Monday, 25 July 2016

Author Q&A with Tiffany McDaniel

Hey everyone! Today I've got something a little bit interview with author Tiffany McDaniel. Enjoy!
Q:  What inspired you to write The Summer That Melted Everything?
A: The novel started out as a title.  It was one of those Ohio summers that I felt like I was melting.  I always start writing a new novel with two things.  The title and the first line.  These two things direct the entire story.  For me, the inspiration along the way comes from the characters themselves.  I owe it to the characters to write them the best beginning, middle, and end of a story that I possibly can.
Q:  What was the hardest part about writing The Summer That Melted Everything?
A: For me, writing isn’t the hard part.  Getting published is the hard part.  I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen.  I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine.  It was eleven years full of rejection and fear I’d never be published.  That was definitely hard. 
Q:  How long did it take to write The Summer That Melted Everything ?
A: I wrote The Summer that Melted Everything in a month.  On average that's how long it takes for me to write a novel.  The thing with me is I like to get the beginning, middle, and end down as soon as I can because I don't like the story to sit for too long.  If the story sits for long it can start to lose its essence for me.  Polishing the story can always come after, but it's important for me to have that foundation on the page from which to build from.    

Q: How long have you been writing stories?
A: I’ve been writing since I was a kid and was able to hold a crayon in my hand to scribble what was in my head.  Writing to me is as natural as breathing.  I’ve always been drawn to story.  To read it.  Create it.  Live with it. 
Q:   What are your three favourite books?
A: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Above the River: Collected Poems of James Wright.
Q:  Do you have any advice for new and aspiring authors?
A: To never give up.  Like I said it took me eleven years to get a foot in the publishing door.  The road to publication can be full of heart-ache and disappointment, but don’t give up.  It will happen for you.  Believe it. 

Q: Are you planning any other novels?
A: I have eight completed novels and am working on my ninth.  The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is titled, When Lions Stood as Men.  It’s the story of a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, cross the Atlantic Ocean, and end up in my land of Ohio.  Struggling with the guilt of surviving the Holocaust, they create their own camp of judgment.  Being both the guards and the prisoners, they punish themselves not only for surviving, but for the sins they know they cannot help but commit.
Q: If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be and why?
A: For me I always say all my characters feel real.  As a writer, once I get to a certain point in their development, they take on life as real as you and me.  They exist and though I may not get to meet them here in this world, I think in some other plane of the universe or afterlife I will hopefully be able to meet them all.  To give a little more of an answer to your question, I think Sal will be really wonderful to meet.  He's a mystery even to me.  I'd just love to sit and chat with him a bit.  Listen to what he has to say.  Maybe learn something more.  
Q:  How would you describe your writing style?
A: Literary fiction with southern Gothic elements. 
Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: That while I’m not on social media, readers can find me on my website here at
Readers can connect with me directly through my website.  That connection to readers is very important to me.  As I’ve said before, readers are the ones who determine an author’s entire career.  How can I not give readers some of my time, when they’ve given me some of their time reading my book?
Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever
(Description from Goodreads)
Find the book trailer here
An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows.  She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist.  The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel. 
“Sometimes this world is like red fences in the snow.  There ain’t no hiding who we really are.”—THE SUMMER THAT MELTED EVERYTHING

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Rise by Anna Carey


Series: Eve
Author: Anna Carey
Page Count: 310
Published: April 2nd, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins
  5 Stars ★★★★★ 

 In the third and final book of the Eve trilogy, Eve has married Charles, her father's advisor, in the wake of Caleb's death. Working with Moss, an undercover rebel against the King, she is asked to kill her own father for the sake of the city's future. But when things go wrong, she faces a life-threatening danger and must flee. Will she ever be able to defeat her father?

I loved the first two books of the Eve trilogy, and this conclusion did not disappoint! I read this almost non-stop from beginning to end, and I did shed a few tears in the last pages. 

This book was filled with tension and suspense, I was always worried that Eve would be captured or killed for her betrayals to the King. I cared about all of the characters on Eve's side of the fight, and I hated all of the characters who sided with the King. I found that this was a nice change, with characters being generally completely good or completely evil, with a few exceptions. 

The author's writing style was easy to read, the words flowed well and the descriptions were amazing. I felt like I was fighting against the King alongside Eve, like I was in the City with her. I could picture the setting vividly, and the characters practically came to life in my mind. I can definitely say that Anna Carey is one of my favourite authors.

The ending had an awesome twist, and while I admit I actually guessed, and was correct, about what would happen, that didn't change the fact that, to me, it was the perfect ending to this trilogy. While I'm sad to see this series end, I'm very satisfied with the conclusion.

I recommend this series to YA readers and fans of dystopian stories! If you want an amazing trilogy set in the future with some romance, the Eve books are for you.

