Interviews, Reviews, ya contemporary, YA Mystery, YA Paranormal

ARC Review & Interview: Wake the Hollow by Gaby Triana

Wake the Hollow

GoodReads Summary:

Tragedy has brought Micaela Burgos back to her hometown of Sleepy Hollow. It’s been six years since she chose to live with her affluent father in Miami instead of her history-obsessed eccentric mother. And now her mother is dead.

But while Sleepy Hollow was made immortal by literature, the town is real. So are its prejudices and hatred, targeting Mica’s Cuban family and the secrets of their heritage that her mother obsessed over. But ghostly voices whisper in the wind, questioning whether her mother’s death might not have been an accident after all, and Mica knows there’s a reason she’s here.

With the help of two very different guys—who pull at her heart in very different ways—Micaela must uncover the hidden secret of Sleepy Hollow…before she meets her mother’s fate.

My Review:

So  this review is going to be on the shorter side. I got the opportunity to interview Gaby Triana about Wake the Hollow. I’ll let her tell you more about the novel, but I was so enthralled with this book; I needed to know what happened and finished it in 24 hours.

Wake the Hollow’s plot is a nail bitter, chilling you to the bone. You don’t know who to trust- Bram, the childhood best friend, Dane, the handsome witty new teacher, Mica’s father, who is unavailable most of the time, or the voices leading Mica. It’s very clear that Mica has a complicated relationship with both her mother and the people of Tarrytown. Her mother has been considered the town “crazy” for a long time. Her mother is also accused of stealing valuable property from a historic society. So when her mother dies, Mica is forced to confront her own demons along with the town’s intolerance of her mother. Everything Mica has ever known she starts to question.

There are twists and turns that you don’t see coming as past and present are reconciled. The story is also educational. Triana pulls from Washington Irving’s real life to build suspense about a secret journal of  his and a possible affair that could change everything people know about Irving. If you enjoy suspense, romance, and Sleepy Hollow give this book a read!

Rating: 4 out of 5

Interview:

Thanks so much for joining us here at The Talking Bookworm. I’d  first like to say that I absolutely loved Wake the Hollow and your portrait of the Sleepy Hollow. I finished it in about 24 hours; I was so enthralled and did not want to put it down.

Thank you! That’s the ultimate compliment for any author—“couldn’t put it down.”

Can you tell us a little bit about Wake the Hollow?

Wake the Hollow is a re-imagining of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow set in modern times. However, it was important to me not to write a straight retelling of the classic, since we all know how that story goes, so I took a different approach. I turned the love triangle of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow into a subplot, coupled it with the gothic elements and open-endedness of the classic tale, and created a completely new storyline. In the end, we have an homage to the classic with new things to think about.

In the acknowledgement section of your book, you said it took eight years to finalize once you had “finished” it. Why did it stew for so long?

Life changes made me put it aside for a while and move on. Also, it couldn’t seem to find a home with any publishers, and I realized it was because the story was hard to pinpoint. I had all these great elements that weren’t gelling the way I would’ve liked, but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them either. Several revisions later, the story started to sort itself out, I cut a lot of the noise distracting us from the root of the story, and Micaela’s real story started to come through. Sometimes, you’re too close to a story and have to step away for a while.

What was so interesting about the story of Sleepy Hollow that inspired you to write a retelling of some sorts? and the author Washington Irving?

I’ve always been fascinated by The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It began with the Disney short cartoon from the 50’s, then I read the story as a child, and I’ve always been intrigued by the open-endedness. We think it’s about the Headless Horseman, but it’s not. It’s about an out-of-town schoolmaster named Ichabod Crane who tries to get the town coquette to fall in love with him, but her boyfriend isn’t having it, so he uses Ichabod’s superstitions to his benefit and drives him away dressed up as the legendary town ghost. I always loved how Irving left the story’s ending to your imagination.

