Thursday, April 28, 2016

Blog Tour: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Today on WinterHaven Books I am participating in the blog tour for Roshani Chokshi! Her book The Star-Touched Queen just released and believe me you won't want to miss it!!  On my stop I am sharing with you an fun Q&A with the author!  Questions were provided by the publisher.
 
Roshani Chokshi
1. What/Who were your biggest inspirations for the characters in The Star-Touched Queen? Which character in The Star-Touched Queen did you personally relate to the most and why? 
For Maya and Amar, they were inspired by the Hades/Persephone. But I imagined those two mythological characters a little more differently. In Maya’s case, I knew that ambition was her defining trait, but I wasn’t sure whether that would manifest as seeking emotional or material fulfillment. Turns out, it was a bit of both. Kamala was inspired by my love of fiendish side characters like Mogget from Garth Nix’s SABRIEL and is probably the character I relate to the most. Her sense of humor can be a little abrasive. But she’s fiercely loyal to her friends. Other people in TSTQ were inspired by a collection of people whom I met/knew/heard of growing up.

2. Have you always been drawn to Mythology and what are some of your favorite mythological tales? What myth specifically inspired Star-Touched? 
Always! I was raised on mythology. It was one of the most important outlets for me to connect to my Filipino/Indian heritage. My favorite Indian myths are Shakuntula, Nala and Damayanti, and Savitri. My favorite Filipino story is the Igorot tale of the Sky Maiden. My favorite Western myth is Hades and Persephone. TSTQ was specifically inspired by Hades & Persephone.

3. Let's talk inspiration. What Indian folklore inspired The Star-Touched Queen and where could someone who might be interested in reading and learning more about it and other Indian stories (cough, me, cough) learn more? 
The main Indian folktales/myths that inspired TSTQ or particular scenes were: Shakuntula (plays on the idea of memory and forgotten loves), Savitri & Satyavan (bargaining with Lord of Death, wily females!) and Narasimha (the fourth avatar of Lord Vishnu who defeated the demon king Hirayankashipu). Honestly, most of these were stories I heard growing up with my family. But my favorite thing to read when I was younger were the Amar Chitra Katha comics! They’re these illustrated tales from Indian mythology and I love them so so so much.

4.What scene in THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN was your favorite to write? 
Definitely the scene where Amar and Maya are working together in the constellation room. I think it’s an important scene about interpretation, which, to me, is a major theme in TSTQ.

5. Did you listen to any music while writing this book? If yes, what would you say was your MOST played artist or song? 
Sometimes I listen to music when I write. It just depends on whether the song is distracting me or fueling some weird atmospheric part of the scene. Sometimes it’s just one song on repeat. I listen to a lot of hip hop. And when I pretty much rewrote TSTQ in February 2015, I felt furious. Not with anyone. But just with the story. Like it was itching to be told right and I was failing it. I think the songs I listened to the most with TSTQ was either Kid Ink’s “Show Me” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice.”

6. What is your dream movie cast for STAR-TOUCHED? 
LOVE this question. I’ve always envisioned Lakshmi Menon (the Sri Lankan model) as Maya-esque. Amar has some definite Arjun Rampal undertones (swoons forever). Gupta is kinda cheeky and nerdy, and reminds me of Imran Khan (actor not Pakistani cricket player). Gauri is cheeky, but fierce, so definitely Preity Zinta or Deepika Padukone. Nritti: Aishwarya Rai. And Mother Dhina: Rekha.

7. What is the most exciting part about publishing your first novel? 
Interacting with readers. Talking to the YA community gives me so much life.

8. How did you build your world and keep everything straight for STAR-TOUCHED? 
Flashcards, charts, webs, etc. I know everyone has their own tricks! Flashcards, backs of receipts, corners of napkins. Which is to say, I did not keep things straight at all. This is why you have beta readers. To throw virtual tomatoes at you and point out that given the rules of your world, you cannot do the thing you just did.

9. What is your next project? Is it in the same world as STAR-TOUCHED? 
I just finished the companion novel to TSTQ! So, I’m hoping to get started on edits soon. I can’t wait for y’all to read it. I love it so much.

10. What is the one thing you want readers to walk away from STAR-TOUCHED with? 
I hope readers see a little of how fairytales and folklore celebrate our shared experiences across cultural spectrums. And I hope their dreams are a little star-touched and that they close the book thinking they’ve tasted fairy fruit and walked through more than one life.

 Find Roshani

The Star-Touched QueenThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.




Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched QueenThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release date: April 26th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon
Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.
 

My thoughts:
I've been sitting on my thoughts for this book all day and the strangest thing happened.  I started out thinking this book kinda wasn't for me, but then the more I thought about it and the more I contemplated what I was going to say in my review I grew to not only like this story, but I actually kinda loved it.  This has never happened to me so bare with my while I try and get all my thoughts together for this review.

