Blog Tour: Frozen Beauty

Blog Tour

Frozen Beauty

bLexa Hillyer
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 17th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Synopsis:
Everyone in Devil’s Lake knows the three golden Malloy sisters—but one of them is keeping a secret that will turn their little world inside out….
No one knows exactly what happened to Kit in the woods that night—all they have are a constellation of facts: icy blue lips and fingers cold to the touch, a lacy bra, an abandoned pick-up truck with keys still in the ignition. Still, Tessa, even in her fog of grief, is certain that her sister’s killer wasn’t Boyd, the boy next door whom they’ve all loved in their own way. There are too many details that don’t add up, too many secrets still tucked away.
But no matter how fiercely she searches for answers, at the core of that complicated night is a truth that’s heartbreakingly simple.
Told in lush, haunting prose, Frozen Beauty is a story of the intoxicating power of first love, the deep bonds of sisterhood, and a shocking death that will forever change the living.
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Guest Post

For as long as I can remember, I have loved books about sisters. From Ramona and Beezus to the Sweet Valley twins, from Caroline and Sara Louise of Jacob Have I Loved to the March sisters, from Jane Austen’s Dashwoods and Bennets to Jeffrey Eugenides’ Lisbon sisters. I have two younger sisters plus a little brother, and my mother has always been close to her three sisters, so I grew up in the midst of that closeness and competitiveness, that circle of love fraught with feuds and tears and shared memories. Unlike friendship or romance, sisterhood is something you don’t choose; often, siblings are so different from one another, yet they’re bonded by the intimacy of youth, and the mutual responsibilities of family. This creates such an intense and interesting dynamic. Usually within sibling hierarchies, roles emerge that can completely define the kind of person you become: eldest sibs are often leaders or nurturers but secretive when it comes to their own emotions, youngests tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and middles are known to channel their desire to be noticed through over-achievement and competition. On top of that, siblings are often the people who know your weakest parts; they’re often the ones who can hurt you the most. But sometimes when terrible things happen, those are the only relationships left standing; these are the people who pick you back up when no one else is around. That makes the relationship between sisters full of angst and vulnerability, tenderness and uncertainty. It’s a powerful mix of emotions, and has such a strong hold on how we self-identity. For all these reasons and probably many more that I can’t quite articulate, I find myself drawn again and again to writing about sister relationships. My fantasy duology, Spindle Fire and Winter Glass reimagine fairytales (Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, respectively) as if the two heroines are sisters—Aurora and Isabel. In my most recent novel, Frozen Beauty, there are three sisters: Kit, Tessa, and Lilly Malloy. As much as Frozen Beauty is a mystery/thriller, it’s truly a tale of the bonds between young women as they navigate the sometimes rocky path to adulthood and truth. Boyd, the boy next door, describes the secret world of the Malloy sisters as Narnia or Terabithia, a magical terrain that’s tantalizing close, yet impossible to enter unless you are one of them.

I wanted to write about what it was like to be inside that bubble… and how easy it can be to take that special access for granted until it’s shattered.

About the Author

Lexa Hillyer is the Founder and President of Publishing at Glasstown Entertainment, an all-womxn creative development and production company located in New York and Los Angeles. She is also the author of Frozen Beauty, Spindle Fire, Winter Glass, and Proof of Forever, all young adult novels published by HarperCollins, as well as the poetry collection Acquainted with the Cold from Bona Fide Books. Acquainted with the Cold was the 2012 gold prize winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Award for Poetry and received the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize. Her work has been featured in a variety of journals and collections including Best New Poets 2012, and she has received several honors for poetry. Lexa earned her BA in English from Vassar College and her MFA in Poetry from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She worked as an editor at both HarperCollins and Penguin, before founding Glasstown Entertainment along with New York Times Bestselling author Lauren Oliver. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter and their very skinny orange tree.

