Tag Archive | St. Martin’s Press

Review: The Raging Ones

Title: The Raging Ones

Authors: Krista & Becca Ritchie

Date of Publication: August 14th, 2018

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Goodreads Summary:

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.

My  Review:

This book had such a cool concept, and it wasn’t bad or anything, but it was weird. To me at lease. I didn’t quite grasp the whole being linked to someone else, feeling what they feel—not really knowing if it’s you or them.

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The writing is actually quite good, but I just couldn’t get into it and had to DNF this one. There are three main characters that it is told from—Court, Mykal, and Franny. Again, they were all fine. This whole thing may not bother anyone else, but it would have been better if they all had their own emotions under control!

How does this book sound to you?

 

 

Between the Blade and the Heart: Author Interview + Excerpt + Giveaway

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SUMMARY:

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

 

Q & A with Amanda Hocking

Q: What or who was the inspiration behind Between the Blade and the Heart?

A: I have already written several books inspired by Scandinavian folklore, and I was always fascinated by Valkyries. But because I had already done in Scandinavian fantasy, I wanted to come at this one from a different angle. I imagined the Valkyries helping to police a gritty, diverse, cyberpunk metropolis, in a world filled with not just Norse figures but from many mythologies.

 

Q: What are the life lessons that you want readers to glean from your book?

A: That love is a strength, not a weakness.

 

Q: If you were given the chance to go on a date with one of your characters, who would you choose and what would you do together?

A: Oona. She doesn’t swing that way, but since I’m married anyway, it would be a friendship date. I think it would be fun to go to an apothecary with her and have her show me around the magic. Or maybe just veg out and watch bad movies.

 

Q: Would the essence of your novel change if the main protagonist were male?

A: Yes, it would be changed dramatically. For one, Valkyries are women. But I also think the book explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, and friendships between young women.

 

Q: What is your definition of true love in YA literature?

A: There has to be passion and desire – not necessarily anything physical, but so much of young love is about yearning. But I also think that true love is based on mutual respect and selflessness.

 

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be an author/start writing?

A: My biggest piece of advice is to just write. It’s so easy to get caught up in self-doubt or procrastination. There are lot of great books and blogs about the art of writing, but the most important thing is really to just do it. The best way to get better at writing is by doing it.

 

Q: What’s one book you would have no trouble rereading for the rest of your life?

A: It would be a toss up between Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve read both of those books a dozen times already, at least, and I never get sick of them.

 

Q: How did you name your characters? Are they based on people you know in real life?

A: It’s combination of names I like and taking inspiration from the world itself. With Between the Blade and the Heart, the names were inspired both by the mythology they come from – many Valkyries have Norse names like Malin, Teodora, and Freya, for example – and the futuristic setting of the book, so I wanted names that seemed a bit cooler and just slightly different than the ones we use now.

 

Q: Alright, Amanda, I know you’re a movie buff. What are some movies your characters would pick as their all-time favorites?

A: That’s a tough one. Malin – The Crow, Oona – Pan’s Labyrinth, Quinn – Wonder Woman, Asher – Inception, and Marlow – Twelve Monkeys.

 

Q: Which mythological character is the most like you?

A: Demeter, because she’s pretty dramatic – she basically kills all the plants in the world when her daughter goes missing – but she’s also determined, and will stop at nothing to protect those she cares about.

 

Q: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

A: Oona or Bowie. Oona because she’s so practical, supportive, and determined, and Bowie because he’s adorable.

 

Q: What is your favorite scene and why?

A: I don’t know if there is one particular scene that I loved more than the others, but I really enjoyed writing about the city that Malin lives in and all the creatures that inhabit it.

 

Q: What cities inspired the urban haven where the Valkyries live?

A: I was really obsessed with this idea of an overpopulated metropolis, and so I took a lot of inspiration from some of the biggest cities in the world, particularly Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Manila. The city itself is actually a sort of futuristic, alternate reality of Chicago (one of my favorite cities in the world), and I wanted to incorporate that into it as well.

 

Q: What came first: The world, the mythology, or the characters?

A: I usually say the characters come first, and the world builds around it. But for this one, it really was the world that drew me into it. I knew I was writing about a young woman who was a Valkyrie, but that about all when I began building up the world and the mythology.

 

Q: I love that these characters are in college. What inspired this choice?