The Star-Touched Queen was nothing at all what I thought it was going to be and I think that's one of the reasons I had a hard time connecting to it in the beginning.  I would read a chapter and then put it down because it wasn't the gripping Game of Throneish plot I thought I was getting, but in it's defense I don't think it ever claimed to be this.  I have no idea where I got that idea, but I did and it stuck so right off the bat I was left with a meh feeling unfortunately. What kept me going in the beginning was the amazingly beautiful writing.  I think this book has to be one of the more eloquently written books I have read this year and I loved every minute of it.  If it weren't for the writing I don't think I would have finished this and I would have seriously missed out on something amazing.

The story is a complicated one because it changed about halfway through.  At the turning point is when I truly fell into the story.  I thought the whole concept was really unique and interesting and I really wish the beginning had included this new world that was introduced.  It was dark and well everything that I like in this type of book.  It kinda felt like a cross between Melissa Marr and A.G. Howard and if you know me then you know I love these two authors above all else so this was a very good thing for me.   So to say I was hooked was an understatement and at this point I couldn't put the book down.  I read 70% of the book in one sitting.

I really enjoyed the characters in this story as well.  Maya was determined and fierce and I liked her devotion to her people.  I also really liked that she didn't back down from what she thought was right.  She had very tough decisions throughout this book and it was nice seeing her make thoughtful choices.  I also have to give a huge shout to Kamala. This horse was AMAZING!  If I didn't like anything about this book I would have still loved Kamala.  You will have to read to see why this horse is so amazing, but I will tell you she is my favorite character of the whole book!

My reasons for walking away thinking not for me are quite simple. 
1) I really needed a glossary.  There are a lot of words thrown at you and if you aren't familiar with this Indian culture and mythology then you will be lost just as I was.  In the beginning I looked everything up, but that got to be too much because it felt like every other page I had to stop and look something up so I stopped.  Which of course means I missed key things and that saddened me.  Footnotes would have been an amazing addition that would have helped the authors readers immensely.
2) As much as I loved the world in the second half it was not built very well.  I wish the author would have spent a bit more time building her world because I felt lost and disconnected so much of the story.  At times I couldn't grasp what was going on and it felt very fantasical if that makes any sense.  Kinda of like trying to read a Tim Burton film.  I know this author has the ability to build a world so I feel let down that I didn't get to read it.
3) And lastly I would have loved a few chapters in Amar's POV.  I understand why so many things were hidden regarding him, but in the beginning I would have loved to have heard his thoughts regarding Maya.  I think I needed that to buy his love for her in the beginning.  He was a complete mystery and yes I did like that, but I still wanted to be let in on a few of his secrets.

See these things are quite simple. but all added up I'm left walking away feeling meh not for me.  Like I said though the more I thought about the story the more things made sense I really fell in love with Maya and her story.  I thought it was a very whimsical yet dark story and I after thinking on it I think it was rather brilliant.  The author has created something that is definitely unique and not something I will soon forget.  I'm glad this turned out to not be what I expected and I am very thankful that the authors writing kept me going.  I will even say this is in my top 10 books of this year which is so strange!  It's just really that good! 

4 snowflakes







Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Invision (Chronicles of Nick #7) by Sherrilyn Kenyon


Today on WinterHaven Books I have am participating in the blog tour for Invision by Sherrilyn Kenyon!  For my stop I have a fun excerpt to share as well as information about a fun scavenger hunt!

Invision (Chronicles of Nick, #7)Invision (Chronicles of Nick #7) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Publisher: St.Martins Griffin
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Purchase: Amazon
Think there’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders? Nick Gautier was born to bring about the end of the world . . . it’s not easy being the heir of a demon overlord.

But Nick is determined to thwart his destiny and get into a good college. To be more than his genetics and prophecy foretell. No one is ever going to tell this stubborn Cajun who and what he really is. Or how to live his life.

Not even the Fates of the Universe. But now that he and his team of ancient gods and demons have claimed the Eye of Ananke and he sees the missteps of the future, he has to battle the demons within that are far deadlier and more treacherous than any he’s battled before. All the while his arch nemesis is back and determined to reclaim his place as the harbinger for Armageddon. Even if it means killing Nick and barbecuing everyone he loves to do so.