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Blog Tour: The Hand on the Wall

Blog Tour

The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3)

By Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 21st 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Synopsis:
New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the witty and pulse-pounding conclusion to the Truly Devious series as Stevie Bell solves the mystery that has haunted Ellingham Academy for over 75 years.
Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .
She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.
At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.
Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.
In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.
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Guest Post:

The Art of Writing A Murder

I was on a panel recently answering a very similar question: how do you write a good murder? I went into my explanation, some of which I will give in a moment. The gist of it, though, is that a good murder mystery is a game. The man sitting next to me, who had just written his first book, was shocked and horrified that I said murder was a game and he would never treat it as such. This seemed odd to me, as he had spoken at length about his love of Sherlock Holmes—the same character who said, “The game is afoot!”

Murder is not a game. Murder is terrible and ugly and the rightful object of horror. Murder mystery novels—at least the kind I prefer—are not about any of that. I like them classic. I like a mansion, a locked room, an island, an English village, an amateur detective, and a lot of suspects. This kind of book is a game, a puzzle, and if done well, one that a reader has a chance of solving if they pay attention. The author has to play fair—this means no introducing the murderer so late in the game that the reader doesn’t have a chance to know them. You have to hide many things from the reader, while pushing others just into sight.

This is how I approach it: I start with the general kind of murder I want to write. By this, I mean a type, a setting. For the Truly Devious, I wanted the remote mansion and a cold case. Then I started with why. Why did an event occur? You actually need to know why before you can know who. From there, I build the event out, making sure I understand everything at the center of this mechanism. The murder is like the eye of the hurricane, with winds blowing all around. Those winds blow out the clues, the flotsam and jetsam that lead to the solution. The footprint. The scrap of paper in the fireplace. The broken vase. The bump in the night. We start the story on the outer edge, picking up these weird little objects, trying to make sense of them. As we get closer to the event, we get more and more. The velocity increases.

This is how I picture it anyway. It also involves a lot of charts, notes, and the occasional spreadsheet, because you have to know where everyone was, what they were doing, what they could have seen or heard or found or done. It’s a really good excuse to crack out the sticky notes and fill a wall.

 

About the Author

Maureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), and The Bane Chronicles (with Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan). Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.

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Author Interview: Ronald S. Barak

Author Interview

Meet Ronald S. Barak

ronald s barak.jpg

Hi Ron! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
Bio here. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Attended USC undergraduate, majoring in Physics, and then went to law school. Couldn’t change a light bulb, which was why I went to law school. Was a several time NCAA gymnastics champion and a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team while at USC. Have practiced law for 50 plus years. Started writing novels on a dare from some friends. It wasn’t anything I set out to do and as a Physics major I knew nothing about literature or creative writing. I persevered because I’m competitive and couldn’t walk away from a good challenge. Besides, I discovered I loved writing. So, I’ve worked at it. To come up with a story, which is now a series, I called upon my legal experience and my political interests. It was the kind of fiction I enjoyed reading and it beat having to do research. Another example of writing about what I know: Cassie Webber, the 11 year old kidnap victim who is the granddaughter of the Supreme Court Justice with the swing vote in The Amendment Killer is diabetic. So am I. So are 30 million others in the U.S. today. One in ten Americans today is diabetic. My wife and I donate 50% of the proceeds of The Amendment Killer to diabetes research and education. To learn a little about my latest, The Puppet Master, check out the description of the story on Amazon.com and watch the one minute trailer:
One Minute Puppet Master Video Trailer

http://www.ronaldsbarak.com
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The Interview.

Write a political thriller in 10 words. Go!

“Have you ever killed anyone? I have. Will again.” That’s from my latest, The Puppet Master, and only nine words, but who’s counting? “We have your granddaughter. Here’s what you need to do.” That’s from my first, The Amendment Killer, ten words right on.

“Fiction can be made to resemble the truth.” Adore this from your bio. How do you shape the facts into your novels without blurring the lines too much?

