Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR] Tears of Frost (Heart of Thorns, #2) by Bree Barton

Tears of Frost Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on the Tears of Frost book tour! Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Tears of Frost2

Title: TEARS OF FROST (Heart of Thorns, #2)
Author: Bree Barton
Pub. Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Formats: Hardcover
Pages: 480
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N, iTunes, TBD, Kobo, Google Books

The electric second book in the Heart of Thorns trilogy explores the effects of power in a dark magical kingdom—and the fierce courage it takes to claim your body as your own.

Mia Rose is back from the dead. Her memories are hazy, her body numb—but she won’t stop searching. Her only hope to save the boy she loves and the sister who destroyed her is to find the mother she can never forgive. Pilar is on a hunt of her own. Betrayed by her mother, and plagued by a painful secret, she’s determined to seek out the only person who can exact revenge. All goes according to plan… until she collides with Prince Quin, the boy whose sister she killed.

As Mia, Pilar, and Quin forge dangerous new alliances, they are bewitched by the snow kingdom’s promise of freedom and opportunity. But with the winter solstice drawing near, they must confront the truth beneath the glimmering ice, as lines between friend, foe, and lover vanish like snowflakes on a flame.


REVIEW

Compared to the last novel, this one started out action-packed! I knew from the first 100 pages that I was going to enjoy this installment better than the first (and that is rare for me!).

I think what readers will enjoy most is the parallels the novel portrays to our present. This is definitely a “girl power” novel. Note that there are some scenes containing sexual abuse that could make readers uncomfortable. Depression also makes a presence in the novel.

I loved the growth we see, not only from our characters, but from the author herself. The confidence is apparent in the writing. Tears of Frost has a million times more depth than Heart of Thorns. As readers, we get to experience the pain and suffering the characters experience, we embark on the same journeys through the struggles of family expectations, and finally, we get to experience the characters overcoming adversity and becoming their own people.

Barton is an author unlike anyone else. Tackling touchy issues in the way she knows best: writing, Barton takes readers on a journey of unlikely friendships struggling with alcoholism, sexual assault, depression, and suicidal ideation until finally, finding themselves.

★★★

See my review for Heart of Thorns here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bree Barton

Bree Barton is the author of Heart of Thorns (KT/HArperCollins 2018), the first in a series of fierce feminist fantasy novels. Her books have been published in seven countries and four languages. When she’s not crafting story, Bree teaches dance and writing to teen girls. You can find her on Instagram @SpeakBreely. She lives in Los Angeles but dreams of the northern lights.

Follow Bree:
GoodreadsWebsite | YouTubeInstagram


GIVEAWAY

1st Prize
Win a TEARS OF FROST bundle: signed hardcover copies of HoT and ToF, HoT bookmark, ToF bookmark, HoT candle, ToF candle (US ONLY)

2nd Prize
Win a TEARS OF FROST goodies bundle: signed bookplate, HoT bookmark, ToF bookmark, and a customized poem in the style of the epigraph (INT)

Starts: October 30th, 2019
Ends: November 13th, 2019

ENTER HERE


EXTRAS

 


October 30th

October 31st

Careful of Books – Review
Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
Utopia State of Mind – Review + Favourite Quotes
Risah’s Book Blog – Promotional Post

November 1st

L.M. Durand – Guest Post
Luchia Houghton Blog – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Review + Favourite Quotes

November 2nd

NovelKnight – Guest Post
Bookishly Nerdy – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Caffeinated Reader – Review + Favourite Quotes
Bookish Looks – Promotional Post

November 3rd

Reads Like Supernovae – Review + Favourite Quotes
Dazzled by Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Book Bratz – Promotional Post

November 4th

Wishful Endings – Interview
Wine, Tea, & Paper – Review + Favourite Quotes
Polish & Paperbacks – Promotional Post

November 5th

Kait Plus Books – Interview
Synopses by Sarge – Review
Novel Nerd Faction – Review + Playlist
Oh Hey! Books. – Promotional Post
Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR + Q&A] The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

The Memory Thief Banner

Welcome to my stop on The Memory Thief book tour! Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Memory Thief Cover

Title: THE MEMORY THIEF
Author: Lauren Mansy
Pub. Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: BLINK
Formats: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N, TBD, IndieBound

In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.

Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.

To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.


REVIEW

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Shadows can help her.

I brush the memory of Ryder’s plan away as another replaces it.

They help people who can’t help themselves.

In a world where memories are transferred as money, we follow Etta, a 17-year-old girl living in the shadows and trying to keep her secret safe from those around her: she is a “Gifted” labeled as an “Ungifted”, but the catch is that people only see blankness when they look into her mind. Under a corrupt government, the “Gifted” have all of the power. Four years ago, Etta made a deal with Madame (her enemy at the time) and betrayed her allies in order to have a place for her mother to stay in the asylum. Now, with the Auction day upon her, she realizes that her mother is up for auction and all deals between herself and Madame are off. When a person is put up for auction, the memories are put up for sale until the person has nothing left of value and dies. In order to save her mother once again, Etta is forced to confront the people she betrayed to ask for her. But the only way to save her mother is to embark on a mission to save the “Shadows'” leader.

“Gifteds” can transfer memories between people by touch.
“Ungifteds” have no special powers.
“Sifters” can transfer memories without touch.
“Shadows” are the “protectors” of the realm, but are thieves and contribute to a black market of memories.
“Ghosts” give unpleasant memories in order to make people suffer.
“Hunters” take the memories of animals.

The idea of memories being a form of currency is a unique and intriguing idea. It slightly reminds me of the pensieve from Harry Potter. Ryder, Etta’s sidekick reminds me of Rue from The Hunger Games. She is comical, brave, and loyal to a fault. She looks up to Etta as an older sister. I wish we learned a little more about the backstory of the other people in Etta’s life, specifically the ones she has the leather bracelets of.

The one thing I had a hard time with was the instance romance. I thought I missed reading 100 pages all of a sudden. Also, I wish Etta wasn’t as gullible as she is made out to be. She wasn’t exactly the easiest to relate to. With a few tweaks to the story and the pacing, I think this novel has a real chance to be a star since the concept is so gripping.

The Memory Thief was a concept unlike anything else: memories being used as currency in a corrupt government, where the removal of memories can truly change someone’s life. The Memory Thief is a story of loss, grief, lies, deceit, and the ability to forgive oneself for mistakes.

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren MansyLauren lives in the Chicago area, where she’s spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren’s own journey with her mother, is her first novel.

Follow Lauren:
Website | Twitter | Instagram


Q & A

Q: What was the hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?
LM:
The scene where Etta visits her mother in the asylum was actually both the hardest and the easiest to write. Because this book is based off memories that I share with my mom, that scene was very cathartic yet difficult to put down on paper. It caused me to revisit a lot of my memories of when my mom was in the hospital, and it was very uncertain if she would survive. I remember how vulnerable my mom had been yet she never stopped fighting to get better. Ultimately, it was her ability to cling to hope even in hardship which made me want to share this story, so writing that scene will forever have a big impact on me.

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)
LM: What a fun question! When I was drafting, quite a few characters were named after family members, all of whom actually ended up being cut during my revision stage! Since none of the characters made it onto the final pages, I like to joke that the famous writers’ phrase “kill your darlings” took on a whole new meaning for me 🙂

Q: What do you hope people remember about The Memory Thief?
LM: The main thing that I hope people take away from TMT is that it isn’t the hardships of the past which define us but the strength we find in overcoming them. Etta is a character who struggles with a lot of regret and has lost hope that things will ever get better. But on Etta’s journey to save her mother, she begins to realize that she’s believed a lot of lies, not only about the world around her but about herself, as well. I hope Etta’s story might inspire readers to never give up fighting for what you believe in, even in the midst of impossible odds.

Q: Did The Memory Thief have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?
LM: I was all about the Jurassic Park soundtrack while drafting TMT! I adore movie soundtracks, and John Williams is a favorite composer of mine. I’d highly recommending listening to “Remembering Petticoat Lane”. It’s hauntingly beautiful and was on repeat for about 95% of drafting TMT!

