Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to the Books Giveaway Hop

Friday, August 31, 2012 with 2 comments

For my stop on the Back to the Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Buried In Books, I'm featuring a book that is set during high school in keeping with the back-to-school theme.  It is also being released as a feature film on September 21st and is an often challenged/banned book.  I read this book for the first time last year and it really stuck with me.  It's a coming of age story that really tugs at your heart-strings.  Sounds cliche, I know, but it's true.  You can check out my review here.

Here's what's up for grabs:

Add to Goodreads
Title:  The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author:  Stephen Chbosky
Series:  stand-alone
Publisher:  MTV Books
Publication Date:  August 14, 2012, originally published February 1, 1999
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective…but there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. since its publication, stephen chbosky’s haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over a million copies in print, and inspired a major motion picture.

the perks of being a wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. the world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. of sex, drugs, and the rocky horror picture show. of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

  • US residents only, sorry, unless you can provide a US shipping address.
  • One entry per household.
  • All entries will be verified.  Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Winner will be notified via email.  Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected.
  • I am not responsible for lost packages.
And now on to the fun stuff!  You only have to follow my blog to enter, but all other entries/follows are appreciated!  :D

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now that you've entered here, be sure to check out all the rest of the stops on the Back to the Books Giveaway Hop:

Good luck & happy reading!

Buon giorno!  Welcome to my stop on the My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century Blog Tour, hosted by Shane at Itching for Books.  In addition to a fabulous giveaway, I've got an excerpt from the book, plus my review of this super fun story.  But first, let's meet the author:

As a teen, Rachel Harris threw raging parties that shook her parents’ walls and created embarrassing fodder for future YA novels.

As an adult, she reads and writes obsessively, rehashes said embarrassing fodder, and dreams up characters who become her own grown up version of imaginary friends.

When she's not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, you can find her homeschooling her two beautiful princesses, hanging out with her amazing husband, or taking a hot bubble bath…next to a pile of chocolate.

MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY is her debut novel. She did have her own fantabulous Sweet Sixteen in high school. Sadly, it wasn't televised.

Find out more about Rachel Harris & her books:

Add to Goodreads
Title:  My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
Author:  Rachel Harris
Series:  My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing
Publication Date:  September 11, 2012
Source:  galley from publisher
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore.

Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was such a fun, light-hearted novel...a long over-due break from all the doom and gloom I've been reading lately.  It has a little something for everyone, as it's equal parts contemporary, science fiction, and historical fiction:  a girl from our time travels back in time to 16th century Italy. 

Sure, that sounds like it might be hard to pull off, but Rachel Harris does it seamlessly.  Whether we're following Cat around in present-day or watching "Patience" flirt with Lorenzo, the story flows flawlessly and is always entertaining.  And there are lessons to be learned along the way, which is always a plus.  I enjoy a good story that offers up some well-meaning and well-placed morals -- especially when said story is aimed at the young adult audience.  And in 16th century Italy, you would be hard-pressed not to find individuals with a high standard of character, what with their virtues intact (somewhat bregudgingly for the younger set) and chaperoned outings and the like.

What I enjoyed most about My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century was that unlike so many novels where the protagonist slips easily into their new life, Cat is having such a difficult time adjusting.  She forgets herself often, using terminology from her own time period.  Cat also seems to make a fool of herself at every opportunity, but what she lacks in proper etiquette, she makes up for with the ability to laugh at herself.  Cat knows she'll never have an opportunity like this again, and she's going to enjoy it for all its worth.

The romance is just as cute and sweet as the rest of the story.  But just about everything about this novel was cute.  Well, except for that awful Niccolo.  But that surprise ending?!?  I need the next book NOW, Ms. Harris, if you please.  I just love a book that leaves you with a sense of satisfaction at the end but also has you asking, "Well, what happens next?!?"

Rating:  Photobucket

The carriage stops, and before I can worry about how a proper young sixteenth-century lady would act, I jump out and run for the fields. I throw my arms wide, skimming my fingers along the passing flowers, and laugh.

This is what freedom feels like.

Ever since this morning’s epiphany with Lucia, all I’ve been able to think about is living without the worry of judgment constantly pressing down on me. Here in this ancient world, I’m not just free from unwanted parties and ridiculous future stepmothers. I’m actually free to become the Cat I’ve always wondered about and wished to be.

The thought is both thrilling and terrifying.

