Blog Tour: The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen

thebrokenones_144dpi-676x1024The Broken Ones (prequel to Stolen Songbird, Hidden Huntress, and Warrior Witch)

Danielle L. Jensen 

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Publisher: Angry Robot

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

A prequel to the USA Today bestseller and Goodreads Choice finalist Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy).

Below Forsaken Mountain, a revolution stirs with the aim to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right hand of its leader. It’s a secret more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it from everyone, even the girl he loves.

Since a tragic accident revealed her affliction and ruined her sister’s chance at the throne, Pénélope is an anathema to her father, the Duke d’Angouleme. Deeming her life worthless, he gives her one chance to survive: find proof that the boy she loves is a leader in the sympathizer revolution.

Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.

Except being together might be the greatest risk of all.

I’m so happy to be part of the blog tour for THE BROKEN ONES by Danielle L. Jensen. Today I’m posting an interview I got to do with the author. THE MALEDICTION TRILOGY is one of my favourite YA fantasy series, so I was thrilled to hear there’d be a prequel. If this series is new to you please check out STOLEN SONGBIRD, the first book. This gorgeous debut has trolls and magic and a city under a mountain. If you haven’t read STOLEN SONGBIRD, I recommend reading it before THE BROKEN ONES. Thank you to Danielle for joining me on the blog today.

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Q: In THE BROKEN ONES, Marc and Pénélope find themselves right in the thick of the complex politics of Trollus, both holding dangerous secrets of their own. How did writing THE MALEDICTION TRILOGY, which became more complex with each book, prepare you for this story?

A: It taught me patience. I’d love to say that all the interconnections and depth of plot for the trilogy appeared fully formed in my brain, but that was really, really, not the case. While writing those three novels, I learned to dig deeper. To make sure actions had not just one believable motivation, but layers of them. To find the connections between characters and events, even if those connections didn’t make it onto the page. THE BROKEN ONES is technically the backstory for the trilogy, but calling it such makes it sound boring. I prefer to consider it the beginning of the story. There are countless ties to the trilogy, some big and some small, that I hope readers will pick up on, and building those in was part of what expanded THE BROKEN ONES into a full-length novel. This is just a silly, non-spoiler example, but did you ever wonder how Tristan managed to smuggle a piano into Trollus for Cécile? Well, he didn’t – it was already there… 🙂

Q: THE BROKEN ONES is told in the joint point of view of Marc and Pénélope, different from THE MALEDICTION TRILOGY, which were told in the POV’s of Cécile and Tristan. What was that like? Were you ever worried that Marc and Pénélope would sound too similar to Cécile and Tristan?

A: I didn’t worry about it, because the characters are so different. Pénélope is the quintessential quiet heroine. She’s soft-spoken, thoughtful, elegant, and about as far from my reckless and impulsive Cécile as you can get. Marc is a younger, slightly more naïve, version of the troll you got to know in the trilogy, and he also has a much quieter voice than Tristan. Tristan has a huge role in THE BROKEN ONES, so you’ll get PLENTY of his younger, smart-ass self to sate yourselves! I’m digressing here a bit, but as much as the cover copy makes it sound like THE BROKEN ONES is about Marc and Pénélope’s relationship, it’s actually just as much about Marc’s relationship with Tristan. They have their fair share of conflict, but they have an exceptionally close friendship that didn’t get the page-time it deserved within the trilogy.

Q: This is a prequel to your debut novel STOLEN SONGBIRD. What was it like writing something where the ending is already in print? Were you ever worried the plot would head in a different direction?

A: It was tough, for sure. I never felt like the plot was driving toward a different ending, but it was often challenging ensuring that how I got to that ending remained consistent with the details I provided within the trilogy. There were many times when I was banging my head against my desk, because what I wanted to write wouldn’t work within the parameters I’d inadvertently set for myself when drafting the other books. But that forced me to dig deeper and get creative, and I think the novel is better for it.

Q: This book was originally supposed to be a novella. Is it safe to say you really enjoyed writing it? What was your favourite part about returning to this world?

A: I LOVED writing it! Trollus was my favorite setting within the trilogy, and it felt so good to walking through its streets again.

Here’s the thing about it morphing from a 30k word novella to a 68k word novel: if it had remained a novella, all it would’ve contained would be a slightly elaborated-upon version of what readers already knew. And I wanted it to be so much more than that. Marc deserved more than that. Despite readers knowing the ending, I wanted the story to be exciting and unexpected and full of new plot that would leave readers wondering if they actually knew how things would turn out. As far as what my favorite thing about writing it was… I’d say the cameos, especially the appearance of Chris. His friendship with Tristan was one of my favorite things to write in the trilogy, and it was great to include their relationship’s origin story!

