Friday, December 14, 2012

#BIR2012: MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin - Guest Post & Giveaway

Welcome to day five of Best I've Read 2012!

Be sure to check the Best I've Read blog to see our top author picks for today: RIFT and BLOODROSE by Andrea Cremer & OSIDIAN, ONYX and PURE by Jennifer L. Armentrout!

I've chosen MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin as my last (but definitely NOT least!) BIR2012 pick. She was kind of enough to provide a guest post for this feature, but first, here's a little about the book: 

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH by Bethany Griffin
Released: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow

Find Bethany Online: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

From Goodreads: Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club--in the depths of her own despair--Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for--no matter what it costs her.

***Guest Post***

And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. This is the last line of Poe’s Masque of the Red Death. And when I sign my books I usually write, Darkness, Decay, and the Red Death…enjoy!

Today I’m writing about one of my favorite subjects. Plagues. Wait…that didn’t sound quite sane…Let me start over. Today I’m writing about one of my favorite subjects fictional plagues. Although…my first experience reading about plague was actually the Black Death, which was very very real. But when you read about it in a history book, it doesn’t seem like it could’ve been real. That’s why it’s so incredibly fascinating.

In high school history class I really enjoyed reading about the middle ages—you had the pageantry of the aristocracy—chivalry and all that (never mind that they were all covered by fleas) and then you had the peasants whose lives were so bleak…they ate the same food every day, couldn’t read, never travelled… it was a time of torture and superstition. Cathedrals and castles. Like a world ravaged by plague, it’s fun to read about but I certainly wouldn’t want to live there!

One of my favorite books dealing with the Black Death is the Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It’s a story (in a nutshell) about a historian who is sent back to the middle ages, but to the wrong year, to the height of the plague. The result is haunting…an amazing story.

I’m sure some of that sensibility seeped its way into Masque, at least a little bit. My absolute favorite Plague related book is The Stand by Stephen King. But after thinking about the book (I need to re-read this one very soon!) The superflu is the impetus for everything, but once the story gets moving, it fades into the background.
In Masque of the Red Death, the illness pervades everything. It’s all about the fear of death, and the fear of illness. How people treat each other, their interactions, fashion, and just their mode of life, have all been drastically changed.

And of course, the plague had huge impact on my characters. One of the ways I think about the characters is how the contagion affected their outlooks on life. Elliott has to be extremely arrogant to think that he can change the world. Will is just trying to get by, but with dignity and decency. Araby is reacting to the world after the shock of her brother’s death by trying to numb herself, and April is taking advantage of the freedom afforded her by the new world.

While I didn’t do extensive research into a specific plague, and while I’m extremely squeamish about actual symptoms, the plague holds the story of Masque of the Red Death together. The theme of Poe’s story is that you can’t hide from death. My story begins with the corpse collectors scouring the city for dead bodies, and Dance of the Red Death will culminate in a version of Poe’s iconic masquerade ball. And the theme of no one being able to escape from death, from the plague, from the Red Death is definitely part of my stories.


Thanks to HarperTeen, we (the collective BIR gang) are giving away several Harper prize packs. Open to U.S. mailing addresses. Enter using the Rafflecopter below. 

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

#BIR2012: REVIVED by Cat Patrick - Interview & Giveaway

Welcome to day four of Best I've Read! 
Be sure to check the Best I've Read blog to check out today's top authors: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo & THE IMMORTAL RULES and THE LOST PRINCE by Julie Kagawa. 

I'm featuring the lovely Cat Patrick here today for her amazing book, REVIVED. There is just something about the way Cat weaves her stories that leave me breathless and always wanting more. I've never been disappointed by one of her books. She is definitely someone I look up to as an aspiring author and I'd pretty much read anything she writes. Here's a little about REVIVED: 

REVIVED by Cat Patrick
Released: May 8, 2012
Find Cat Online: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook 
From Goodreads: It started with a bus crash.

Daisy Appleby was a little girl when it happened, and she barely remembers the accident or being brought back to life. At that moment, though, she became one of the first subjects in a covert government program that tests a drug called Revive.

Now fifteen, Daisy has died and been Revived five times. Each death means a new name, a new city, a new identity. The only constant in Daisy's life is constant change.

Then Daisy meets Matt and Audrey McKean, charismatic siblings who quickly become her first real friends. But if she's ever to have a normal life, Daisy must escape from an experiment that's much larger--and more sinister--than she ever imagined.

From its striking first chapter to its emotionally charged ending, Cat Patrick's Revived is a riveting story about what happens when life and death collide.

