Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater @mstiefvater

The Raven Boys is the first of four YA paranormal books in The Raven Cycle. The last book, The Raven King, will be released next year on Februrary 23rd.

If you want a fun way to stay informed of the release or just want a happy spot in your day, follow Stiefvater on Twitter. I always gut-ache-laugh when reading her tweets. Plus, she’s an artist and a musician and posts links all the time to her creations.
The_Raven_BoysIt is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

The real main character of The Raven Boys isn’t Blue but Gansey. Think The Great Gatsby—how the real main character isn’t the narrator Nick but Gatsby. Gansey is the driving force in this book, and he’s the glue keeping Blue and his groupies together. Without him, there would be no Raven Boys.

The synopsis doesn’t quite cover what The Raven Boys is really about—Pull out your compass and knapsacks guys, because it’s a treasure hunt! Gansey isn’t just on a quest. He’s on an epic search to find the missing buried king Glendower. And he needs Blue’s help to find the Ley lines, psychic energy lines, that help point to Glendower’s burial spot.

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Over the River and through the Woods: Blog Tour GUEST POST for Supervision by Alison Stine

Supervision is a YA Paranormal that just released a couple days ago. I wanted to do a guest post with Alison as part of this tour because her book centers around a creepy house. Growing up, my sister and I convinced ourselves this house on our street was haunted. Granted, it didn’t even look like a haunted house, but we would sprint past it in our asphalt stained feet just the same.

In high school, a couple of my friends visited the local haunted house and came back with some pretty wild stories of chairs moving across the room on their own. Doors closing, lights flickering–the whole thing.

Needless to say, I have a soft spot for house-stories 😀

Also, the artistic part of me admires the watercolor nature of the banner and cover. I totally want to hang this above my bed. Or on my inspiration board next to my desk and easel. Despite the creepy nature of the book.
Supervision_bannerThey are giving away three ebook copies of Supervision and 2x original graffiti art prints based on the book (which ends April 30th). How cool is that? I want book graffiti.

If you want to follow the rest of the tour, you can find the schedule here.SupervisionSomething is wrong with Esmé.

Kicked out of school in New York, she’s sent to live with her grandmother in a small Appalachian town. But something is wrong with the grandmother Ez hasn’t seen for years; she leaves at midnight, carrying a big black bag. Something is wrong with her grandmother’s house, a decrepit mansion full of stray cats, stairs that lead to nowhere, beds that unmake themselves. Something is wrong in the town where a kid disappears every year, where a whistle sounds at night but no train arrives.

And something is wrong with the cute and friendly neighbor Ez’s age with black curls and ice-blue eyes: He’s dead.

And here’s Alison!:

SUPERVISION was inspired by a very old, very strange house—but not one in my family.

Several years ago I answered an ad for a free piano. The people who were giving the instrument away lived in a huge, ruined mansion down a back road in a very small townnear my home. The house looked completely out of place: three stories tall (with a ballroom and marble fireplaces inside) on top of a hill in nowhere Ohio.

Later I learned it had probably been the home of one of the nearby coal mine owners orlocal iron “industrialists” but the house had fallen into disrepair over the years. The people who rented it were moving—and getting rid of that piano, which, yes, I did take and still play today—because their utility bills were so high, trying to heat that behemoth of a house.

I would find excuses to drive past the house, an hour out of my way. I even looked into renting or buying it, but I could never find a listing. There was no way I could have afforded the heating bills, either, anyway. I just couldn’t figure out why the house was calling to me.

And then I started writing a book called SUPERVISION…

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The Makings of a Book Cover: The Undead: Playing for Keeps Blog Tour by Elsie Elmore

Want a FREE copy? Not only can you enter the Goodreads GIVEAWAY here, enter the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY here. Or–leave a comment below to win a ereader copy (courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours). I will use a random number generator next Sunday at 11:59 EST to select this winner.

You can also buy the book on Amazon and at Barns and Nobles.
The_Undead_tourThe_UndeadI’m excited to be here on Abby J. Reed’s blog to talk about my new release,

The Undead: Playing for Keeps. I’ve known Abby for two years, but it seems much longer. We started as classmates in an online class, then became CPs. She’s an awesome writer and artist, which makes her blog the perfect places to share the journey to make my cover.

Step 1 : Complete the info sheet

Curiosity Quills, my publisher, has created an awesome information sheet for their authors. The goal is to think about the cover in a visceral way: what colors should be present? What emotions should the image evoke? What feeling should resonate with the reader? Bottom line.. What gut reaction do you want? The immediate answer has “buy me” somewhere buried in there, but that is not the focus. Your cover needs to reflect some element of the story.