A: Because of the complex relationship Malin has with her mother, I knew I wanted some distance between them, so I thought putting her in college, living away from her mom, was a good way to do it. Plus, I thought it would be fun to explore the all the supernatural training that would be needed to do these specialized jobs that come up in a world where every mythological creature exists.

 

Q: What songs would you include if you were to make a soundtrack for the book?

A: This is my favorite question! I love creating soundtracks that I listen to while writing a book, and here are some of my favorite tracks from my Between the Blade and the Heart playlist: Annie Lennox – “I Put a Spell on You,” Daniel Johns – “Preach,” Halsey – “Trouble (stripped),” Meg Myers – “Sorry (EthniKids Remix),” and MYYRA – “Human Nature.”

 

Q: Was this book always planned as a series or did that develop afterwards?

A: It was always planned as a duology. I don’t want to go into too much or risk spoiling the second book, but I had this idea that one book would be above, and the other below.

 

Q: Your novels and characters are so layered. How do you stay organized while plotting/writing? Do you outline, use post-it notes, make charts, or something else?

A: All of the above! This one was the most intensive as far as research and note taking goes, and I also had maps, glossaries, and extensive lists of various mythologies. I think I ended up with thirteen pages of just Places and Things. I do a lot of typed notes, but I also do handwritten scribbles (which can sometimes be confusing to me later on when I try to figure out what they mean. I once left myself a note that just said “What are jelly beans?”) For this one, I really did have to have lots of print outs on hand that I could look to when writing.

 

Q: You’ve said that pop culture and the paranormal both influence your writing. How do these things intersect for you?

A: In a way, I think they’re both about how humans choose to interpret and define the world that surrounds us. So many mythologies come from humans trying to make sense of the seasons and the chaos of existence, and even though we’ve moved past a lot of the scientific questions, pop culture is still tackling our existence. Even when looking at shows made for kids, like Pixar, they handle a lot of difficult concepts, like what it means to love someone else, how to be a good friend, facing your fears, and overcoming loss. These are things that mythologies and stories have been going over for centuries.

 

Q: Did you choose the title first, or write the book then choose the title?

A: It depends on the book, but I will say with this one that it took a very, very long time to come up with a title. It was already written and edited, and we were still bouncing around different names.

 

Q: How many more books can we expect in “Between the Blade and the Heart” series?

A: One more! From the Earth to the Shadows will be out in April 2018.

 

Q: What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?

A: I don’t want to say too much or risk spoiling it, but there’s a scene near the end of the book where a confrontation leaves Malin reeling. I wrote it in an almost present tense, stream-of-consciousness way because I thought that was the best way to capture the raw intensity of her emotions.

Excerpt:

ONE

The air reeked of fermented fish and rotten fruit, thanks to the overflowing dumpster from the restaurant behind us. The polluted alley felt narrow and claustrophobic, sandwiched between skyscrapers.

In the city, it was never quiet or peaceful, even at three in the morning. There were more than thirty million humans and supernatural beings coexisting, living on top of each other. It was the only life I’d ever really known, but the noise of the congestion grated on me tonight.

My eyes were locked on the flickering neon lights of the gambling parlor across the street. The u in Shibuya had gone out, so the sign flashed SHIB YA at me.

The sword sheathed at my side felt heavy, and my body felt restless and electric. I couldn’t keep from fidgeting and cracked my knuckles.

“He’ll be here soon,” my mother, Marlow, assured me. She leaned back against the brick wall beside me, casually eating large jackfruit seeds from a brown paper sack. Always bring a snack on a stakeout was one of her first lessons, but I was far too nervous and excited to eat.

The thick cowl of her frayed black sweater had been pulled up like a hood, covering her cropped blond hair from the icy mist that fell on us. Her tall leather boots only went to her calf, thanks to her long legs. Her style tended to be monochromatic—black on black on black—aside from the shock of dark red lipstick.

My mother was only a few years shy of her fiftieth birthday, with almost thirty years of experience working as a Valkyrie, and she was still as strong and vital as ever. On her hip, her sword Mördare glowed a dull red through its sheath.

The sword of the Valkyries was one that appeared as if it had been broken in half—its blade only a foot long before stopping at a sharp angle. Mördare’s blade was several thousand years old, forged in fires to look like red glass that would glow when the time was nigh.

My sword was called Sigrún, a present on my eighteenth birthday from Marlow. It was a bit shorter than Mördare, with a thicker blade, so it appeared stubby and fat. The handle was black utilitarian, a replacement that my mom had had custom-­made from an army supply store, to match her own.

