Author Interview & Giveaway-- Kelly Creagh

Connect with Kelly:
Goodreads | Website | Twitter

I initially had reservations about reading Nevermore. The cover totally creeped me out, and that was enough to keep me away. Luckily, I was smart enough to listen to my lovely readers who told me that I had to read this book. I read it over a year ago and I STILL think about it some times! I'm so thrilled to be featuring Kelly today, only three days after the sequel to Nevermore has been released! Read on to see how cool she is, then enter to win the first book in the series!

From what I’ve read it seems like Poe was something you didn’t really discover until after you began writing Nevermore. Was your original intent to make the book more realistic, or did you always think that it would have some fantastical/supernatural elements?

It’s true that when I began Nevermore, I didn’t intend Poe to be a large part of the novel. He wasn’t even in my brain when I began. My idea consisted of a goth boy and a cheerleader being paired for a literature project. I knew that Varen carried a sketchbook and I also knew that the strange things he wrote about and drew in its pages would eventually come to life and terrorize Isobel. That was all the initial story seed consisted of. When Mr. Swanson paired Isobel and Varen together, I tried to think of what literary figure the goth boy might pick for the project and Poe seemed a logical choice. I began to brush up on Poe and research him a bit. That’s how I discovered the odd circumstances surrounding his death.

Ideas began to bubble up and I had this burning desire to go to Baltimore where Poe once lived and is currently buried. So in 2006, a year after I began the novel, I went to visit his house and gravesite. The novel kept coming along and Poe became its backbone. There are even elements to the story that I look back on now that I realize weren’t conscious Poe-related decisions but now, in retrospect, seem to scream “Poe.” For example the bookshop owner of Nobit’s Nook has a glass eye. Though I had read the short story The Tell-Tale Heart, I wasn’t thinking about the old man with the vulture eye in that story when I wrote the character Bruce Nobit.

It wasn’t until after I’d written most of the book that I realized that his eye had to have been a choice made by my subconscious. I think Nevermore has a lot of these little moments because I immersed myself in Poe’s works while writing. I listened to audio versions of his stories over and over. That said, Nevermore also contains many many conscious Poe links, such as Varen’s name which is an anagram for Raven. Also, some of the adults in the book have bird related names, like Mr. Swanson and Principal Finch. I named Varen’s street St. Francis Court because St. Francis was known for preaching to the birds. I love slipping in little tiny things like that.

Were there any authors that did influence your work previous to Poe?

My favorite authors are Susan Kay (author of Phantom) and Robin McKinley. I’m also a huge fan of Libba Bray and J.K. Rowling. I think I learned a lot about craft from those authors as well as how to construct a story. Also Gaston Leroux who wrote The Phantom of the Opera has been a large influence on my work. And that’s funny because Leroux was a huge fan of Poe. That’s why Leroux chose to have the Phantom appear at the Masquerade as The Red Death. That was Leroux’s nod to Poe’s. Ironically, my love for Leroux’s tale led to the choice of Varen wearing the phantom’s mask at the Grim Façade. That was my nod to Leroux.

If there is one other person who I would name as a direct influence on my work, I would say Tim Burton.

I’ve noticed that there are a TON of authors that have a theatre background. I know some people find this strange because writing seems like a very “introverted” career. How do you think theatre comes into play being an author? Do you ever get lonely while writing?

I once heard someone say “Actors are frustrated writers.” But I actually think this goes the other way, too. I think that acting and writing are both forms of storytelling and that’s why they have such a cross-over allure. Actually, both of Poe’s parents were actors. When Poe used to give readings of The Raven in lecture halls and parlor parties, he would do so with dramatic flair, turning down the lamps in the room and performing the poem rather than just reciting it.

With writing, instead of being confined to one character as an actor would be, I get to play them all in addition to making up the story all on my own. I think writing and acting are both forms of drama. So it makes total sense to me that many actors would also find joy in writing and vice versa.

I’m always curious to know whether or not authors read what they write, or read things in completely different genres. What do you read? Have you ever had trouble with getting another author’s “voice” stuck in your head?

I’m always reading and I try to read in a wide range of genres, though I tend to lean toward paranormal fiction since that is what I enjoy most as a reader. Mostly, though, I love a good story. Also, I listen to a lot of audio books because I enjoy drawing or painting or cleaning at the same time.

The only time when I felt as though I had another author’s “voice” stuck in my head is when I had been reading so much Poe. And I considered that a good thing. During the writing of Nevermore, I really liked having the language Poe used pop up naturally through the narrative. And I liked to think that I had some Jo Rowling moments with the placement of very subtle but very pointed clues as to what is yet to come. Reynolds pocket watch, for example, is a big fat clue about him. ;)

It’s been a while since Nevermore came out. How do you suggest fans prepare for Enshadowed? Re-read Nevermore? Or perhaps read some Poe stories or poems?

Though re-reading Nevermore might be a good idea, I don’t think that’s a must. I did my best in Enshadowed to include small reminders and recaps as to what happened in book one. If you were going to read something of Poe’s, I would definitely suggest The Fall of the House of Usher. Most definitely The Fall of the House of Usher.

