** Comment below to be entered in a draw to win your own e-book of Asp of Ascension! **
In Asp of Ascension, Bethany Myers introduces us to Nefartari Hughes (or Terry as she understandably prefers to be called). She’s every girl who went to high school and tried their best to ride through the middle of the crowd with their elbows in (so me for sure) with the added baggage of the traumatic loss of her mother.
Asp of Ascension is like Night at the Museum mixed with the humour of Mean Girls with a dollop of darkness from Should I Stay.
What sets Terry apart (much to her dismay at times) is her archaeologist parents who have passed on to her their love and understanding of ancient Egypt. What makes Terry special however is that she is starving for real relationships and has no idea how to be in one. Whether it is with she and Maud (a fantastic character who I wish I’d had the balls to be in high school) or with Zach, the prototype jock who turns out to be so much more than that.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I laughed reading this book, remembering parallel moments in my own life. I know that Terry is the hero of this story, but I have to say, I fell in love with Maud and her little family. Myers does a great job of bringing the corridors of high school to life and the dialogue rings true of the age group too. I happen to LOVE all things having to do with pharaohs so reading about Egypt and Cleopatra is just icing on the cake of a great read.
I’m instituting a new rating system and I give Asp of Ascension 4/5 sensible heels!
Stay tuned for a guest post from author Bethany Myers on the research that went into her book!
Before I go any further if you want to win an e-copy of this YA-Romance all you have to do is drop a comment below this post and I will randomly draw a winner from the names on November 22! ** Canada Only! **
Now back to the matter at hand: Kissing Frogsis a contemporary YA Romance story and I had the chance to ask Alisha Sevigny a few questions as part of this Blog Tour:
The set-up of Jess’ preferred life is subtle but easy to imagine from all your description – how did you capture the ambiance (such as it is) of high school?
I literally just imagined myself back in my old high school. Despite what the calendar says, it really doesn’t feel all that long ago! I put myself back in front of my locker, pictured Miles as my boyfriend and went from there.
Lol; maybe its because I don’t LIKE to imagine myself back in high school that I am so in awe of your ability to do that! I love that Jess applies her ‘book smarts’ to becoming popular – does that strategy come from personal experience?
Not really. I got good grades, had some good friends, but never considered myself as particularly “popular”. I feel like I came into my own in university, where I was free to be who I really was, if that makes sense. In high school you’re assigned these roles and it’s easy to find yourself playing that part, even if it’s not who you really are. That’s one of the messages in the book, that you shouldn’t let others define you.
3. Amen sister. I love that quote by the way: “In high school you’re assigned these roles,” it is so true. Now, everyone has that boy who bugged them in middle school as a way to communicate that they liked you – how did you take on writing that story arc specifically? Moving Travis from annoyance to interest?
This took several rewrites to strike the right balance of moving Travis from annoying to possible love interest. In previous drafts, he was a bit more of a pain in Jess’s behind, and they were more antagonistic towards each other. However after one of my early draft readers commented, “I have a hard time picturing these two together,” I decided to soften both characters and have them start to get along a bit earlier in the book.
I think it worked! Now, I feel like you’re sneaking a bunch of educational information about animals, conservation and Panama into the pages of this book – plan or nice side effect?
A bit of both! I wanted to really give the reader a feel for Panama. Personally, I love reading books that take place in exotic locales. It’s like traveling from the comfort of your couch (or wherever you read). The conservation information is a key component of the story but I wanted to incorporate it in a way where it didn’t detract from a fun read. Anything that was included, I made sure it served the story. I actually ended up cutting a lot of description as well as a few scenes that didn’t do so. For example, there was a scene when the kids go into Panama City to Casco Viejo (the funky historical district) and even check out the Panama Canal, but I cut it because in the end it wasn’t entirely necessary to the story.
Well a section I am so glad you didn’t cut was your epilogue — it was NECESSARY. I was actually sort of freaking out when the book ended without telling us if Jess made it into Berkeley. Why did you choose to do it as an epilogue rather than wrapping it into the last chapter of the book?
Honestly, it just felt right to have it as an epilogue. Originally, the whole book took place in Panama (except that final scene) so it felt like it was a bit removed from the story, which I felt had been tied up on another continent. In addition, it hints at a sequel, and an epilogue is a good place to do that.
Thanks SO MUCH to Alisha for answering my questions and to Fierce Ink Press for supplying an e-copy of Kissing Frogs for one of my lucky commenters!