The ancient blade appeared almost black, but as it grew closer to its target, it would glow a vibrant purple. For the past hour that we’d been waiting on our stakeout, Sigrún had been glowing dully on my hip.

The mist grew heavier, soaking my long black hair. I kept the left side of my head shaved, parting my hair over to the right, and my scalp should’ve been freezing from the cold, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel anything.

It had begun—the instinct of the Valkyrie, pushing aside my humanity to become a weapon. When the Valkyrie in me took over, I was little more than a scythe for the Grim Reaper of the gods.

“He’s coming,” Marlow said behind me, but I already knew.

The world fell into hyperfocus, and I could see every droplet of rain as it splashed toward the ground. Every sound echoed through me, from the bird flapping its wings a block away, to the club door as it groaned open.

Eleazar Bélanger stumbled out, his heavy feet clomping in the puddles. He was chubby and short, barely over four feet tall, and he would’ve appeared to be an average middle-­aged man if it wasn’t for the two knobby horns that stuck out on either side of his forehead. Graying tufts of black hair stuck out from under a bright red cap, and as he walked ahead, he had a noticeable limp favoring his right leg.

He was a Trasgu, a troublemaking goblin, and his appearance belied the strength and cunning that lurked within him. He was over three hundred years old, and today would be the day he died.

I waited in the shadows of the alley for him to cross the street. A coughing fit caused him to double over, and he braced himself against the brick wall.

I approached him quietly—this all went easier when they didn’t have time to prepare. He took off his hat to use it to wipe the snot from his nose, and when he looked up at me, his green eyes flashed with understanding.

“It’s you,” Eleazar said in a weak, craggy voice. We’d never met, and I doubt he’d ever seen me before, but he recognized me, the way they all did when their time was up.

“Eleazar Bélanger, you have been chosen to die,” I said, reciting my script, the words automatic and cold on my lips. “It is my duty to return you to the darkness from whence you came.”

“No, wait!” He held up his pudgy hands at me. “I have money. I can pay you. We can work this out.”

“This is not my decision to make,” I said as I pulled the sword from my sheath.

His eyes widened as he realized I couldn’t be bargained with. For a moment I thought he might just accept his fate, but they rarely did. He bowed his head and ran at me like a goat. He was stronger than he looked and caused me to stumble back a step, but he didn’t have anywhere to go.

My mother stood blocking the mouth of the alley, in case I needed her. Eleazar tried to run toward the other end, but his leg slowed him, and I easily overtook him. Using the handle of my sword, I cracked him on the back of the skull, and he fell to the ground on his knees.

Sigrún glowed brightly, with light shining out from it and causing the air to glow purple around us. Eleazar mumbled a prayer to the Vanir gods. I held the sword with both hands, and I struck it across his neck, decapitating him.

And then, finally, the electricity that had filled my body, making my muscles quiver and my bones ache, left me, and I breathed in deeply. The corpse of an immortal goblin lay in a puddle at my feet, and I felt nothing but relief.

“It was a good return,” my mother said, and put her hand on my shoulder. “You did well, Malin.”

 

Copyright © 2018 by Amanda Hocking in Between the Blade and the Heart and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

 

Buy Links:

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Amanda Hocking NEW--credit Mariah Paaverud with Chimera Photography

AUTHOR BIO:

Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Social Links:

Author Website: http://www.worldofamandahocking.com/

Twitter: @Amanda_Hocking

Facebook: @AmandaHockingFans

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Review: Between the Blade and the Heart

Title: Between the Blade and the Heart

Author: Amanda Hocking

Date of Publication: January 2nd, 2018

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Goodreads Summary:

Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.

My Review:

So, I absolutely loved the Kanin Chronicles and the Trylle series by Amanda Hocking. I even found Freeks entertaining with the oddity aspects. This book I was pretty excited for, because, come on, VALKYRIES… but… it didn’t live up the way I had wished.

Both Kanin and Trylle had a love triangle thing going on, but here it just felt pointless. As you know, I HATE most, but it’s like OKAY you slept with one guy, and the next breath you are over here making out with your ex-girlfriend! Come on now! It would have been much better to just have had Malin with either the girl or the guy to begin with.

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Also, the story itself I just couldn’t get into, maybe because Malin was so indecisive about things. But the one thing I love about Hawking’s writing is that she is very descriptive in a way that isn’t overly done to where I get lost, but perfect enough where I can visualize everything. There are some interesting things to where I feel like a lot of people will like this one, and I still will read the next one to see what happens next.