Alessandra shoots past, giggling like crazy, and I glance at the boys strolling leisurely behind us. Lorenzo shakes his head and flashes a devastating grin, and my mouth goes completely dry. I exhale and drag my eyes back around. Just because I can be a new me here, it doesn’t mean I should go falling for the local hottie.  I just have to keep repeating to myself:  He’s a player, he’s a player, he’s a player.

Alessandra turns and runs backward, never missing a step. She lifts her hands in the air and shouts, “You cannot catch me, fair cousin!”

Her playful energy, much like her smile, is infectious. Laughing, I shake my head and cup my hand over my mouth. “Challenge accepted!”

I hike up my long skirt, and her squeal rings out across the countryside. We run across the crimson poppy field and through a meadow filled with wild daisies, the intoxicating aroma of fresh flowers filling my head. The warm sun seeps into my skin, and as a cool autumn breeze whips loose strands of long brown hair across my face, I smile what might possibly be my first-ever authentic smile.

In two long strides, I cover the remaining distance and tackle Alessandra to the ground. “Oomph!”

She rolls me off her and gives me a playful push. “Your mother,” she says, pausing to catch her breath and straighten her skirt, “must have descended from the Goddess of Victory.”

I draw a ragged breath and shrug. “Nah, I’m just that good.”

Alessandra wrinkles her nose but then smiles brilliantly. She begins gathering daisies into a pile as Cipriano plows into Lorenzo’s back a few feet away. I watch them both nosedive and disappear into the overgrown flowers, laughing and taunting each other. As my throat grows thick, I realize I’m envious of their easy friendship.

“Goddess Victoria.” I turn at Alessandra’s teasing tone to see her holding a crown of daisies. “Victor of our race.” She places it on my head and bows hers in solemn mock adoration. Then she giggles and quickly makes one for herself. “Now we shall match.”

I swallow past the increased thickness in my throat and lower my eyes slightly. “Thanks.”

My eyes sting, and I actually feel the pressure of tears building behind my nose. I blink, shake out my hands, and make the mascara face, trying to get myself together.

What is up with me today?

Luckily, the boys provide a distraction. Cipriano’s dark head pops up to my right, his hands fisted on his hips. “I want it known," he declares to no one in particular, "that I let Lorenzo win. To do otherwise would have been impolite, as he is so obviously enamored of our cousin.”

Blood rushes to my cheeks—even though I know I’m nothing special to Lorenzo—and I brace myself for the typical guy response. Denial, mocking, maybe even a sexist comment in response to Cipriano’s taunting. But when Lorenzo stands to dust himself off, he just grins. “Your benevolence is most appreciated, old man.”

Then he looks at me.

I fight the slow grin wanting to creep across my face as he walks over, stray shards of grass clinging to his curls. His flirtatious gaze grows darker as it trails over me, from the crown of my head, over my freckle-dusted nose, to my toolarge mouth. The muscles of my stomach clench, then release, then clench again. Even though my hair’s a hot mess, my face is completely bare, and I’m flushed from both running and his blatant appraisal, I’ve never felt more beautiful.

And that’s a problem.

Lorenzo plops down and brushes the ribbons of hair away from my mouth, never taking his eyes off mine. Heat ripples througout my body as his thumb grazes my lower lip.

And now my lovelies, it's time for the fantastic giveaway.  Here's what's up for grabs:
  • signed bookmark
  • finished copy of the book
  • trading cards
  • a necklace with a charm backpack on it
  • and tattoos like the character has

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck & happy reading!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Add to Goodreads
Title:  Monstrous Beauty
Author:  Elizabeth Fama
Series:  Monstrous Beauty
Publisher:  Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYC)
Publication Date:  September 4, 2012
Source:  Netgalley
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.

This haunting tale cast its spell on me from the very first chapter.  Stories involving mermaids and selkie folklore have inundated the YA market as of late, but each struggles to bring something different to the reader, to make an indelible impression upon them.  With her second novel, it’s clear that Elizabeth Fama has created a story so unique and so beautifully woven that her readers will not soon forget it.

Monstrous Beauty is considered a young adult novel, but honestly, it doesn’t read like one.  And it’s most definitely not your typical mermaid story either, which all too often tend to be on the lighter side and altogether fluffy.  This story is haunting – literally – and full of all manner of vile things, including -- but not limited to – murder, rape, abandoned children, and a curse hundreds of years in the making.  But woven into this cryptic story is also a tale of love and sacrifice so heart-wrenching it took my breath away at times.

