ARC Review: The Bone Garden

Book Reviews
*** Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a free, honest review. All opinions are my own. ***

 

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“The night was creeping away, yesterday tumbling into today.”

– Heather Kassner, The Bone Garden

 

The Bone Garden

By: Rae

 

“Made of dust and bone and imagination” main character Irréelle struggles to find her place in a world where magic tethers her to reality by a wielded thread. Constantly aiming to please her creator, Miss Vesper, mistake after mistake leaves her in danger of disappearing. When Irréelle commits an unforgiveable mistake, she flees and sets off on an adventure that will challenge everything she knows and believes in. What strange magic created her? Can she become what she always wanted to be?

Now, where to start?

I adored The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner; from the setting to detail to the characters – everything was a blend of lyrical spookiness that kept me enchanted until the very end.

The setting shifted between three main places: the house, underneath the house (the tunnels), and the graveyard. Set with a Victorian vibe, no place lacked in visual and sensory detail. I was able to creep along the tunnels with Irréelle, or wander aimlessly through the quiet graveyard. At the house I desperately wanted to sit in “the chair” and yet knew I wasn’t able to – just like Irréelle.

As for characters, Irréelle was wonderfully complex for being so young. Her thoughts were developed, as were emotions, and yet she fit exactly in her estimated age range. She worried about pleasing her parental figure. She longed to find her place. She desired understanding of things that were just out of reach. She hated getting reprimanded. Her bones creaked, her physical makeup was odd and strange. She looked ethereal. She wanted a friend to cure the loneliness. And so on.

Then there was Guy, Lass, The Hand, the watchman, N.M.H., and Miss Vesper. Each again were complex in their own right with their own contributions to the story weaving together simultaneously while staying true to themselves.

When the ending occurred… well you’ll just have to read the story yourself.

 

Rating: The Bone Garden 5/5 stars.

Author Interview: Swati Teerdhala

Author Interview

Meet Swati Teerdhala.

 

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Hi Swati! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Swati Teerdhala is a storyteller and writer. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Finance and History, she tumbled into the marketing side of the technology industry. She’s passionate about many things, including how to make a proper cup of chai, the right ratio of curd-to-crust in a lemon tart, and diverse representation in the stories we tell. She currently lives in New York City.

Social Media Links:
Twitter
Instagram

The Interview.

 

Have you gone on any literary pilgrimages or writing trips?

Not yet! I would love to go on a writers’ retreat and am actually trying to plan one right now, so fingers crossed!

 

What inspired Esha’s assassin name in The Tiger at Midnight?

Esha’s rebel name in the book is the Viper, which was based on the two whips she uses for weapons, like the forked tongue of a snake.

 

“Drawing inspiration from ancient Indian history and Hindu mythology…” yes, please! What aspects first got you brainstorming about a possible novel?

A lot of The Tiger at Midnight’s world was drawn from the mythological stories I grew up with like the story of how the Ganga River was brought down to the earth and the tales of Garuda and the Naga (snake) king. As I was building out Kunal and Esha’s story, it felt natural to ground their world in those stories of my childhood.

 

Do you know you would have a three book series as you began writing or did it come as surprise?

I didn’t know! I certainly hoped it would be. Once I had my first draft of the book done, I could tell the story was going to be large. It demanded a series, but I only fully solidified the number of books when I went on submission.

 

What to you is an “unforgivable” choice?

I think it’s a choice that, on the surface, looks like you’re abandoning your country, family, or duty. And those are the kinds of choices that Kunal and Esha end up facing in the book.

 

Did any of your characters fight you while writing? Meaning did you want them to do something only to have them act in a completely different way?

Ah, Esha! She’s got a mind of her own. But I wouldn’t say any of them fought, per se. They just showed me that the path I had written for them wasn’t the right one. I firmly believe story comes from character, so those tough moments only helped me find the right story.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

I wanted to write a story that celebrated my Indian heritage and tackled the issue of finding your own path, even when there’s familial or community pressure, something that I think is really common for second-generation immigrant kids in America. That’s a huge part of what both Kunal and Esha deal with during this book—their duty to themselves vs. others. Esha and Kunal both struggle with this idea in very different ways. I hope that readers are able to read this book and understand that better.

Thank you Swati for stopping by Bookish Looks!

The Tiger at Midnight is available now!

Tour & Author Interview: You’d be Mine

Author Interview, Blog Tour

Tour Info.

A whip smart teen romance debut inspired by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash from a bright new voice in YA fiction

 

YOU’D BE MINE

By Erin Hahn

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PRAISE FOR YOU’D BE MINE:

Named one of 11 Upcoming Romantic YA Novels That Might Just Be Your New Favorite Rom-Com by Bustle!

 

 “If you’re still obsessing over A Star Is Born (because, same) you’ll love this new romance novel by Erin Hahn.” – Cosmopolitan

“The palpable endearment for its setting and characters makes for a warm read. [A] good ol’ fashioned love story. There’s something to be said for a song we all know being sung with tenderness and care. A solid romance buoyed by engaging protagonists and a charming backdrop.” – Kirkus

“Readers do not have to be fans of country music in order to root for Annie and Clay to find their way to love. A strong choice.”School Library Journal

“Witty and charming, with an off-the-charts, irresistible blend of romance, humor, and characters who steal your heart from page one. Erin Hahn is an author to watch.” – Karen M. McManus, NYT Bestselling author of One of Us is Lying

“YOU’D BE MINE is the perfect summertime beach read.” – Young Adult Book Central

 

Readers and critics alike are already captivated by Erin Hahn’s debut, YOU’D BE MINE (Wednesday Books; April 2, 2019), a poignant story of two young musicians thrown into the spotlight together.