Find Rise on Goodreads

Friday, 15 July 2016

Top 5 Favourite Bookstore Names

Hey everyone! I've come across lots of awesome bookstore names and I wanted to share five of my favourites with you. Unfortunately, I haven't actually been to every bookstore on the list, but I hope to visit them all someday!

1. Murder By The Book

2. Carpe Librum Books

3.  Indigo

4. Shakespeare and Company  

5. Novel Idea 

What are some of the awesome bookstore names you've come across? 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast


 Series: House of Night
Author: P.C. and Kristin Cast
Page Count: 306
Published: May 1st, 2007
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  3 Stars ★★★

 Zoey is a normal teenage girl dealing with family issues, school, and her (almost) ex-boyfriend. That is, until she is Marked to become a vampyre, and moves into the House of Night, a school and home for fledgling vampyres. There, she quickly makes friends, but also makes enemies.

With her unique Mark and an invitation to join the Dark Daughters, Zoey looks to her grandmother and the goddess, Nyx, for guidance. In order to take down Aphrodite, the shallow, selfish leader of the Dark Daughters, she'll need to use her goddess-given gifts.

I recently found this book at a thrift store and decided to pick it up and give it a re-read. I read it a few years ago, and I had enjoyed it quite a bit during my first reading, but this time I saw things a bit differently.

Zoey, the main character, is surprisingly shallow and judgemental, in my opinion. You'd think that after dealing with her own issues, including her unique Mark, she might take a step back when it comes to making generalizations or assumptions about others. This wasn't really the case, and her friends at the House of Night were also shallow, judgemental, and even immature at times. These characters reminded me more of preteens than of actual teenagers.

I did like how the characters came from different backgrounds and had diverse identities. Unfortunately, I felt like sometimes stereotypes were overused concerning these characters, or that the characters shamed people who did fit the stereotypes. For example, we have Zoey kind of throwing feminine gay guys under the bus, so to speak, making sure to explain that the gay male character was cute, but certainly not in an "overly girly" way, or a "swishy girly-guy" (pg 82 in my edition). Things like this were present throughout the book, in many different contexts, and contributed to Zoey's shallow side. However while things like this were annoying, they didn't take away from the overall plot.

I really enjoyed the unique way that the authors approached the idea of vampyres. Instead of being bitten, one is Marked, and even then there is no guarantee that one would survive long enough to become a full-fledged vampyre. Adding the question of whether or not Zoey, or those close to her, would die from the Change made the book suspenseful and created an extra layer of problems for Zoey to deal with. Mixing real life problems such as relationship issues along with paranormal worries made this book all the more interesting.

I am planning to continue reading this series as I hope to see the characters mature, and to read more of this unique take on vampyres! I recommend this book to fans of YA and of vampire stories.

Monday, 4 July 2016

Ash by Malinda Lo


Series: N/A
Author: Malinda Lo
Page Count: 264
Published: September 1st, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
 5 Stars ★★★★★

Ash's mother dies, and soon after her father marries Lady Isobel. But when her father falls ill and dies as well, she is left in her stepmother's care. They move away from her childhood home to a new one, where Ash lives her life as a servant. 

 She becomes acquainted with a fairy, Sidhean, and later meets the king's huntress, Kaisa. While she's grateful for their company, she longs to attend the various events taking place around her home, including dances and hunts. But while her wishes may be granted, they come at a price.

 I don't read many fairy tale retellings but this one was worth reading. I was worried that it would be exactly the same as the story, Cinderella, which it was based on, but the author changed things up a bit in interesting and enjoyable ways. I liked the way that fairy stories played a part in this book, and the way that Sidhean was portrayed. He wasn't open and generous as the fairy godmother in the Cinderella stories that I've read, instead everything had a price and this added some tension and a bit of suspense. However, I do wish that the author had added more scenes with Sidhean because I wanted to know more about him. 

I thought Ash was a great main character, she tried to make the best of her situation and she never truly gave up, even when things seemed impossible. She was strong and determined, and at times a little bit impulsive, but she was overall very likeable. Kaisa was also a great character and a good love interest, however I wish the author had added more dialogue between her and Ash. I wanted to know more about Kaisa's life!

The world-building was incredible, I felt like I was there with Ash throughout the whole book and I could picture the settings vividly. The descriptions were amazing, the author describing everything in detail so that I could see everything as Ash did. I usually get bored when there is too much description but I was completely entranced by the way everything seemed to come alive like a movie in my mind. 

I do feel like the ending was a bit rushed and almost convenient. While this didn't take away from the quality of the book overall, it irked me a bit that everything was resolved so easily. If the curses or spells that had been cast upon Sidhean were really so strong as to make him feel emotions as intense as love, it shouldn't have been so easy for Ash to get out of paying the price for her wishes. 

This was a great retelling of Cinderella, with a few twists and amazing world-building. I recommend this to those looking for books with LGBTQ characters without a focus on coming out, fans of fairy tale retellings and those who enjoy fantasy novels.