EXCERPT
Hanging his head, he pushed his chair back to face her. “What do you want me to say, Kode? You saw what I did. It’s hopeless. I’m going to end this world. Whether it’s tomorrow or a thousand years from now. I’m going to lose it all. Break bad and tear humanity apart. . . . Don’t matter what we do. Whatever we try. We just delay the inevitable outcome. So I’m going to sit here with my eats. And just . . .” he let his voice trail off as the full horror of his future played through his mind for the five millionth time.
He was the end of everything.
Everyone.
All he loved.
The entire world would one day fall to Nick’s army of demons.
Yeah, there was something to put on his college applications. That ought to have schools lining up to accept him. Who wouldn’t want that as their alumnus? We have graduated senators, presidents, movers-and- shakers, and the Malachai demon who ate the world whole…
It was the one reality Nick wanted to deny and couldn’t. Everything eventually came back to that one inescapable fact he wanted to runaway from and couldn’t.
I’m only sixteen. Too young to deal with this crap.
He was supposed to be worried about his grades. About keeping his girl happy. Staying out of trouble. His mom finding his friend’s porn magazines stashed in his room. Getting to work on time. Making curfew.
Not hellgates and demons coming for the throats of his family and friends. Definitely not about the fact that his birthright was to bring on the destruction of all humanity.

 Book Trailer

Scavenger Hunt!
Be sure to click the image at the very top of my post!  This will take you Griffin Teen which will then take you where you need to go to enter to win a signed backlist set of The Chronicles of Nick!

 About the Author:
New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon is a regular in the #1 spot. This extraordinary bestseller continues to top every genre in which she writes. With more than 40 million copies of her books in print in more than one hundred countries, her current series include The Dark-Hunters, The League, and Chronicles of Nick. Her Chronicles of Nick and Dark-Hunter series are soon to be major motion pictures.

Other books in the Chronicles of Nick series
Infinity (Chronicles of Nick, #1) Invincible (Chronicles of Nick, #2) Infamous (Chronicles of Nick, #3)
Inferno (Chronicles of Nick, #4) Illusion (Chronicles of Nick, #5) Instinct (Chronicles of Nick, #6)


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Release Date - May 3rd, 2016
Pre-order - Amazon / B&N
Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks)

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing - if everything's planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?

My Thoughts: 

I really love Morgan Matson - have loved since I read Amy & Roger's Epic Detour a couple of years ago. Because of that, I was obviously very excited after first hearing about The Unexpected Everything. As you might have figured out from my previous reviews, I am mostly a contemporary YA reader, and Morgan Matson's books always tend to fill all of the boxes for what I look from contemporary YA - friendships, romance, family relationships and self-discovery. The Unexpected Everything was an absolutely treat, much like all of the previous novels by Matson, and though it did not become my favorite from her novels, it was still a solid five star read without a doubt.

Andie is the daughter of a widowed father. Due to her father's job as a politician, Andie is used to being under constant scrutiny - she has been told what to wear, how to use social media, how to act in parties, and so on. The fact that her father has been spending so much time in D.C. means that Andie has been able to control her own life and make her own schedules. She is hard-working good student with goals, but she also loves spending time with her friends. When her father is pulled into a political scandal and forced to temporarily step down from his position, things change very quickly. Due to his father's new reputation, Andie has to rethink her plans for the summer and try to come to terms with the fact that her father is suddenly home and actually interested in spending time with her.

When Andie's first plan for the summer fails, she starts to look for a job and finds a position as a dog walker. It is during her job that she also meets Clark, a guy who is shy, attractive and.... wait for it... A WRITER (*swoon*). As Andie starts to spend more time with Clark, she starts to realize that sometimes things might get better when they don't go according to a plan. Andie's summer definitely didn't turn how she had planned it, but maybe that is a good thing...

The Unexpected Everything focuses mainly on three different relationships Andie has: her relationship with her father, her relationships with her friends, as well as her relationship with Clark. As the novel processes, these relationships obviously get tangled up and they all play different kind of roles in Andie's life. Though I love the bits with Andie and Clark, I must say that I am always a sucker for father-daughter story lines, probably because my "story line" with my father only lasted for 12 years. I loved reading about the way Andie and her father get used to each other again after spending so much time apart, and how the trust between them slowly builds. The friendship story lines are also interesting and love Andie's little gang of friends consisting of Palmer (and her boyfriend Tom), Toby and Bri. 

The Unexpected Everything is fairly long for a contemporary book (almost 500 pages), but I think Matson uses the length to her advantage and really takes time to develop the relationships and the characters. Andie is a likable character and easy to identify with. She fights for what she wants, but also hesitates at moments when things might get too serious, which is something I definitely was able to identify with. She really has chemistry with Clark and I loved the dialogue between the two and how something small between them develops into something much larger as the novel proceeds. 

Second Chance Summer still remains as my favorite Morgan Matson novel, mostly because I am not sure whether a novel has really broken my heart quite in a way that it did. But The Unexpected Everything is a nice new addition to the row of five stars reviews I have given for Morgan Matson. It is a must read for contemporary lovers and a book that will definitely make you look forward to summer! It also features a collection of dogs, which I think always makes things better.

