Guest Post: Clare McFall

What Inspires Me

I talk a lot about finding inspiration for stories when I go out to schools and libraries and Ferryman_RGBtalk to you readers. The key thing I tell them is that inspiration can come from anywhere. Ferryman was inspired by a strange dream and the landscape I had to drive through on my long commute to school every day. Bombmaker was sparked by a Clive Owen film I saw called Children of Men. And Black Cairn Point was inspired by a camping trip my husband took me on. (What about Trespassers? Well… it was inspired by Ferryman! ) My point is, you can get that jolt of inspiration from anywhere and anything and anyone.

Other stories and other writers are definitely a source of inspiration.

One of the writers I admire the most is Malorie Blackman. I’ve talked before about how much I love Noughts & Crosses (Oh Callum, sigh), but that book is actually the start of a four-book series. Across the four books, Malorie Blackman manages to weave in a seamless development in the society the book is set in – where white people are the underclass and black people hold all the wealth and power – until, by the end of the fourth book, you can see real progress towards equality. This theme runs beautifully under four really exciting stories. It’s so clever.

A question I’m asked quite frequently whenever I do writer interviews is what book do you wish you’d written? The answer to that is Crossing the Line by Gillian Philip. It was a finalist in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards in 2010/2011 and I read it when I was taking part in the awards with one of my classes. It didn’t win in the end, but I loved it. The main character is a boy called Nick Geddes and he’s a bit of a bad lad. Not underneath, but no one really gets to see that. Male leads in YA fiction are much less Trespassers_RGBcommon, but what struck me was just how real the main character was – I could see echoes of lots of the boys I taught in his supposed hard-man manner. He was a thug with a heart and I loved him. I wish I’d created him.

Lastly, writers I really admire are those who can create a whole new world for me to enter. I read a lot of fantasy because I like escaping somewhere completely different. The best writers create not just people and places, but rich cultures that make the story seems so believable, I can imagine this world really does exist. The most famous example is J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, but more recently George R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has come to the fore. I also love The Iron Seas books by Meljean Brooks (adult content alert!) which are steampunk and so cool. Graceling by Kristin Cashore is another good (much more YA!) example. I’d love to have a go at high fantasy – creating my own world – someday, but I worry that I’ll struggle to think outside the box, that our world will be too ingrained in my head. I’m waiting for a really cool idea to strike, then I’m going to have a bash. Because you should always attempt something that scares you – otherwise how would you grow?

ClaireMcFallClaire McFall is a writer and a teacher who lives and works in the Scottish Borders. She is the author of paranormal thriller Black Cairn Point, winner of the inaugural Scottish Teenage Book Prize 2017. Her debut novel Ferryman won a Scottish Children’s Book Award, and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Branford Boase award. Her other books include dystopian thriller Bombmaker. Trespassers, the much-anticipated sequel to Ferryman, will be published on 14th September 2017.

 

Thanks so much to Claire for her fabulous guest post, and check back next week for a review of the stunning Ferryman!

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Blog Tour: Monochrome – H. M. Jones

18757452Release Date: August 1st 2015
Publisher: Booktrope
Pages: 289
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

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How far would you go to fight for your life and all of your most precious memories?

Synopsis:

The cries of her new baby throw Abigail into rage and desperation. Frightened by foreign anger and overwhelming depression, the first-time mother decides to end her life to spare the life of her only child. But before she acts on her dark intuition, she is overcome by a panic attack and blacks out.

When she awakes, everything is blue: the trees, the grass, the rocks and still, scentless sky above her. Everything except the face of the man who stands over her. He is Ishmael Dubois and claims to be her Guide through the dangerous world of Monochrome, a physical manifestation of the depressed mind. But in a place where good memories are currency, nightmares walk, and hopeless people are hired to bring down those who still have the will to live, Abigail starts to wonder if she’ll ever make it back to her family. Despite her growing feelings for her handsome, mysterious Guide, Abigail must fight for the life she once wished to take or fade into the blue.