The story is told through alternating points-of-view and spans two different time periods.  The novel begins with Hester  in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, pondering over unrequited love and her own awkwardness.  I immediately felt a kinship with Hester, not because of either of those things but because of how genuine her thoughts and feelings were, how honest she was, even with herself.

Image from
Though the novel might start with Hester, the story truly begins with Syrenka and Ezra and a love so powerful that it transcends their time together.  A curse is born of their love and the mistakes they make in their desperation to be together.  But it is Hester and her ancestors who must bear the burden of this curse throughout the years, and as the story unfolds, it becomes all too clear where everything went wrong for these ill-fated lovers.

I wanted to devour this book, but I made myself read it slowly, so that I might fully appreciate the gorgeous prose and breath-taking storytelling.  It was very much worth the delayed gratification, though I must admit that I gobbled the story at the end, too engrossed to properly digest it.  Such is usually the case with such an exquisite novel, but I didn’t mind reading the ending twice, especially when it was so poignant and heartrending.  It almost makes me wish there were more of the story to be had.  Almost.
"It was one of the reasons she was drawn to history in school:  there was such romance in listening to voices of the past."
I highly recommend Monstrous Beauty for anyone looking for a darker fairy tale, one riddled with secrets and ghosts and very dark deeds.  Or if you’re simply looking for a mermaid tale that doesn’t read like a Disney cartoon, this book might just be what you’re searching for.  And if you’d like to take a peak at the author’s writing and the world she has created, you can check out her short story, Men Who Wish to Drown, set in the same world as Monstrous Beauty.
Rating:  Photobucket

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selection is...

Add to Goodreads
Title:  This Is What Happy Looks Like
Author:  Jennifer E. Smith
Series:  n/a
Publisher:  Poppy
Publication Date:  April 2, 2013

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

In This is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith's new YA novel, perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet—albeit virtually—when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an email about his pet pig, Wilbur. In the tradition of romantic movies like "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle," the two 17-year-olds strike up an email relationship, even though they live on opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names.

Through a series of funny and poignant messages, Graham and Ellie make a true connection, sharing intimate details about their lives, hopes and fears. But they don't tell each other everything; Graham doesn't know the major secret hidden in Ellie's family tree, and Ellie is innocently unaware that Graham is actually a world-famous teen actor living in Los Angeles.

When the location for the shoot of Graham's new film falls through, he sees an opportunity to take their relationship from online to in-person, managing to get the production relocated to picturesque Henley, Maine, where Ellie lives. But can a star as famous as Graham have a real relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie's mom want her to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

Just as they did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the hands of fate intervene in wondrous ways in this YA novel that delivers on high concept romance in lush and thoughtful prose.

Why I'm waiting:  That cover is adorable!  Okay, that's not the reason, but I had to get that off my chest first.  I'll admit it, I have both The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and The Storm Makers sitting on my shelf...unread.  But I WANT to read them.  And I have faith that once I finally make time for them in my reading schedule, I will adore them as much as the cover of This Is What Happy Looks Like.  I mean, everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- I know who has read TSPoLaFS has loved it.  That many people can't be wrong.

And this book sounds full of win.  Sounds like Mom is keeping a big secret, possibly about Ellie's paternity?  Plus, the main characters bond over a pet pig?  That's got cute written all over it!  Also, I love when two people from completely different worlds fall for each other and hijinks ensue because they are SO different. 

Yeah, April can't come soon enough.  I'm pretty sure I can at least have TSPoLaFS read by then, though.  =)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser comes from the following book:

Add to Goodreads
Title:  Outpost
Author:  Ann Aguirre
Series:  Razorland, book 2
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date:  September 4, 2012
Source:  ARC received from publisher
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

My teaser:

  "Without waiting for a response, I strode to the door.  Outside, Fade laughed.  "His face...oh, Deuce.  I hope you know what you're doing."
  "Me too," I muttered." -- p. 205 of ARC

Heh...I flipped around in the book a bit and couldn't decide whether I should post a scary teaser -- this is a zombie novel, after all -- or a kissing teaser (who doesn't love those?), but ultimately, I decided on the last lines I read on Sunday night before I went to bed.  Because honestly, I really hope Deuce knows what she's doing, too.  She's an ace with a knife, but when it comes to matters of the heart, she's kind of a novice.  Still, I've grown to love her character in spite of that...or maybe because of it.  =)

Monday, August 27, 2012

In my book, pretty much all authors are rockstars.  They've done something I've only dreamed of doing, and many of them do it while maintaining relatively normal lives.