Before I go any further if you want to win an e-copy of this YA-Romance all you have to do is drop a comment below this post and I will randomly draw a winner from the names on November 22! ** Canada Only! **
You have two opportunities to enter – today on this Review Post or next week where I will post my Q&A with the author.
I’m not a big reader of YA romance, but this was a well-told story that really takes you back to high school (at least if you were a raging nerd like both Jess and I were). Jess is the protagonist of the story and spent most of her school career as a great student well on her way to attending her dream college Berkley. She suffers (as we all did) from the usual tribulations of the shark tank that is middle-school with the added humiliation of a terrible nickname: Messy Jessie. Well as of the beginning of the book Jess has done what so many of us wish we could have – she has changed her fate – dramatically. She turns herself into a whole new person, using the intelligence that was focused on good grades to build herself into a popular high schooler. She has a popular boyfriend and popular friends, and no one at her new school knows that she was once the nerdiest kid in middle school.
Sadly a failing grade in biology threatens her high school utopia and Jess is forced to take remedial steps with a conservation trip down to Panama. This wouldn’t be so bad except the boy who started the whole Messy Jessie phenomenon is on the trip too… and he’s changed a lot too.
I’m not going to spoil the story for you but I will say it brought back a lot of memories of my own high school experience. Sevigny manages to speak with the voices of the teenagers without making this a morality story or an after school special. The kids are the kids we all grew up with, and the mistakes they make are the ones we all made. It captures the time and place so well I had to ask Sevigny how she did it (see that in the Q&A next week)! Finding out you are the person you tried so hard to run away from and that is alright is a message I think everyone will understand and appreciate.
I hope my 12-year-old son learns that when he reads this book (he started it last night).
What I didn’t expect was that I would learn so much about Panama and the conservation programs around the frogs. Loved that. Found myself googling a lot of the information so I could learn more.
If you like coming-of-age stories or have a kid in your life who is trying to find their place in the shark tank – I suggest you grab a copy of Kissing Frogs – you will not be disappointed.
This is your SECOND CHANCE to enter the contest to WIN an e-copy of Kat Kruger‘s Magdeburg Trilogy – ALL THREE BOOKS people – so comment below and get automagically entered!
This is my Q&A with the fabulous author:
Q: Coming out of The Night has Claws, there were a lot of open questions, and a lot of stunning revelations, how did you even approach book three in the Magdeburg Trilogy?
A: The Night Is Found was by far the biggest challenge to write of all the books in the series. I had to tie up all the loose ends and address any unanswered questions from the previous two books. As a pantser (as in fly by the seat of your pants) kind of writer, it was terrifying! That said, there were a few things that helped guide me. The first was a loose outline. I had the general plot points, new characters, and story arc going into this book. The rest was all about filling in the blanks. It also helped to have some trusted beta readers and an editor who pointed out areas that didn’t quite work in earlier drafts and asked some much needed questions.
Since it’s the last book in the series I felt all of it had to be bigger, better, faster. Everything in the first two books had been working toward this point. At the same time there had to be So. Much. Closure. I was an emotional wreck by the end of it.
The Night Is Found takes place about four months after The Night Has Claws. One of the missteps I made in an early draft was trying to pick up right where the previous book left off (which is what I was able to pull off with the sequel to The Night Has Teeth). It simply didn’t work in this case. It read like the print version of one of those movie montages where the hero is shown training in martial and weapons art, set to some upbeat music. Cue: “Eye of the Wolf” maybe? I cut all that and started right in the midst of a quest of sorts.
Q. Connor has had to confront a lot of emotional truths for a kid his age – how are you getting into his teenage mind (you’re doing it well!)?
A: Thank you! And also: damn it all(!) because this is a hard question to answer after so many years of writing in first person for Connor. I’m not going to be weird and say anything like “I no longer know where Connor starts and I begin.” It’s not that. At all. It’s just hard to pinpoint how his voice started. If I think back to it, part of it probably had a lot to do with being immersed in YA books. I also practically live online so that really helps, as does the ability to fall into the rabbit hole that is Tumblr. That’s all observational, I guess.
From the real life experiential side of things, when I started writing the series I had a niece who was around Connor’s age who was going through the whole “trying to figure out who you are” thing. It brought back a lot of my own insecurities from when I was a teen and I sort of tapped into that. I suppose it’s a matter of taking that spark of memory and just coaxing it into a new voice.
I wouldn’t say it was an easy task, not at first. In all honesty it took me nine drafts of The Night Has Teeth (Book One) and several rounds of beta readers before I was comfortable enough to send it to an editor. Writing from his teen perspective got easier with each book though. I got down to maybe two or three drafts before sending the other books off for editing. I suppose all that hard work early on paid off in the end!