5 Snowflakes


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blog Tour: Character Playlist from Meghan Rogers!

 Okay so if you saw my review yesterday you already know I am a HUGE fan of Crossing the Line!  It is a book like no other and one I can guarantee I will not forget!  It's so good that I know when the second book releases I won't even need a refresher because there's no way I am forgetting the awesomeness that was between those pages!  Yes I am fangirling HARD my friends!  Well today I get to fangirl more because I am taking part in the blog tour for the writing God Meghan Rogers!  For my stop I am sharing a character playlist for my one of my favorite characters Travie Elton!!! 

Travis Elton, codename Scorpion, is the top agent at the International Defense Agency (IDA). Or at least he was until his enemy, Jocelyn Steely, arrived. She claims she’s a double agent now, spying for the IDA, but Travis isn’t buying it. Here are some songs that best describe Travis, and Travis and Jocelyn’s dynamic.

1. “We Will Rock You” Queen
When Travis goes on a mission, he is confident in his ability to execute. He doesn’t lose often, but when he does it’s almost always to Jocelyn.

2. “Pumped Up Kicks” Foster the People
The only way Travis gets beaten is by someone who is faster than him—someone who can, essentially, outrun his gun. It’s exactly why Jocelyn has had so much success against him in the past.

3. “Enemies” Shinedown
This is very much how Travis feels about Jocelyn when she first arrives at the IDA. He’s not happy she’s there and he’s not at all sympathetic to her situation.

4. “Here It Goes” Jimmy Eat World
Travis thrives on being in control of a situation. Jocelyn’s presence threatens that control.

5. “Hall of Fame” The Script featuring will.i.am.
Before Jocelyn showed up, Travis worked really hard to be the best agent in the IDA. If the IDA had a hall of fame, he’d be in it.

6. “Come with Me Now” KONGOS
Travis is insistent that Jocelyn stick with him when she first arrives at the IDA. He doesn’t trust her to be out of his sight.

7. “Warriors” Imagine Dragons
This song is a lot about pride, and having pride in the work you’ve done. Travis has a lot of pride in his job and in what he’s done for the IDA.

8. “Alibi” The Downtown Fiction
Travis badly wants to know why Jocelyn is at the IDA and he’s sure she’s there to do damage.

9. “Citizen Soldier” 3 Doors Down
Travis takes great pride in protecting those that need it and in the work the IDA does.

10. “Hey Brother” Avicii
Travis is very loyal and he looks out for his people.

11. “I’ll Be Good” Jaymes Young
Travis is one of the IDA’s best agents, but when he makes a mistake, he takes it pretty hard. He feels like he has to work to be better.

12. “The Deepest Well” Yellowcard
This song is a little bit like Jocelyn and Travis’s dynamic, but in reverse. Jocelyn dragged Travis down for years and now they’re working together.

13. “Let’s Kill Tonight” Panic! At the Disco
Travis knows better than anyone that there’s nothing ordinary about Jocelyn.

14. “Gonzo” The All-American Rejects
By looking forward and understanding the Jocelyn that’s sitting in front of him, Travis starts to see past events with more clarity. He’s also big on talking responsibility for his actions.

15. “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” Relient K
Travis has a high moral code. When he realizes he’s misunderstood a situation and treated someone badly for it, he really hates a part of himself.

Spotify Playlist:
https://open.spotify.com/user/meghanrogers01/playlist/0x3FjYqJ0UovngyZjJG7X0

 I won't lie I just downloaded each and every song on this list and I plan to reread the entire book with them playing in the background!  I LOVE this playlist and I can totally see where each song fits!!  
Meghan thank you so much for sharing this with us and our readers!  You are a rockstar!!


Crossing the Line (The Raven Files, #1)Crossing the Line (The Raven Files #1) by Meghan Rogers
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: April 12th, 2016
Purchase: Amazon
If Jason Bourne were a teenaged girl…

Jocelyn Steely was kidnapped as a child and raised in North Korea as a spy. When her agency sends her to the U.S. to infiltrate the very group her parents once worked for, Jocelyn jumps at the chance to turn double agent and finish off her kidnappers once and for all. She convinces the head of the American spy agency to trust her, but it’s not quite as simple as that: Jocelyn has to fight the withdrawal symptoms from the drug that the North Koreans used to keep her in line, and her new fellow spies refuse to trust their former adversary. Worst of all, there might be some new information to uncover about her parents - if she even wants to find out.

This action-packed spy thriller is part Gallagher Girls, part Alex Rider, and part Bourne Identity.
 About Meghan
Meghan Rogers
Meghan Rogers has been telling stories since she could talk and writing creatively since she was first introduced to the concept in third grade. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College. She lives in Morton, PA.