Along those same lines, do you know if there will ever be an audio edition of Nevermore?

I would love for there to be an audio version of Nevermore! Especially since I’m such a fan of audio books. Perhaps that will happen soon. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. I would actually love to hear Gwen’s voice done with that sharp Brooklyn accent of hers. When I write her character, I always read her dialogue aloud to myself in her voice. Sometimes she says things that shock me…

And then just for fun: What’s the weirdest thing you can see RIGHT NOW?

Hm. I’m in a coffee shop at the moment. Looking…looking… um. That would be the man sitting across from me who just started talking to himself. OMG. Now he’s singing to himself, like “bum bum bum bum buuum.” Oh wow, now he’s singing all high pitched. I think it might be opera. I am so serious, he’s like crooning. He probably doesn’t know I can hear him because I have my headphones on… Funny that he didn’t start acting weird until you told me to look for something weird—GAH! Now he’s looking this way!!! Um… did I just fall into one of my books???

Last but not least, I love doing mad-libs with authors. Credit for the idea goes to, you guessed it, the reviewers at Everead!
Everything was catapulting out in bizarre motion again. Varen’s cat lingered on hers even as he skated away. She watched him as one ghostly hand reached outlandishly into an opera singer behind the counter and pulled from a trough of water a single violet gravestone.

!!Giveaway Time!!

You can win a copy of Nevermore! Today's giveaway is hosted by Girls PWN. Head on over to win. This giveaway is open TO US ONLY!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

Author Interview & Giveaway-- Jenna Burtenshaw

Connect with Jenna:
Goodreads | Website | Twitter

I got Jenna's novel Shadowcry for Christmas, and it was the perfect winter read! So glad to be able to feature her here today and have a huge fan give away a copy of the first book in the Wintercraft series. Read on, squeakers!

Being a UK author, have you seen equal amounts of fan-dom from both your local fans and international fans? Is it weird having to adjust to different titles/release dates?

Readers from all over the world have been absolutely lovely. UK readers sometimes write to let me know that they’ve really enjoyed the story, while readers from the US like to go crazy for individual characters (especially Silas Dane). I’d say the UK/International reader split is about equal. I often receive fan art from the US and Portugal in particular, which is brilliant.

It does take a while to get used to the new international titles and it’s hard to know how much to say to international readers who may be one or two books behind other countries’ release dates when they ask about later aspects of the story, but everything has been running smoothly so far.

Is there much/any difference between the UK editions of the books and US editions?

I changed some words in the US edition – e.g. ‘jumper’ became ‘sweater’ - and my US publisher altered the spelling of certain words. I also made some adjustments to a few scenes, but I think only the most eagle eyed of readers would be able to spot them.

You’re an animal-lover and dog owner, hurrah! If there was any one animal in the world that you could spend time with (either as a pet or in the wild) without fear of being eaten/poisoned, what would it be and why?

If I could get up close to any animal in the world it would be... a giant tortoise. Just looking at them is relaxing. They saunter about, letting the world go by. I think they would be very calming to be around.

How do you measure writing accomplishments? Do you set daily word/time goals? Weekly? Is it important for you to write every day?

I spend a lot of time thinking about a story, building the world around it and working character ideas before sitting down to write the story itself. Once I get going, I write most days, but I don’t set definite goals unless I’m working to a deadline. I generally aim for at least 2000 words a day, but I’m a serious rewriter. I write lots of drafts before I’m happy, so I see each new version of the book as a milestone. Each one brings a new idea or feeling into the story, and I love that.

Do you read a lot of YA? I ask because YA authors often say they don’t read YA while they’re writing because they are concerned about absorbing too much of another author’s voice. Is that an issue for you?

Yes. I have lots of YA books on my bookshelves, but I always avoid reading anything that might be similar to something that I’m working on. Usually when I’m writing I’ll try to read something completely different. Nonfiction books are great, because they put my brain into a different gear. While I was writing the Wintercraft series I read a lot of science and history books and then switched to crime fiction while working on my most recent book. I don’t tend to pick up other authors’ voices, but interesting characters and places can stay in my head for a long time.

Are you a fast writer or a slow writer? Roughly how long does it take you to finish a book? How much time passed between you writing the first word of Shadowcry and having it picked up by a publisher?

It took around two years from having the first idea for Shadowcry to signing a contract with my UK publisher. The other books in the series took less time to write than the first because I already knew the characters and the locations, so a lot of the main work was already done. My new book, which isn’t part of that series, took nine months from the initial idea to finished manuscript, so I’d say I’m getting faster!

And just for randomness' sake: Fleece or silk?

A lovely snuggly fleece.

Mad-lib time! Credit for this idea goes to the reviewers at Everead!
The wolf made it all look furry and purple. Children bounced without parents, dogs sang through the streets, and the dark robes of the wardens were never far away, breaking down moons or dancing people into ballons. She thought about Artemis and about all the years they had spent worrying about this day. It had made no difference in the end.

!!Giveaway Time!!