Q: What is your dream cast for The Memory Thief?
LM: Oooh, great question! I love movies, tv shows, plays, and musicals, and I have such a huge amount of respect for those who are able to visually bring stories to life. Whenever I’m drafting, the characters always embody their personalities, which results in a feeling for me rather than an actual face. So while I don’t have any specific actors in mind, I’d say that my dream cast would be filled with individuals whose passion for storytelling really shines through – a trait actors express so wonderfully. It’d be such an honor to see The Memory Thief brought to life in this way!


GIVEAWAY

1 Finished Copy of The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy + a poster and signed bookplate (USA Only)
Starts: 10/14/19
Ends: 10/21/19


ENTER HERE


October 14

That Artsy Reader Girl – Welcome Interview

October 15

Adventures and Reading – Review (E)
L.M. Durand – Review
Dazzled By Books – Review, Creative Post, Instagram Post (B)
Metaphors and Miscellanea – Review, Favorite Quotes
Gwendalyn’s Books – Review (E)

October 16

The Baroness of Books – Review (B)
Petrichor – Review (E)
Alpha-Beta-Hannah – Review (E)
The Reading Chemist – Review (E)

October 17

Reading Is My Superpower – Author Guest Post
Becky’s Book Blog – Review (E)
Clarissa Reads It All – Review (B)
Feed Your Fiction Addiction – Review
Lori’s Bookshelf Reads – Review (E)

October 18

Library of a Book Witch – Review (B)
Sincerely Karen Jo – Review (B)

Starlight Reads – Review, Creative Post (B)

books_andpoetrii – Creative Post
YA/NA Book Divas – Review (E)

October 19

NovelKnight – Author Q&A
Natalie Helena – Review (E)
Bookishly Nerdy – Review, Creative Post (B)
Books of Amber – Review (E)
Forever the Wanderer – Review (E)

October 20

Lifestyle of Me – Review (E)
Moonlight Rendezvous – Review (B)
Savings In Seconds – Review, Favorite Quotes, Instagram Post (B)
Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Review, Favorite Quotes (B)
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review, Creative Post (E)

October 21

Lost In Storyland – Author Guest Post
Synopses By Sarge – Author Q&A
PopTheButterfly Reads – Review (E)
TheSecret Reader – Review
A Bella Fairy Tale – Review (E)
Book Reviews

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1) by Rosaria Munda

FireborneTitle: Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
Author: Rosaria Munda
Rating: ★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance… and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.

Who doesn’t love a story about dragons?!

“Inspired by Plato’s Republic and told from a dual point of view, the story is pitched as Aegon Targaryen and Hermione Granger with dragons.”

Fireborne is a dazzling debut into a land where suffering, atonement, and political retribution are a norm. The hope of future peace lands lands on the shoulders of two orphaned dragon riders. Suffering from the loss of their families, Lee and Annie bonded at the orphanage where they met.

I look down at this boy, vulnerable, at my mercy, and think, To the ends of the earth I will protect you.

Fast forward some years later to the fight for Firstrider. These scenes reminded me of the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter. Having been born as a Stormscourge and son to the man who burned Annie’s family, tensions rise as the fight for Firstrider commences. But something else looms in the horizon…rumors of another dragon fleet from the old regime have surfaced.

Will Lee betray his family to fight for the government he was raised in for most of his life? Or will he fight with blood?

What makes this story different from other dragon novels is that the reader can feel the emotions of the dragons. The bond between dragon and rider is so intense, it almost serves as a link to the souls. I want a dragon.

On a side note…does anyone else like Power and think he may turn “good guy”?! And does anyone else love Duck?!

You have given life to me.

Munda brings us a captivating story of political unrest, revolution, and the chance to create history. I’m excited for the next installment!

Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR + Q&A] The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires, #1) by Jeffe Kennedy

orchidthrone-blogtourbanner

Welcome to my stop on The Orchid Throne book tour! Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Orchid Throne_cover

Title: THE ORCHID THRONE (Forgotten Empires, #1)
Author: Jeffe Kennedy
Pub. Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Formats: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NTBD

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATE

As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MEN

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

Buy the novel:
Here


REVIEW

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The story started out a little slow, but things started to change around the 40% mark for me.

The reader was able to see the plot thickening and adding more depth into the equation. My only other complaint is that the chapters weren’t labeled from the protagonists’ perspectives. Generally it didn’t take very long to figure out who it was, but there would be more fluidity straight from the beginning of the chapter if this was added.

I love how detailed Kennedy was in her descriptions of the different location throughout the novel like Euthalia and Conri…I felt like I was experiencing the setting with the characters.

original

The Orchid Throne is a great enemies-to-lovers novel. Readers will fall in love with the characters, enjoy remarkable world-building, and experience the slow-burn romance despite loss and suffering.

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeffe Kennedy_credit Pritschow PhotographyJEFFE KENNEDY is an award-winning, bestselling author who writes fantasy, fantasy romance, and contemporary romance. She serves on the Board of Directors for SFWA as a Director at Large.

Her most recent works include Prisoner of the Crown and the upcoming Exile of the Seas, from her high fantasy trilogy from Rebel Base books, The Chronicles of Dasnaria, in the same world as her award-winning fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms. She is a hybrid author, and also self-publishes a fantasy series, Sorcerous Moons. Her books have won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015, been named Best Book of June 2014, and won RWA’s prestigious RITA® Award.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter @jeffekennedy.

Follow Jeffe:
Website | SFF Seven BlogTwitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads 

Follow SMP Romance:
Website | @SMPRomance Twitter@heroesnhearts Twitter


Q & A

Q: What was the hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?
A: I always have trouble with battle scenes, so those are probably the ones I spend the most time and effort on. Conversely, I love writing sex scenes – they’re always the easiest!

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)
A: I do, though not deliberately, and I couldn’t tell you what they are offhand. Mostly they’re things that amuse me as I’m writing – I don’t know that anyone else would ever spot them.

Q: What do you hope people remember about it?
A: Mostly I hope readers will come away with a feeling – of power and hopefulness. I want readers to feel reenergized and ready to take on their daily lives after finishing this book. And, of course, excited to read book 2 😉


 

Book Reviews

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler

CursedTitle: Cursed
Author: Thomas Wheeler
Rating: ★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Soon to be a Netflix original series!

The Lady of the Lake is the true hero in this cinematic twist on the tale of King Arthur created by Thomas Wheeler and legendary artist, producer, and director Frank Miller (300, Batman: The Dark Night Returns, Sin City). Featuring 8 full color and 30 black-and-white pieces of original artwork by Frank Miller.

Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.

But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?

Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…

That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.

Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.

But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.

Cursed is an Arthurian retelling.

Overall, I thought the story was well-paced. It was action-packed, engaging, and eventful. I found the last half of the story a lot more intriguing than the first half due to the story-building. It was like everyone was meeting at the same place and battle would soon ensue.

I felt like the story lost a little of the grandeur that we see in our original tale of Arthur. Everyone is a little dumbed-down, or maybe just not as invincible as we are shown. Merlin is a drunk, Nimue is the new Arthur, Arthur is the lovesick dog, and Lancelot is probably my favorite character. The real stars of the show and most relatable were the side characters: Lancelot, Iris, and Morgan. I want to know so much more about those characters than the protagonists. Iris is so interesting!

I’ll be honest, probably my biggest complaint is the artwork. I found it a bit creepy :/ And it reminded me of a kid drawing on an Etch-A-Sketch (harsh, I know! But that was what I kept thinking of every time I saw the artwork). I think the story would’ve been better without it because I felt like I was looking at the same picture thirty different times and Nimue looked like a dude.

There is a lot of potential for more stories, or spin-offs to come from this original novel. I can see a lot of readers being interested in our side characters potentially having a larger role in the series. One thing missing for me was the world-building. We see some description of the characters, but I couldn’t clearly picture any of them. I would like to see more description of the dress, landscape, and characters.