Review:

Hello and welcome to the blog tour for Monochrome, run by the lovely Sage’s Blog Tours. Monochrome struck me straight away as something a bit different and original, and it turned into a really intense and gripping read. The story deals a lot with the idea of identity, and explores Abagail’s identity as a wife and a mother. I really enjoyed the exploration into what makes a person who they are. The idea of a world between life and death that desperate people slip into – and must pay with their memories – is something I found extremely fascinating, it’s also not something I’ve come across before, so I enjoyed reading such a unique twist.

The idea of memories is explored in detail in the novel – the different kind of memories we have, the kind of memories we hold onto, and how precious these can actually be. There were several times when Monochrome really made me stop and think about my own memories, and how important they really are. It certainly makes for a fascinating, and slightly chilling story.

There isn’t a whole lot of action in the book, it mainly focuses on conversations between the two main characters – Ishmael and Abigail, but that doesn’t mean the story is boring. Monochrome is a very dark and haunting read. The world building is just fantastic, and it is easy to slip into the Monochrome world.

Both Abigail and Ishmael are both really likeable characters, and easily relatable – particularly that of the struggling young mother. Ishmael was probably my favourite – a young man who couldn’t escape Monochrome and so took a job attempting to help others free themselves. A dark and haunting story, Monochrome is definitely one that will stay with you long after you’re finished reading.

As a special treat during this blog tour, Monochrome is on sale for $2.99, so grab it now! The author is also hosting a giveaway, which you can enter here!

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Blog Tour: Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer – Melanie Card

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Series: Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer – Book One
Release Date: August 2011
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 306
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

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Synopsis
Twenty-year-old Ward de’Ath expected this to be a simple job—bring a nobleman’s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can’t be a surgeon—the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying—so bringing people back from the dead it is.

But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she’s been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can’t bring himself to break his damned physician’s Oath and desert her.

However, nothing is as it seems—including Celia. One second, she’s treating Ward like sewage, the next she’s kissing him. And for a nobleman’s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive…

Review

Hello and welcome to the blog tour for the Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer series, run by the lovely YA Bound Book Tours. This is a three part series, kicked off by Ward Against Death. In this opening book we meet Ward, a young man with powers to bring people back from the dead. From the outset I really liked him, he was an interesting character to follow and the idea of him having these abilities really fascinated me. He’s very honourable, doing the right thing and up for pretty much anything. The other protagonist is Celia Carlyle, who while was not my favourite character had an interesting dynamic with Ward and allowed for some pretty interesting dialogue. She’s a very kick-ass character, and I know plenty of readers will love her.

The story is very well written, and is excellently paced. The reader is never bored, but the world building and explanations of events aren’t rushed through either. I liked the mystery elements, trying to figure out who killed Celia, as well as unravel all the secrets. There are a lot of different characters and laws at play in the story, and although that can sometimes get confusing I enjoyed that aspect because for me it made the story easier to immerse myself in. After I got the hang of the different titles – like Innecroestri, Dominus etc – I flew through the book, enjoying all the different aspects coming together.

The one thing I wasn’t too keen on in Ward Against Death was the romantic elements in the story. While I wasn’t all that fond of Celia, I felt the romance between the two was a bit lacking. Most of the time they act like they hate each other, and at times it was a little frustrating. That however doesn’t get in the way of a really great story with lots of magic and mystery. If you’re looking for a new character to love and a new series to be completely addicted to, Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer is definitely one you should read.

That concludes my stop on the Reluctant Necromancer tour, be sure to stop by for my reviews of books two and three, and check out the other stops on the tour!

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Book Review: The Anonymous Source – A. C. Fuller

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Release Date: June 12th 2015
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Pages: 352
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon. 

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A shocking news story, buried evidence and witnesses turning up dead, who is behind this conspiracy?