You can win a copy of Shadowcry! Today's giveaway is hosted by Hope, Love, and Happy Endings. Head on over to win. This giveaway is open INTERNATIONAL!

Author Inteview & Giveaway-- Veronica Rossi

Connect with Veronica:
Goodreads | Website | Twitter

I loved Under the Never Sky because it was one of the few books that has romance that I actually believed in. The characters did things that made sense, and the world was wonderful. It's because of all of that and more that I am pleased to welcome Veronica Rossi to the bash! Check out my interview with her!

In Under the Never Sky there are a lot of things left rather vague (like what exactly the aether is, for instance). Is this something that you did intentionally while you were writing, or did it just happen naturally?

I guess the answer is both. I try to leave myself room to explore when I write, and I also knew this would be a trilogy, so I wanted to save some things to dig into more deeply in the later books.

How deep did you dig in this book? Specifically, in terms of research. When writing UtNS did you do a lot of research into science and evolution? The way the “savages” have evolved, and the idea of the people inside the pods turning into lunatics just seemed so real and plausible! Did you really just make that all up?

That’s very funny. I did do quite a bit of research into genetics before I wrote. I definitely made up the story based on theories I read about, but I agree with you that much of it seems plausible. That was important to me; making it all seem like it could really happen.

How do you measure writing accomplishments? Do you set daily word/time goals? Weekly? Is it important for you to write every day?

My goals change all the time. Right now I’m working on a few projects in addition to writing the last book in the trilogy. I do try to write every day but if I miss, it’s because I’m working at brainstorming or outlining—or doing marketing related things. I try not to beat myself up too much when I don’t get any writing done. Some days just don’t work out. I do read every day. I never skip that!

That's so cool to hear that you read every day even if you don't write every day. I like that answer. Random times: What’s your opinion on spiders?

Funny you should ask. I’ve always been an arachnophobe! I can handle snakes and creepy crawlies but spiders freak. Me. Out.

Do you collect anything? (aside from books)

I collect anything elephant-related. They’re my favorite animal. I also have a pretty good collection of snow globes that I bring out during the holidays. I love snow globes. They’re perfect little self-contained worlds…rather like the Pods!

Your bio mentions a TON of awesome places that you want to visit. If you could only choose ONE, which would you choose and why?

Rome, because I love it and have been trying to get back since the day I left.

And lastly, a mad-lib! Fun times! As always, credit for this idea goes to the reviewers at Everead.

The Outsider brought out a squishy sign from his song and began to tread his ring. Aria watched him from the corner of her eye. His shoulders were pensive and soft. They drew the girl over the fiery surface in even, sure strokes. The arrow hissed a spicy rhythm.

!!Giveaway Time!!

You can win a Signedcopy of Under the Never Sky! Today's giveaway is hosted by Pica Reads. Head on over to win. This giveaway is open TO US ONLY!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

**Palace of Stone-- Shannon Hale

Release Date: August 21st, 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 336
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Series: Princess Academy #2
Summary: (Spoilers, highlight to view)
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should" help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city. Picking up where "Princess Academy" left off, this incredible stand-alone story celebrates the joys of friendship, the delight of romance, and the fate of a beloved fairy tale kingdom.
Blurb: "Holy cow. Holy holy cow. If there ever was a holy cow, I’m invoking said cow now." ~Shannon Hale

Review: I adored this book. No joke. Loved it. I think I may even love it more than the first one. Shall I tell you why?

First of all, the characters were BRILLIANT. Shannon masterfully managed to weave together so many lives that I loved all the characters, especially Miri. I loved watching Miri grow and learn. In the first book Miri became book-smart, and now we get to see her become street-smart and it's just as wonderful.

Another reason? I don't think this book would win the Newberry. Why? Because it's much more plot-driven than Princess Academy. And honestly, I prefer that. Even if you were to take out all of Shannon's writing ability and look at this book JUST AS A STORY, it would still be awesome. Put Shannon's writing in, and it becomes amazing. This one just has such higher stakes than the first one. And the first one had pretty high stakes.

Was it perfect? Well... I'm afraid to call anything perfect. There was a slight love-triangle introduced, and Miri and Peder went through a little bit of sequel-phase, which I'm never a fan of. But honestly, there was very little I didn't like. Shannon has wowed me once again. You should go read these books now so you can be wowed too. Okay? Okay.

Other Reviews:

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

Author Interview & Giveaway-- Shannon Hale

Connect with Shannon:

