Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Expected Pub. Date: March 28th, 2017
Buy it: Amazon | Book Depository
Fans of Roshani Chokshi’s spell-binding bestseller The Star-Touched Queen are in for a treat with EW’s exclusive cover reveal and excerpt from the upcoming sequel A Crown of Wishes. The new novel follows Gauri, the younger sister of the titular Star-Touched Queen, on her harrowing quest for freedom.
When Gauri, the princess of Bharata, is captured by her kingdom’s rivals, she can only find help in Vikram, the cunning prince of an enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with royal life, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. They set aside their differences and team up to compete in the Tournament of Wishes, wherein the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

THAT COVER IS STUNNING, IS IT NOT?! I'm so freaking excited, I can barely contain myself. I know that the writing is going to be magical, and we get a story about Gauri! AHHHHH!

If you're not at that point yet, go read the first chapter. I hope you guys will add this to your TBR and fangirl with me! 

If you haven't yet, you can check out my review of The Star-Touched Queen and my interview with Roshani!

~About the Author~

Roshani Chokshi comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she's learning a new kind of storytelling. The Star-Touched Queen is her first novel.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Change Places with Me by Lois Metzger Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

~The Book~

Change Places with Me by Lois Metzger
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | IndieBound | iBooks
Rose has changed. She still lives in the same neighborhood with her stepmother and goes to the same high school with the same group of kids, but when she woke up today, something was just a little different than it was before. The dogs who live upstairs are no longer a terror. Her hair and her clothes all feel brand-new. She wants to throw a party—this from a girl who hardly ever spoke to her classmates before. There is no more sadness in her life; she is bursting with happiness.
But something still feels wrong to Rose. Because, until very recently, Rose was an entirely different person—a person who is still there inside her, just beneath the thinnest layer of skin.

~Meet the Author~

Lois Metzger was born in Queens and has always written for young adults. She is the author of five novels and two nonfiction books about the Holocaust, and she has edited five anthologies. Her short stories have appeared in collections all over the world. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and The Huffington Post. She lives in New York City with her husband and son.
Connect with Lois:  Website | Twitter | Facebook


Brittany: Hi Lois, thank you for doing this interview with me!

Lois: You’re very welcome!

Brittany: What is your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you have specific habits or rituals to put you in the right state of mind to write?

Lois: Once an idea for a novel takes hold and won’t let go, I do a lot of research, as much for a story as I would for a nonfiction book.  I underline things in books and articles, and then copy out the notes in longhand; this way I can refer back to something I might use (or not).  Next to the notes, in the margins of the pages, I write 1, 2 or 3—meaning, Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3.  For me, every book seems to fall into that beginning-middle-end structure, and certain plot points or ideas will emerge (and then change) depending on where they will appear and reappear.  In the margins I write things like, “Clara could think this (Part) 2,” or “This can happen to Rose, end (Part) 3.”  Also I draw the characters, actually sketch them.  I’m not a good artist, to put it mildly, but it helps me remember everybody’s physical details, the kinds of clothes they wear and what their hair looks like.  Occasionally I write the diaries of the characters to get inside their heads a little.

Brittany: What are your favorite and least favorite scenes to write, and why?

Lois: I like scenes that are heavy on dialogue.   Once I know a character well, I can pretty much know what he or she will say in any situation.  Also I like when dialogue does “double duty”—someone says something, maybe casually, and it has a deeper meaning thematically.  And I REALLY like it when someone says something and another character misinterprets it.  My least favorite scenes are ones where I have to explain something, a concept, or what a place looks like.  I kind of have to force myself to do that.  It’s far easier for me to have a character describe that place from his or her particular viewpoint.

Brittany: What is your favorite non-spoilery line or scene from Change Places With Me?

Lois: I like the scene where Clara’s friend, Kim, puts make-up on her.  Kim knows how to apply stage make-up, and decides to make Clara look old and bruised.  It has an unexpected and powerful effect on Clara.

Brittany: What fictional character (from a book, movie, TV show, etc.) do you think is the most like you, and why?

Lois: Frankie in Carson McCullers’ “A Member of the Wedding.”  She is the 12-year-old narrator of the novel, and she feels out of sync with her world and all the people around her (she calls herself “an unjoined person”).  I grew up in Queens, NYC, which was a pretty boring place back then, so I had no trouble identifying with Frankie’s small, out-of-the-way Southern town.  Frankie builds up a whole fantasy in her mind that her brother, who is about to get married, will take Frankie with him and his wife when they go on their honeymoon and begin a new life.  That sounds like something I would have done (and would still do!), create a (highly unlikely) scenario I am convinced will happen.