You had to have done quite a bit of research on Washington Irving for this novel, can you tell us a little bit about that process? Did you actually travel to Tarrytown, New York?

Yes, in 2008 I took a 4-day trip to Tarrytown with my mother to scope out the area and get a feel for Sleepy Hollow. I tried to capture the feel of the fall season in Tarrytown without getting too technical about locations. I did a lot of research on Washington Irving and discovered lots of things that helped bring this story together. The man led a fascinating life—he was Ambassador to Spain, lived a long time in London, wrote most of his all-American stories while in Europe, and penned massive biographies, only to be mostly remembered for a couple of short stories he didn’t feel represented his best work.

Through the research I did after reading Wake the Hollow, because lets face it your novel is full of fun interesting facts I didn’t know and wanted to learn more about, what made you decide on the Mary Shelly plot?

Ha ha, I got you on Google, didn’t I? One of the things I learned while researching was that Washington Irving had been friends with Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, and a few sources said he might’ve had a very brief relationship with her, even though he would’ve been about 30 years older than her. The first thought to go through my mind was one of those rap lyric battles—Frankenstein vs. The Headless Horseman…who will win?? Here you had two famous authors of Gothic literature possibly in a secret romantic relationship…it just doesn’t get better than that.

I loved that Mica was of Cuban descent. Did you decide upon her heritage after researching Washington Irving’s life? What about the other characters? What was your thought process for them?

I already knew from the beginning that I wanted to give the story a Cuban angle. I do this will all my books because my parents are from Cuba, and I pay homage to that in some small way every chance I get. But when I started planning Wake the Hollow, I thought, how the heck am I going to make anything Cuban in a story about an author as American as apple pie? Then I found a clue about Irving’s past and knew I had to follow it and use it to tie the whole thing together. All three main characters are modern-day parallels from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Micaela Katerina is the rich man’s daughter (Katrina Van Tassel), Dane Boracich is the worldly new schoolmaster from out of town (Ichabod Crane), and Abraham Derant is the handsome town hero (Brom Bones).

Which character is your favorite? I personally loved Dane!

Dane is my absolute favorite too. Without saying too much, he holds secrets, harbors quiet love he can’t express, and is a sworn man of duty.

Can we talk about that ending for a second? No spoilers, I promise! I had so many theories and you just destroyed them all! Will we be getting a second book or is Wake the Hollow the end of the story? If so, I need people to start some fan fiction for me!

Again, without saying too much, I will probably write a second book, because I want to see Micaela start a new life, one she lives for herself rather than others.

I know when you aren’t writing, you design whimsical cakes; what type of cake would you design for Wake the Hollow? What cake flavors would you assign Bram, Mica, and Dane?

I love this question! Let’s see…I would probably create a topsy-turvy Tim Burton inspired cake with black, purple, and green layers, a Headless Horseman on top carrying a flaming pumpkin, and lots of painted silhouettes of gnarly trees and tombstones. Bram’s layer would be Devil’s Food Cake, Micaela’s would be cinnamon cake with dulce de leche filling, and Dane would be marbled vanilla and chocolate, light and dark, good and bad all rolled together.

Best read of 2016… go!

I’ve spent 90% of my time this year so far writing, writing, and more writing, but I did manage to read a few great books, though they may not be from 2016. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry.

What is the number one thing that helps you write? Music, a specific room, coffee? (note: I like knowing what helps writers write or like surpass the madness)

I have three kids, all boys, aged 15, 10, and 10. So what helps me write the most…is late-night silence.

I’d like to again thank Gaby Triana for taking the time to interview with us. I can’t wait for you all to read Wake the Hollow!

Excerpt:

I hear the laugh once again, calm and satisfied. A solid wave of rage starts between my forehead and the back of my head, overtaking my entire body. Teeth clenched so hard, I hear them grind. I scream, “What’s so funny, you sick bastard!”

Then a new sound, so clear there’s no mistaking it. A horse’s neigh, followed by the woody, hollow sound of hooves galloping right toward me.