How could this be the best birthday celebration without THE BEST author?! (Okay, so I'm a bit bias) I'm so excited to be able to feature Shannon both for my birthday, and UBM. She is all kinds of awesome. Read her interview, enter to win her book, and party!
When writing the songs in the Princess Academy books, did you have tunes in mind? What did you think of the tunes given to them in the audiobook version of PA?
Some I thought of more as chants and so had more of a rhythm than a tune. Some tunes I borrowed from other songs and some I made up, and I would sing them to myself as I wrote. Definitely not something anyone would want to hear. I thought the songs in the audio book were beautiful and I was so touched they went to the work to set them to music. They weren't what I'd imagined as most of the songs are work songs and so would have more of an urgent beat.
I noticed that! The songs in the book seemed kind of slow, but they were still lovely. Did you ever feel nervous writing the sequel to a Newbery honor book? Did that even come into your mind while you were writing?
Well, it never occurred to me before, but now that you mention it…yikes! Actually I think those nerves were part of what kept me writing a sequel for so many years. I couldn't do the project until being nervous was no longer a factor. I had to be so excited and engaged by the story that I could turn that all off. Never entered my mind while I was actually writing, but once I sent off the final draft, those nerves returned like a gut punch.
Do you work with the same people at Bloomsbury when working on YA and adult books? If so, are there ever challenges by switching genres like that? And if not, is it hard to adapt to a new editor?
Victoria Wells-Arms has been my editor from GOOSE GIRL to PALACE OF STONE. She was also the editor of my last 2 adult books. It's wonderful to work with someone who knows me so well and who I know so well. It feels like a partnership. From a career standpoint, all my prancing about between genres and age groups probably isn't the best tactic. My books are in four (soon to be five) different places in any bookstore. The market often wants to view an author as a brand and feel confident that everything from that brand will be similar, like buying an identical Big Mac anywhere in the world. But I get bored too easily. I have to try new things.
Your FAQ says that you like to have an idea rolling around for a year before you actually start writing it. Why such a long incubation process? Why not just incubate as you write?
In part it's just practical that way. I get ideas for new books daily maybe (e.g., I just got one about an author who does a blog interview and the blogger turns into a brain-hungry demon who hunts down the author, ending in a climatic confrontation on the top of a ferris wheel). But I'm always working on a book, and I finish a project before jumping to another (or I'd never finish anything), so I jot down my ideas in a file for later. The story ideas that keep pestering me with more and more details are the ones that I choose to write by the time I'm free to start a new book. There are exceptions. I was supposed to start on a different book when I thought of MIDNIGHT IN AUSTENLAND, but that idea was so fun to me I put off the other book and just dove into MIA.
Um... I promise not to eat your brain. That might be a little dramatic. Speaking of: (SEGUE!) so many authors also have an acting background. Now it seems to me that writing itself is actually an introverted process, so how can acting help your writing? Or is that all just a coincidence?
Ah, the tortured extroverted author! There should be a club of us, meeting in seedy basements, hungry for live human companionship. I think my first love is storytelling. For many years it was easier for me to be a bad actor than a bad writer. And the acting was excellent experience in character creation.
You’ve got quite the writing qualifications (referring to your MFA in creative writing). Do you think you could have become an author without your degree?
Absolutely. I don't think a degree is at all necessary. For me, who had been in the writer's closet for so many years, it was profound to claim that desire and devote two years of my life to it. I do think writing classes are very helpful in developing that internal editor and learning how to read something critically.

Mad lib time! Credit for this idea, as always, goes to the reviewers at Everead. 
Miri tongued with Peder for the rest of the tongue, mostly not producing at all. Next to Peder, in that tongue-like courtyard of stone, she felt so close to produce she could almost gander the gander behind the breeze.

Wow. I had no idea that would turn out so... *ahem*. Just so y'all know, these are the words Shannon provided: 
  • 3 Nouns: tongue, produce, gander
  • 3 Verbs: tongue, produce, gander
  • 3 Adjectives: tongue-like, productive, gander-worthy
Anything else you'd like to add?
I'm so honored every time I see a quote by me up at the top of your blog! Can I ask you a question? is there a reason that particular quote means something to you?
Woah! A question for me?! Well, here's the answer I sent to Shannon:

I love audiobooks. When I was a teen they were my way of getting around my parents telling me to go to sleep and stop reading. You can still "read" audiobooks in the dark and no one is the wiser. I have a very clear memory of listening to The Goose Girl audiobook while in bed in the dark, and after it ended there was that interview with you. When you said that line about the "squeaky hours of the night" just hit me. Not for the first time, it felt like you had managed to take the scrambled ideas in my head and put them into the perfect words. That was exactly how I felt about my favorite books. And the use of the word "squeaky" was just so... awesome. Squeaky is such a great word. And I just figured that a book that kept you up into the "squeaky hours" would clearly be called a Squeaky Book.

!!Giveaway Time!!

You can win a copy of Palace of Stone! Today's giveaway is hosted by The Secret Adventures of WriterGirl. Head on over to win. This giveaway is open INTERNATIONAL!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

Author Interview & Giveaway-- Jodi Meadows

Connect with Jodi:
Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Incarnate was the talk of the town late last year/early this year, and the sequel (Asunder) is building up some awesome buzz, too (have you SEEN that cover?!). So I'm very pleased and excited to welcome Jodi Meadows to the bash! Be sure to check out my interview, enter to win Incarnate and then party with Jodi!

So, when I started reading Incarnate I thought it was a book about reincarnation. Then I was bombarded with dragons, sylphs, hot musicians, and a mystical deity. Holy cow! When you started writing did you know that you were going to pack SO MUCH into the book? Did one idea come first, or did they all rush in together?