Q: I compare Connor’s growth from loner smart kid to confident leader to Aragorn’s growth from The Fellowship of the Ring to Return of the King in the LOTR series – how did you plan and execute that?
A: Be still my geek girl heart! I’m very happy you picked up on that. My lovely editor Allister Thompson — I suppose I have to say our lovely editor since we’re sharing — said of my second book that it was the Two Towers of my trilogy so I will totally take the Return of the King reference from you too.
I think the story of the hero who rises seemingly from nothing is one that fascinates a lot of people. We like to cheer for the underdog because they turn adversity into advantage. Connor was born an outsider, a lone wolf, and it’s not until he finds himself among his own kind that he’s given the opportunity to shine.
Part of the story arc in each book was absolutely supposed to show his growth from loner smart kid to confident leader. In book one he was pulled in many different directions which confused him quite a lot, and he was gullible at times because of his inexperience. Just making new friends was a big deal to him.
In book two he started asking more questions about the world he found himself in, and all the players in it. He stood up for Arden when nobody else would, and he stood up for himself against Daniel. Ultimately he makes an informed decision to join a pack.
When Connor found himself thrust into a leadership role in the final book my first thought was that he had to be made in the image of his own heroes — Luke Skywalker on his mission to Jabba’s Palace or Aragorn calling to arms the Dead Men of Dunharrow. In The Night Is Found Connor asserts himself, makes hard decisions, owns up to his mistakes and learns from them. At the same time, he’s still just a young man going on 18 so there are moments of lingering self-doubt.
By the time the epilogue comes along, I think he’s really found himself. Even Amara can’t disarm him anymore. It’s all part of the natural progression of the hero, I think.
4. The American werewolves were an awesome addition – any chance you’re considering a spin-off with Ben or Marrock?
First I have to thank my friend Ben Boudreau for letting me borrow his first name! I promised to use it with great care.
In answer to your question, I’ve always had it in mind to write a set of graphic novel prequels as companions to the series, expanding on the background of the secondary characters before Connor entered their lives. In Marrock’s case he was actually pulled from Arthurian lore (with a variant name spelling). Sir Thomas Mallory wrote this single line in Le Morte D’Arthur, “Sir Marrok, the good knight that was betrayed with his wife, for she made him seven year a werewolf.” I liked the idea of taking an ancient knight with this story of betrayal, and putting him in a modern scenario as an NYPD captain.
Beyond the graphic novel prequels, it was never my intention to carry on with the series though. That said, the American werewolves were just so much fun to write. With every draft I grew more and more fond of them. And then several months ago there was a bit of science that crossed my newsfeed that could have applications in this world of the Magdeburg werewolves…
Let’s just say I wouldn’t discount a spin-off at some point.
5. I love the epilogue and getting a bit of a view into Arden’s family, but what about Connor and Madison? Can you tell us where they ended up in your head?
A: That epilogue was in my head for a long time — well before I even started thinking about this final book. Even in this scene, I think it’s clear that I’m a firm believer in the idea that happiness is what you make it. You carve it out of your circumstances.
As for Connor and Madison, *SPOILER ALERT* I made a very conscious effort to leave their relationship open-ended. It always sounds really funny to me when I say this but the way I approached writing the series (yes, the one about werewolves) was from the perspective of a realist. As in “could this actually happen in real life?”
A lot of paranormal YA romances end with the two teens together forever. To me that doesn’t reflect the reality that people change, sometimes in ways that make them incompatible. I know, I know. How terribly un-romantic of me! Even Allister, our brilliant editor, wanted to know of their fate in one of the drafts. So I told him that I didn’t really believe that high school-aged sweethearts should always ride off into the sunset. He corrected me and said, “Teen wolves brought together by fate, you mean.”
After some thought I did rewrite the last scene between Connor and Madison to what it is now, and we believed that was a satisfactory middle ground. In the end I really want readers to envision where these two end up. Whatever version of happily-ever-after Connor and Madison have … that left my control once I stopped typing.
This is your FIRST CHANCE (of two) to enter the contest to WIN an e-copy of Kat Kruger‘s Magdeburg Trilogy – ALL THREE BOOKS people – so comment below and get automagically entered!
When they tried to kill a prince, they made a king
In the aftermath of his pack leader’s assassination Connor Lewis is ready to take control. Rodolfus de Aquila’s plan before he died was to unite the European werewolf packs against their common enemies: the Hounds of God who make the laws and enforce them ruthlessly with questionable motives, and the Luparii, an intergovernmental group of werewolf hunters now bent on the extermination of his kind. The uneasy alliance between these two factions has fallen apart, and now a battle wages leaving the pack werewolves scrambling to escape bio-chemical warfare on one side, and total domination on the other.