Thirsty leaves rustle on the ground like littered newspaper in the wind. I stand paralyzed over my mother’s grave, eyes roving, searching for the source of the sound. A horse in the cemetery? Seriously? But there’s no one here! Yet the galloping feels a blink away.

Run, Lela!

I break free of the invisible straitjacket immobilizing my upper body. I plunge through the woods, boots pounding the earth in time with my breath, eyes focused ahead, dodging grave markers, logs, rocks, and fallen limbs in my way. Who’s charging me on a horse? The Headless Horseman is only a character in a story. A legend.

Isn’t he?

I run straight for the bridge, my breath short and choppy. Isn’t the horseman supposed to stop chasing his victims once they cross the bridge? How ridiculous that I’m considering the logistics behind a work of fiction. Maybe it’s not a real spirit at all, but someone playing a trick on me.

It’s unnervingly dark inside the covered bridge, but I have no other choice. The galloping is right behind me. I’ll have to go through it if I don’t want to sense a horse’s hot breath prickling my neck. I avoid eye contact with whoever is chasing me, in case paralysis freezes my body again.

I charge through the bridge, my breath loud in my ears, panicked footsteps echoing against the siding, plowing along the musty planks until I blast out the other end, nearly tumbling onto the ground. I check over my shoulder. Nothing followed me through. But next to the bridge, a hazy mist hovers above the ground in the shape of what could be interpreted as a massive horse with a rider on top. It stands at the edge of the river, watching me escape.

That’s no trick.

GABY TRIANA is the award-winning author of six YA novels—Wake the Hollow (Coming 2016), Summer of Yesterday, Riding the Universe, The Temptress Four, Cubanita, and IMG_3071Backstage Pass, as well as thirteen ghostwritten novels for best-selling authors. Originally a 4th grade teacher with a Master of Science in Elementary Education and ten years teaching experience, Gaby earned Teacher of the Year in 2000, wrote her first novel, Freddie and the Biltmore Ghost, then left teaching to launch a full-time writing career. She went on to publish young adult novels with HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, win an IRA Teen Choice Award, ALA Best Paperback Award, and Hispanic Magazine’s Good Reads of 2008. She spends her time obsessing about Halloween, Christmas, and Disney World, as well as hosting parties, designing mugs, making whimsical cakes, and winning costume contests. When she’s not writing, she might also be watching Jurassic Park movies with her boys, posting excessive food pics on social media, or helping run the Florida region of the SCBWI. Gaby lives in Miami with her three sons, Michael, Noah, and Murphy. She has one dog, Chloe, and two cats—Miss Daisy, and the reformed thug, shooting survivor, Bowie. Visit her at www.GabyTriana.com.

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Entangles Publishing, LLC for the opportunity to review this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my opinion.Blog Signature

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Interviews, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review & Interview: The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson

The Edge of Juniper

GoodReads Summary:

“You’re off-limits, so why can’t I stop thinking about you?”

Fay Whitaker, sixteen years old and yearning for adventure, is excited to spend the summer with her fearless cousin Celia in small-town Juniper, Indiana.

But Fay soon discovers that her summer home is not what she expected. She is alarmed by her uncle’s temper, and learns of the grudge he holds against the Dearing family. Celia handles the tension at home by escaping with her boyfriend, leaving Fay with time on her hands—time that leads her straight to Malcolm Dearing, off-limits because of his last name. Fay is captivated by Malcolm’s warmth and intensity. She finds that trying to stay away from him only makes her think of him more.

Fay and Celia are launched on a journey, and each must attempt to navigate the thrilling and unpredictable world of love. Everything Fay thinks she knows about love is put to the test, as relationships unfold and reveal themselves in ways she never before dreamed.