INCARNATE started with one idea: a society of perpetually reincarnated souls who remember everything . . . plus a new soul.

The note on my computer is dated summer 2006, and I didn't get the courage to write the story until fall 2009. (I like to think I spent those three years working on other things to get good enough to write INCARNATE, but the truth is I spent those three years avoiding it. It sounded too hard. The best ones usually do.)

I went about writing INCARNATE differently from my usual process, which was just open a blank document and start going. This time, since the premise was so complicated and needed so much forethought, I did a lot of planning. I made notes about how a society like that might work, came up with different worldbuilding aspects based on that, and plotted out all three novels, though they've evolved a lot since those early synopses. I'd also done a lot of thinking about teenage girls and their hot immortal boyfriends, so I wanted to make sure there was something real about Ana and Sam's relationship, something that would tie them together even when they fought.

All that early planning involved a lot of daydreaming, and one scene I couldn't get out of my head was a girl alone in the woods, trying to sleep, but shadows begin to attack. From there, the world just kind of . . . unfurled in my head, like it had been this real and whole thing all along, but I was only just becoming aware of it.

Well, I think you've done a masterful job of combining the elements. But... being attacked my Sylphs is kind of... terrifying. So if you could live in the world of Incarnate would you want to? And if you did, would you want to be an “old” soul or a newsoul?

Gosh, no. I mean, I love my characters and I think the world is cool -- I'd totally visit -- but life there is dangerous, and since they only have the million people, they don't have much of a concept of fiction about other people. My job -- making up stories about people who exist in imagination -- would be pointless there.

. . . Or make me filthy rich.

Can I change my answer?

HA! Since there are only a limited amount of people in the world of Incarnate, how much, if any, of Incarnate is based off real-live people/events? Do you know any hot musicians? Ever dived in a freezing lake? Gone to a masquerade?

Nothing in the story is really based off my real life, or people in my real life. I'm without hot musicians. I try to avoid being outside when it's cold, so the lake thing is out. And no one has invited me to a masquerade . . . yet. I have a feeling the masquerade thing is the most likely to happen. I'll be watching my mailbox.

What is inspired from my real life, though, is Ana's feelings of inadequacy, her desire to be good at something important to her. I've had all those feelings and that need to succeed, not just with writing, but with music and dance as well. It's a difficult, ugly place to be, needing more approval than anyone can ever provide.

I’ve always been under the impression that ferrets are mean, yet yours are some of the cutest things I’ve ever seen! Why the love of ferrets?

Ferrets are not mean! They're totally maligned in fiction. I don't know why.

Ferrets are different, that's for sure. Their personalities are this weird cross between puppies and kittens. They're ridiculously playful. That is, when they're not asleep.

I fell in love with ferrets when I first saw them in a pet store, shortly before I got married. They were just so cute! And they wanted looooove. And I wanted to give them my love! So I spent about a month doing as much research as I possibly could before I decided I could offer a ferret a good home. (Their needs are much different from cats' and dogs' needs, and certainly more involved than a lot of other small animals'.)

And that was that. My first ferret's name was Miss Suzi, and then I began to experience something called ferret math, where I needed "just one more."

Do you read a lot of YA? I ask because YA authors often say they don’t read YA while they’re writing because they are concerned about absorbing too much of another author’s voice. Is that an issue for you?

I read a ton of YA. It not only keeps me inspired, but it keeps me knowing what is out there and what other people are reading and writing. I figure I read much more quickly than I write, so I'm unlikely to absorb anyone else's voice long enough to affect my story. And that's what revisions are for: getting everything just how I like it.

Speaking of revisions, how much say did you have in the title for Incarnate? Did you have the same amount of say when titling Asunder?

A lot, actually. The original title for INCARNATE was . . . Erin Incarnate. (Ana had another name once. Boy was that a change that took getting used to!) And ASUNDER was once called Erin Asunder. (The last book was titled Erin Eternal, but just in case anyone thinks they're clever and can spot the trend, the last book will not be titled Eternal. There are already fifty million and they're all about vampires, as far as I can tell. IN3 will have a completely different title.)

For the first book, we just chopped the name off without much of a fuss, though we did consider a few alternatives. For the second, I came up with another list of options -- a big list! -- and then Marketing told me they really liked Asunder, so we'd be keeping that.

I have a few ideas for IN3, which I've already sent my editor so she can agree/disagree/send it to Marketing to deal with, but my file on my computer is Ana Notitle. Maybe Marketing will just want to call it Notitle. ;)

And now a mad-lib! As always, credit for this idea goes to the reviewers at Everead.

We stood in the middle of the butterfly without twisting for what seemed like eons. The sparkling in my eyes kept me staring at the star cups on the table, steam rising and he probably knew it. If he'd had any decency, he'd excuse himself to use the ferret or something, give me a chance to haunt my cloud into submission.

!!Giveaway Time!!