But Cynthia Hand?  That woman has truly attained ROCKSTAR status.  She writes about characters who are just finding themselves, who need guidance and friendship and love.  And these characters all feel so legitimately real, as if they could walk off the pages of Hand's books and onto the streets of our world.  Cynthia Hand has written one of my favorite series ever, such a convincing take on angel lore, one that is emotionally draining but also uplifting.  And she did it all while raising a family AND teaching classes at Pepperdine University.  This woman is amazing and inspiring, and she's an author that all aspiring authors can look up to.

And I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be hosting her for my stop on the Authors Are Rockstars Tour!  Below, you'll find my interview with Cynthia Hand, as well as a fabulous author-donated (cause she's just that awesome) giveaway.  But first, a little about her novels and the author herself:

Add to Goodreads

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . 

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

Add to Goodreads

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

Add to Goodreads

As of this post, there's not a synopsis available for Boundless, but as this is the final book in the Unearthly series, you know it's going to go out with a bang.  :D

Cynthia Hand is a native of southeastern Idaho and currently lives with her husband and two small children in Southern California, where she teaches writing at Pepperdine University. She has graduate degrees in creative writing from Boise State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Instead of a muse, Cynthia has a guardian angel named Buster. He wears a Stetson in place of a halo, prefers a beat-up pickup truck to flying, and loves to correct Cynthia's grammar.

Find out more about Cynthia and her books:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | HarperTeen


The Author
Since Unearthly was first published, how has life changed?
It might be easier to describe how life has not changed, frankly. I had a very quiet, organized life before I published Unearthly. Most of my time went into my kids and my house, and writing was something I did to escape and to get a little time for myself. Now I have to schedule specific time for my kids and my house/chores stuff, and my life is full of all kinds of writerly craziness. But I’m happy. I like my life, and I love the reality that writing is once again my career!

Describe a typical day in the life of Cynthia Hand.  And don't leave out the writerly craziness you alluded to above.
I get up very, very early, go for a quick walk, then slink back into the house and get in some writing time, then wake up and dress and feed the kids, get them started on their days. Usually around 10am my little one goes down for a nap and I put TV on for my five year old and sneak back into my office, where I spend way too much time checking Twitter and Facebook and answering emails before I get into writing again. Then it’s lunchtime and more play time with the kids, laundry, cleaning, chores, then around 3 my daughter sleeps again and I try to work, although usually by this time I’m pretty tired and don’t get much productive done. Then dinner and clean up and baths and stories and bedtime, and finally, at the end of the day, I settle down either with a notebook or in front of my computer, and get the bulk of my day’s writing done. And then I sleep. A little. Of course, this schedule will change in a few days when Pepperdine University starts up again, and my little boy will go to school and I will go to teach a few times a week. So right now we’re in the last quieter days of summer.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?
Write the next book. There are always so many things to worry about once you’ve written/published a novel, so many things to obsess over and get wrapped up in, and I’ve seen so many writers get totally distracted by all the marketing and social networking and reviews, which are all time sucks, and none of those things will help your career more than WRITING THE NEXT BOOK.  And make it as good as you possibly can, I’d like to add, but maybe that’s a given.

The Writing
Just in case there are some readers out there who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing your Unearthly series yet, how would you describe your book to them?
Unearthly is about a teenage girl who is part-angel. Her mother has told her that all the part-angel people (Angel-bloods, is what they are called in my world) have a purpose on this earth, and when she is old enough, she’ll start to receive visions of that purpose. So the first book starts with Clara having a vision of a boy and a forest fire, and she starts to figure out the clues in the vision in order to figure out what her purpose is, which leads her to move with her family from California to Jackson, Wyoming. She meets the boy from her visions, but it’s still a big mystery as to who this boy is and why she is having visions about him. And in the meantime she’s just trying to fit in at a new school and figure out her place on this earth, which we all do.

With the plethora of angel-themed novels available to young adults, what do you think makes your novels stand apart from the rest?
There are indeed some great angel-related novels out there, and for me what is different about Unearthly is that it is ultimately a human story. It isn’t some epic struggle between the forces of good and evil (although Clara comes to be aware of those forces more and more as the novels progress) but about one girl’s struggle with herself and her idea of destiny. I really wanted the books to feel more like a contemporary novel, in that way, than a paranormal romance.

