Category: Blog Tour

Review: Amity by Micol Ostow + Giveaway

For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.

Connor’s family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she’s recovered from a psychotic break.

But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor’s nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren’t there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her?

Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again.

Alternating between parallel narratives, Amity is a tense and terrifying tale suggested by true-crime events that will satisfy even the most demanding horror fan.

If you’re one of those readers who is a bit on edge about the idea of jumping into horror, let this book be a sign. Horror is back. The past few years have seen a new surge of frightfully terrifying horror novels and this one can be counted among the best of them. And I hope that we’ll be seeing plenty more in the mainstream soon!

Amity may be a new take on the true events of the Amityville Horror most know about but believe me, this book (and house) has a story of their own and they’re ready to tell it. Relive the horror like never before. You will feel this house in your bones before you finish this book and it may haunt you.

One of the most interesting things I found about this book was the perspective in which it’s told in. Now, I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t because that’s the magic of it. But the POV tells two different stories within the house that are ten years apart. Two different characters experiencing nearly the same horrors weaving them together though they’ve never met themselves. It was a seamless transition from past to present every few chapters and one that I think the reader will find extremely unique and powerful.

If you’re looking for a light read to cap off the summer, I don’t suggest this book to you. But if you’re looking for a killer novel that will scare the pants off of you (you can handle it), then this is one book that you absolutely cannot miss.

Amity will be available in stores everywhere August 26, 2014.

micolostowAbout the author:

Micol Ostow has written dozens of books for children, tweens, and teens, but Amity is her first foray into horror. I turns out, writing a ghost story is almost more terrifying than reading one. (In a good way.) Her novel family was called a “Favorite Book of 2011” by Liz Burns at School Library Journal, and her illustrated novel, So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens. In her spare time, Ostow blogs with the National Book Award-winning literacy initiative readergirlz.com. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, her (utterly fearless) daughter, and a finicky French bulldog named Bridget Jones. Visit her online at www.micolostow.com or follow her on Twitter.

The next stop on the blog tour is Good Books and Good Wine with a guest post and giveaway.
To keep up with the rest of the tour, click here.

Giveaway:

Enter the form below for a chance to win a finished copy of Amity! The giveaway is for US/Canada only.

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Blog Tour: Interview with Katherine Longshore

9780670014019_large_BrazenMary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

1. Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen are all set during King Henry VIII’s reign in the Tudor period, what is it that drew you to that specific time period and cast of characters?

There is so much raw material to work with! Fascinating characters—not just kings and queens, but strong, opinionated women and men with dodgy pasts and poetic hearts. Situations that verge on the fantastical—secret marriages, half-planned coups, executions based on trumped-up charges. Beautiful clothes, rich fabrics, thriving arts and sciences, chivalry, jousting, falcons, dancing…

I love the characters because there are so many that we think we already know—Henry VIII with his jowls and his vicious temper, Anne Boleyn with her machinations. I love being able to explore alternate possibilities and ask the big what ifs?

2. If you had to write in a historical time period, other than Tudor, what would it be and why?

I would love to find out more about the English Civil Wars. They are partly responsible for the founding fathers’ exodus to America and they mirror America’s Civil War, but we know so little about them. Again, there are some fascinating characters involved—Charles I’s consort, Queen Henrietta Maria comes immediately to mind, as does the diabolical Oliver Cromwell—and situations that rival even the most active imaginations.

3. A lot of your characters come from actual history. Can you talk about fictionalizing their stories and writing their love interests?

Most of what we know about history is “just the facts” or the opinions of those who were around at the time. We all know that what my friend says about me is going to be very different from what my enemy says, and neither one may be completely accurate, so how can we trust the bulk of those accounts? What I love about fictionalizing these characters is being able to take the essence of these accounts and trying to spin it in a way that seems believable. Anne Boleyn was described as mouthy and shrill, but what if she just wanted the opportunity to speak her mind? I also find it fascinating to look at “just the facts” and try to figure out the motivations behind them. It’s like being author, psychiatrist and police detective all at once.

4. If you had to pick a favorite British monarchy, which would you choose?

I’m quite fond of the Windsors, actually.  They showed great courage and solidarity during the bombings of London in World War II, great humanity and humility during the abdication of Edward VIII, struggled visibly with the divorces of the 80s and Diana’s death in 1997 and have embraced modernity through Harry, William and Kate.  They’re part of the great, lingering appeal of England—not just the history, but the continuation of tradition.

5. Out of all of Henry VIII’s wives, which do you think had the most interesting backstory/ tragic tale?

Poor Catherine of Aragon! A Spanish princess, raised during her parents’ (Ferdinand and Isabella—the very same who sent Columbus to discover America) turbulent reign, she left her homeland to marry Prince Arthur (Henry’s older brother) and moved to this dreary and insular little island. But her husband died young and her father and her father-in-law argued incessantly over her dowry, so she had to wait years before her fate was decided by Henry upon his father’s death. Then, after twenty years of marriage, Henry threw her over for a much younger maid-in-waiting. I have a lot of respect for Catherine—she was intelligent, passionate, steadfast and devout—and I think Henry (and his father) treated her abominably.