You can win a Signedcopy of Incarnate! Today's giveaway is hosted by Debz Bookshelf. Head on over to win. This giveaway is open TO US ONLY!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

Author Interview & Giveaway-- Moira Young

Connect with Moira:
Goodreads | WebsiteTwitter

I can't imagine starting the bash off with a better author. Moira Young's debut novel Blood Red Road was my absolute favorite book of 2011. I was so thrilled when she agreed to be part of the bash, and even more thrilled that she invited me to be a part of her blog tour for the UK release of the sequel, Rebel Heart! Click the banner to see when/where else she'll be this week. But for now, check out my interview with her, and a giveaway of Blood Red Road!

Hi Moira! Thanks so much for visiting Squeaky Books. Let's start off with a more general question: what’s something that’s happened since you’ve been published that you weren’t expecting?

I’m now part of an international community of writers and readers, which is wonderful. I’ve met such interesting, thoughtful, creative, enthusiastic people, that it fills me with a certain degree of hope for the future. I love to leave my writing room and go out into the world, doing readings, sharing ideas and answering questions. It goes some way – not all the way, mind you - towards satisfying me as a performer, which is something I will always be.

What a coincidence! That's my favorite part of going to see authors and readers, too! But you haven't been a published author for very long. How many books did you write before Blood Red Road?

Well, there was my astonishing debut novella, ‘The Heirloom Mystery’, written for a school creative writing competition when I was 9. A fallow period followed during which I went to ballet lessons, put on backyard circuses and fought with my sisters, but I burst back onto the scene with the humorous mystery ‘Kitty’s First Case’ when I was 11. No doubt you know it. I took a break from writing after that – 33 years to be precise – then did a picture book called ‘Not So Loud Leonard’ and two funny books for younger readers, all unpublished.

Wow! So BRR wasn't just your first published book, it sounds like it was your first full lenght novel ever! You made quite a few daring moves in BRR for a first book. What inspired the choice to get rid of quotation marks in BRR? Did you always intend for it to be that way, or is that a decision that happened later?

When you’ve got a voice-driven story, using quotation marks immediately inserts a narrator. You’re taking a big step back. Since these books are told so closely in Saba’s point of view – I think of her as a camera – quotation marks would jar. It’s a well-established convention in this type of narrative. Some readers will be encountering it for the first time and it may take them a little bit to get into the swing. As soon as I heard Saba’s voice, I never once thought of using quotation marks. It would have been inauthentic.

That totally makes sense! I always tell people that the first 50-100 pages might be hard, but after that I don't even notice the lack of quote marks. Speaking of authentic: Saba’s interactions with her siblings are so authentic and heart touching. Did you base these off of your own experiences with family/friends?

Of course. I’m crazy about both my sisters; they’re gorgeous, smart, strong, loving, funny women and I’m lucky to have them in my life. But when we were young, there were plenty of ructions, petty hatreds and resentments and sometimes downright meaness. Sibling relationships can be rough. No one can hurt you as much as someone you love deep in your bones. I don’t look back on my early career as the oldest child with pride. I sucked. But if anyone had dared lay a finger on either of my sisters, I would have gone for them like a lion. I still would.

I have two little brothers, so I totally get what you mean about rough. But I think we've all got that lion complex. Next question: what’s the hardest thing you face(d) while writing the Dustlands books?

My lack of belief in myself. And, for Rebel Heart and, now, the third book, the deadlines. I find them very stressful. In the last, incredibly pressured phase of getting Rebel Heart finished, my blood pressure shot up, I developed tinnitus and – much to the delight of my osteopath’s bank manager - my back and neck formed into a solid, misshapen block. I grow books. They start deep underground and move slowly towards the light. It’s not a quick process.

Ouch. Deadlines sound KILLER! How do you prepare for them? Do you outline, or just sit down and start writing? Some kind of hybrid of the two?

Every book is different. I outlined and structured the various versions of Blood Red Road, but it took so long and went through so many changes that I find it hard to say how I came to the end result. All I know is that once I found Saba’s voice, the story just barreled along. But it wouldn’t have if I hadn’t done all that abandoned work beforehand. I gave Rebel Heart a basic structure before I began and pretty much stuck to it, but I didn’t know where it would end up or what would happen on the way there. I’m taking longer to plan this third book in the hope that I can write a first draft quite quickly and get that nasty phase over with. Books are made in the rewriting. And rewriting. And rewriting.

Have you listened to either of the audio-book versions of Blood Red Road? If so, what do you think of them?

I’ve heard the first bit of the US version with Heather Lind, but that’s it. This was her first audiobook and she did a fine job. She and the producers consulted me about dialect and pronunciations beforehand to ensure they came as close as possible to how I would speak it.

I speak aloud as I write. I thought it was just me, with my acting background, but since I’ve started to meet more and more writers, I’ve discovered that many of them do the same. I work on rhythms, cadence and, of course, getting the right words and phrasing for each character. An audio recording is someone else’s creative response to the text. I prefer to read and hear the voices for myself.

Although, having said that, at a certain point, I was ready to give up writing Saba’s story altogether and find some other way of telling it, as I felt that the printed word was too artificial a medium for such a strong, immediate voice. I like the idea of doing a marathon solo Dickens-style live reading, with music and a soundscape and maybe some images. I don’t suppose anybody would come, apart from my husband and he’d probably sleep through most of it.