Mission accomplished.  They definitely have more of a contemporary feel to them, with just a hint of the paranormal.  Did you plot out the series, or did you just write as it came to you?
I plotted a few things out ahead of time but mostly I fly by the seat of my pants. That’s where a lot of the joy of writing comes for me, discovering what the characters are going to do and where they’re going to take me as I’m writing.

Was there anything you originally intended to include in the series that didn’t make the cut?
Oh gosh, a lot, especially in the final book. There were entire character arcs that didn’t make it to the last book, because I really had to buckle down and focus on Clara’s story and limit the stories of the other characters. That’s one of my flaws as a writer—that I pay so much attention in my head to the side-characters of my books, and not just the main character. But I guess that is also one of my strengths as a writer, too.

I love the side-characters, and I enjoy a novel more when those characters are fleshed out just as much as the main character.  So, you'll forgive me if I don't see that as a flaw AT ALL.  I also love Clara’s narrative voice and her commentary on some of the more popular tropes in YA these days – the infamous love triangle, for example.  Your novels are anything but the typical YA fare around these days:  Clara has a loving, involved family, a devoted, un-stalkery boyfriend, and she’s purpose-driven…literally.  It seemed to me that you were speaking through Clara, as if to say to your readers, “You are better.  You deserve better.”  As in, pick a guy who treats you right, don’t make him your whole world, and don’t alienate yourself from the world because of him.  Was that your intention all along?  Or were you just having fun picking on those other guys?
I definitely saw some of the things happening in other young adult fiction and wanted to make my own story a departure from that, but most of Clara’s commentary on the popular tropes is my way, as a writer, to deal with clichés. The love triangle, for example, is one of those things that make readers groan these days—it’s so overused and feels like such a device. And yet here I was about to march Clara into a love triangle. So I let Clara tell us what she thought about love triangles, as a way of combatting the cliché and getting a laugh at herself. If I think a reader is going to have a problem with something in my book, I try to get Clara talking about it, so even if she’s going through something problematic, at least she’s self-aware and can comment on it. And poke fun at herself.

In that same vein, what do you hope your readers ultimately take away from their reading experience with the Unearthly series?
At the end of the day, I hope they enjoy the journey. I hope they’ve had some laughs and shed some tears. And I hope they’ve wrestled with some of the good questions in life, in a way that has made them ponder those good questions in their own lives.

The Books
Who was your favorite character to write?
Toss up. Angela has always been one of my faves, because she’s a complicated person and often so unpredictable. And this time around, for Boundless, Samjeeza was a great one, too.

I can't wait to read more of Samjeeza!  Okay, so he was a fun character to write, but which character do you think is most like you?
Hmm, I’d have to say Clara, in that our sense of humor is similar, and I think we respond to things in similar ways. I wish I could say I was like Maggie, all loving and wise, or like Christian, who’s the quintessence of steadfastness for me, or like Wendy, who’s the best kind of friend, but I definitely see more of myself in Clara and her flaws. Too bad I don’t share her ability to fly and speak any language on earth.

Too bad, indeed.  I know plenty of us who wish we had her powers!  So, you've shared that you're most like Clara, but if you could dream cast your novels, who would you pick for the roles?
This is a hard question for me, and one I can answer in two ways: I can either tell you an actor that resembled the characters when I was originally drafting, or an actor who I think might have a shot at actually playing the character if they shot the movies today. For instance, when I was originally drafting Clara she had a definite Amanda Seyfried vibe for me, with a little Rachel McAdams tossed in, both of whom are definitely too old to play Clara now. If I was casting her now I’d go with Anna Sophia Robb or Dakota Fanning, I think. Christian had some Zac Ephron with some Adam Gregory tossed in there when I was writing the book, and while I didn’t have any particular actor in mind for Tucker, I think he has a bit of a Kellan Lutz thing going. For Angela I’d probably cast Frances Cobain, and for Maggie, Charlize Theron or Nicole Kidman. 

Would you ever write this story, or even any part of it, from a different character’s perspective?
I would and I have. And that’s about all I can say about that at this point, but sometime in the near future I might be able to make an announcement about a project that I’ve been working on that is told, in part, from a different Unearthly point of view.