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up as one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

Erin Hahn’s thrilling debut asks: can the right song and the perfect summer on the road make two broken hearts whole?

Meet Erin Hahn.

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Photo Credit: Hilary Nichols Photography

Hi Erin! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

ERIN HAHN started writing her own books when her little sister gave her shade about a country music-themed Twilight fanfic. By day, she likes to help kindergarteners make snakes out of playdoh. By night, she writes swoons. She married her own YA love interest who she met on her first day of college and has two kids who are much, much cooler than she ever was at their age. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, aka the greenest place on earth and has a cat, Gus, who plays fetch. You’d Be Mine is her first novel. (~100 words)

          Social media links:
Website: https://www.erinphahn.com/
Twitter: @erinhahn_author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17130322.Erin_Hahn

 

The Interview.

Okay…I have to ask – a country music Twilight fanfiction, how did that turn out? How did that – if it did – inspire You’d Be Mine?

Not well, honestly! There is very little I can say in my defense, except that I was listening to a lot of early-country-Taylor Swift at the time. I wrote a few chapters of the fic called *cringe* Badass and Beautiful (don’t bother looking it up, I never published it) and was super proud of myself. Bella was this up-and-coming starlet and Edward was the brooding megastar… so in retrospect, that part sort of sounds familiar. But I only ever wrote two chapters. I sent them off to my younger sister who immediately responded with, “That’s great Erin, now write your own damn book.” I actually wrote five more not-at-all-country music-related books before a documentary about the Carter family (as in June Carter Cash) and the beginnings of country music inspired me to try the genre again.

So despite the coincidence, that early fanfic didn’t really inspire You’d Be Mine and unfortunately (or is it?), I’ve long since lost the original chapters, BUT I can tell you that I originally wrote a photo shoot scene starring Country Bella and Country Edward where the chemistry between the two really took off and I DID recycle that idea for Annie and Clay, though I imagine it probably looks different.

 

If you could only use ONE country song to explain, You’d Be Mine, what would it be?

Ooooh. Man. I have an entire playlist, so that is tough, but I will go with Burning House by Cam. The story of the song is that she dreams about her lover being caught in a burning house and instead of running away to save herself, she lays beside him and holds him as the place goes up in flames. It’s a metaphor that stuck with me as I wrote the book, both in regards to Annie’s parents and then she and Clay as the tour progresses and their feelings deepen. It also inspired my twist, but I won’t spoil that. Suffice it to say, Annie isn’t like her famous mom.

 

What drew you to swooning readers with contemporary romance?

This is an excellent question. No one’s ever asked me this before! I honestly tried to write other genres but they never felt right. I have been in love with love since I was a little girl. My first story in fourth grade was a short romantic comedy about sisters. By my senior year of high school, we were tasked with choosing one word we felt described us for an essay and I picked “Romantic”. It’s just me. I only deal in HEA and I’m obsessed with first kisses. I even met my husband my first day of college when I was 17, so I truly married my own YA love interest! It’s all I know. I want gift my readers with heart-squeezing giddiness.

 

Were there any journalistic aspects that you kept with you as your writing transitioned?

I was honestly a terrible journalist because I’m pretty introverted and hate small talk with strangers, BUT in my second book More Than Maybe, out next year, I get to play around with a faux music review blog and it’s been a blast! I think if I had another life to live, I’d go back and try my hand at writing music reviews. Sharing my musical finds would be a worthy reason to step out of my comfort zone, I think. J

 

What do you think literary success looks like?

Goodness, I mean, this right here is pretty amazing! Getting into the nitty gritty about some of my characters with people who have read about them is… there’s no describing that. Particularly teens! Also, when someone who has read my book says they want to read more, whether they mean more Annie and Clay or my next story, it’s so encouraging because I want to do this forever.

 

What is the hardest thing about writing male characters? Do you worry they aren’t authentic?

It’s never been a question for me. I’ve always written dual povs of male and female leads in the first person. It’s just how I work. I don’t think I’ve ever worried about authenticity of maleness or femaleness so much as authenticity of that particular character, in general. For example, once late in the revision process for YBM, I had to go back and rewrite a scene for Clay towards the end of the book and it had been a few months since I was in his head. I tried to rush through some dialogue and sure enough, my editor flagged a line and sent it back to me. It was super clear it was off but it took me reading it aloud to figure it out. Turned out, I’d given him a British accent all of a sudden. I’d just slipped into a different voice and it was verrrrry inauthentic!

As part of my drafting process, I make playlists for all my characters and spend a lot of time getting in their brains before I write a single word. Take Clay, for example. Being male, is just one little piece of his voice. He’s also a farmboy from Indiana, raised by his baby-boomer grandfather, a high school drop-out (sorta) who spent his teens in rural dive bars and probably drinks too much which gives him a fair amount of fake swagger when he’s on stage… all of those things make up his voice more than just his being male.

 

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you? The most rewarding?

Drafting transitions are torture for me! My early drafts are completely dialogue driven with little “here I am at the *insert location here* standing next to Steve *insert action here* talking about music *insert existing movement here*”. It’s not quite that bad, but it feels like it. My creative brain has zero patience for logistics.

The most rewarding is when I forget I wrote something and want to read it. I was listening to the You’d Be Mine playlist on Spotify the other day while making dinner and I was just craving the time to sit down and read my book. I wrote the romance I wanted to read. As a lifelong lover of sweet stories, that feels like a huge win.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

I really hope you love Annie and Clay’s story and thank you so very much for giving this debut author a chance. I can’t wait to keep writing first kisses for you all!