Thursday, September 18, 2014

Made For You by Melissa Marr | Interview, Review & Giveaway

Made For You by Melissa Marr
Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 368
Received: for honest review via publisher and TLC Book Tours
Find it online: Amazon | IndieBound | B&N | Goodreads

Bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely books Melissa Marr’s first contemporary YA novel is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder. A killer is obsessed with Eva Tilling. Can she stop him, or will he claim her?

When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling.

I was so excited to be asked to be on the tour for Made For You. I adore Melissa Marr's writing and have met her a few times when she was in Canada for the Smart Chicks Kick It Tours (2010 and 2011). It was exciting to me to get to do an interview with her, so check it out!

1) I've read a few books in your Wicked Lovely series and jumped at the chance to read your newest book, but what helped you switch from writing about faeries and paranormals to a contemporary that is so dark?

It’s funny to me that I am told that my books are dark. I don’t set out trying to write dark things. When Wicked Lovely came out, it was by and large called “dark,” and Carnival of Secrets was too. With Made For You, I distinctly recall telling my editor that I felt like this was really about the relationships—between Eva and Grace, Eva and her parents, Eva and Nate, Eva and her friends, and, of course, Eva and Judge. My editor, Kristen, got quiet. I think the story I was telling isn’t the same one I wrote. Both are there, but I think the darkness (the murders, the messages carved in flesh, and kidnapping) was less important to me.

I suspect the same is true of my earlier books. The Wicked Lovely series includes war, death, stabbing, curses, and torture, but to me, it was always a story about wanting to control your own fate. . . which is a lot of what Carnival of Secrets was about too. There were fights to the death, but there was a search for freedom and love. I suppose it’s a matter of which part of the story stands out to the reader. To me, as I read, the darkness is important because it teaches the protagonists to fight for the things that truly matter: family, friends, love, and freedom.

2) Are any of your characters based on people you know or experiences you've had?

Not usually—at least not wholesale. There are slivers of people, and of course, I suspect characters inevitably share traits with real-world people unintentionally. Sometimes I see it when I’m done or in revisions. Tavish in my Wicked Lovely series has a tattoo that one of my exes had. I didn’t even realize it until afterwards (I only dated men with tattoos with only one exception).

On the other hand, sometimes real world events spark the story. I had a stalker, so I’m sure Judge’s actions in Made For You were influenced by him to a degree. My stalker, however, was a huge man, one who visibly spent a lot of hours lifting weights, and didn’t know me at all. The feeling of being stalked is more intentionally utilized though. That part I do very much on purpose. I like to harvest emotions from life to create more realism, but people? Not so much.

3) I read on your website/blog that you've written different books for each of your children, who did you write this one for? And, why?

I guess I wrote this one for myself :) I love serial killer stories, and I love Southern Lit (my grad degree is in Southern Literature). I also tend to enjoy contemporary fiction, and . . .well, it all just fit together for me in this book. The Wicked Lovely series was for my daughter; The Blackwell Pages for my eldest son. I have a picture book (out in May) for my baby. Sometimes though stories are just because I am interested in pondering them. This was one of those. 

A big thank you for Melissa for answering my questions and to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be on this tour. 

Made For You has the creepiest stalker/serial killer character, Judge, who believes that Eva was truly made just for him and he will do everything to make her see the signs and make her his once and for all. 

The biggest thing in this book is the fact that there is a serial killer taking out teenagers who seem to be connected to Eva. You don't know who the killer is, but you will keep guessing as the story goes along. I loved that I thought I had it all figured out, but it was a complete surprise who Judge ended up being. 

Eva's character is pretty interesting - she is from an old Southern family and should be one of the upper class girls. She does hang around the aristocratic teenagers, but she doesn't act like the others at all. She does what she likes, but keeps in mind the family history. She is strong and takes action when needed even though she is injured from her near death experience. After her accident she is able to see visions of peoples deaths so this was a nice little paranormal twist to the plot. 