Cursed is the story of “coming of age”. It is a story of friendship, survival, deceit, and acceptance. Being as the author is a screenwriter, I can definitely see this becoming a popular show on Netflix and the novel gaining momentum in the months to come.

The expected publication date is October 1, 2019.

 

Book Reviews

Fires of the Dead by Jed Herne

Fires of the Dead

Title: Fires of the Dead
Author: Jed Herne
Rating: ★★★★★

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Fire can’t be tamed.

Wisp is a pyromancer: a magician who draws energy from fires to make his own flames. He’s also a criminal, one job away from retirement. And it can’t come bloody soon enough.

Leading his misfit crew, Wisp ventures into a charred and barren forest to find a relic that could change the realm forever. But they aren’t the only ones on the hunt, and the forest isn’t as barren as it seems …

A jaded gang leader longing for retirement

A bloodthirsty magician with a lust for power

A brutish fighter who’s smarter than he looks

A young thief desperate to prove herself

A cowardly navigator with secrets that won’t stay buried

Together, they must survive fights, fires, and folk tales that prove disturbingly real – if they don’t kill each other first.

A dark fantasy novella with a unique magic system, perfect for Joe Abercrombie or Brandon Sanderson fans wanting a fast-paced read.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

REVIEW

I didn’t know exactly what to expect going into this novella. Especially since, I’m generally not to keen on reading them (I get too emotionally invested and want the stories to last longer, sorry!).

For the first 90% of the novel, I was actually getting a little flustered. Here I am really enjoying this novella and actually dreading the end. I was thinking to myself, “Now, why would he just stop and make it only a novella instead of a novel?!” The last 10% of the novel changed my mind. While I loved the plot, grew emotionally invested in the characters, and couldn’t put my Amazon Fire down, I understood why the author decided to only write a novella…this story line leads to a much thicker plot. As a reader, we have the potential now to experience more world-building, dive into the depth of how the band of characters came together, along with their own unique histories, and we can divulge in the exciting world of pyromancy.

My only suggestions would be more world-building, added history, and to build the love relationship (I didn’t find it really believable).

Fires of the Dead is a fast-paced story of pyromancy, survival, and friendship. This is the perfect read for someone looking to be quickly immersed in a magic system unlike anything else.

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jed Herne

Jed Herne is a fantasy and sci-fi author from Perth, Western Australia. His short stories have been published in The Arcanist, Scarlet Leaf Review, and more. Fires of the Dead is his debut fantasy novella.

In addition to writing, he hosts the Novel Analyst podcast. Each episode, he deconstructs a book to help you become a better writer. On his YouTube channel (Jed Herne – Write), he posts new writing advice videos every weekday.

If you prefer listening to watching, you can hear the same daily writing advice and more writing-related goodness on his other podcast, The Jed Herne Audio Experience.

Outside of writing and reading, he loves board games, indoor soccer, and talking about himself in third person.

To stay updated with his writing, learn more about him, and to read a bunch of his free fantasy & sci-fi stories, join his email newsletter at:

https://jedherne.com/club/

 

Connect with him – he loves hearing from you!

Website: JedHerne.com
Twitter: @JedHerne
Facebook: facebook.com/jedhernewriter/
YouTube: Jed Herne – Writer
The Novel Analyst Podcast: 
novelanalyst.com (or just search on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.)
The Jed Herne Audio Experience: anchor.fm/jedherne (or just search on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.)

Email: jed.herne1@gmail.com

Email is the single best way to contact him. He reads and responds to every email from his wonderful readers, because he loves us!

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Q&A

Q: What was your inspiration for the book?
A: With some stories, I can’t recall where I got the initial idea. After all, ideas are cheap. 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, and all that.

But with Fires of the Dead, I remember it perfectly.

I was in Japan with a friend, visiting another mutual friend who’d lived there for eighteen months (which was great, because we got free accommodation at his tiny Tokyo apartment – and he knew the best food places!).