I turned to my CP’s and beta readers to poll their thoughts as well. This worksheet was first completed in December, less than a month after I signed the contract with CQ, and then again in March. Looking back, my December ideas were a little vague. But after working with an editor for a few months, my cover ideas became more clear and better represented the story the second time around.

Colors and feelings were two components I needed to address during this process. For colors, I thought of reds and blacks (this probably had a lot to do with the fact that red is my favorite color.) And feelings… I wanted the reader to feel a sense of mystery and maybe a touch of foreboding when they looked at the cover.

Step 2 : Sketch out a few ideas.

The Undead is told through two different POVs (thanks to the editing process). Part of the story comes from Eric, a grim reaper. Since there were so many YA books with pictures of girls on the front, I decided I’d rather focus on Eric than Lyla. I sketched out a few ideas that might represent the story line. Eric’s music was always a key element I wanted to highlight.Undead1

Step 3 : Meet the artist

I was introduced to Alexandria Thompson from GothicFate.com in the beginning of April. She was the graphic artist I was assigned by CQ. (Go now, check out her work here and see why I was thrilled with the match-up.)

But a few days before we made contact, a new idea came to me… a male hand holding a set of keys. I can’t deny that the idea felt brilliant. Especially if the tokens on the key chain represented different facets of the story. So when Alexandria and I started exchanging emails, I shared my thoughts.Undead2

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Scavenger Hunt (and GIVEAWAY!): The Gateway Through Which They Came by Heather Marie

Collect all the letters from each blog (listed below) to enter into the RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!
the_gateway_through_which_they_cameTo seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz, letting the dead walk through his body to reach the other side comes with the territory. Being a Gateway isn’t an easy job, but someone’s gotta send Bleeders where they belong. Heaven. Salvation. Call it whatever you want. Dead is dead. But when his search for Koren Banks––the girl who went mysteriously missing seven months ago––leaves him with more questions than answers, he finds himself involved in something far more sinister and beyond his control.

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Cover Reveal: The Undead by Elsie Elmore

The Undead: Playing for Keeps is a YA Paranormal by Elsie Elmore that releases on September 3rd from Curiosity Quills. And let me tell you, it’s worth reading! I got seriously freaked out in all the rights places, and I loved the emphasis on family. Read, read, read it!

The_Undead

When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Especially once Lyla’s new talent of resurrecting the dead draws the attention of Eric, a Grim Reaper with a guitar and a chip on his shoulder.

While Lyla navigates the gossip-ridden halls, Eric works to gain her trust and discover why Death’s clients aren’t staying down. If she passes on her gift, his death-
messenger destiny might be altered. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are way easier to deal with than the living.

Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.

Chapter One Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE: Lyla

My stomach drops when I see the dead woman lying on the table. Convinced the dim light is playing tricks on my eyes, I reach over and flip the switch. The overhead fluorescents flicker on and light cascades down onto the body. Dread replaces the doubt. I move closer for a better look. She’s not peaceful like the others. This is bad, really bad. Mom will go ballistic when she sees this.

“Lyla, what are you doing back here?” Ben whispers and gives me a playful shove.

I flinch, almost coming out of my skin. Ben’s always been better at the scaring game we started a long time ago. While I both love and hate our game, I also suck at it. I turn and squint at him. “Asshole. This room should be off limits.”

“Language,” he chides and clicks his tongue. After glancing at the body, he steps up beside me and snickers. “You’re in so much trouble,” he says, drawing out each word as if it were a paragraph.

“No, I’m not.”

“Where’s Kate?”

“She’s gone, I guess.”

Kate Huntington, the eccentric beautician with tacky green highlights is gone, and only her handiwork remains. Glittery blue eye shadow and sapphire eyeliner cover the dead woman’s lids. Black mascara coats her lashes so thickly that her eye sockets resemble piles of tangled spider legs. She looks like a showgirl, an old, dead showgirl. I don’t even want to acknowledge the dark foundation, the cherry red lipstick, or the words “I quit” scrawled in eyeliner across her forehead.

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S: is for Stars! Review and Giveaway: These Broken Stars #AtoZChallenge

SThese Broken Stars is the first in the Starbound trilogy, written by author duo Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I loved it so much I wanted to give away a copy.

Here’s how you can win your free ereader copy:

Post a comment below. Just like that. The giveaway begins today, Tuesday, April 22nd and closes 12pm EST on Sunday, April 27th. I will use a random number generator–the corresponding blog commenter will be the winner of the ereader copy. (If the email you use to comment is not how you want me to contact you, make sure you leave another way!)

Congrats to Dave Brunetti, our winner!

These_Broken_StarsIt’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

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