Q: If Marc and Pénélope lived in our world, what books would they be reading right now?

A: Haha, this made me laugh, because there is a scene in the novel where Pénélope confesses that she doesn’t spend much time reading – she prefers to spend it on her art. That said, she is a guild-trained artist, so I’d envision her with a book about art history or technique. Marc is deeply concerned about the state of Trollus, so if he lived in our world, I’d see him reading non-fiction about social or political issues. How different they are from Cécile and Tristan, who both like to read escapist fiction!

aboutauthor

DaniellView More: http://heatherpalmer.pass.us/danielle-jensene L. Jensen was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous, and it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy: Stolen SongbirdHidden Huntress, and Warrior Witch.

Follow Danielle L. Jensen on Amazon

My website: danielleljensen.com

Twitter: @dljensen_

Instagram: danielleljensen

Facebook: @authordanielleljensen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7091823.Danielle_L_Jensen

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Blog Tour: The Voodoo Killings by Kristi Charish + Giveaway

26109041The Voodoo Killings

Kristi Charish

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Publisher: Vintage Canada (Random House CA)

Purchase: Amazon | Book DepositoryChapters/Indigo.ca | Kobo | Audible

Synopsis on Goodreads:

For the first time since we launched Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, Random House Canada is thrilled to announce the debut of a new urban fantasy series. Kristi Charish’s The Voodoo Killings introduces Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner…

For starters, she’s only 27. Then there’s the fact that she lives in rain-soaked Seattle, which is not exactly Haiti. And she’s broke. With raising zombies outlawed throughout the continental USA, Kincaid has to eke out a living running seances for university students with more money than brains who are desperate for guitar lessons with the ghost of a Seattle grunge rocker–who happens to be Kincaid’s on-again, off-again roommate.

Then a stray zombie turns up outside her neighbourhood bar: Cameron Wight, an up-and-coming visual artist with no recollection of how he died or who raised him. Not only is it dangerous for Kincaid to be caught with an unauthorized zombie, she soon realizes he’s tied to a spate of murders: someone is targeting the zombies and voodoo practitioners in Seattle’s infamous Underground City, a paranormal hub. When the police refuse to investigate, the City’s oldest and foremost zombie asks Kincaid to help. Raising ghosts and zombies is one thing, but finding a murderer? She’s broke, but she’s not stupid.

And then she becomes the target…As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, especially in Seattle.

I’m thrilled to be celebrating author Kristi Charish’s most recent release, The Voodoo Killings. I’ve been waiting almost a year to read this and I can’t wait for you all to read and (hopefully) love it! Today I’m sharing my top 5 reasons to check out this fantastic book. Kristi is also giving away a copy of The Voodoo Killings and an audible code, so be sure to check out those giveaways below.

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  1. The author – in the last year or so Kristi Charish has quickly become a new favourite of mine. Her writing is incredible and I’ve been really impressed with her debut series Owl and the Japanese Circus. When it comes to kickass heroines, Charish knows what she’s doing.
  2. Zombies – this has become a really popular theme in the last few years or so and I’m really excited to read Charish’s take on it.
  3. Strong heroine – Kincaid seems like a character I won’t soon forget.
  4. Voodoo combined with the zombie aspect sounds really dangerous, at least for Kincaid so I know we’ll get an action-packed adventure.
  5. This book sounds like Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets iZombie and as a fan of both shows, that only excites me more. Also, it being set in Seattle makes me think of Grey’s Anatomy (I’m on a Netflix binge).

Bonus: just look at that cover 😍 If I wasn’t already a fan of Charish’s books, I’d pick up this book on cover alone. I think it’s impossible for a cover to look that good and the book not be as good if not better.


About the Author:

Kristi+FB+HSKristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world, and THE VOODOO KILLINGS (Random House Canada), an urban fantasy/mystery about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle with the ghost of a deceased grunge rocker.

She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. She’s also a co-host for the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast.

Before becoming an author Kristi was a research scientist. She holds a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists. You can find her on Twitter @kristicharish. Visit her website.


