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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Blog Tour: Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick | Guest Post & Giveaway!

Blood Red Snow White
by Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release Date: October 25th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Russia, Fairy Tales

It is 1917, and the world is tearing itself to pieces in a dreadful war, but far to the east of the trenches, another battle is breaking out - the Russian Revolution has just begun... 

Blood Red, Snow White captures the mood of this huge moment in history through the adventure of one man who was in the middle of it all; Arthur Ransome, a young British journalist who had first run away to Russia to collect fairy tales. 

Told as three linked novellas, part one captures the days of revolution but retells the story as Russian Fairy Tale, with typical humour and unashamed brutality. Part two is a spy story, set over the course of one evening, as Ransome faces up to his biggest challenge, and part three is a love story, full of tragedy and hope, as every good Russian love story should be.
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

Character development: The importance of writing a great main character, talk about what makes for an interesting and likeable one. Also, discuss one of your favorite characters from your novel and the process of developing him/her.

It’s timely to be asked this question as I have just returned from teaching at a creative writing retreat, at one point of which, I wrote a list of ‘GOLDEN RULES OF WRITING’ on the board.

The list included various things, many of which you will see repeated again and again in creative writing books, or on the Net, such as:

• Show, don’t tell
• Write what you know
• Repetition is bad
• We have to care
• Write every day

And then I proceeded to argue that actually only one of these are golden rules, and the rest are all either more or less true, and at the very least debatable. By now you’ve probably worked out the one that I believe is the only fundamental rule of writing, namely: we have to care.

It sounds a touch abrupt, this ‘Why do we care?’ but it’s what I encourage all aspiring writers to give a lot of thought to as they work on their books. It’s what my first agent asked me, when I was working on developing my writing, and it’s what I still ask myself now, when working on a book. The point is this; a book is the product of a writer’s imagination – it is, to be blunt, all made up - so why should anyone else (namely a reader) care about the strange, fictional products of anyone else’s mind?

The answer, when this process succeeds, is the underlying magic trick of all Story – that we are able to empathize not just with other people, we are able to empathize with other people who don’t actually exist. 

(If you’re interested in this subject, there are lots of books around at the moment that discuss the role of ‘mirror neurons’ in the brain – a relatively recent discovery – which are quite extraordinary. Here’s an example: – you see someone pick up a pen. When you do, mirror neurons fire in your own brain – put simply, you rehearse the same action in your own brain. It gets interesting for those of us interested in writing, however, when we learn that mirror neurons fire even if we merely read about someone picking up a pen. From here, there’s a lot of discussion about the role of story in the brain, why it evolved and why we find it so powerful, how story is our attempt to understand the world and particularly human social interaction. And the stunning conclusion to all this recent research is that it’s now been proven that reading fiction makes you more empathetic, kind, tolerant and better looking too. (I might be lying about one of those).

But there’s a big ‘however’ in all this: the success of this process (the empathy of a reader for a character) is not a given, and therefore it’s worth pointing out that a writer can never assume the reader will automatically like or engage with their protagonists etc. and therefore that one has to earn this.

So how does a writer make a reader care about a new character they’ve introduced? Well, it’s worth spending some time thinking about why we like any new real person that we meet. Why do we like people? (or maybe not like them per se, but find them interesting, or fascinating, or the topic of much discussion) Such people may be some or all of these things: funny, kind, in need of our sympathy, have interesting things to say, have things in common with us, have things that are outside our experience but which are fascinating, etc. etc. etc. What I’m describing are the various ways real people engage us, and a fictional person must do the same.

It’s time to end, but in conclusion, in writing Blood Red, Snow White, the situation was a slightly different one. Being a true story, my character was a real person, which much written about him, one whose diaries and letters and autobiography I read again and again, and he was a very likeable man, even if he did some very silly things from time to time, some very risky and hasty things. That’s how real people behave, with complexity, and even if they are sometimes frustrating, we still love our loved ones. My challenge in this book therefore, was not to create a ‘real’ character, but to translate him, bring him to life, as well as possible for the reader of my book.

