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

ARC Review: Sing Sweet Nightingale by Erica Cameron

Sing Sweet Nightingale (The Dream War Saga, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Mariella Teagen hasn’t spoken a word in four years.

She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.

Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.

Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.

Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella’s life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.

My Review:

I had such a hard time with this book. I feel like that has been the trend recently with the ARCs I’ve read. I though the idea behind the story was interesting, but it turns out, it wasn’t written well.

The book opens with Hudson taking a walk with his little brother. It then jumps to a fight scene, and his little brother dies. This sets the whole book in motion. He is part of this dream world where a beautiful women has made him promise to never fight again… but he breaks that promise. Then he finds out she is a demon controlling him. He breaks from her and gets some weird “powers”. (Is this trying to be a twist on X-Men, on how they received their powers?) Then he has a dream about a girl, Mariella, who he has to save.

It is super confusing. I didn’t understand how Hudson broke from Calease, or where these powers came from. And why did his dream choose Mariella? Why is she so significant?

Mariella is a stubborn character who was frustrating the whole time. She is naive, but not in an innocent kind of way. She doesn’t speak, so you hear her thoughts… and they are so freaking repetitive I couldn’t stand it.

I think the idea- demons presenting themselves as angels in dreams to trap your soul and suck the life out of you- could be a good book… if it was written well, had better climaxes linking the characters to each other, and less repetitive moments. I think the author should have outlined more and fleshed out the characters more. In the end, I didn’t care if anyone lived or died. I just wanted to book to end.

Rating: 2 out 5

I would like to thank NetGalley and Spencer Hill Press for the opportunity to read this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free in no way influences my review.

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ContempConvos: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This Is Where It Ends

GoodReads Summary:

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03
The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05
Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Review:

This Is Where It Ends is a thought provoking novel. We see a school shooting take place through the point of view of four different student. Each student has some type of relationship with the shooter. Over the course of the book you witness these relationships, how they intertwine, and how the characters think that if they had some said something or reacted differently they could’ve prevented the shooting and the deaths.

Nijkamp shines light on something that is happening all too often recently. Her words are powerful and self-reflective. It was chilling moving through the book minute by minute, knowing where these characters were while the shooting was happening. And it was gut-wrenching watching people die because of one person and the choices they made. While characters believe they are each at fault for something, the only guilt should be in the shooter.

I work for a university and this is something that is constantly in the back of my mind. If a shooting were to happen on-campus, where would I go? How would I react? Would I be brave enough to try and help the students in the way of the shooter? Nijkamp does a terrific job answering these questions through the different characters and gives an honest, and very realistic, account of something we hope we never have to face.

“We are not better because we survived. We are not brighter or more deserving. We not stronger. But we are here. We are here, and this day will never leave us. Nor should it. We will remember the wounded. We will remember the lost.”

Rating: 4 out of 5

ContempConvos: Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Goodreads Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

Review:

Oh my gosh.

I am dead. No pun intended.

I was a huge fan of The Naturals, but Barnes just went ahead and blew me away with the sequel.

Killer Instinct is everything you’ve wanted. It’s dark, it’s gritty, and addicting. You have the action, the sick twisted mindset of the killer, and the relationships between the naturals. I wish this were a tv show.

In Killer Instinct we have the gang in the aftermath of what happened with Cassie and “agent” Locke. As Cassie deals with the aftermath, a copycat shows up, but it’s not just any killer he is copying, but Dean’s dad. MO right to the t. The entire time we are dealing with the team trying to solve who is the copycat, if the naturals program will be dismantled with Agent Sterlings presence now in the mix, and Cassie’s inner turmoil of Michael or Dean.

Now don’t be turned away because we have love in the mix. Ms. Barnes does it in a very tasteful way which actually adds to the story and doesn’t take away from it.

At the end of the day, if you haven’t read Killer Instinct (or The Naturals) please do so. You will not regret that decision.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Book Review: HIT by Delilah S. Dawson (Spoiler-Free Review)

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Goodreads Summary:

NO ONE READS THE FINE PRINT.

The good news is that the USA is finally out of debt. The bad news is that we were bought out by Valor National Bank, and debtors are the new big game, thanks to a tricky little clause hidden deep in the fine print of a credit card application. Now, after a swift and silent takeover that leaves 9-1-1 calls going through to Valor voicemail, they’re unleashing a wave of anarchy across the country.

Patsy didn’t have much of a choice. When the suits showed up at her house threatening to kill her mother then and there for outstanding debt unless Patsy agreed to be an indentured assassin, what was she supposed to do? Let her own mother die?

Patsy is forced to take on a five-day mission to complete a hit list of ten names. Each name on Patsy’s list has only three choices: pay the debt on the spot, agree to work as a bounty hunter, or die. And Patsy has to kill them personally, or else her mom takes a bullet of her own.

Since yarn bombing is the only rebellion in Patsy’s past, she’s horrified and overwhelmed, especially as she realizes that most of the ten people on her list aren’t strangers. Things get even more complicated when a moment of mercy lands her with a sidekick: a hot rich kid named Wyatt whose brother is the last name on Patsy’s list. The two share an intense chemistry even as every tick of the clock draws them closer to an impossible choice.