Giveaway:

Kristi is giving away one copy of The Voodoo Killings – winner’s choice of physical or ebook and an audible code, so you have two chances to win! Both giveaways are open to US/Canada residents, but the ebook choice is only for Canadian residents. Open from June 8 to 29, 2016 midnight EST. Winner must respond within 48 hours of being contacted or a new winner will be chosen. Do not take entries for something you haven’t done, you will be disqualified. Good luck! Enter through the rafflecopter. 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nefarious Tales: Disney Villains & their Backstories

Nefarious Tales - Villain week

Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Nefarious Tales Blog Event, hosted by Mishma from Chasing Faerytales. This week is all about celebrating our favourite villains. I was so happy to be chosen for this because I love villains (who doesn’t 😉 ). Be sure to check out the stops below as well as a special giveaway. A villain inspired mystery pack will be given away and it’s open international.

I’ve already mentioned that I love villains but I also love all things Disney so:

Villains + Disney = Pure Gold!

Recently it seems like there’s a market, whether in books, film, or television for telling the backstories or POV’s of villains and anti-heroes. Here are some disney villains that I’d love backstories of. I feel like learning a villain’s back story helps so much more with the character – sometimes you even feel sympathetic towards them.

Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty

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I first became interested in Maleficent’s back story when the 2014 film Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie released. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a re-imagining of the 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty. I definitely recommend watching it because it’s such a gorgeous portrayal of Maleficent and her side of the story. Jolie is a perfectly terrifying villain. Anyways, I really want to know why the other fairies had an issue with Maleficent and why King Stefan decided to involve himself in this fairy feud. I’m not an expert on this matter, but I’ve heard the worst thing you could do is invite every fairy but one.

 

 

 

Ursula from The Little Mermaid

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Ursula is another favourite of mine. If you don’t remember, Ursula is known as the sea witch by the merfolk and looks a lot like an octopus. In The Little Mermaid, Ursula mentions that she used to live in the palace, before her banishment which has always intrigued me. Who was she, what sort of role did she have and why was she banished? Most importantly, was she always an octopus? I think the fact that she turns every merperson she catches into tiny plants reinforces that idea – a sort of revenge for having lost her own tail. Plus, Poor Unfortunate Souls was one of the best songs in the movie – it’s both thrilling and a cautionary tale.

Hades from Hercules 

I’ve always loved Greek mythology and the various myths surrounding Hades definitely captivate. Add in a bit of Disney magic and you get a villain that, despite his unpleasant place in the pantheon, is still able to see the humour in life (pun intended). Actually, when I started writing this post I realized Hades is pretty much funny all the time, even when he’s losing – of course, I doubt Hades is amused by this but the viewer definitely gets a laugh. So what I’d love to know is how does a greek god who got the short end of the stick find the time to be both mad and witty?

*spoilers for The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis below

Jadis, the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

The-Chronicles-of-Narnia-film-series-images-5ecbfa4b-ab52-4b31-a62c-0fa296f11ec

I’m cheating a bit with this one as the Witch Witch is technically half-disney – the book series by C.S. Lewis inspired the 2005 movie. When I read The Magician’s Nephew, I immediately wanted to know more about Jadis. She came from a world separate from both Narnia and our own, called Charn; a world that started out good, but soon fell to evil. Jadis was a powerful sorceress who battled with her sister for control of their world. The White Witch reigned terror over Narnia for 100 years but before that, destroyed her own world rather than be defeated. Now imagine TWO of these villainous queens battling for control of Charn – sister against sister, villain vs. villain. That makes for a pretty incredible book.


Nefarious Tales Blog Stops:
Monday April 18:
Wren @ Bookmato Chronicles – Ten Reasons why all Victors want to be Victor Vale
Holly @ The Fox’s Hideaway – Villains I’d Join the Dark Side for
Maha @ Younicorn Reads – Why Villains Actually Make the Decisions They Make
Tuesday April 19:
Lisa @ Lost in Literature – Favourite Villains
Emily @ Paperback Princess – Villains of Harry Potter
Maryam @ Once Upon a Story – What if villains rule the world
Crini @ It’s all about Books – Why we love villains
Wednesday April 20:
Cee @ The Novel Hermit – The older I get, the more I appreciate villains
Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secret – Evil Edits: How I imagine villains to look like