Synopsis:
One year after the 9/11 attacks, Alex Vane–a brilliant reporter for The New York Standard–wants nothing more than to break into the flashy world of TV news. But when he uncovers the scoop of a lifetime, his tightly controlled world is rocked: his editor buries his story, a source turns up dead, and Alex finds himself at the center of a violent media conspiracy. 

As he receives tips from a mysterious source, Alex enlists the help of a captivating professor, Camila Gray. Aided by an Internet genius, a billionaire’s sexy widow, and a washed-up sports reporter, Alex and Camila discover a $500-million secret that could derail the largest media merger in history.
 
It’s a secret that unearths dark memories from Alex’s past. It’s a secret that leads back to the morning of 9/11. And it’s a secret that could get them both killed.

Review:

Hello and welcome to the blog tour for The Anonymous Source, run by the lovely Sage’s Blog Tours. This book is a really fascinating and exciting read. I must start off by saying that thriller books are not really my thing, but once in a while one crops up that just blows me away, and The Anonymous Source is definitely one of those books. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy and science fiction, so it was wonderful to read a book grounded in the here and now, and that was something that particularly struck me about this book. It feels real. I felt like I could be in New York at that moment. The detail is brilliant and the author paints a very vivid and real picture of the bustling city streets.

The plot is a pretty fast paced one, but it doesn’t skip over details and definitely keeps the reader entertained and itching to know more. Fuller’s writing is a pleasure to read and it’s easy to get completely immersed in his prose. There were several times where I sat down for a few minutes to read a chapter and before I knew it I’d been sitting for over an hour.The story is an exciting one, lots of clues are left and the reader definitely has to try and root out all the details behind the conspiracy. It’s an absolute pleasure to read and given its setting during the aftermath of 9/11, it adds another layer to an already intriguing and fascinating story.

The characters are also really fascinating ones. Alex Vane is an interesting character to follow around. He’s determined, something of a playboy but ultimately has a good heart.  While Alex is a great character, for me Camilla stole the show a little. Her and Alex make the perfect team and she’s such a great character. I won’t say too much about it so as not to spoil the story, but this one is definitely a book worth reading. If suspense thrillers are your thing, or your looking for something a little different this summer, add The Anonymous Source to your reading list.

Blog Tour: Jubilee Manor – Bethany Hagen


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Pub. Date: August 11, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books
Pages: 400

The thrilling conclusion to Landry Park is full of love, betrayal, and murder–perfect for fans of Divergent, The Selection, and Pride and Prejudice.

In Landry Park, Madeline turned her back on her elite family, friends, and estate to help the Rootless. Now, in Jubilee Manor, she struggles to bring the Gentry and the Rootless together. But when Gentry heirs—Madeline’s old friends—are murdered, even she begins to think a Rootless is behind it, putting her at odds with the boy she loves and the very people she is trying to lead. If she can’t figure out who is killing her friends and bring them to justice, a violent war will erupt and even more will die—and Madeline’s name, her estate, and all the bonds she’s forged won’t make any difference.

This conclusion to Landry Park, which VOYA dubbed “Gone with the Wind meets The Hunger Games,” is a richly satisfying, addictive read.


Now read an interview with Landry Park author Bethany Hagen!

1. For those who haven’t read the Landry Park series, can you sum it up for us?

Sure! Landry Park is about a world in the future that looks a lot like the past. After a civil war driven by poverty and economics, America has reordered itself so that the victors of the war and their descendants (the gentry) are able to live a life of extravagance while the losers (the Rootless) are forced to handle the nuclear waste that powers their luxurious lifestyle. The series starts off when Madeline Landry—heiress to the most powerful estate in the country—meets the latest import to her city’s society: Captain David Dana, who is, despite his cute face and big bank account, hiding some very dangerous secrets…

2. Did you always plan to write two Landry Park books, or will there be more?

We did originally plan on more! I sold the series as a trilogy, and I had the series plotted out in a very specific direction. But as I was writing the second book, my editor and I agreed that the original direction wasn’t working any more, and so we decided to go back to the drawing board and restructure the way Madeline’s story ended. And when we did that, we also agreed that stretching the new storyline into a trilogy would make the whole arc seem weaker, and neither of us wanted that. We decided we’d rather have two action-packed books than three so-so ones J

3. Now that Jubilee Manor is due to be released in a few months, what are you working on now?

I am working on editing my next book, which is a science-fiction novel about space stations and hackers and cute boys who forget to put their shirts on sometimes. It’s a standalone book, so it’s not part of the Landry Park universe and there won’t be a sequel.