After hearing rumors of a union between the American packs Connor returns with Amara to his home city of New York to learn how to bring the Old World packs together. Werewolf society in the New World has taken a very different course from that of Europe, but when Connor meets the American leaders he begins to question if their ways are, in fact, the path forward.
A world away from Madison, Arden, and all those that he is trying to protect, Connor must discover the secret to uniting and leading the packs under one final charge, or else risk extinction for their entire species in the epic conclusion to The Magdeburg Trilogy.
I’m going to start this review by saying that the ending of The Night has Claws left me with two distinct feelings: the reader in me was desperate to get my hands on the final book in the trilogy ASAP – “You can’t leave me like this!”
The writer in me was worried on Kat Kruger’s behalf because it seemed like such a feat ahead of her to try and wrap up all the story lines in just ONE more book. Maybe the book would have to be like the last Potter and be triple the size of the first. <Spoiler alert – I asked this question of Kat for our Q&A and here is a bit of her answer >
“Since it’s the last book in the series I felt all of it had to be bigger, better, faster. Everything in the first two books had been working toward this point. At the same time there had to be So. Much. Closure. I was an emotional wreck by the end of it.” – Kat Kruger
Coming out of Book 2 (my review of it is here btw), Aquila has been killed by a Lupari bullet that was aimed at Connor, leaving our young hero as the leader of the pack. Much like Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Connor has his crown thrust upon him and has to use this last book to grow into the man his pack needs him to be.
Book 3 picks up four months later with Connor reliving those last moments with Roul on-board the learjet his has inherited along with the responsibility to lead the packs.
Connor and Amara are on their way to America to learn what they can about the wolf packs there, hoping they can bring back that learning to extinguish the feud in Europe between the Hounds and the Luparii.
I have to say that if Kruger meant for me to really not like the Founders she did a great job of writing them as unlikeable. Esrin I am not supposed to like (and trust me, I do not) but even Marrock stayed on the unlikeable side of the scale to me. The American werewolves I LOVED though were the Wilds, especially Ben, who I think could make a cool central character for future books.
Meanwhile, Maddy forces her way onto Arden’s European road-trip, which allows for some much needed character development. For the longest time I felt like Maddy (and often Amara) were only in scenes where feelings and boyfriends were talked about, but in this last book, Maddy is all action, and I love it. We finally get to hear about Amara’s past, and it’s equally action-packed and awesome.
Connor continues to evolve emotionally and really grows into the leader who was hinted at all the way back in The Night has Teeth, and it happens so gradually, and with such skill of pen, that you don’t even really notice until he stands up and takes confident control of scene after scene. The ending wraps everything up in terms of the war that has been going on between the werewolves in Europe, but it is the Epilogue that I know true Madgdeburg fans are going to relish. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but getting that little look at the happily-ever-after of your favourite characters is the sweetest thing. Thanks very much to Kat Kruger for opening this world up to us all and restoring this girl’s faith in the werewolf genre.
TOMORROW I will be posting my Q&A with Kat Kruger – so stay tuned!!
Today’s an exciting day for me, because not only does this post mark my very first participation in a Blog Tour, it’s also a blog tour for one of my friends and for a book that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. The book is Jewel of the Thames (A Portia Adams Adventure) and the author is Angela Misri, and I’m delighted to feature her on my blog. We got together for a little interview to discuss her fascinating heroine and the process of bringing 1930s London to life in this new series. So grab yourself a cup of tea and maybe even a pipe, and let’s have it! Enjoy!
L: Okay, before we get to the book, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Angela Misri?
A: Let’s see, she’s a journalist, comic-book nerd, gamer, and mom. She thinks it’s…
Some of you may be acquainted with Angela, or have heard me gush over her awesome feedback to my novel Snake. But did you know that Angela’s first novel, Jewel of the Thames, has just been released (I’ve already got it on my Kindle)? When I heard about it, I was so excited for her, and I got the chance to interview her before JotT came out.
Angela was born in London, England, but currently she lives in Toronto, Canada with her family. She has been writing for a number of years, most notably for CBC Radio as a journalist. She also does freelance and digital projects on the side, but currently she’s been devoting her time to the Portia Adams books she’s been writing (last I checked she’s got around eight or nine casebooks in the series). She is a fan of mysteries, Doctor Who, and most stuff Sherlock…