Review:

The Edge of Juniper is a contemporary romance that analyzes family dynamics, friendships, and romantic relationships.I absolutely loved Lora Richardson’s writing. She was thought provoking and honest. There is a lot going on with the main character Fay, but Richardson manages to bring all of Fay’s thoughts and emotions to the forefront. Fay doesn’t hide who she or what she wants, but also  being 16, she still isn’t 100% sure of who she is what she wants.

I do have to say that because Fay is so open with her thought and emotions, her relationship with her parents is the kind I want with my kids. The aren’t afraid to discuss anything, and that includes sex. If/When I have children I want to make sure they can be honest with me. For example, Fay’s mother knows that teens have sex; instead of being crotchety about it, she literally buys her daughter condoms, explaining that Fay needs to be responsible and not just expect the guy to have them.

The Edge of Juniper is heartbreaking and eye opening. I absolutely loved it. Below is an interview I did with Lora. Guys she is fantastic and really gets into the nitty gritty of what the book truly represents.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Interview:

So I want to start off by saying thank you for joining us today at The Talking Bookworm. We are super excited to have you and to discuss your book The Edge of Juniper, which I absolutely loved.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with your readers.  I’m happy to be here, and I am delighted that you enjoyed my book!

Can you tell us a bit about The Edge of Juniper?

Fay, a 16-year-old Northeastern city girl, is sent to live with her cousins in Indiana for the summer.  She finds small town life charming, but she discovers some surprising things about her aunt and uncle’s home—not the least of which is the grudge her uncle holds against the Dearing family.  Fay is close with her feisty cousin, Celia, but must come to terms with the circumstances in Celia’s life, and her different style of decision-making. 

And then there’s Malcolm Dearing—strictly off-limits due to his last name.  Fay knows she shouldn’t spend time with him, because doing so will upset the delicate balance in her aunt and uncle’s home.  But the more she learns about him, and the more tumultuous Celia’s household becomes, the harder it becomes to stay away.

 This is a book about first love, the complexity of families, and a girl learning to trust herself.

What was the inspiration behind the novel?

I got the first spark of an idea when my mom told me about the time she spent a week with her cousins.  She had never been a houseguest before, and didn’t know what to expect.  She was surprised by some of the ways their household was different from her own.  I took that idea and ran with it, weaving in Fay—a strong character unafraid to speak her thoughts.  I wanted Fay to be open and genuine, wholly unguarded in her response to the world, and a little bit naïve.  I am curious about the various ways that households function, and how that can affect the behavior of the people inside them, especially teenagers who are making major life decisions, so I explored those thoughts in this novel.  

I loved that Fay and Malcom have no problem talking about sex and don’t feel the pressure to have sex. This is a really important message to both girls and boys. What prompted you to bring this into the story?

I, too, feel like it’s an important message.  I wanted to show a couple that is able to reveal their hearts, even when it’s scary.  I wanted a relationship to progress on its own timeline, without outside pressure—to show how amazing it can be to savor the current moment rather than rush to the next step. 

 I liked the idea of juxtaposing Fay and Malcolm’s relationship with that of Celia and her boyfriend, Ronan.  Celia is rarely honest with Ronan, and that mirrors the way she isn’t honest with herself.  She often hides from her own feelings.  Fay is someone who really examines her own thoughts, and shares them just as openly.  That can backfire, but mostly it draws her closer to the people around her.  Malcolm lives in a very connected, supportive household, where communication is paramount.  Between the two of them, they are able to simplify complicated things just by putting them to words. 

I also think the parent relationships and perception of other people’s families is super important. Can you talk more about that?

It’s amazing to think about all the houses in the world, each with its own group of people inside, all relating to each other and living in various ways.  The way a family seems from the outside can be quite different from what goes on inside.  That knowledge comes to a person slowly, beginning very young, in many big and small ways.  Through childhood and the teen years, I began to notice things, such as:  which households allow food in the living room, who has what curfew, which parents fight, who gets along with their siblings, who has a ton of chores, who always has both parents at the football game and who never has that parental support…and on and on.  Our differences can seem endless, but at heart, so are our similarities.  I think it’s important to think about how other people live, and to hold space and respect for those differences and how they influence a person’s behavior.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? I know I had a difficult time with Celia’s parents and Celia’s relationship with Ronan.