Brittany: If you could travel to any place in the world (in any time period) for inspiration where would you go, and why?

Lois: The future, right here in NYC.  I’d like to know how things turn out.

Brittany: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Lois: Not to sound too creepy, but I’d like to be invisible.  So much of writing is listening to and observing other people; I’d like to hear and see people when they don’t think anyone (or someone else in the room with them) is around.

Brittany: What are some of your favorite 2016 books you’ve read or you’re looking forward to reading?

Lois: Looking forward to:  Eileen Cook’s “Julia Vanishes,” Kathryn Holmes’ “How it Feels to Fly,” Beth Kephart’s “This is the Story of You,” Gordon Korman’s “Slacker,” David Levithan’s and Nina LaCour’s “You Know Me Well: A Novel,” Rebecca Podos’ “The Mystery of Hollow Places,” Lindsay Ribar’s “Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies,” Laura Stampers’ “Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies,” Alison Umminger’s “American Girls” and John Corey Whaley’s “Highly Illogical Behavior.”

Brittany: What is one thing you would like your readers to take away from Change Places with Me?

Lois: I’d like people to find it a fast, easy read—and complicated to think about.

Brittany: Thank you again, Lois, for doing this interview with me and being on Brittany's Book Rambles today!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Blacksouls (Blackhearts #2) by Nicole Castroman

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 7, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant sequel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Blackbeard.
Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely makes it to the Caribbean, where she hopes to learn more about her ancestry. What she doesn’t expect is a port filled with lawless criminals and danger lurking around every corner.
With the mutinous Teach in chains, Anne must brave the perilous, pirate haven of Nassau in order to save not only Teach, but her new friends on the island. But when Teach is offered a deal—capture a notorious pirate or waste away in the Governor’s dungeons—what he discovers brings him closer and closer to becoming a pirate himself. And further away from Anne who is being held hostage in exchange for Teach’s loyalty to the Governor.
Now Teach must decide if he should risk his own soul to save Anne. Even if that means turning into a ruthless pirate…
Even if that means turning into Blackbeard.

Ever since I read Blackhearts, I've been dying for this sequel! I was prepared to start a protest with picket signs in front of the Simon and Schuster building before it was announced that there would be a sequel. Thankfully, it didn't come to that xD. I can't wait to find out what has become of Anne since Blackhearts left off, and I'm so excited for all the piratey goodness this book promises!

Nicole was lucky enough to come with her very own best friend...she has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences for her. 
At the age of 13, she went to Europe for the first time and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages and cultures and speaks fluent German. She knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian.                                                                                     
She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria and two different places called Georgia. One is located on the Black Sea. The other is the state of Georgia where she now lives with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.
Connect with Nicole: Website | Twitter | FB | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Interview with Kerri Mansicalco + Giveaway!

Brittany: Hi guys! I'm back with the 2016 YA Debut Authors Bash with another awesome author, Kerri Mansicalco!

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a small town just outside of New York City where her love of the arts was fostered from an early age. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.
STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, her debut YA gothic horror, is coming September 20, 2016 from JIMMY Patterson/Little, Brown. It’s the first in a new series and incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.
Connect with Kerri: Twitter |  Facebook | Instagram | Website | Tumblr | Pinterest

Brittany: Hi Kerri! Thank you for doing this interview with me! <3

Kerri: Hi Brittany! Thank YOU for interviewing me :D

Brittany: Could you share what your writing process is like? Do you outline? Do you just write and see where your mind takes you to? Do you have a specific routine or things you need in order to write?

Kerri: Usually I like to come up with a small blurb, kind of like what you see on the back of a book, and then let my muse take me from there. With Stalking Jack the Ripper, I immediately knew who my villain was going to be and how I wanted it to end, but allowed myself the freedom of how to connect the dots. I was also able to use the historical timeline of events from the murders, so it was interesting filling in the blanks between the crimes.

Brittany: What made you interested in Jack the Ripper?

Kerri: I’ve always been intrigued by the psychology behind serial killers, and forensics was a field I considered in college. The Ripper case was so interesting because it was one of the first times in history where forensics were applied and used widely. And the mystery? Goodness. The mystery that still lingers around it today is something that just BEGS to be explored more. “What if?” is like creative catnip to a writer. Once I’d figured out that I wanted to write a Victorian Era CSI with a strong female lead, there was really only one case for her to become embroiled in.

Brittany: What is the scariest or creepiest thing you’ve ever done for fun?