Zoe @ Stories on Stage – Favourite Villains

Thursday April 21:
Erica @ The Novel Ink – President Snow
Emily @ Emily Reads Everything – People We Love to Hate
Lynette @ Charmingly Simple – Fancasting of Disney Villains
Crini @ It’s all about Books – Favourite and Least Favourite Villains
Friday April 22:
Nicole @ Quality Fangirls – Villain Aesthetics
Emz @ Paging Serenity – Why I Love Anti-heroes
Denise @ The Bibliolater – Why Do We Need Villains
Saturday April 23:
Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout – 11 Common Villain Tropes as Pokemon Moves
Sophia @ Bookwyrming Thoughts – Awesome Villain Powers
Nova @ Out of Time – The Darkling Formula
Sunday April 24:
Meleika @ Endless Pages – Why Everyone Needs a Villain in their Life
Adriyanna @ Life Writings of a Reader – Disney Villains & their Backstories
Ava @ Bookishness and Tea – Favourite Villains and Why I Love Them
Monday – My ultimate list of favourite fictional villains
Tuesday – Let’s talk about antiheroes!
Wednesday – Disney Villains (Jillian)
Thursday – Types of Villains
Friday – Villain Songs
Saturday – Why YA needs villain protagonists

Sunday – Favourite movie villains


Contest:

One person will win a villain inspired mystery pack, open INT. Enter through the rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Tsar’s Guard Parade: Art Inspired by The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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Hello and welcome to my stop on The Tsar’s Guard Parade! I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. I’ve been highly anticipating this upcoming YA fantasy novel and I hope you are too! I mean, just look at that cover 😍

CrownsGame hc cTitle: THE CROWN’S GAME

Author: Evelyn Skye

Release Date: May 17th, 2016

Pages: 416

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

Along with books and reading, art is a big part of my life so I decided to create some art inspired by The Crown’s Game. I loving being inspired by books and seeing other people’s fanart because everyone’s interpretation of the book is different.

crownsgameart

Since I haven’t read the book, I decided to leave the main characters, Vika and Nikolai as silhouettes (mostly) – I have an idea of what they’re like from the synopsis, but their personalities and ambitions are for the most part a mystery. That of course makes me all the more interested in the book – I want to read and find out more about these characters. The background behind the two is slightly transparent because their destinies aren’t yet set in stone – there can only be one Imperial Enchanter, the reader needs to find out who. I’m a big fan of world-building when it comes to fantasy so that encompasses the majority of the work. I’m excited to read Skye’s book and find out more about her world. Thanks for reading my post and be sure to check out the other blog tour stops as well as the giveaway below.


About the Author: 
Evelyn Skye head shot high resEvelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at http://www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram

 

Giveaway:

One winner will win an ARC of The Crown’s Game, open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

View all the members of the Tsar’s Guard here!

 

Blog Tour: Owl and the City of Angels + Interview

Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish

Release Date: Ebook – October 5, 2015 | Trade Paperback – March 1, 2016

Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster CA)

Purchase: Amazon | Book DepositoryChapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

The wild second adventure for unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world—from the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish. For fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and the like.

Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.

There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.

Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels…

Welcome to the next stop on the Owl and the City of Angels blog tour. To celebrate the March 1st paperback release, I did an interview with author Kristi Charish. This is the sequel to Owl and the Japanese Circus, which is absolutely amazing. You can read my review of Owl 2 here and be sure to check out the other blog tour stops!

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1. In Owl and the City of Angels, Mr. Kurosawa tasks Alix with the job of recovering artifacts from the Syrian City of the Dead. How did you come across this site and what made you want to incorporate it into the novel?

K: Well, for Owl 2 I wanted to send Alix somewhere outside the box – and while putting the story together I settled on Los Angeles as one of the locations. Since I already had The City of Angels in there, I figured I should toss a City of the Dead in there as well- for balance. After searching I found the very cool Dar Musa, also known as The Monastery of Moses the Abyssinian. I thought the history going back to the stone age was so interesting that I had to use it.

2. Owl readers are introduced to a new character: Artemis Bast. Can you tell us a bit about him and the inspiration behind him?

K: Hmmm. Well, I don’t want to give too many spoilers away, especially for anyone who hasn’t read the first book, but Artemis is a rockstar living in LA who may just be known more for his antics than his music. He’s also necessary to get Owl into the private collection of a LA recluse so she can steal something for Mr. Kurosawa…Or that’s the plan anyway. Artemis is also related to one of the other characters in the series.
He was a riot to write. The inspiration came from the glam and debauchery that went with all the 80s bands.

3. When working on Owl and the City of Angels, did your writing process differ from writing Owl and the Japanese Circus? Did you worry about how much recap to include? (i.e. is it too much, too little).