One day, we walked through a graveyard. Not a famous shrine or a big tourist attraction, but a small collection of markers and buildings, opposite a school and with one of Tokyo’s many vending machines out the front. Coming from Australia, I found it fascinating to learn about their belief system. How people respond to death tells us a lot about cultures, and ourselves.

As we walked through this graveyard, I looked at the family shrines. Some were big, some were small, some were clean, and some were decrepit. I wondered: what if paying respect to your ancestors wasn’t a one-way action? What if they talked back?

By no means is this an original idea. And so after writing concepts in my notebook, it stewed in my head. Several months passed.

Then, I started thinking about magic. I love unique magic systems, and I was brainstorming some of my own. There was this one idea I created, called Pyromancy (Pyro = fire, mancy = magic*). How this magic worked was simple: people would bond themselves to a fire, and could then draw energy from the flames to project their own fires. Simple rules, but a lot of different applications.

(*Okay, technically ‘-mancy’ means ‘divination’, but it’s often associated with magic, so that’s close enough for me. Plus, it sounds cool.)

I chatted with my friend (over table tennis) about this idea. We spitballed a dozen permutations of this concept, and I went away with a better idea of how this thing worked.

But there was still a missing piece. Who would maintain these great fires? Sure, a Pyromancer could build a huge bonfire and get really powerful, but they’d have to always take care of it.
Then I remembered those shrines in Tokyo. What if the shrines weren’t just a memorial, but a furnace? What if each Pyromancer family built a communal fire, and then each dead ancestor lived in the flames? Powerful families would have raging bonfires, filled with hundreds of minds. Weak families might only have a furnace in the basement. Building your fire would increase your family’s power.

And, like in any good fantasy world, people would only want more power …

Mashing these ideas together resulted in Fires of the Dead.

There’s a ton of other inspirations, of course, but wanting to explore Pyromancy kindled my initial curiosity. Interestingly enough, I feel like the story became way more character-focused than I expected, which has been to its benefit. I often seem to do this. Unique magic systems and cool world building draws me in, but it’s the characters that make me stay. Hopefully, they’ll do the same for you!

Q: What did this book teach you about writing?
A: 
Before this book, I tended to write stories from one or two point of views. That let me develop deep, complex main characters, but also reduced my scope to explore other perspectives on my story. With this book, I flipped the script. It’s got multiple narrators, all (I hope) equally well-developed. 

Partly, this was to increase suspense. If you have several fleshed-out characters, killing one makes more impact – compared to killing a poorly-developed secondary character. My main motivation, though, was to challenge myself. I love trying something different in every new project, and playing with these multiple point of views was something I’d wanted to try since reading The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie – in my opinion, this is the finest use of multiple narrators I’ve seen (I did a podcast analyzing this if you want to learn more).

Another big lesson was the importance of voice. I think I found a nice dry, witty, and somewhat gritty tone that suited this story. In particularly, I was happy with how different each narrator’s voice is – so critical for keeping the cast straight!

Q: Did Fires of the Dead have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?
A: 
Yes! I love listening to instrumental music with fantasy vibes (think of pulse-pounding trailer music – mainly Two Steps from Hell, Audiomachine, and Antti Martikainen). It helps capture the kind of epic fantasy vibes I want to express in my stories, and it’s my hope that listening to gr music infuses some of that spirit in my writing. 

If you want a taste, I’ve made a companion soundtrack for the book on Spotify. Most of them are songs I listened to while writing. Some of them are included because they’re just awesome. And all of them will make great background tunes for when you read the book …
Q: What do you hope people remember about it?
A: Probably the same things every author hopes their readers’ think: that it was good, and that it won’t be my last book they read!

From the outset, I wanted Fires of the Dead to be a page-turning read. Something you could burn through (pun intended) in one or two sittings. Since this is my debut book, I wanted it to be a kind of business card – a short, punchy, and gripping sample to show readers what I can craft as an author.