In The Amendment Killer, the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case to decide the validity of a Constitutional Amendment criminalizing political corruption. The procedural approach that is at issue in the case was first debated by our Constitutional founders. “Fiction can be made to resemble the truth.” In The Puppet Master, the story is not “ripped by the headlines,” it actually precedes the headlines: A vigilante serial killer killing prominent but corrupt politicians. Not a credible storyline? Shades of the recent pipe bomber who followed the writing of this story. Blurring the lines too much? More blurring: In reality, justifiable homicide arises on immediate threat of harm to the killer or his family, for example a burglar breaking and entering a home and stumbling upon a family member. In The Puppet Master, an arrest is made. The defendant says he didn’t do it, but if he did it was justifiable homicide because the politicians are threatening the defendant’s family of man with financial chaos.
From lawyer to writer. What inspired the change? How does your career support and or corrupt your writing?

The dare. See above. Support: I have the background without having to do research; I had to do enough of that as a lawyer. Corrupting my writing: I have to be careful not to get to technical with legal “stuff.”
Does writing a novel get easier with each book you complete?

For me it does because when I wrote the first one I didn’t know the difference between point of view, voice, pace, etc. Now, I do. I particularly like writing the Brooks/Lotello thriller series. With each successive story, I have more backdrop to draw upon in terms of the characters. I also never seem to run out of storylines. For example, I’m now writing the third in the series, titled Payback. Brooks’ wife is tired of Brooks constantly getting into life threatening situations as a criminal trial court judge and as constitutional lawyer surrounded by legal fanatics. So, for their 54th wedding anniversary, she sends the two of them to a week long writing conference to learn how to be a novelist. Lotello and his wife tag along for the holiday at this Mediterranean island. As Brooks’ wife put it, “What could possibly go wrong at a writing conference?” Nothing, before taking into account a sociopathic writer wannabe skulking around killing those in the industry who rejected him. Where’s the legal and political issues? Corporate transparency, the conference’s organizers not revealing to the 2,000 attendees what they learn is going on, ala the Catholic Church, the sports organization that concealed the doctor sexually abusing the young female gymnasts, USC executives looking the other way in the face of the student health center gynecologist doing likewise. I never seem to be at a loss for fun stories that blur reality and fiction.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of writing advice, what would it be? Undertake writing 50 years earlier than I did, when the field was less crowded with so many talented writers, when being a good writer was enough. It isn’t today. You have to be good and lucky today, and you have to learn how to market, which I detest, but have to do.
Do you find yourself struggling with writing about politics with how touchy the subject is in current society?

Not at all. I pretty well manage to separate my real work political views from my fiction. I’m actually pretty apolitical, I dislike politicians on both sides of the aisle. I speak to groups from high school students to senior citizens. I love the debates, no matter how touchy, and pride myself in being able to always play devil’s advocate and take the other side, politely. The other day, an enthusiastic 95 year old woman in the course of a presentation I was making to her book club at a senior citizens residential home asserted that the Electoral College was indefensible. I argued why it was sound and drew lots of smiles from the audience. Had she defended the College, I would have pointed out why it’s indefensible. The touchier the better. That’s what makes it fun. As long as you don’t take yourself too seriously, which I don’t.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

Good books are fun, to read and to write. I know some really good writers; they bring a lot to the table. I hope to become a good writer some day when I grow up, and to gain one of the seats at that table. And, I love interacting with my readers, whether in person when the occasion arises and by email. Writing is a one person job, but it’s not really a job, and it doesn’t get any better than interacting with readers, which is my reason to write.

Thank you for asking such terrific questions! They were a pleasure to answer.

Thank you for stopping by today!

Visit Ronald’s website to find more thriller fun!

Cover Reveal: Lucid

Cover Reveal
Lucid 
by Kristy Fairlamb
Genre: YA Supernatural Thriller
Release Date: April 23rd 2019
Lakewater Press
Summary:
A Terrifying Power. A Horrifying Curse.
Lucy Piper lives a lonely existence on the precipice between life and death. She possesses the horrifying ability to resurrect real-life tragic events in her nightmares, reliving over and over, as if she were there, the last few moments before the victim takes their final breath. Car accidents, drownings, plane crashes – Lucy has seen it all. No one understands what it’s like living death by night and fearing sleep by day.
When Tyler Sims and his family move to town to escape past traumas, Lucy is drawn to him. The two of them are linked through their dreams, and with Tyler’s trust and friendship, hope for a brighter future returns to Lucy’s world. But Tyler’s presence awakens something else in Lucy, and now she will be forced to make impossible decisions. Decisions that will change history, and the future.
Chilling, haunting and compelling, this novel is the first in a two-part series for fans of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Hidden Memory of Objects that will leave you breathless for days.
Pre-Order on Amazon!
 