K: It was a little different, but not so much concerning how much to recap- that was one of the easier parts as the great thing about writing a sequel is you have an editor there to tell you when you needed to fill in more background or pull back, so I didn’t obsess about it while writing.
The part that was different and definitely harder about writing City of Angels was in the nature of writing a sequel – I knew what story I wanted to tell but I had no idea whether people who read the first book would like the second. They’d already been introduced to Owl so in my mind, book two had to go somewhere new and that’s tricky to do.

4. Are you a plotter or pantser?

K: Pantser, all the way – But that doesn’t mean I don’t plan out the novel. I think that’s a major misunderstanding with pantsers is this idea that there is no plan. There is always plan- I’m absolutely in charge as the rodeo show happening on paper. I have a target (usually an ending I’ve decided on) and a couple of key scenes that have to happen. The ‘pants’ing part comes from filling in the blanks. I know where I’m going, I’ve got a couple of landmarks, I’m just not entirely sure how I’m going to get there.

5. What’s a day in the life of Kristi like? How much time will you spend on writing, book research, promotion, non-book things?

K: Ha! It’s an entertaining question right now as I’m currently working on two novels- Owl and the Electric Samurai and the second book in my Kincaid Strange series. The answer is that at the moment, everything I do is writing related 🙂 – or almost.
Most of my day is spent writing or reading. Typically, I work for a few hours on a manuscript in the morning after handling emails and any business related stuff, then around lunchtime I’ll take a break and usually read a bit over lunch, before getting back to a manuscript. When I find myself getting a block I give my brain a break and switch to another manuscript or project I have on the go. Late afternoon/early evening is yoga class to get some exercise, and then in the evenings I’ll often get reading in over dinner and before bed, and get any promotion/articles done.

The other thing I try to do a few days a week is head downtown to hit the local library and write (the VPL has great desks for working and lots of places to grab lunch) or go to a local coffee shop. It’s a nice break from working at my kitchen table at home.

6. Are there any books you’ve recently read and would recommend?

K: For urban fantasy lovers I highly recommend Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series. It’s a straight out urban fantasy mystery with a very cool character – Jane who is a Cherokee shapeshifter that hunts rogues vampires down for a living. The series starts off when business changes and the head vampire of New Orleans wants to hire Jane’s services.
The other book I’ve read recently and highly recommend is a sci-fi by Peter Clines (Ex Heroes and 14) called The Fold. It’s about a science team developing a door to anywhere by folding space and time. Of course things start to go wrong and Mike, a man with a pedantic memory is hired to investigate. The science was woven into the story deftly and it’s true sci-fi- a real what if about technology.


About the Author: 

Kristi+FB+HS

Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. She’s also a co-host for the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast.

The second installment in the Owl series, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Oct 5th 2015. Her second urban fantasy series, KINCAID STRANGE (Random House Canada), about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle, is scheduled for release mid 2016.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists. Visit her website.

Blog Tour: Fire Falling Review + Giveaway

Fire-Falling-Cover-Only

Fire FallingElise Kova2.5/5 Stars

Release Date: November 19, 2015

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N

Synopsis:

Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Review:

This was a hard review to write. I wanted to like Fire Falling more than I did. I love these sorts of fantasy worlds, but the writing style wasn’t for me. This is the sequel to Air Awakens and though I did like the writing better here, there were still the same underlying issues that had me struggling to get through Air Awakens.

I don’t particularly like the writing. The author’s vision wasn’t translated for me and I’m sure if that wasn’t the case, I would have loved Fire Falling. For the most part, my issue was with things like sentence structure, word choice, and tense. When I read Air Awakens, I’d also felt like the writing switched between telling and showing, so I’m glad that wasn’t the case here. However, that experience was in the back of mind while reading Fire Falling, almost like some watermark left on the pages. Funny enough, I feel like if I’d never read Air Awakens but went straight to Fire Falling, the writing wouldn’t have bothered me as much. I’d be totally confused in the beginning and be spoiled for book #1, but enjoying the writing totally outweighs that.

When it came to the characters, I disliked most of them. I couldn’t connect with many of them or sense any sort of character development. I did enjoy Vhalla’s companions, Larel and Fritz and gained an in-depth sense of their personalities. The three of them becoming close friends was probably the only clear thing to me character-wise. In addition, the reader is introduced to a new character, Elecia and it’s understood she has some sort of romantic past with Aldrik. I hated that she’s presented with this stereotype: the automatic rival of Vhalla because she did or still does have a romantic relationship with Aldrik, Vhalla’s love interest. It makes me think of a high school-set novel [mean cheerleader because she has the attention of the popular guy aka protagonist’s crush] and I hated that. Out of all the possible stereotypes out there, I loath that one the most.