With that in mind, there were several things I’d love for readers to mull over after they close the final pages. Of those, the structure is the most noticeable element. I won’t get into details for fear of spoilers, but I did something structurally that feeds into the suspense and increases the stakes and grit. One early reviewer mentioned that it was “so unlike anything I’ve seen in a book and gave me spine tingling slasher flick vibes”, which is an amazing, humbling compliment.

On a subtler note, I’d love for readers to remember the diversity of characters. Usually, my novels are from the point of view of one or two characters. With Fires of the Dead, I’ve got significantly more. That was a fun challenge, especially given that the book is three-quarters shorter than a standard novel. At risk of over-quoting from the same source, the same reviewer who made that earlier comment mentioned that:

“I found it fascinating how the diverse range of characters gave such different interpretations of the same world, and how cleverly their personalities were fleshed out in such a short time”.

I can’t really ask for much more than that!

 


Book Reviews, Bookish Features

[BLOG TOUR + Q&A] Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger

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Welcome to my stop on the Six Goodbyes We Never Said book tour! Thank you to Wednesday Books for organizing the tour and allowing me to participate as a tour stop!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Six Goodbyes We Never Said

Title: Six Goodbyes We Never Said
Author: Candace Ganger
Pub. Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Formats: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NTBD, Kobo

This is no love story; in fact, it’s not even really a “like” story. In Candace Ganger’s sophomore novel, SIX GOODBYES WE
NEVER SAID (Wednesday Books; September 24, 2019), two teens meet after tragically losing their parents and learn about love, loss, and letting go. Deftly tackling issues of mental health and grief, Ganger’s #OwnVoices novel brings vibrant characters to life as they figure out how to say goodbye to the people they love the most.

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

Full of tender, funny, and downright heartbreaking moments, Ganger’s second novel will have you cheering and crying all on the same page. Don’t miss out on this YA powerhouse standalone!

“Two teens maneuver painful routes through profound grief as well as the complex quagmire of severe mental illness…Ultimately hopeful, and readers will connect with the messy, visceral lives simmering on the page. Profoundly emotional and truthful.
– Kirkus Reviews

“Six Goodbyes We Never Said is a knowing tour de force filled with crackling wit, pain, and mini, freeze-dried marshmallows. Original and funny, the best parts may be found in the small moments, especially Ganger’s hilarious, spot-on dialogue, as well as tucked within the brilliantly-placed parentheticals. All that and a bowl of Lucky Charms. Or maybe six boxes.”
Gae Polisner, award-winning author of The Memory of Things and In Sight of Stars

“Naima is diagnosed by the author with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, while Dew is diagnosed with social anxiety. These issues are explored with humanizing examples that invite empathy. Sure to be reassuring to those working their way through grief.”
Publishers Weekly on Six Goodbyes We Never Said

“Candace Ganger weaves a beautiful story of loss, grief and the struggle to move on in Six Goodbyes We Never Said. One of the realest voices of our generation, Ganger infuses this story with relatable, flawed teens who must learn how to cope in this world or be lost forever. I laughed and cried while reading and this book will stick with me for ages.”
Jessica Burkhart, editor of Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles on Six Goodbyes We Never Said

“Smart, raw, often biting in its reflections of the haves and have-nots, this debut will appeal to fans of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines…You’ll find yourself not only wanting to (re)study chemistry but learning what you get in life isn’t always what you deserve—sometimes it’s more. [A] must-have for every shelf.”
Patty Blount, award-winning author of Some Boys

“A stunning and brilliantly crafted debut that peels back layers to the raw and the real. Birdie + Bash = 2 characters impossible not to fall in love with.”
K.M. Walton, author of Empty and Cracked

“THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH is part love story, part page-turner, and part intricate character study. Ganger writes her characters with great care, and the beautifully structured story is filled with giant truths and tiny, perfect details. Falling for this book was quick, thrilling and, yes, inevitable.”
Corey Ann Haydu, author of OCD Love Story and The Careful Undressing of Love

“Smart, emotionally rich, and beautifully written, THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH is an unforgettable, heartfelt novel―realistic YA at its best.”
Jamie Kain, author of Instructions for the End of the World and The Good Sister

 

Buy the novel here.