Now available on Netglley!
 
 
 

About the Author

Kristy Fairlamb is an Australian author of the Young Adult Lucid series coming out in 2019.

She spends her days drinking coffee and torturing her characters with loads of tension – both love related and the nail biting kind.

Long before her days of writing began she spent half her childhood in a make believe world; daydreaming about growing up, falling in love, and travelling the world.

She’s worked as a nanny in country England, a junior matron in a boy’s boarding school south of London, a governess in East Timor, and made coffees and cleared tables in the New South Wales snow fields.

She lives with her husband, teenage daughter, and two sons in the beautiful Adelaide Hills where they’re lucky enough to get occasional visits from the local koalas.

She’s terrible at gardening, likes her bookshelves sorted by colour, and recently checked off a lifelong dream of jumping from a plane.

When she’s not writing or daydreaming about her stories you’ll find her reading, cooking for her family, or doing anything to avoid the housework.

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Blog Tour & ARC Review: This Lie Will Kill You

Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Misc.
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This Lie Will Kill You

by Chelsea Pitcher
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: December 11, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
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Synopsis:
Tell the truth. Or face the consequences.

Clue meets Riverdale in this page-turning thriller that exposes the lies five teens tell about a deadly night one year ago. 
One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true. They were each so desperate for the prize, they didn’t question the odd, rather exclusive invitation until it was too late.Now, they realize they’ve been lured together by a person bent on revenge, a person who will stop at nothing to uncover what actually happened on that deadly night, one year ago.

Five arrived, but not all can leave. Will the truth set them free?
Or will their lies destroy them all?

Review

“This wasn’t a fairytale.  This was real life, and in real life, puppets didn’t turn into boys. Sleeping princesses didn’t wake with a kiss.”

– Chelsea Pitcher, The Lie Will Kill You

First off, let me admit to apprehension when beginning this book. I’m not a huge fan of changing POV chapters and have struggled lately with contemporary fiction. My intrigue was caught upon the prologue then drifted a bit for the first introductory chapters. Suddenly – “Tell the truth. Or face the consequences” and hello no sleep. I binge read to my heart’s content up until the very last page. I was in a game of Clue and I wanted to know who did it; who was lying.

Now let me tell you why.

Meet the suspects: Ruby, Gavin, Brett, Parker, and Juniper. Each character has a role to play in a murder that happened a year ago. One lie – two lies – three lies – four lies, I’m sure you get where I’m going with this. Looking beneath their cliched high school personas – from the brain to the jock to the beauty, the real beneath each of them is so raw, so true. The connection is established, old friendships and rivals taunted to the surface, and the game comes into play with a murder mystery dinner that offers the winner a scholarship to a school of their choice for fifty-thousand dollars. The event to take place the date it all began. The costumes arrive – each fitting their actor/actress of choice, the suspects attend, and the madness begins. Each act is different, each reveal opens up more questions, and oh how the lies become shreds.

I cannot say much without giving away spoilers, much to the frustration of myself for wanting to rave and likely your frustration of wanting more clues – more answers. But I will say you will not be disappointed by the end after the game’s finale, the closing act, and the conclusion that leaves you out of breath.

I highly recommend This Lie Will Kill You with a 4.5/5 rating.

About the Author

Chelsea Pitcher is a karaoke-singing, ocean-worshipping Oregonian with a penchant for twisty mysteries. She is the author of THE S-WORD, THE LAST CHANGELING & THE LAST FAERIE QUEEN.