There were a couple of things I loved about Fire Falling. The reader gains a deeper experience of the magic that makes up this world. It was really interesting learning about things like Channeling, the Bond Vhalla and Aldrik have, and Projection. I also loved the way Kova describes certain settings and the different landscapes that make up this world.

I stopped reading Fire Falling at 59% because at that point, I didn’t get any sense of a plot or a definite antagonist. I understood there were a couple of political figures who want Vhalla dead and the Emperor wants to use her as a pawn, but neither of them came off as the antagonist I was hoping to read. Additionally, I needed a plot that goes further than Vhalla understanding herself as a Windwalker and the South trying to win the war.

I haven’t fully decided whether I’ll be continuing the series. Like I said, I actually love the fantasy world Kova’s created and on the surface, I should love the characters, but it all comes down to the writing style. My reading experience didn’t give me a clear idea of what the author tried to get across to the reader. If you liked Air Awakens I recommend Fire Falling. If you were like me and really struggled with Air Awakens, then maybe this series isn’t for you.

I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way altered my honest opinion of the book.

Giveaway:

There’s also a giveaway to win a signed hardcopy of Fire Falling! Be sure to enter!
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Owl and the City of Angels: Review, Interview & Giveaway

For today’s stop on the OWL 2 blog tour, I’ll be sharing my review of Owl and the City of Angels and an interview I did with the author, Kristi Charish. There’s also a giveaway to win both books in The Adventures of Owl series, so be sure to check that out!


1435524220523Owl and the City of Angels

Kristi Charish | 4/5 Stars

Release Date:

Ebook – October 5, 2015 | Trade Paperback – March 1, 2016

Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster CA)

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

The wild second adventure for unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world—from the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish. For fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and the like.

Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.

There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.

Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels…


  1. Alix Hiboux aka Owl is this strong, female protagonist who never fails to entertain me. I’ve actually never read a character quite like her! What inspiration lies behind your extraordinary MC?

KC: I love the old Indiana Jones movies and growing up. Over the years, I was always disappointed that in most of the action genre movies, there is a stereotype of an acceptable female protagonist. Unlike Indy, Han Solo, and Rick in The Mummy (another all time favourite) the women never really get to be as bad and selfish as them, partly because the traits that make them such fun are not considered acceptable traits in a woman. Women in film and TV- especially the protagonists are supposed to be likeable (or we’ve been conditioned to think of them that way), and by likeable I mean a woman who shows very specific traits- she can be tough, carry guns, but at the end of the day most of the characters we see are nurturing, empathetic, and often have a character arc that involves finding a suitable romantic partner.

Indy, Rick, and Han didn’t have to do that. In fact, they’re outright scoundrels. They’re not likeable people at all. Folks often say that Indy wasn’t a thief- Are you nuts? He was the worst kind of thief! Often the plots revolved around stealing artefacts from their rightful countries and indigenous populations to give to an American museum (though in some cases he is convinced to leave them as a plot arc- see Temple of Doom) If that’s not tomb raiding under an altruistic guise, I don’t know what is!

The thing is as an audience we accept them as characters because it’s considered acceptable for a man in a story to behave that way. We’ve only recently seen female protagonists breaching that role, to mixed acceptance by audiences. I want to see more females protagonists who aren’t being rescued by Indy- they are Indy.

Owl is also a huge blast to write because she’s a woman who has recently lost everything, despite playing by societal rules that women should be nice and follow the pack (in her case, following the rules in grad school), and in response has said ‘to hell’ with societal expectations. Why should she go out of her way to make herself likeable? It’s never gotten her anything before except scapegoated. For the very first time in her life is embracing her unabashed self and the fact that she doesn’t have to be nice, she can tell people to ‘Fuck off’. Granted, it often leads to some problems, and you’ll probably see Owl testing and finding her limits in future books, but she’s rejecting the idea that a woman needs to be ‘nice’ spectacularly.

So in short, Owl is inspired by wanting to write a female Indy who didn’t fit the ‘typical, likeable, female mould.’

  1. In Owl 2 we get to travel to incredible locations like Syria, Egypt and the City of Angels. What sort of research goes into this? Do you draw back from first-hand experience?

KC: I have six letters for you. Google. Travelling is one of my favourite things to do but oddly enough I haven’t been to any of the locations in the Owl series. Yet. I very much plan on going to Japan and Bali one day.