REVIEW

What I loved about this novel was the introduction into the life of young adults struggling with depression, anxiety, and OCD. A lot of times we experience “perfect” characters…perfect looks, perfect personality, you get the picture. Having experienced some of the same struggles that our protagonists go through, I felt this was a real and accurate depiction of someone encountering depression, anxiety, and OCD.

The author brings in a very diverse character set. The relationships and struggles are genuine to how “real life” is experienced…the fights, the emotions, the heartbreak. Although, sometimes I felt like the protagonists were a little juvenile and disrespectful to the other characters. Yes, we all have problems and some people might not understand, but we should still treat others respectfully.

Another unique aspect of the novel is the voicemails and recordings. I loved that! It helped break up the more trying scene and was a creative way to depict the personalities of some of the characters.

The only downside I had was that the plot wasn’t clear. This isn’t your typical novel. This book is more about being able to let yourself rely on others to help you through your struggles. It is a story of growth and healing.

Ganger does a great job of providing insight into the life of people struggling with depression, anxiety, and OCD. With a little humor and a lot of personality, Six Goodbyes We Never Said is a story of healing, dealing with love and grief, and growing with the help of family and friends.

★★★


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Candace Ganger AP_Credit Candace GangerCANDACE GANGER is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello Giggles, and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales
rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, bestselling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Follow Candace:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads  | Wednesday Books Twitter


AUTHOR’S NOTE

Hello, dear reader.

I think it should be known that, while Six Goodbyes is a work of fiction, I share the many characteristics, fears, and pains, in both the delicacy of Dew, and the confused ferocity in Naima. Please let this brief note serve as a trigger warning in regards to mental illness; self-care is of the utmost importance. And while I hope Six Goodbyes provides insight for those who don’t empa- thize, or comfort for those that do, I also understand everyone reacts differently.

Dew’s social anxiety is something I, and many others, struggle with. We carry on with our days and pretend it’s not as hard as it feels inside. Others can’t quite see how much it hurts but we so wish they could. Naima is the most visceral interpretation of all of my diagnosed disorders combined. Her obsessive-compulsive dis- order (OCD) and related tics, her intrusive thoughts, her utterly devastating and isolating depression, her generalized anxiety dis- order (GAD), which makes her so closed off from the world, and her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from losing the biggest portion of her identity—those are all pieces of me. Very big pieces. They don’t define me, but it would be misleading if I didn’t ad- mit they sometimes, mostly do. I’m imperfectly complicated like Naima. And though I’ve written extensively on both my mental illnesses and living biracial, between two worlds—never enough of one or the other; always only half of something and never whole or satiated—I often still feel misunderstood. Hopefully Dew and Naima’s stories will provide a little insight as to what it’s like inside their heads, and inside mine.

Both Dew and Naima want to hold on to the roots that have grounded them in their familiar, safe spaces. But once their meta- phorical trees are cut, and all the leaves shielding them from their pains have fallen and faded away, not even photosynthesis could bring them back to life. Those roots, Naima and Dew feel, will die off, and everything they had in their lives before will, too. There are many of you out there who feel the exact same way, but I assure you, Dew and Naima will find their way— they will grow new roots that flourish—and you, my darlings, will, too.

Thank you for reading, and may Six Goodbyes serve as per- mission to speak your truths—the good and the painful.

Here’s to another six airplanes for you to wish upon.


Q & A

Q: Did Six Goodbyes We Never Said have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?
A: You’ll see! Naima frequently mentions songs to note. Her family is old school. Dew’s parents were part of August Moon and the Paper Hearts, which is a play on Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, so there was a lot of “Forever” and “Please Bleed” happening also.

Q: What is your dream cast for Six Goodbyes We Never Said?
A: I’d love a couple of unknowns to take the stage to really make it their own. We need more POC rep so a Six Goodbyes cast could be pretty stellar.

Q: What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
A: Keeping my own mental health in check. I had a lot of personal struggles which interfered with the writing process, but we made it through.