6. Now that you’ve completed this trilogy, do you find that you favor one of the romantic couples over the others? And if you have to pick one of the love interests for yourself, which would you choose?

I love Fitz and Mary. In BRAZEN, they have the time and the opportunity to discover love the way I hope we all do—patiently and truly and passionately. And I enjoyed writing them and their relationship because for them, everything was new and wonderful.

But if I were to pick one love interest for myself, I’d choose Thomas Wyatt. He can be a bit selfish and arrogant, but he’s so amorous. And the poetry just makes me swoon.

7. If you could be transported back to any time period (Tudor or otherwise), which era would it be?

I’d have to be assured that I could come back to the modern day, because I can think of no historical era I’d want to stay in forever! I’d love to visit the 1920s, because I adore the fashions. Dropped waists, skirts cut on the bias, lots of fringe and movement and fun. I also love it because it was a time that women were just beginning to come into their own. Most had the vote, they were shedding their corsets, asserting their rights, believing that there was more to life than kitchens and babies and that they were smart enough and good enough for anything. How exciting is that?

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for more interviews and to learn about Katherine Longshore’s favorite historical hotties!

Midsummer Romance Blog Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, July 8 – Good Books & Good Wine
Thursday, July 10 –Perpetual Page Turner
Tuesday, July 15 –Alice Marvels
Thursday, July 17 – Confessions of a Book Addict
Tuesday, July 22 – Novel Sounds
Thursday, July 24 – Starry-Eyed Revue
Tuesday, July 29 – The Midnight Garden
Thursday, July 31 – Novel Thoughts

Katherine_Longshore_1589_CL_57_W
Katherine Longshore (www.katherinelongshore.com) is the author of Gilt, Tarnish, and Brazen. She lives in California with her husband, two children and a sun-worshipping dog.

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Buy COURTED (paperback compilation of Gilt and Tarnish)
Buy BRAZEN

 

Blog Tour: #FridayReads, The Books that Got Me Into Shakespeare

SWheaderIt is true. The Jedi Doth Return. In a series that has broken all kinds of barriers since the first book released, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is one of those literary phenomenons that cannot be missed. With the third book in the series releasing in just a few days on July 1st, Quirk Books asked if we’d like to have the author, Ian Doescher, on the blog to talk about Shakespeare himself.

I’m so thrilled to not only be a part of this blog tour for such a fantastic series but to also live in a time where these books actually exist. Stick around after the post and you can enter for a chance to win the first book in the series! Take it away, Ian!

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When I was in eighth grade, my brother Erik (then a senior in high school) was studying Hamlet in his English class.  Like most younger brothers, I thought my older brother was pretty cool—though I never would have told him—so I bought a copy of Hamlet at a used bookstore on a family trip to the Oregon coast (shown here).  I think I found the “To be or not to be” speech and pretty quickly put the book aside.  But from that point forward I called myself a Shakespeare fan.

The next year, as a freshman, I read my first Shakespeare play when we studied Othello.  I did a lot of theater back then, and here was a play—meant to be performed!—that we were reading in English class.  When we had to memorize Othello’s “It is the cause” soliloquy from Act V, I was excited about the assignment and was the first to raise my hand to perform it in front of the class (yes, I was that guy).

My interest in Shakespeare snowballed from there.  Sophomore year we studied Julius Caesar, and I adapted it with the idea of performing it with some friends (it never happened).  That summer, Kenneth Branagh’s film version of Much Ado About Nothing came out, which I saw in the theater with my mom about ten times.  This tells you something about my interest in Shakespeare and my social life at the time.  Junior and senior years my interest in Shakespeare continued—I started seeing Shakespeare performed live in Portland, memorized some soliloquies just for fun, and started building my Shakespearean library.  After that first copy of Hamlet, the first three Shakespearean books I owned were The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard by Norrie Epstein (still a personal favorite), Shakespeare A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Plays, His Poems, His Life and Times by Charles Boyce, and The Complete Works of Shakespeare.   (The summer after my junior year of high school, the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus was filmed at my high school, and I stalked Richard Dreyfuss to get him to sign my complete works.)  As a budding Shakespeare devotee, Kenneth Branagh’s book Beginning was significant—it’s not a book about Shakespeare, but about how he became an actor and, ultimately, how he made his debut with the Royal Shakespeare Company and his first film, Henry V.

In college, I would discover The Riverside Shakespeare—still the best complete works available—and the Arden Shakespeare series, which are the best individual versions of the plays.  (I’m proud to have Sir Patrick Stewart’s autograph on my copy of The Riverside Shakespeare.)  It was also while I was in college that Looking for Richard came out, Al Pacino’s performance of Richard III/documentary on the difficulties of the play itself.

Those were the books and films that led me to Shakespeare.  Today, I would add into that list Shakespeare: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom and Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson.  How about you?  What are your favorite editions of Shakespeare or books about the Bard?