  1. Trouble always seems to find Owl, whether she goes looking for it or not. As the unseen goddess of your book world, does it entertain you, getting Owl into trouble?

KC: Hmmm. Does it entertain me to get Owl into trouble…yes, but it’s more along the lines that I like writing her reactions to situations that befall her more than anything, so it’s a two parter answer. The more trouble I put her in, the more fun I have writing her reactions.

  1. Did you find any differences when writing Owl 2, versus Owl 1 when you hadn’t yet entered the publishing world?

KC: Well, I had already entered the publishing world- I didn’t write book two until the series was picked up by my publisher, Simon and Schuster (Good advice for aspiring writers out there- don’t write book 2 until you manage to sell book 1). However, I did have to write Owl 2 and hand it in before book 1 came out, so in a lot of ways I was writing in a vacuum. There are advantages and disadvantages to that- On one hand reviews aren’t going to influence your choices, but on the other hand you have NO idea whether the choices you do make will appease fans of the first book.

  1. I see a lot of the time, aspiring writers are studying or have studied science and want to know about that switch from science to writing. How has science influenced your writing? How do you juggle a career in science with a career in writing?

KC: I think more than anything my science background has influenced the way I write. I’ve written before about the similarities between plotting a story or novel and designing and executing an experiment, and I still think it holds true. I think my years in research has given me an edge in plotting- like my experiments, I have most of the plot set out in my head before I sit down to write the book. In writing urban fantasy I think my science background also makes me more aware of fitting my fantastical elements into the modern world- a trickier task than a lot of people think because the masters of the genre- Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Faith Hunter, and Patricia Briggs – make it look easy and seamless.

As far as my science career goes? Haha- it’s actually on hold as I now have a schedule of ~3 books a year for the next couple years. Having said that, who knows what will happen with the series and my career in the future so I may very well be back in a lab one day. 

  1. You also have a second urban fantasy series, Kincaid Strange releasing from Random House Canada in May 2016. What’s it like having two different series by two different publishers at the same time?

KC: Short answer: it’s awesome! I love switching between series when I’m writing it means that when I get fed up with one character and plot, I can go off and work on the other one. There is certainly a lot of time juggling involved when writing two series but I think once you reach a certain level in writing and publishing you really do have to treat it as a career and not a hobby. I sit, set a timer, and write.

  1. I heard you’ve contracted two more OWL books: Owl and the Electric Samurai and Owl and the Tiger Thieves. Congratulations! Can you tell us about your experience with this? Did you query these two novels at the same time?

KC: I have! And Thanks! I did query both novels at the same time (meaning I had synopsis written out that my agent passed on to my editors), but that is incredibly common in a series like Owl. It helps my editors know that I know where the series is going for the next few books and that I have a plan (I do!).

  1. Now that we’re on the subject, what’s next for Owl? I’m dying to know about this “electric samurai”.

KC: Here is the tentative back cover blurb for The Electric Samurai;-)

The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural under wraps. They’re also responsible for ruining the promising archaeology career of one Alix Hiboux. Needless to say she’s still a little sore on that.

In keeping with their goal to derail Owl’s life, the IAA has opened a bounty on World Quest, the online RPG that uses supernatural dig sites in game and is much, much more than it seems. Strong-armed into joining the hunt, Alix needs to find the notorious gaming duo before the rest of the bounty hunters pick up the trail, one of whom is already two steps ahead of her. And if you think for one second he isn’t a supernatural, Owl has a bridge to sell you.

Finding the gamers won’t be easy since every clue points to them hiding out in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La… well, that and the last time Owl and the game designers spoke the conversation didn’t exactly end on a great note…

Meanwhile, undercurrents of supernatural politics are running amok in Tokyo, dragging Owl, Rynn, and Nadya into a deadly game of wits with an opponent who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The cost of loosing? All out civil war between two powerful supernatural factions.

Not only does Owl need to save the World Quest designers from themselves she needs to stop the Electric Samurai from unleashing the supernatural in all its unabashed, violent glory onto the streets of Tokyo. And then there is the small matter of her online friend Carpe and a certain spell book…

AZ: I love that “Owl has a bridge to sell you” bit. I cannot wait to read this.


Review:

I first came across The Adventures of Owl in a Simon & Schuster CA Tumblr post of the cover [Owl 1]. I stopped scrolling for a moment and went, “interesting cover”. Later on, I came across it again on social media and decided I better check it out from the library. Months later when I finally got to read it (it took awhile to come in at my library), I felt like Owl and the Japanese Circus was written for me! I’m a huge The Mummy fan so it had everything I liked in an adventure novel – strong heroine, action-packed scenes and supernatural creatures. Side note: the naga is a new favourite of mine thanks to Charish.