The romance that blossoms between Nate and Eva is sweet. They have an estranged relationship and start to come together again during this emotionally charged time. Nate is protective of Eva and pretty much reminds her why they were best friends before. They are cute together and I like that their rekindled friendship brings them back together. 

This was a contemporary YA thriller that will have you flipping through the pages until you solve the mystery of Judge.  

About the Author:
Melissa Marr is the author of the internationally bestselling Wicked Lovely series (currently available in 26 languages). In adult fiction, she is the author of the award-winning novel, Graveminder, and the newly released, The Arrivals. With Kelley Armstrong, Melissa is the co-editor of two anthologies and co-author of the Blackwell Pages trilogy (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), a children’s series about the Norse myth of Ragnarök. Her upcoming HarperCollins 2014 release, Made For You, utilizes both her graduate degree in Southern Literature and her personal experience with stalkers in a story about a killer who terrorizes a small North Carolina town. Melissa lives in Virginia with her family. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Betrayed by Heather Graham | Review & Giveaway

The Betrayed (Krewe of Hunters #14) by Heather Graham
Published: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 400
Received: for honest review via publisher and TLC Book Tours
Find it online: Amazon | Goodreads

One night, New York FBI agent Aiden Mahoney receives a visitor in a dream—an old friend named Richard Highsmith. The very next day he’s sent to Sleepy Hollow because Richard’s gone missing there.

Maureen—Mo—Deauville now lives in the historic town and works with her dog, Rollo, to search for missing people. She’s actually the one to find Richard…or more precisely his head, stuck on a statue of the legendary Headless Horseman.

Mo and Aiden, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s unit of paranormal investigators, explore both past and present events to figure out who betrayed Richard, who killed him and now wants to kill them, too. As they work together, they discover that they share an unusual trait—the ability to communicate with the dead. They also share an attraction that’s as intense as it is unexpected…if they live long enough to enjoy it!

I've been really enjoying Heather Graham's books and since this is my second I will have to be sure to go back and read the others.

Perfect timing for this book too as Hallowe'en is just around the corner and this book provides a great amount of spooky atmosphere with haunted houses, cemeteries and ghost stories. Add a little bit of Sleepy Hollow lore and a headless horseman reference and you've got yourself a great story. 

I love that the characters, Mo and Aiden, can communicate with dead people and that they share this ability though in slightly different ways. It allows them work well together on the case. They also share a little more than work and have a sweet attraction to each other. Gotta love a little romance mixed into a mystery novel.

Honestly, I'm really enjoying these paranormal mystery stories that Ms. Graham writes. You can enjoy them as standalones or as part of the series. Either way you will want to read more about the Krewe and all of the amazing history that goes into each one. I know I do!

With that being said.... enter my giveaway for a chance to WIN a copy of THE BETRAYED for yourself. Open to US and CANADA. 

About the Author: 
New York Times and USA TODAY  bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels and has been published in more than 20 languages. An avid scuba diver, ballroom dancer and the mother of five, she enjoys her south Florida home, but loves to travel as well, from locations such as Cairo, Egypt, to her own backyard, the Florida Keys. Reading is still the pastime she still loves best, and she is a member of many writing groups. She’s a winner of the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers’ Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, and also the founder of The Slush Pile Players, an author band and theatrical group.

Heather annually hosts the Writers for New Orleans conference to benefit both the city, which is near and dear to her heart, and various other causes, and she hosts a ball each year at the RT Booklovers Convention to benefit pediatric AIDS foundations.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Office Renos - Part 1

I have decided to document the changes we are making to one of the spare rooms. We are turning it into an office for little old me. This is in the hopes of controlling my clutter habit and containing it to one room. And well it doesn't hurt that it just might get my organized if I have a pretty space to call my own.

I forgot to take before pictures so here it is in the middle of painting. 