***Interview with Cat Patrick***
CT: If you ever needed to be revived, what do you predict the cause of your death would have been?
CP: You might be surprised to know that I’ve never been asked that question, and to be honest, I’m a little freaked out by it. I’ve just typed several options, only to delete them, fearful of life—or death—imitating interview.  Yes, I am superstitious borderline bonkers.
CT: In REVIVED, Daisy has been more than a little reckless with her life because she knows Revive can bring her back. Her attitude toward protecting life changes throughout the book, especially after she meets Matt. Was it challenging for you to show the readers how much Daisy had learned?
CP: Writing meaningful character arcs is always a challenge but once I had the right plot, Daisy’s fell into place. Originally, I struggled—Revived started out as almost a road trip book—but once I got Daisy settled in Omaha, it was easier for her to learn and grow and for me to explain her evolution to readers. When she was traveling around, she rarely had enough interaction with any of the other characters for them to influence such significant growth.
CT: I loved Mason's character and the way he was always so reliably there for Daisy. Did you always intend for him to be both the fill-in father but also someone who truly cared about Daisy?
CP: Thank you, and great question. In early drafts, Mason was a bit less fatherly and was downright gruff in some places. Those interactions seemed wrong, and I softened him up. And I think it paid off; readers seem to enjoy him. With my other book, Forgotten, the love interest, Luke, is the most mentioned supporting character. With Revived, it's all about Mason.
CT:  As a writer, I understand that the first draft of a book often looks completely different than the final draft. What is one major difference from the first draft to the final that you can share with us?
CP: In early drafts, Mason’s partner was a man, and there was just something off about that. Something missing. I changed his partner to a woman, Cassie, and immediately that something became apparent.  I don’t want to say what it was for fear of spoiling the book for readers, but it was a pretty significant plot point.
CT: Which came to you first, Daisy or the plot? Was there a moment when they both meshed together and you just knew you had a story worth writing?
CP: The drug came first, honestly. I read about a potential drug that could jolt stroke patients back to normal around the time we lost a family friend to cancer. I wondered what it would be like if there were a drug that could bring people back from the dead. And if you were a teenager with access to such a drug, who would you be? The plot developed from there.

Thanks to Little, Brown I am giving away 5 copies of REVIVED. Open to U.S. mailing addresses only. Subject to all Best I've Read giveaway rules. Enter using the Rafflecopter below. 
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#BIR2012 - MIRAGE by Kristi Cook - Exclusive ETERNAL Excerpt

Welcome to day three of Best I've Read 2012!

Be sure to stop by the official BIR blog to see our overall picks for today: TAKE A BOW by Elizabeth Eulberg and GRAVE MERCY by R.L. LaFevers.

Today, I'm featuring one of my favorite authors and sequels of all time: MIRAGE by Kristi Cook. I can't gush enough about how amazing this book is. It doesn't fall into that second-book trap of the couple breaking up and dragging in the middle. This book is unputdownable in every way.

For those of you new to BIR, you may not know that Kristi's debut HAVEN was featured on the official BIR blog last year and we had the honor of revealing the cover for MIRAGE then. You can check that out HERE

Here's a little about MIRAGE:

MIRAGE by Kristi Cook
Released: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Find Kristi Online: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

From GoodreadsSeventeen-year-old Violet McKenna is back for her senior year at Winterhaven, and thrilled to be with Aidan after a long summer apart. But when a violent and disturbing vision begins to haunt her, Violet suddenly feels unsure of everything: who to trust, if she is in danger, and—worst of all—whether she and Aidan are really meant to be together.


Because I love this series so much, and I know if you've read any of the books so far, you're probably dying to know what's going to happen in book three, Kristi has agreed to let me give you an extra special treat today:

An exclusive excerpt from book three, ETERNAL!

Okay, okay, are you done screaming with excitement? Or maybe you've already skipped ahead and aren't even reading go ahead. Read it!

***ETERNAL Excerpt***

“What is it?” I asked. 
His gaze met mine, and only then did I notice the faintest trace of red creeping in.  The sight should have frightened me, but it didn’t.   “I’m sorry your birthday was ruined,” he said at last.  “I had such plans for after.  Our own, private party.”
“I know.”  My pulse leapt, my mouth suddenly dry. 
“Tell me, Vi,” he said, his brow knitted as he trailed a finger down the side of my face.  “Do you believe in the whole concept of soul mates?”
I shook my head.  “Honestly, I’m not sure.  I mean, you just threw me off there with that whole music thing,” I added with a smile. 
“I think most people misinterpret the concept,” Aidan began hesitantly.  “They expect that their soul mate will be just like them.  You know, that a soft, gentle intellectual will only fit with another soft, gentle intellectual.  Or a fiery personality can only match another fiery personality.  But I think it’s just the opposite, that soul mates are more like two sides of a coin.”
“Oh, really?” I said, intrigued now.  It was clear that he’d put a lot of thought into this.
The corners of his mouth twitched with a smile.  “Yes, really.  And you and I…well, we’re so very different, aren’t we?  And yet…that connection between us was almost instantaneous.  You’re the lightheartedness to my solemnity, the spontaneity to my careful planning, the light to my dark.  If you’re heads, then I’m tails.  Together, we’re a whole.  Maybe that’s what a soul mate truly is.” 
My eyes were damp, I realized, swiping them with the back of my hand. “Do you have any idea how much I love you?” I asked. 
He leaned toward me, his forehead against mine.  “I’ve a pretty good idea of it,” he said, his voice thick with emotion.  “Which is why I should probably get you out of here.”
I knew he was right, and yet I couldn’t help but dip my head lower, brushing my lips against his mouth.  I heard his breath catch in his throat, felt him clench his hands into fists by his sides.  Still, I opened my mouth against his, needing to taste him, my soul mate.
I was breathless when I finally pulled away, my skin flushed all over, my lips slightly swollen and bruised.  Lifting one trembling hand, I traced his bottom lip with my index finger, wincing as I made contact with one sharp, elongated canine. 
“I could really use that cure right about now,” Aidan groaned, a hint of desperation in his voice. 