Delilah S. Dawson offers an absorbing, frightening glimpse at a reality just steps away from ours—a taut, suspenseful thriller that absolutely mesmerizes from start to finish.

Review:

WOW.

First, I want to thank Simon and Schuster-Simon Pulse for being so kind and sending me this ARC without me even asking for it. You guys are awesome. It’s like you know me already.

Okay, onto the book now…

HIT is exactly what I craving and I didn’t even know it. Everyone knows I’m a sucker for the spy/con-artist/conspiracy stuff, but this is entirely different, yet it still fits in the Spy/Conspiracy genre… sort of. It’s weird. You can also say it’s dystopian, but it doesn’t exactly fit into that genre either. The girl is forced to turn into a bounty hunter, but in reality she is an assassin, although she is not a trained one. It’s very weird because you can’t say “It belongs in this genre”, but I like it.

While HIT has its angst and romance, what it truly focuses on is the American spending culture present day. Almost everyone in the United States has a credit card. Our nation runs on the credit system, and I believe that most people would be screwed overnight if the credit system disappeared, or if the United States went bankrupt. HIT punches you in the gut and makes you realize just how bad our economy is. I myself have credit cards like many Americans and if the credit card companies would tell us pay up or die… Gosh… that’s just scary. HIT really makes you see just how much of a crutch the credit system is to our country and to our lives.

Overall, I really liked how HIT was set up. It was a solid first book in a series and I can’t wait to read Strike the second book in the series. I feel like there is more to Wyatt than meets the eye and we will see him fully emerge in the next book, and I am so freaking excited!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Disclaimer: Thank you Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not sway my opinion.

ContempConvos: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

All Fall Down

introduction:

Did any of you guess this was the book I would be reviewing? If you guessed All Fall Down, click the rafflecopter link and get your extra giveaway entry! a Rafflecopter giveaway

I saved this book specifically for this week. I bought the book right after it was published in January and I was even approved by Scholastic and given an arc before that. But I saved it for this week because it would have been a tragedy if Ms. Ally Carter did not make an appearance during the Spy/Conspiracy/Drama week of Contemporary Conversations. She is so dedicated to this genre and I am so thankful for that. Let’s proceed with my review. I hope you enjoy it.

Goodreads Summary:

A new series of global proportions — from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she’s come back to stay–in order to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

Review:

I just finished read this and I am speechless. I did not see that ending coming. I am still reeling with that ending. I am shocked. Like people like to say I CAN’T EVEN.

The title All Fall Down finally makes sense. Falling means many different things in this book, but it is Grace’s fall that we focus on the most. We see Grace’s entire journey and we slowly see her start getting madder and madder until she breaks… she falls.

The only thing that was a little weak for me in the story was Noah as a character. He felt… lacking. Something wasn’t there for me. It could be that I missed something because I was devouring this book, but he is the reason why I can’t give it 5 stars. I felt his character a little two-dimensional. This is the first book in a series, so I hope we get to see more of him and he can turn into a character that I love.

One of the reasons why I am such an Ally Carter fan is because she can turn things I would normally see as boring, intriguing. I will never see ambassadors and their children the same again. I also have a higher respect for them. Their job is so important and it is something that day-to-day we don’t even think about. Her books always make me think.

Also, there is NO ROMANCE. None. Zilch. Nada. That is so refreshing. I can’t rave enough to give this book justice.

If you want to get into the world of spies, government agents, and conspiracies, Ally carter is the author for you. Pick this story up. Trust me, you won’t be bored.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Disclaimer: Thank you Scholastic for giving me the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not sway my opinion. (I bought a copy of the book once it was released)

ContempConvos: I Am The Weapon by Allen Madoff

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Goodreads Summary:

They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die-of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when he’s assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching. Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and parents; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s mission.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero.

Review:

O.M.G. I was not expecting this book to end how it did. Or to start how it did. I did not expect anything at all. And speaking honestly here, it was a breath of fresh air! I honestly felt like I was reading a script of a crime/covert operations type of show.

Zach Abram is Mr. Nobody. No one sees him arrive into their lives and no one notices when he leaves. I want to say he is like a shadow, but shadows leave something behind (if someone knows here to look) and he doesn’t. I really liked the way his back story was revealed in snippets through the entire book. It created this mysterious aura that helped form his character.

There was something that I loved about this book. Normally when an assassin or trained operative comes into play, no one sees him, he leaves nothing behind, but in this book the trained operative makes a mistake! He assumes that the family of the target does not know how to recognize people like him. He has all this training yet it fails him for a good portion of the book and it is through those mistakes that we learn that even the coldest person has feelings. The main character in a way is the anti-hero of his own story.

Gosh this was such a good book that I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone. If you are a fan of Jennifer Lynn Barns and/or Ally Carter,  I think you’ll like this book. It does have some flaws, but overall it is a good novel. It felt wholesome and the world was well established. I may have to get the second book because that ending… so did not see it coming! EEEKKKKKK!

Rating: 4 out of 5

Disclaimer: Thank you Little, Brown Books and  NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not sway my opinion.

Key word: Falling