Follow the Blood Red Snow White Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent, England. Marcus is a British author and illustrator as well as a musician. He is the author of several books, including Witch Hill and The Book of Dead Days, both of which were nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. The most recent of these nominations rekindled a fascination with Poe that has borne fruit here in (in The Restless Dead, 2007) the form of "The Heart of Another" - inspired by Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." Of his story, Sedgwick says, "This was one of those stories that I thought might be a novel originally but actually was much better suited to the tight form of the short story. I had the initial idea some years ago but was just waiting for the right ingredient to come along. Poe's story, as well as his own fascination with technique, provided that final piece of the puzzle."

He used to play for two bands namely playing the drums for Garrett and as the guitarist in an ABBA tribute group. He has published novels such as Floodland (winner of the Branford Boase Award in 2001) and The Dark Horse (shortlisted for The Guardian Children's Book Award 2002).

Prize: Win a set of Marcus Sedgwick's booksBLOOD RED SNOW WHITETHE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN and MIDWINTERBLOOD (US Only)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review: Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa

Title: Children of Eden
Author: Joey Graceffa
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Atria/Keywords Press
Genre: YA > Science Fiction > Dystopia
Source: print ARC via publisher

Rowan is a Second Child in a world where population control measures make her an outlaw, marked for death. She can never go to school, make friends, or get the eye implants that will mark her as a true member of Eden. Her kaleidoscope eyes will give her away to the ruthless Center government.

Outside of Eden, Earth is poisoned and dead. All animals and most plants have been destroyed by a man-made catastrophe. Long ago, the brilliant scientist Aaron al Baz saved a pocket of civilization by designing the EcoPanopticon, a massive computer program that hijacked all global technology and put it to use preserving the last vestiges of mankind. Humans will wait for thousands of years in Eden until the EcoPan heals the world.

As an illegal Second Child, Rowan has been hidden away in her family's compound for sixteen years. Now, restless and desperate to see the world, she recklessly escapes for what she swears will be only one night of adventure. Though she finds an exotic world, and even a friend, the night leads to tragedy. Soon Rowan becomes a renegade on the run – unleashing a chain of events that could change the world of Eden forever.
Purchase at: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / Book Depository / Indiebound

Wow, where do I begin? Well, I guess I could start with the fact that one of my favorite Youtubers wrote a freaking YA novel and an amazing one at that. I've been a huge fan of Joey Graceffa for some time now. He's not only highly entertaining but super sweet and down to earth. It's always a treat when a movie, TV or Youtube personnel decided to write a book, stepping out from behind the camera/video to do something different, like be an author. I really did have high expectations for Children of Eden and I right to expect Joey to turn out an outstanding story because he most definitely did! 

The story takes place in the future in a dystopian setting where the earth is dead, killed off by humans long ago. A visionary/scientist named, Aaron al Baz creates a protected city called Eden where all of the remaining humans live and thrive, for the most part. With a limited amount of resources, Eden has a law that there can only be one child born to each family. If a second child is born it will be put to death.  Once the first child is born they are to undergo a surgery to have dull lenses implanted in their eyes to be recognized as a first child. 

Rowen was born a twin. Her brother Ash lives the life as the first child while Rowen is hidden away from the world to keep her safe. She is tired of never being able to live a real life and having to be confined indoors always. So one night Rowen decides she's had enough and decides to climb the wall separating her home from the rest of Eden. The unthinkable happens when she slips and falls over the side of the wall. Now stuck on the outside, she has no other choice but to explore this mysterious Eden, all the while hiding her face and eyes so not to be seen or worse, caught. She runs into a friend of her brothers, a girl named Lark. Lark is against everything Eden stands for and helps Rowen get back home safely. The next day her Mother tells her something that will forever change Rowen's world forever. A secret that finally comes out leads to an event that will rock Rowens very existence and that now forces her to be on the run through an unfair new world that is ruled by very bad people. 

The people she meets along the way are her only hope in surviving Eden and learning to live as a second child in a world that forbade's people like her. Rowen comes to learn that Eden really isn't as it seems. Someone is hiding a big secret, one that will change her entire world and those around her. Rowen knows what she must do but the truth coming out may very well get her killed. 

Children of Eden has the most exquisitely written world-building I've ever read. The landscapes were so vividly real to the imagination. The way the author writes about Eden and explains it in such details gave me a much better look into Rowen's world. I felt like I was standing beside her looking on while her life was turned upside down. 