Kerri: Oh my gosh. I’ve got a hefty list. But I think the scariest thing I’ve ever done for fun was go to the Headless Horseman Hayride when they had a killer clown theme. I am TERRIFIED of clowns and as we were coming toward the end of the hayride, a bunch of chainsaw-wielding clowns jumped out and “attacked” our group. (There were no chains on the chainsaw, but they were loud and scary and smelled like gasoline and terror. I seriously wanted to DIE when the killer clown brought it down on my leg.)

Brittany: What are some of your pet peeves?

Kerri: Hahah oh man. These are embarrassing. I usually take a deep breath when I see people tossing around insults on the interwebs and they use the wrong your/you’re, or there/they’re/their. It takes most of my willpower to not be the one who points out “you’re* being a jerk.” Also, whenever I see text shorthand or no punctuation I kinda cringe.

Brittany: What is your favorite non-spoilery quote or scene from your book?

Kerri: One of my very favorite quotes comes in chapter one. It’s at the end of the closing scene and my main character, Audrey Rose, promises her uncle that she’ll be as silent as the dead when attending his forensic class in disguise the next morning. His response is:

“Ah,” Uncle said, putting a hat on and tugging it low, “the dead speak to those who listen. Be quieter than even them.”

It’s such a true statement coming from this forensic professor/medical examiner, and it’s delightfully creepy and wonderful at once. I think it really captures the essence of SJTR.

Brittany: Who was your first OTP?

Kerri: My first? Hmmm. This is hard because I ship so many characters now. Sherlock and Watson were my first one true pairing for friendship. As for first romantic pairings? That will forever be Romeo and Juliet. (Followed closely by Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy.) I am clearly awful with sticking to the first one…

Brittany: What would automatically make you stop reading a book?

Kerri: This is really tough because I don’t think there’s a book that I’ve DNF’d. I’m an eternal optimist who keeps going with the hope that it’ll get better in the next chapter. However, if I ever came across a rape scene used solely as a plot device or reason for a young woman (or any woman or man) to start kicking ass, I’d probably stop reading. To geek-out for a second on The Force Awakens, one of the reasons Rey was such an amazing character was because she was simply good at being a mechanic, and she didn’t apologize for her skills. I like seeing female characters who are empowered to just be themselves and live authentically.

Brittany: What is one material possession you could not live without no matter what?

Kerri: I’m going to cheat here and say my mother’s Nancy Drew set. My grandmother was very, very poor, but with each paycheck she’d put pennies away and slowly add Nancy Drew stories to her collection for my mom every month. Without my grandmother’s love of reading—she even used to read to my mom while she was pregnant with her—I would not be who I am today. Knowing how hard she worked just to bring these stories into our lives, I could never live without those beautiful, tattered, used books. They mean more to me than all the money in the universe.

Brittany: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Kerri: I come from a long line of family members who enjoy cooking. My grandmother, my uncles, my mom, the list goes on. When I’m not writing, I’m usually in the kitchen with my family or friends. I love the whole creative process of coming up with something fun and different. And beautiful! We eat with our eyes as much as our mouths, so I really enjoy making food look good too. I’m also really into music. I used to write about live shows when I still lived in New York, and I’ve always got some album on when I’m not working. I don’t get to go as much, but when I have downtime I try and get out to see live shows.

Brittany: Which fictional character (not from your own book) do you identify with the most? The character could be from a book, TV Show, Movie, Comic, etc.

Kerri: Great question! I think that I’d have to say that I identify with Jo March the most. (And my family would likely agree.) We’d be the very best of friends and have lots of things to discuss from time spent writing plays when we were younger, to our fierce belief in maintaining our individuality throughout our lives.

Brittany: Thank you again, Kerri, for doing this interview with me and being on the blog today! 

I hope all of you enjoyed this post. Be sure to check out Kerri's amazing debut novel, Stalking Jack the Ripper!

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Mansicalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown & Co.
Publication Date: Sept. 20th, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | IndieBound
Presented by James Patterson's new children's imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion...
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
The story's shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget. 

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway

Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | Book Depository
Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.
Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?
Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

A Traveller by Joshua Khan - Guest Post

“Ah, friend! I see you are on the road north, like myself? Perhaps we could keep one another company, yes?”

The man perches himself on a mile stone, and he looks friendly enough. I tighten my grip on my sword hilt, making it clear, in not so many words, that I am no fool.

Yet he is thin, old, no threat to me nor anyone else.

Why would such a threadbare vagabond want with the likes of me, or of the kingdom of Gehenna?

I nod, curtly, and he gathers his pack and we fall into step together.

He looks up at the stars, smiling. “A cold night and yet we have a few miles before we reach any shelter.”

I frown. “I was told there were no inns along this road.”

The man smiles and points a bony finger ahead. “Oh, there is a place to dine, not so far from here.”