I was extremely excited to receive an advance copy of Owl and the City of Angels and am happy to say it was just as entertaining as Owl 1. There’s something about the writing, maybe it’s the dialogue, that has me feeling like I could read it again and again, and never get bored. Most of the places Owl visits I’m unlikely to go, at least in the same context so I love that I can picture everything perfectly in my mind. The reader experiences an epic adventure through Owl.

In Owl 1 Charish showed the reader strong, compelling characters and it’s no different here. Most of the characters are consistent with how they were portrayed in Owl 1, but there’s still character development going on. Alix (Owl) and Rynn are together before the novel begins, but they’re still working out issues in their relationship. They used to date in the past, before Owl 1, but these same issues were some of the reasons they broke up. Alix doesn’t necessarily lie about what assignments she’s on for Mr. Kurosawa, but she doesn’t exactly tell the truth either – especially if she doesn’t follow the original plan. This is extremely frustrating for Rynn, and I think these trust issues stem from Alix’s days as an archaeology grad student. Then there’s Nadya, Alix’s best friend, who’s kind of like that voice of reason. I love this balance of a love interest and a best girlfriend – both characters are equally important to Alix. I can’t stand when there’s a female protagonist without one good female friend she can call on for advice etcetera.

The world-building is phenomenal! When it comes to the supernatural world, you can always expect Charish to create some sort of original twist. I think my favourite examples are the vampires. They use pheromones to attract their victims (and get them addicted) and smell like rotting lily of the valley. Alix has known a vampire named Alexander (and his Paris vamps) since she entered the supernatural world and not on pleasant terms. Alexander is always an amusing character and I love when Alix’s cat/sidekick Captain – a vampire-hunting cat breed – comes into the equation. Along with the action, there’s plenty of humour in Owl 2.

We see old characters from Owl and the Japanese Circus as well as meet new characters, which makes for a fascinating group. The moment I started reading Owl 2, I was waiting for an appearance from Alexander because like I said, he is hilarious! Captain plus Alexander equals a priceless moment! A new character Owl readers will love is Artemis Bast, introduced by Rynn to Alix to help with her new assignment – finding a treasure of the Syrian City of the Dead. He’s a very carefree, laid back character – in a way the opposite of Rynn. I love when Alix interacts with him because of the contrast of personalities.

I absolutely loved that Alix’s past, particularly her days as an archaeology grad student, were brought up and weaved into the plot. I always got the sense that although Alix had moved on from the past, she’d never had closure. She was always running from her past. Owl 2 gives Alix the opportunity to confront her past and move on without regret. Charish did a similar thing in Owl 1 re: Rynn, but here I felt like it happened on a bigger scale. Another intriguing thing about the plot, Charish doesn’t give her protagonist an easy way out. When the going gets tough, Alix fights back, no matter how human she is. The great thing about the plot, the reader see’s just how human Alix is and how easy it is to forget about important details.

There were a couple of things I disliked. I went into Owl 2 with really high expectations (loved Owl 1!) so when I didn’t immediately get into it, that was upsetting for me. When I did get into it, it was smooth sailing but I kept thinking about how easy it was to get into Owl 1. Furthermore, I loved the plot and thought it was original and engaging, but ultimately enjoyed the plot of Owl 1 slightly more.

All in all, Owl and the City of Angels is a compelling sequel and I can’t wait to read the next couple of books in the series! I recommend anyone with a craving for adventure to pick up this series, you won’t regret it. When you’re traveling to places like Egypt, Syria, and the City of Angels through Owl and thinking how can it get better? BAM! Charish surprises you with a plot twist or a very charming, vampire-hunting cat. P.S. Captain is my favourite character.

I received an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author: 

Kristi+FB+HS

Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. She’s also a co-host for the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast.

The second installment in the Owl series, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Oct 5th 2015. Her second urban fantasy series, KINCAID STRANGE (Random House Canada), about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle, is scheduled for release mid 2016.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists. Visit her website.


Giveaway:

Kristi has been kind enough to offer one copy each of Owl 1 and Owl 2 (physical or digital). This giveaway is US/Canada only and ends November 6, 2015 at midnight EST. Winner must respond within 48 hours of being contacted or a new winner will be chosen. Do not take entries for something you haven’t done, you will be disqualified. Good luck!

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