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To keep up with the rest of the blog tour, CLICK HERE!

Blog Tour: Q/A with Anna Schumacher, author of End Times & Giveaway

End Times headerEnd TimesToday, I have the awesome privilege of having Anna Schumacher, author of the book End Times (Penguin Teen), on the blog today as part of the official blog tour! Oneof the questions I hear the most at book events or author panels is the very same question I asked Anna. Not because it’s an easy question to answer, but because it makes the author rethink what it took to get them to write a book and get published. You’ll hear many different answers to this very same question and that’s what I love about it.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers? 

I believe strongly in writing the books you want to read. When I was a teenager I loved books that were dark, mysterious, and character-driven. I liked books where things happened, but straight genre fiction bored me – I always felt like there wasn’t enough character development, and the writing wasn’t pretty enough. I was really into religious themes (it’s why I love horror movies like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby), but wasn’t interested in reading religious fiction because I grew up in a very secular household. Books like Stephen King’s THE STAND hit my sweet spot: it’s got God, Satan, an apocalypse, and is told in so many utterly unique and delightful points of view.

I wrote END TIMES to reach that sweet spot: the intersection of action, religion, and character. I don’t think I’ve reached Stephen King’s level of mastery yet, but I will never stop trying!

So (tangent aside), my advice to aspiring writers is to identify your own personal “sweet spot,” and write in that. Chances are, someone out there is craving a book exactly like the one in your head!

About End Times:

When life gets too tough to bear in Detroit, Daphne flees to her Uncle Floyd’s home, where she believes she’ll find solace in the silent hills of her childhood summers. But Daphne’s Greyhound bus pulls over in downtown Carbon County and it’s not silence that welcomes her. It’s the sound of trumpets.

Daphne’s desire to start again in simple country comfort is instantly dashed as the townsfolk declare that the End Times are here. And incredible occurrences soon support their belief. Daphne does all she can to keep her head down and ignore the signs. She works a job at the local oil rig, helps around the house, hangs out with her pregnant cousin Janie and gets to know Owen, a mysterious motocross racer and fellow roustabout at the rig. But soon a startling discovery shatters her resolve and calls into question all her doubts and fears.

Add End Times on Goodreads!

Anna Schumacher author photoAbout the author:

Anna Schumacher received an MFA in fiction writing from The New School. Born and raised in the tiny town of Guilford, VT (no traffic lights, no post office, one store), she now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two cats. END TIMES is her first novel.

Be sure to keep up with Anna by following her on TwitterTumblr, and Goodreads!

End Times Giveaway

If you would like to win a copy of End Times, enter via the Rafflecopter below! Thanks to Penguin Teen for providing a copy to give away! Unfortunately, this giveaway is for US readers only due to it being sent out from the publisher themselves. To enter, fill out the form below and answer this question:

If the end times were here and the world was ending, what is the one thing on your bucket list you would have to do?

 

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Blog Tour: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith, Review + Giveaway

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grasshopper-jungle

THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH!!

At least in Ealing, Iowa.

Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend, Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He is stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann.

Ultimately, it is up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

Grasshopper Jungle is an outrageous coming-of-age story set during the end of humanity about two boys who are determined to record its destruction while also trying to save it. Austin Szerba is the narrator and guide to the end of the world. He writes everything down to insure there is a comprehensive history of life in Ealing, Iowa. He’s done this for years. Now that there is an army of hungry and horny six-foot tall praying mantises taking over, Austin records it all. Andrew Smith is known for writing compelling and completely unique teen perspectives and this one is his most outlandish yet. His no holds barred stream of consciousness narration is probably not for everyone, but when it comes to Andrew Smith, I will tear through it like no other. Quite possibly the weirdest book I will read all year.

Going into this book, I had no idea what to expect. I hear nothing but good things about Andrew Smith’s books (especially from our reviewer Jennifer) so I knew the writing would be solid, but I was not ready for that level of high-octane weird and wonderful. It’s a testament to his writing that he is able to pull of such a mind-altering end-of-the-world scenario.

Austin Szerba is one hell of a narrator. He’s sexually frustrated and confused, like most teens male and female alike. He’s also one hell of a historian. Austin feels the need to write down every detail of life in Ealing and while it occasionally feels like unnecessary, scattered thoughts, the thoughts come together and reveal a hidden latticework of the story. All that aside, you will get to know Austin inside and out. For better or worse.

My best suggestion to any reader approaching this book, whether slowly or ravenously, just keep reading. No matter what you think initially. I bet you’ll love it.

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the lovely marketing team at Penguin Teen, they’ve allowed us to give away a special prize pack to one lucky winner! For a chance to win a copy of Grasshopper Jungle and #UNSTOPPABLECORN t-shirt, enter your name and email in the Rafflecopter application below. The contest ends on March 6th at 12:01am EST. Winners will be contacted via email.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist).

He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, coming February 11, 2014, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.

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