Last but not least, I turned a paragraph of Blood Red Road into a mad-lib and had Moira fill it out. Credit for this idea goes to the reviewers at Everead.

The second to last gnome slips in. I cheer it. Faint to my feet. The second I touch the handle of the widget to pull it up, I snatch my hand away, cursin. The bathtub’s hot. I throw my asparagus over my hand, grab the handle an haul the widget open. I sigh down into the darkness. His hand shoots up, grabs mine with a strong grip. I lean back an help him sigh out. He’s coughin. I pull my asparagus over both of us.

From Moira: What do [my answers] tell you about the state of my mind, I wonder? I get the verbs all right – I was watching the Olympics on TV last night, rather giddily admiring the flashing thighs of the male hurdlers – but the nouns … it’s a bit of a worry.

Moira Young’s blog tour continues tomorrow at

!!Giveaway Time!!

You can win a copy of Blood Red Road! Today's giveaway is hosted by Bananas For Books. Head on over to win. This giveaway is open INTERNATIONAL!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012

Birthday Bash 2012 Starting Line!

It's here! It's finally here! After a year of waiting and wishing, it's time for BIRTHDAY BASH 2012!

This is probably the most exciting thing I do on my blog. It's 31 days of giveaways, author interviews, guest posts, and virtual CAKE! Yup. That's right. There will be cake. The whole blog has been totally birthday-ified! And I'm so excited.

This year we have enough giveaways to have one almost EVERY SINGLE DAY! So many chances to win, brought to you by some AMAZING bloggers and authors. There are SIXTEEN author interviews and SEVENTEEN giveaways! Every time you see an author interview, there is also a giveaway attached. Here's all the information you're going to need for the next month:

I've created a page that will be home base for the bash. The schedule, as well as links to all of the giveaways and interviews will be posted there. There is also a button that takes you to this page at the top of the blog. Some giveaways are US only, some are international. You can check this page to see which are which.

The twitter hashtag for the bash is #SqueakyBirthday2012. You'll get extra entries in the giveaways for tweeting things with this hashtag.

There's a button! Here it is! In a lot of the giveaways you'll get extra entries for adding this button to your sidebar. Just copy and paste the HTML in the box below!

<a href=""><img src="" /></a>

You'll also get extra entries in quite a few contests for following the contest host blogs. So if you want to get ahead of the game, check out the various participating blogs on the page and follow them now!

I think that's all the info you need for now. Again, the first giveaway/interview is TOMORROW! All giveaways will end at 10pm MST on 9/21/12.

If you have any questions about the bash, or if you're just excited, please leave a comment!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2011

*Rebel Heart-- Moira Young

Release Date: October 30th, 2012 (US) August 2nd, 2012 (UK)
Genre: Post-Apocolypse
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 432
Rating: ()
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Series: Dustlands #2 (Review of #1)
Summary: (Spoilers, highlight to view)
It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants?
Note: I was provided a UK edition of this book for review. I have not been informed of any differences between this edition and the US edition.

Blurb: Wonderful follow-up to the amazing Blood Red Road. Not your typical 2nd-book!

Review: Once again, Moira Young has created an amazing story with AMAZING characters. I still totally love Saba. I love her because she's an idiot, and she knows it. She's still got her "I'm going alone!" attitude, but she's much quicker to acknowledge that she needs people. I loved seeing the effect of what the first book had done to her. In too many books a character is subjected to TERRIBLE things, and then they just go on to their next adventure. Not Saba. The things she does truly have an impact on her.

The relationships between all the characters were great as well. Moira perfectly captures what it's like to grow up and away from family members as you get older and gain your own experiences. It was heartbreaking, but also authentic. I imagine, though, that many people won't like this book because they'll say the characters are "too whiny" or something like that. And maybe they are, but they are REAL. Put yourselves in their shoes and tell me you wouldn't whine. You can't. Can you?

But, oh. How this book breaks your heart. In so many ways. First of all, Jack and Saba go through some HARD CORE sequel-phase. To be honest, I could have done without this. It made me super-sad. BUT, the story is still great. This book didn't read like the 2nd in a series to me. 2nd books are usually bridges: full of boring talk and setting up for adventures that will happen LATER. Not this one. There are loads of adventures in this book. We also get introduced to some new characters, reunited with some old friends, and some old enemies.

To be honest, this book was heading straight for 5 stars. No question. And then... I hit the last 100 pages. And they have made me waffle between 4 and 4.5 stars (hence that parenthetical half-star).

Those last 100 pages... they have stymied me. Clearly, they weren't BAD (I mean, I'm still giving it 4/4.5 stars), but... they were perplexing. I feel very conflicted. On the one hand, I can understand why Saba/Jack does what she/he does. On the other... I don't want them to do it. While the first 300 pages seem to go fairly slow (though action packed) the last 100 pages are BAM BAM BAM BAM of crazy decisions, people dying, and relationships destroyed. It's just left me a little... shaken. Whereas when BRR ended I felt an awesome rush but I also felt a sense of closure. There is very little closure in this book. And that distresses me, because the third book isn't even anywhere on the horizon.

