, mysterious magic, and family histories rife with debauchery” (Kirkus Reviews, on Compulsion).

Add to Goodreads

Buy Now: Barnes & Noble Amazon  

Giveaway:

illusion_reveal

 

1) Signed Hardcover Compulsion 
2) Signed HC Persuasion
3) Compulsion Charm Bracelet 
4) Dreamcatcher Earrings 
5) Oak Tree Necklace 
6) Indigo Picture Frame 
7) Magic Garden Coloring Book 
8) Magical Mason Jar Garden Light 
9) Teacup Baking Set 
10) Artist’s Sketchpad 
11) Secrets Box 
12) Shoe Notepad 
13) Flower Charms Set 
14) Summer Romance Sachet 
15) Watermark Beach Sachet 
16) Compulsion Trinket Bookmark 
17) Persuasion Trinket Bookmarks 
18) Paper Hearts

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