Watch for her new YA thriller, THIS LIE WILL KILL YOU, coming December 11, 2018 from S&S/McElderry!

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Guest Review: One Nation

Book Reviews, Guest reviewer, Misc.
***Disclaimer: All Opinions Expressed Are My Own.***

 

 one nation cover.jpg

“Did you ever experience Hell?” – Michael Leslie Karnes, One Nation

 

One Nation

By: Lindsey

One Nation is a futuristic thriller set in America.  Following the Second American Revolution, America is now under the grip of the Freedom Party and policed by the tyrannical National Police.  However, far from bestowing freedom, as the party title would have you believe, under the party rules basic civil rights and liberties have been curtailed with citizens being divided into class segregation and their movements monitored by use of an identity chip. Food is rationed and meat especially, is a scarcity.  The protagonist of the story, Jennifer Hanson, “a society type,” is one of the lucky ones.  Married to Matt, a political operative of the Freedom Party, although her lifestyle is repressed compared to others, she is one of the more fortunate ones.

This all goes awry though when she attends a lavish dinner party with Matt.   Her friend’s father, Attorney David Lewis, an outspoken advocate for the what is considered an “outdated” concept of Democracy frowned upon by the Freedom Party, engages in conversation with a leader.  However, his comments soon upset the prestigious guest for whom the dinner party is for.  His remarks, although honest, are interpreted as sedition and David is arrested soon after.  Yet, this is detrimental to Jennifer as under the regime, everyone associated or friends with David and his family, comes under suspicion. As Jennifer is a childhood friends with David’s daughter, Maggie, she is unfairly implicated and brought under investigation.

When Maggie confides to Jennifer her plan to escape to Cuba with the help of the mysterious Diablo5, after her father “disappears” Jennifer finds herself under scrutiny.  In the aftermath of Maggie’s departure, she is brought in for questioning about her friend’s whereabouts and is interrogated by Chief Inspector Jennings, a man who gets off on torturing his victims. Jennifer suffers incredibly brutal injuries through his cross examination and fears for her life.  She is duly her released, when her husband calls in favours but her nightmare is just beginning.  Jennifer’s finds her life in peril. Shunned by the Freedom Party, watched by the police, her status is demoted and she is denied privileges.

In desperation, Jennifer hatches a plan to vanish with her husband, like Maggie.  She remembers her friend’s plea to look for Diablo5 to enable this and is lead into a shady world of the rebel underground.  The couple decide to flee and go on the run with the enigmatic people smuggler.  Yet, they find they are soon labelled as fugitives with a bounty on their head and pursued by the Police, led by the evil Chief Inspector Jennings, who is determined to settle a score.  Jennifer finds that there is no way back and her life as she knew it is now just a memory.  But with a price on her head, no guarantee of safety and a sadistic cop wanting revenge, Jennifer is plunged into dangerous territory, at the mercy of dubious people who have their own agenda and whose motives are not always based on trust…

What to say about this book?  It was well plotted and a very exciting read which kept the reader on the edge of their seat throughout.  It reminded me of George Orwell’s 1984: the society which is depicted is ruled by an extremely domineering regime and those who fail to adhere to its command find themselves facing brutal consequences or even death.  There were some really intense scenes in the novel.  Jennifer was a very strong, fiery protagonist whose character changes incredibly through the course of the book:  at first, she is a privileged wife of a party member but as she goes on the run, her life changes inexplicably and she has to draw on inner strength to face the violence and carnage she witnesses.

The book really had some heart in your mouth moments and Chief Inspector Jennings was a particularly vile and odious character who possessed the traits of a zealous dominator, determined to mete out punishment.  The scenes between Jennifer and him were extremely cruel and although fierce, were nevertheless powerfully compelling.    This book really made you think and was a very realistic and insightful portrayal of what it would mean to individuals if such a tyrannical and unjust system was ever to be implemented.  Wonderful entertainment and with a very unexpected conclusion, this is definitely worth a read.

***However, due to the sexual and violent content, would not recommend for a younger audience.

Rating: 4/5