The hardest part was definitely creating Celia’s parents, Todd and Donna.  Every story needs an antagonist, but I didn’t want them to be caricatures—I wanted them to be complex and for their relationship to ring true.  I didn’t want them to seem evil, but rather, complicated—because those situations always are.  I hoped to show that fear motivated a lot of their behavior.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarize your writing process.

I definitely write by intuition.  I had the bare bones of the story in my head, and thought it would be smart to make an outline before I began writing.  It didn’t work for me.  I know many writers love using outlines, but I only got through chapter two before I stopped trying to force it and just let the story take me where it wanted.  Some key scenes stayed the way I imagined them in the beginning, but most everything else took shape as the words hit the page.  What I do, is allow myself a truly messy first draft, which I write as quickly as I can.  I just throw all my ideas on the page.  Then I let it simmer in my head for a while before returning to it when the story has gelled in my mind.

If you were deserted on an island, which three people would you want to have with you? Why? Criteria:

One fictional character from your book

Marigold.  I’m an anxious sort, and she would stabilize me and keep me calm when I started to spiral out of control.

One fictional character from any other book

Jamie Fraser from Outlander.  Aside from being great company, he could build us anything we might need and would be great at finding food.

One famous person that is not a family member or friend

Betty White was the first person who popped into my mind.  She has lived a fascinating life and would keep me entertained with her humor and the stories of her life.

 Thank you so much for having me! 

Thank you to Lora Richardson for joining us to talk about The Edge of Juniper today. You guys should go out and buy it cause it’s totally worth it. This is now is my top ten contemporary YA reads!

I’d like to thank Lora Richardson for the opportunity to read and review her novel.Blog Signature

Book Events, Interviews

Magic and Mayhem Tour with Leigh Bardugo

Written by Liz Brooks

I sit in the front row of a small section of the Ellicott City Barnes and Noble waiting. On the edge of my seat, delighted, nervous, vivacious. This is an event I have been waiting for since I first read Shadow and Bone. The Magic and Mayhem tour with Leigh Bardugo for her newly released book, Six of Crows. She is animated, hilarious, and beautiful. She is gracious and genuine. She meets and exceeds all my expectations.

Leigh Bardugo read two excerpts. One from a book she started when she was 12 years about siblings Blood and Jared. It was amusing to see where Bardugo started and how far she has come. She followed that up with a scene from Six of Crows. One where Nina first meets Matthias- my two favorite characters from.

After the readings, there was a wonderful Q&A.

  1. The easiest character for Bardugo to write was Matthias- he is dogmatic and a drama queen. Whoever she was writing at the time was her favorite or least favorite depending on how you looked at it.
  2. She loved writing her contemporary stories. She liked uncovering secrets where we live.
  3. She has a lot of favorite YA authors- Laini Taylor and Maggie Stiefvater.
  4. Her idea for the Grisha world was Imperial Russia. Russia occupied the role of the great suppressor. Kertch is crafted after the Dutch Republic with a little Las Vegas thrown in.
  5. It took her less than a year to write Shadow and Bone. And she didn’t publish her first novel until she was 35.
  6. She always knew she wanted to come back to the Grishaverse and write a story about a Witch Hunter (Fjerdan) and a Witch (Ravkan). She had ideas about Kaz Brekker but didn’t know where he fit into the story until she came up with the idea for the heist.
  7. She cried when she received Six of Crows in the mail.
  8. The Darkling has a sweet tooth.
  9. She might write a novella about Nikolai one day.
  10. She uses music to help her write. Sinister Kid by the Black Keys is Kaz Brekker’s anthem.
  11. She is currently reading Angela Carter short stories, The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, and a book about art heists (I wonder why that is).