I watch him, sideways. Best be cautious, even with beggars.

It is cold, and I huddle my shoulders deeper into the cloak. I left in haste, as murderers do, blood still on my sleeve and the cry of the watch ringing in my ears. Just time enough to gather a small purse of silver—my victim was poorer than I’d hoped—my sword and this cloak, taken off the dead man’s shoulders and not as thick as I’d wished.

Still, I live, I breathe, and there may be richer pickings in Gehenna.

Gehenna, a land only the daring and desperate venture. I smile to myself. Am I not both?

We reach a crossroads. There is a sign, but the moonlight is too faint to make out the words. Both paths lead only deeper into Spindlewood. And darkness.

“You have not been to Gehenna?” asks the man, noticing my indecision at the offered paths. He gestures to the left. “That way.”

I grunt, and take the left path.

I walk in silence. My companion does not.

He laughs as a host of bats wheel and whirl above us. “Look, they herald our coming! Gehenna is poor in soil, poor in coal and decent grazing but, oh my, tis rich in so many ways. Bats, it has plenty of. The nobles here use them to carry messages.” He flutters his hands. “Ffft. Form Castle Gloom to Sable Manor. Then from Tomb Town to the Troll Teeth Mountains. Back and forth, flapping on their leathern wings. They are beautiful, are they not?”

“Bats carry diseases,” I answer. I want him to shut up.

“Not just bats,” says the man. “There are so many types of diseases, I believe we all carry something… foul.”

My hand drops back to my hilt. “Do you mock me, old fool?”

He steps away, and bows. “My humblest apologies, my friend. I meant nothing. I can see that you are a bold warrior, and I am, as you say, just an old fool. But I have been to Gehenna before, so wish, in exchange for a meal, to give you some advice.”

“I have little food,” I reply.

The man’s eyes sparkle. “Then perhaps just a drink? To warm my old bones?”

I tap the wineskin dangling from my shoulder. “Perhaps. If your advice is good.”

He nods, then does a spindle-boned skip. “Gehenna, what to say about the kingdom of darkness? Where to begin? Shall I start with the living, or the dead?”

I scoff. I’ve heard the old wives tales about the dead that walk in this kingdom. Tales to frighten children. I’ve seen enough dead men. Made a few myself and not one stood up, nor as much blinked an eye when I was finished with him. I fear nothing from the grave. “Tell me about the living, fool.”

He smirks. I do not like the cleverness in his eyes. Yet, if he was so clever, why does he wear just rags? “Then be warned, my brave companion, that there are three great killers in this world, and Gehenna is home to one of them.”

“Tyburn,” I reply. “I have heard the name.”

“And does not your heart freeze at the sound of it?”

I shrug my shoulders. “There are many tales about Tyburn, but tales grow in the telling. He may be as good as they say, and he may not.”

Still, I am no fool. I intend to stay well away from Tyburn.

“What of the rulers?” I ask. “They say Lord Iblis Shadow is a great sorcerer.”

The man claps. “Indeed, great he is! He respects the old ways, the ways of the ancestors and those that live, either side of the grave. He hosts a ball every Halloween, an elegant masquerade! You should see it!”

“Masquerade? Why? Are the Gehennish so ugly?”

“Ugly? You would not think that if you but glimpsed his wife, Lady Salome! There is no fairer creature in all the New Kingdoms! No, the masks are so you do not know who is from the living, and who is from the lands of the dead. So, for one night, the two worlds mingle and celebrate together, as is the way here.”

I shiver. It is cold and my cloak is thin.

The old man sighs, and sits himself on a stone. “Yet the dead may rise at any time, not just on Halloween.”

I peer down the path, expecting the light of an inn. But it is dark. “I thought you said there was a place to eat?”

“We shall dine here, my friend,” says the old man. He taps his fingers upon the stone. “Then I shall sleep again.”

I back away and draw my sword. “Stay away, old fool. I will kill you.”

He merely smiles. “I do not doubt it. I can smell a killer from some distance. Your scent brings me from my bed.” He glances down.

The stone he sits is a gravestone. We have stopped at a grave, and the earth around it is churned and broken.

The man moves in a blur. One hand grips my wrist, crushing the bones, making me drop my sword. I cannot scream, as he holds me by the throat. He leans closer and sniffs, closing his eyes as if overwhelmed by some heady perfume. “So sweet, the smell of fresh murder.”

“I have given you advice,” he smiles and his fangs are revealed. “Now about that drink you owe me…”


About Joshua Khan

Born in Britain. Lives in London. Would rather live in a castle. Writes fantasy. Enjoys it. 
Connect with Joshua: Website | Twitter | Facebook