Thanks to Kristi, I am giving away one SIGNED copy of HAVEN and an a SIGNED (by both Kristi and the artist) artwork poster for the Winterhaven series.  (Here is a LINK to a photo of both the artist and the poster over at Wicked Awesome Books).

This giveaway is subject to all BIR contest rules and open to U.S. mailing addresses. Enter using the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

#BIR2012 - CINDER by Marissa Meyer

Welcome to day two of Best I've Read 2012!

Be sure to check out the Best I've Read Blog to see today's features: INSURGENT by Veronica Roth and PANDEMONIUM by Lauren Oliver.

CINDER is one of those books that surprised me in all the perfect ways. Once I picked it up I never wanted to put it down, but I also never wanted it to end. It was one of the easiest choices for me when I picked my top 5 this year. You can check out my review of CINDER on the Books Complete Me blog HERE.

***About CINDER***

Released: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

From Goodreads: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Find Marissa Meyer Online: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook 

***Guest Post***

Marissa Meyer was kind of enough to provide a guest post for me today. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Some Things Never Change (Thank the Stars)
By Marissa Meyer

I am so honored that CINDER was chosen as one of Cindy’s “Best I’ve Read 2012” book selections. Cindy asked if, for this guest post, I could talk a bit about the book’s back story, which makes for a very timely post as I’m writing this on the tail-end of National Novel Writing Month, and, as so many novels do these days, CINDER first started life as a NaNo novel.

But as I started writing about my experience with NaNoWriMo, it led to some heavy reminiscing and a realization that even though I’m in a completely different place, career-wise, than I was back then—some things haven’t changed at all. And I’m so very happy about that.

I first drafted out CINDER during November of 2008. (It was an insane thirty days during which I wrote 150,011 words, which is kind of a long story, but if you’re curious you can read more about the writing adventure here:

That was four whole years ago now, and a lot has happened since then. It took me two years to revise, edit, query, and sell the series, another year before CINDER released, and here I am writing this blog post having lived with the official title of “published author” for almost another full year. I’m now a full-time writer, have been on three multi-city tours, visited a Hollywood studio, been on panels with some of my all-time favorite authors, and even got to go to a book fair in Italy earlier this year.

And yet, five days ago I finished National Novel Writing Month again, with a brand new YA fantasy novel, and it reminded me that some things never change.

Things like:

Writing is still fun. Sure, there are days when it’s a struggle and a headache, but for the most part I still find myself succumbing to daydreams and giddiness and that itchy-finger feeling when I’m enthralled by a new story. I still adore getting to meet characters for the first time. I still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a shiny idea in my head, or have to pull off to the side of the road because a perfect bit of dialogue came to me while I was driving. I still yearn to jump back into a story when I’ve taken too long of a break from it.

You still have to make the time for it. Like many writers, I always imagined that when I became a full-time writer, the time would just… be there. It would be my job! I would be at home all the time! What else would I possibly have to do? Well, it turns out, there will always be other things vying for your attention. If it isn’t a day job, it’ll be chores, family obligations, promotion and marketing work, or an endlessly towering reading list. Making writing a priority is a decision that must be made time and time again.

It’s more important than ever to appreciate the small things. No matter where you are in your writing career, you’ll always be looking forward to whatever comes next. Finish a novel. Get an agent. Get a book deal. Earn a bigger advance. Hit a bestseller list. Get a movie deal. Have a theme park based off your series. (Why not? J.K. Rowling got one!) It is truly never ending, which is why I’m learning that sometimes the most rewarding things are those little victories and rewards we earn every day. Finishing a chapter. Figuring your way out of a tricky plot mess. Reading over your work with a glass of wine in the evening. Buying a fresh bouquet of flowers for your writing desk. These are the things that you can appreciate wherever you are in your career, and they often make me feel luckier than any number of awards or sales figures could. Because these are the things that make me feel like a “real writer.”

Wherever you are with your writing, I urge you to find one thing about your writing path to love and appreciate every day.

Thank you again, Cindy, for choosing CINDER for your Best I’ve Read event and inviting me on to your blog today! I’m wishing all your readers a lovely holiday season, and happy writing.


Thanks to Feiwel & Friends, I have one copy of CINDER to giveaway. This is open to U.S. mailing addresses only. Please read all the Best I've Read giveaway rules for further information. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter!

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