After the Q&A, she signed books and took photos.

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Quote from Mal in the Grisha series.
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“The water hears and understands. The ice does not forgive.”
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Cup and Crow tattoo.

Overall it was a fantastic event. My review for Six of Crows can be found here. I can’t wait till Fall 2016 for the follow-up Crooked Kingdom. Check out the book reveal video hereLeigh Bardugo can be found on tumblr, twitter, and facebook.

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Interviews

Author Interview: Bev Stout

I recently read and reviewed Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout. (You can check out my review here.) It was a great Young Adult Historical read, and here is my interview with the author where she talks about her book and characters (without any spoilers of course!) 🙂
Bev Stout
Bev Stout

What inspired you to write Secrets of the Realm?

Secrets of the Realm was a project I started for my family. It is a gift to them, something I hope they will pass on to each new generation.

Secrets of the Realm is set in 18th Century England. Have you ever had the opportunity to visit England (UK)?

No, but I did a lot of research to keep the story true to the era and location.

What type of research did you have to do in order to write Secrets of the Realm and its sequel, Return of the Realm?

After writing the rough draft of Secrets of the Realm, I then filled in the blanks. I researched all aspects of sailing and eighteenth century England that would be relevant to the story. To get the feel of actually being on a sailing ship, I explored the decks of a nineteenth century sailing ship moored in San Diego. The seasickness episode was gleaned from personal experiences of myself and a family member who will remain anonymous. It was not as dramatic as the scene in Secrets of the Realm.

Are there any plans for a book 3 in the Secrets of the Realm series?

There might very well be a third installment. It’s too early to say for sure.

When can we expect Return of the Realm to be published?

I’m shooting for the spring of 2014.

How did you choose Annie’s male name, Andres de la Cruz?

Andres de la Cruz was my great great grandfather. My husband thought I should not have an 18th century English girl’s mother be of Spanish descent. After I researched the fishing village I had chosen for Annie’s birthplace, I discovered its relationship with the Spanish Armada. I then knew my decision on Annie’s heritage, and using my great great grandfather’s name, would work.

Doc is such a sweet man once you get to know him, is he loosely based on someone you know in real life?

Doc is every tortured soul I have met, and will meet in my lifetime. He is that person who is unapproachable. But if you let yourself get to know him, you will be glad you did.

What made you decide that Chris would be lame?

Being lame, made Christopher the perfect character to be Annie’s best friend. They both managed to overcome the cruel hands that fate had dealt them.

As a fan of Captain Hawke, can we know why he seems to hire the “rejects” or those traditionally not hired to be sailors?

Not all of Captain Hawke’s crew members are rejects. Those who are, though, were hired because the captain sees potential in everyone. Captain Hawke knows first hand what it is like to be judged by society.

Which character in Secrets of the Realm would you most likely be friends with in real life?

That is a hard question. I love so many of my characters, even Symington! And as much as I admire Annie, she would be difficult to have as a friend. I’m a rule follower. She isn’t. Then, there’s Christopher. Let’s face it. How can you not love that boy? He has a big heart, and he finds joy in just being alive. It would be fun to be friends with Barrette, too. If I were able to keep myself from being distracted by his muscles, he would make me laugh a lot. Being friends with Captain Hawke would be an exciting experience. He has led such a colorful life for a man as young as he is. Oh, I have to pick just one. Okay, it would have to be Christopher.

In 140 characters, how would you summarize Secrets of the Realm?

Teenage girl faces adversity with unwavering spirit. In her quest to find her place in the world, she touches the lives of those she meets along the way. Don’t know if that is 140 characters or not, but it will have to do.

Can you give us any information without spoiling us on the Return of the Realm?

You can expect new adventures for Annie, but different than the ones she had encountered in the first book. New characters will be introduced in Return of the Realm. But as the title suggests, former characters will return, as well.

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You can buy Secrets of the Realm at:
Amazon: Kindle or Paperback or Audiobook