 

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Review: Freeks

Title: Freeks

Author: Amanda Hocking

Date of Publication: January 3rd, 2017

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Goodreads Summary:

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

My Review:

Mara has been with a traveling sideshow pretty much her whole life with her mother who is a necromancer. This time the sideshow is coming to Caudry which a small town that is going to give a pretty nice payout. Mara meets a guy in town who she is instantly attracted to named Gabe. Mysterious attacks begin to take place at the carnival to the workers, and Mara is going to find out what is going on.

I love this cover! The cover automatically drew me in along with the fact that I love anything that has to do with oddities. Not only that but set in the 80’s??? Count me in!!

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I loved the beginning and learning that a lot of people that worked at the carnival had actual powers, and I really liked all of the side characters. As for Mara the main character I loved reading from her point of view. She was a good character and didn’t make dumb decisions.

Gabe was a very likable character, but as for the romance to me it is what brought the book down a little. There was pretty much no build up to the relationship and every time they were together they were kissing. I really liked Mara and Gabe together I just wanted to see more dialogue and more of them getting to know each other.

The mystery aspect of the book is what had me on my toes and wanting to know what the heck was going on and what was attacking these people and why. The author was great about adding details to the attacks!

The paranormal elements towards the end were a little far fetched for me, but I still enjoyed them. I did however want to see more carnival themed elements throughout the book. This was a quick read and while I did not like this as much as Amanda’s Trylle/Kanin series I still liked it.

 

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Review: Nemesis

Title: Nemesis

Author: Anna Banks

Date of Publication: October 4th, 2016

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Goodreads Summary:

Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king’s servitude.

Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.

Sepora’s gift could save Tarik’s kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?

My Review:

I am not going to even summarize this book. You can check out the summary above. I was really looking forward to this book because I did really like Anna’s Of Poseidon Trilogy. This however left me into a ball of confusion.  The book is broken up into two point of views which are Sepora’s and Tarik’s. I preferred reading from Sepora’s point of view over Tarik’s, but I was still left wanting a whole lot more.

Some of the parts at the beginning when Sepora is kidnapped was actually alright, but then the author kept talking about spectorium, and I just didn’t get it. The word was so over used and some of the names and names of places were just too much.

The writing was easy to follow, but the story itself with prince and princess has been over done. Don’t get me wrong I love my prince and princess stories, but I just wanted something different and amazing, and while she did throw in this spectorium buisness and pyramids etc. it still was the same old story.

Even though I just wasn’t into this book I will read more from the author because I have liked everything else that she has written.

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Review: Nevernight

Title: Nevernight

Author: Jay Kristoff

Date of Publication: August 9th, 2016

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Goodreads Summary:

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

My Review:

This review is going to be short because I am still so lost and was not sure what was even going on, and I would read more and then I found myself off daydreaming as I was reading, and then I would have to go back and read and was still confused.

Jay can most definitely write that was not the problem to me here. It was there were like three things going on at one time. It was like we had the story in regular font, then we had backflashes in italic font, and then we had footnotes.  This stuff was not even spaced out. It was all on the same couple of pages!

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There were a lot of metaphors and similes going on which a lot of them I did actually like. That cover! That cover is also one of my favorites that I have seen this year, and I would sleep with it under my pillow every night if I could. I did like the whole revenge plot but other than that I don’t think I will be reading book two.

 

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Review: The Dead Boyfriend

Title: The Dead Boyfriend

Author: R.L. Stine

Date of Publication: September 27th, 2016

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My Review:

So first off it has been forever since I read an R.L. Stine book, so I thought I would give it a go. Instead I should have been just saying no.

This book kicks off with Caitlyn our main character who eventually meets a guy named Blade and this is insta love of the worst kind.  There is another girl named Deena Fear who believes that Blade is both hers and Caitlyn’s which is all types of strange. She is a real weirdo.

Caitlyn does some real crazy stuff and some stuff goes down with Blade. It isn’t really a spoiler because obviously the title is called The Dead Boyfriend so obviously Blade somehow ends up a gonner.

Anyways lets just say Blade is backkkkkkkkkkkk.  Caitlyn is one of the worst point of views I have ever read from. I am sure my ten or eleven year old self would have loved this book, but I just can’t handle anymore of these R.L. Stine books. As history repeats itself this book does end on a twist as it serves from my memories of the Stine books. Sometimes nostalgia just does not work out, but maybe it will for you.

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