I kind of think I've read something about that somewhere, but for the sake of not spoiling the news for anyone else who doesn't follow your work as closely as I do -- and in case I'm wrong! --  I'll refrain from making any guesses.  Instead, I'll ask what your favorite scene was from the series?  And what was your favorite to write, if different?
What comes to mind is a BIG scene at the end, which is very emotional. I had been avoiding writing it all that particular work day, working in the library at Pepperdine, which I sometimes do. I was on the way back to pick up my kids, and I was listening to a CD I’d made of songs I thought embodied the feeling of the last book, and it was like this scene just reared up and slapped me upside the head. I fumbled for my phone and dictated as much as I could get down of the dialogue as it came to me, and when I arrived at my daycare lady’s house, I asked her if I could sit for a minute and write so I didn’t lose any of the important stuff. So for about ten minutes I scribbled furiously, and it was so emotional and so powerful that I was almost crying when I finished. I love writing like that. It’s so intense and wonderful and why I wanted to be a writer to begin with.

Did you set out to break our hearts with this series?  Will we need a box of tissues while we read Boundless?  [There should have been a warning like that on the cover for Hallowed, just sayin’.  :0) ]
Aw. No, I don’t set out to break hearts, although mine gets broken, too, when I write sometimes (see above).  I just try to tell the story in as true a fashion as I can. I had a marketing idea for Hallowed where I would give out custom printed packages of tissues at events that read, “You’re going to need these,” but that turned out to be surprisingly expensive. As for Boundless, there are a couple of scenes where my beta readers welled up, which is about all I can say. If you cried during Hallowed, you’re likely to cry during Boundless.

Great.  Better stock up on tissues then.  :P  Did you know how it would all end when you set out to tell Clara’s story?  Meaning, did you know who she would end up with?  And I know that you’re not even going to give us a hint as to whom that might be, but does Clara end up with who you wanted her to be with, or did she make up her mind for you?
Tricky question. Almost all along I knew who I wanted Clara to end up with, but she took some turns along the way that made me less certain. She definitely has a mind of her own, which is scary, since she came from my mind! In the end, I think it all turns out the way it was meant to turn out. How’s that for cryptic?

Very.  But I wouldn't expect anything less.  Can you share a teaser from Boundless that hasn’t been shared anywhere else?  (That scene posted for the YA Scavenger Hunt earlier this year gave me tingles!)
Sigh. I wish I could. What’s ironic is that the teaser I gave out earlier was all but cut from the book this week, so that scene, for the most part, won’t end up in Boundless after all. Such is the revision process. I’m at the stage now where I’m cutting scenes again, but I don’t have permission to share any of these or any of the other scenes from the book.

Whaaaa?  I loved that scene!  Okay, I understand, though.  I read your recent blog post about revisions and deleted scenes and such, so I know that even though it's cut from the book, it's not gone forever.  *sigh*  So, you keep hinting at your next project but you’ve yet to share ANY details.  Are you at liberty to share anything about the secret project yet?  C’mon…just a hint?  ;0)
Well. Let’s see. One great thing for me at this point is that I have tons of ideas. Too many ideas. actually have three separate projects laid out for myself, all very different worlds from the Unearthly universe, and all very different from each other—one of them is very gritty and intense and real, one’s a swords and spells kind of fantasy/retelling of a famous incident in British history, and one’s a contemporary that’s very close to my heart and will probably near kill me to write. I haven’t sold any of these projects yet—I am waiting to wrap up Boundless before I start preparing to submit new stuff, but the project that I am burning to write next is the gritty one, with a character who is like the lunar opposite of Clara, stoic and silent—really silent. I wrote a bit of this over the summer in between edits for Boundless, and it was so fun to take on something so entirely new. That said, I must reiterate that none of these projects have sold yet, which means that none of them may get written. I may have an entirely new idea or be guided in a completely different direction, and I’m open to that, but I hope that I’ll get to write all three of these stories someday. . .

And I hope that I get to READ all three of those stories someday!  Thanks so much, Cynthia, for stopping by and letting me pick your brain.  I'm so glad to be able to share with everyone why you're such a rockstar author.  Though, I'm sure plenty have already figured that out on their own.

The lovely Cynthia Hand has graciously offered up the following prizes to you guys:

  • A signed copy of Hallowed to one winner
  • Bookmarks and bookplates to three other winners

So, that's four winners/prizes in all!  If that alone doesn't make her a rockstar, I don't know what does.  (Please note that this giveaway is for US residents only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you didn't think Cynthia Hand was a Rockstar Author before, I hope I've convinced you otherwise.  And if you haven't read the Unearthly series yet...why not?

Good luck & happy reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...