As for content, there is some profanity (though it's strange phonetically-written profanity. And mild), and some sexual content (nothing graphic. I believe the two people are described as "bare as they day they was born).

So that's the gist of it. I LOVED this book, but the ending left me so bumpuzzled that I just can't give it 5 stars

Other Reviews:

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

Dark Inside-- Jeyn Roberts

Release Date: November 1st, 2011
Genre: Apocolypse, Thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 329
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Since the beginning of mankind, civilizations have fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs… and now us. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening: An ancient evil has been unleashed, and it’s turning everyday people into hunters, killers, and crazies.

This is the world Mason, Aries, Clementine, and Michael are living in—or rather, trying to survive. Each is fleeing unspeakable horror, from murderous chaos to brutal natural disasters, and each is traveling the same road in a world gone mad.

Amid the throes of the apocalypse and clinging to love and meaning wherever it can be found, these four teens are on a journey into the heart of darkness—and to find each other and a place of safety.
Blurb: Drew me in. Genuinely scary, fast-paced, and thought-provoking.

Review: I suppose I just have a thing for apocalyptic books, because Dark Inside earns the same four drops of water that This is Not a Test earned, but outside of personal preference, this book really deserves its high rating. I read this book on my flight home to Detroit and normally I get air-sick reading, but I was so drawn to the book that I finished it easily, pausing to dry-heave only once (Only kidding; I managed to keep my insides where they belong the entire time). I found myself eyeing my the young couple next to me and their tiny newborn with careful interest, wondering what would happen if "The Dark" was to suddenly take hold of the people on my flight.

For some reason, many of the books I've read lately just haven't managed to capture my interest and really draw me in, but Dark Inside was the type of book that involved me. I was fascinated by the premise of a mysterious darkness that seemed to be harnessing the darkness already residing inside the souls of much of humanity. It was genuinely scary without being unimaginable and made me consider the state of humanity without being too preachy.

It was thoughtful, simple and fast-paced and despite its character switching (each chapter focused on one of about four different people), it still managed to make sense. I didn't have to double back to check on who a character was (one of my biggest reading pet peeves). Honestly, I can't even think of anything at the moment to critique; it was just really good. So that raises the question as to why I didn't give it five water droplets. Five stars would be akin to Harry Potter, in that I literally tear-up when I reach the end because it makes me hideously sad that there will never be any other books. So while Dark Inside was vivid, semi-deep and crazy (violence levels might not be appropriate for younger audiences), the end didn't make me cry. In fact, I was actually quite relieved when it ended in just the right (and somewhat expected) place; my terror quota was easily filled.

The last third of the book did follow a very common apocalyptic plot line, but it was so well done that I didn't even care. If you're a slower reader or don't have a lot of time to devote to the book in one sitting, you're more likely to get the characters and their separate stories confused, but other than that, I would recommend this to any lover of apocalyptic fiction. I was reading a copy that Enna loaned me, but I went out and bought my own copy; It makes a nice addition to my "End of the World" book collection.

Other Reviews:

River is a regular guest reviewer on Squeaky Books. Follow her on twitter!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

**The Night Circus-- Erin Morgenstern

Release Date: September 13th, 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Romance (Adult, but would very much appeal to mature teen readers)
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 387
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Blurb: Dreamlike. This book changed the way I think.
Review: Really, this book can be described in just that one word: dreamlike. The way that the romance, magic, and circus are all woven together makes the reader feel like they are floating along in the story. I felt like I was walking through the circus as I read. I would oftentimes say "oh!" out loud as I discovered something new and enchanting.

Morgenstern is a master storyteller. The book is not very linear. There are multiple storylines happening at once, and they aren't all happening in the same time period; but by the end all of the stories converge in the same time, same place, and it's magical.

What makes this book under "adult"? Well, for one thing the characters are definitely all adults. There are some adult themes (the mentors of the two children are... unkind. Not graphically so, but unkind nonetheless). There is one sexual encounter (again, not graphic, but also very obvious). And the book (true to its dreamlike nature) moves very slowly. You float from one idea to the next, and you'll gather up a lot of questions along the way. The answers to those questions take longer in coming. This might be frustrating to some people. But I definitely think a mature teen reader would certainly be able to handle this book.

Speaking of frustrating, there were only two things that I would have liked to see in this book: 1) I wish we could have actually gone into the characters heads a little bit more. Sometimes they would say "I did this for you." But we don't know why they thought the other party would like it. 2) The magic was very... undefined. I'm still not sure exactly how they did the magic. The rules were confusing.

BUT, perhaps if those two things had been changed, it would have lost its dream-like quality. That would be mucho-not-good-o.

The people who interacted with me while I was reading this book know how much I love it. This is one of those books that I would run to the nearest person and say "Do you have a minute? I have to tell you what just happened!" and then I'd spend the next hour explaining the entire book so far, as well as my theories. It's a rare book that makes me do that (I can't remember doing it this much since Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). And this book is rare. And amazing.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2012
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.
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