Rowen is one of the characters in a book where you just can't help but love her and feel for her with all she was meant to endure. Throughout the book I had so many different emotions surface while reading. Sadness, anger, understanding, happiness, and even love. I found myself wishing I could tell her that she is worthy of being alive and love. She is such a strong heroine, one that never gives up on what she believes is fair and just. Someone who would do anything to help others and save them from what lies that have been hidden about Eden all along. 

The secondary characters all equally played their parts in the story. I even didn't mind the love-triangle that was begging to form between Rowen and two other of the characters. I'm not sure who I'm rooting for because both are amazing characters. The story itself is very unique and entertaining. It's unlike any other Dystopian novel I've read. The concept was brilliant and really well throughout. Joey Graceffa is such a fabulous story-teller and it really shows through his youtube channel. He's thought up and starred in so many youtube "movies". Childen of Eden for me was a wonderful first installment of a book series I know everyone will love. I can't wait to read what happens next! The ending was left on such a huge cliff-hanger! Aaaaahh!!! 

I highly recommend Children of Eden to all Dystopian and sci-fi lovers! 
You're going to love this book! 

 4 and 1/2 STARS Totally Awesome! I loved it, would read again.

About The Author: Joey Graceffa

Joey Graceffa is one of the leading content creators and actors on YouTube. His memoir, In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World, was published in 2015 and became an instant New York Times bestseller. Joey ranked third on Variety’s 2015 #Famechangers lists and has been featured in numerous publications such as People, Forbes, Entertainment Weekly, and The Hollywood Reporter.  In 2013, between his daily vlogs and gameplay videos, Joey produced and starred in his own Kickstarter–funded supernatural series, “Storytellers,” for which he won a Streamy Award, and was recently announced for a season 2 in 2016 in partnership with Legendary and Style Haul. In 2016, he debuted Escape the Night, a surreality competition series for YouTube Red. Joey is a passionate storyteller and carries that sentiment into all of his projects, now with his latest fictional narrative, Children of Eden. For more information, please visit ChildrenofEdenBook.com.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

RIP sweet angel, Nikki! + Welcome my new addition, Paris!

With extreme sadness, I'm here today to talk about the loss of my best friend and furbaby, Nikki. Almost a month I had to make one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make, to put to sleep my 18-year-old min-pin, Nikki. Her health had been deteriorating slowly over the last year. She was almost blind, deaf, had trouble walking, was not eating much, and sleep almost 22 hours a day. I know she was in pain too and it broke my heart to see her dealing with all of this every day. As I type this there are tears swimming in my eyes. I miss her so much. My heart aches every day not being able to see her anymore and give her hugs and kisses. Nikki was there for my through all the hardships I've had to endure over the last several years, never leaving my side. I cry and remain grieving every day. It has gotten easier but I still feel like a piece of my heart is missing. 

I just got back her ashes a few days ago and of course was a blubbering mess. I am trying to save up to buy this Personalized Cremation necklace. It's been hard since I've had to spend hundreds of dollars on euthanasia fee's among other money spent. 
This is one of the main reasons why I've not blogged in a while. I just needed some time to grieve. 

Here are some pics of my beautiful angel, Nikki. 

When one door closes in your life, another one will open...

I love that quote, don't  you? Little did I know a new door had already started to open before I lost my Nikki. Three days before I put Nikki to sleep we were out for a walk. I've just recently moved into a home instead of an apartment and my mailbox is near the side of the road. I didn't like walking Nikki up there since she had trouble seeing and I didn't want her to get hit or anything but on this day she seemed to be leading me up in that direction, almost pulling me there. Well once I get up there near my mailbox I see a box sitting at the side of the road and was shocked to find a kitten inside. He was abandoned by whomever and covered in fleas, and thin. I knew right then I needed to rescue this poor thing and find a good home for him. I ended up dropping him off at a friend's house who would foster him until a perfect home could be found. On the day before I decide to put Nikki to sleep my Mother and Father call to tell me that I can keep the kitten if I want. I seriously went into shock, because of my finances it had been difficult to pay for Nikki's needs and my parents have been helping out some. So to be told I can keep this little sweetheart was an amazing feeling. I have never owned a cat before much less a kitten. I've always had dogs for pets. This a whole new world for me and I'm so loving it!! He has made losing Nikki easier and helped me through my grief. 

Without further ado, please help me in welcoming my new 4-month-old kitten 


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