Since we are renting this house we have the emerald green carpeting until further notice. It runs up the stairs, down the hallway, three out of four bedrooms and the den on the main level. *sigh* Even though we rent (from family), we can make a lot of changes to the house, so we are decorating up a storm. I'll try posting some pictures of our bedroom that we redid last year (I hope I have some before pictures of that one).

The paint is a pale bluish gray called Cumberland Fog (BEHR paint from Home Depot*). It was originally going to be the colour for the hallway, but I nixed it at the last second to go with a completely different idea in the hall (that post will come another day). 

I have a wonderful vision for this room - a pretty little vintage wrought iron bed with new bedding, a desk area for blogging/crafting, either new bookcases or refurbish the one I have. I'm mostly looking forward to decorating it with some fun tchotchkes.

The curtain hanging in the corner hides the closet. It's pretty big and right now it stores Christmas decorations and baby stuff that my sister gave me for one day. I will probably keep the curtain as it is so plain and pretty, but I want to upgrade my storage areas inside. 

Updates coming soon...

*not a sponsored post - just what we bought and where.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Time for change

I've been thinking about this for a while now, mostly since the summer weekends were taking up so much of my spare time either working, camping, seeing friends or doing household maintenance. It's time to change up my blog and I want it to be about all of me and not just the books anymore. It's been a good run with being just a book blog, but I feel like I let myself focus on one thing and get distracted from all of the other amazing things I want to do.

For example: 
I bought a book about making your own household cleaners - mostly to save money. I read the entire book, made a list of the items I would need to get started and then never picked the book up again nor did I make any of the cleaners.

I guess this post is just me dishing about all of the things going on in my head.  I have a habit of getting all excited about doing a project and then I either A) never start it, B)  get it half started and take forever to finish it or C) gather everything I need to complete it and then forget it beacuse I've found something new to try. 

I am hoping to take the next little while to slow down on the bookish stuff and actually get some of my other projects completed. And in doing so, I figure by writing them down, perhaps it will make me more accountable. 

So I'll start with the few of the projects I want to accomplish and then break them down into more manageable mini projects. I think I will even link back to this post with updates and photos.

1) Finish redoing the office. This will be my little space to keep all of my books, crafts and the like in. Also for my to work on my blog and other projects. I need to keep my clutter in one space instead of junking up my night stand, foyer and living room.
  • finish painting the walls
  • steam clean the carpet
  • more the furniture back in (gathering different furniture this time - wrought iron single bed, desk and chair, redone bookcase, etc)
  • organize the room to work better in (blogging, crafting, reading)
  • decorate (this will be the best part, figuring out all of the fun things to make this room mine)
2) Gardens. This year I started out taking care of them just fine and then I let it all go. I promise hubby that when we moved here that I would take care of the gardens because I loved gardening so much - oops.
  • Weeds - pull them all and dig up the worst ones
  • Prune back the shrubs and trees that need winterizing
  • Get organized for spring - figure out the new plants that will need to go into the front, side and back gardens (some of the parts do not have the right plants ie. sun loving vs. shade)
  • Pack up some of the garden decor (I store away some of my faves in the fall to keep them from being damaged in the winter)
3)  Meal Planning - this has been on my to do list for a very long time. We need variety and we need some order on making sure we cook at home as often as possible. This will help save money, feed us healthier meals and hopefully let us try new recipes.
  • Sit down and bookmark some of the recipes I want to try
  • Organize shopping lists to stock up on items for recipes and basics
  • Take a calendar and actually write on the days what I'm planning on making for dinner. Hopefully this will save money and make it easier to enjoy a bigger variety of meals
4) Blogging
  • Sit down with a planner and get organized (reviews, discussion posts, life posts, renos, etc)
  • Set goals for each week, make to do lists so I can stay on top of things
  • Keep book tours to a minimum (pick one tour company and stick with it)
  • Set times for writing on the blog (limit hours spent online as it sucks away at my free time)
So here is to good intentions and finally getting stuff done. You'll see changes in content and probably the sidebars too. Wish me luck!
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