3. If Landry Park was to be made into a screen adaptation, who would you cast?

Oh, that’s so hard because there are so many amazing actors and actresses out there! I think for Madeline Landry, I would cast someone like Rachel Hurd-Wood or Emily Kinney—someone that initially projects a certain fragility, but underneath it all, there’s fierce strength and intelligence. And casting David is so hard because he really only exists in my mind! But Lucas Till looks a lot like how I picture David in my mind, with the blond hair and the blue eyes.

5. Responses for both Landry Park and Jubilee Manor have been fantastic, how does that make you feel?

It’s so overwhelmingly awesome when readers tell you that they are enjoying something that you’ve worked on for so long! Whenever someone takes the time to reach out and say nice things, I usually end up blushing like mad and also maybe wanting to cry a little bit. Knowing that you gave even just one person a great experience makes up for so many other things!

6. During the editing process, was there anything that got cut that you wish had made the final version of the book?

There was a great scene with Cara where she walks into a room in the middle of the night completely naked and holding a bottle of gin. It was way over the top and took away from some of the things I was trying to illustrate about Cara in Jubilee Manor, but it was so much fun to write and it just felt so Cara, like if any character was going to be naked-gin-bottle-holding, it would be her!

7. What inspired you to mix science fiction with Victorian/high society?

It was a slow process, actually! When I was in college, I worked at this small history museum giving tours, and since it was a small museum, the Gilded Age/Edwardian Era section was right around the corner from the Cold War section. And after looping through the exhibit a million times, the two time periods started to gel a bit in my mind. I started wondering what it would

look like if we had a society like we had in the Edwardian Era but it was all powered by nuclear energy? And the rest, of course, is history!

8. Can you recommend readers a good book you’ve read recently?

Yes! I just finished A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston, and it is so beautiful and magical and haunting that I just want to quit writing forever because I’ll never be able to write anything like that!

9. Thank you so much for taking part in the interview, is there anything you’d like to add to finish us off?

No, just that I so appreciate you hosting me and that I hope everyone enjoys the conclusion to the Landry Park series!

Bethany

About Bethany: (photo by Ritu Nanos)

Bethany is a a former librarian living in the Kansas City area with her husband and two children.

Her debut novel Landry Park came out from Dial/Penguin in 2014, and the sequel, Jubilee Manor, will be out August 11, 2015. She is am represented by Mollie Glick of Foundry Media.

Would you like to be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of Landry Park and an ARC of Jubliee Manor? Click here to enter!
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Blog Tour: The Hypnotist – Gordon Snider

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Release Date: August 2009
Publisher: Helm Publishing
Pages: 324
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon.

San Francisco’s golden age with a dark and exciting twist.

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Synopsis:

In 1906, San Francisco has reached the peak of its golden age. Fortunes have created a society that attracts European opera singers and cordon bleu chefs. It is a world defined by elegant balls, oysters, and champagne. But there are darker sides to the city as well. One of these darker places is The Mission district south of Market Street houses tenements where shanties huddle together and rats plague the streets. And nearby sits Chinatown, an endless warren of dark alleys that offers gambling, prostitution, and opium, all controlled by vicious gangs, called tongs.

Into these disparate worlds steps Marta Baldwin, a young woman who has shunned her own social background to help the poor. She is confronted by a hypnotist, a man who hypnotizes young women from the tenements and delivers them to the tongs in Chinatown to work in their brothels. Marta escapes his hypnotic trance, but when her assistant, Missy, disappears, Marta realizes she has been taken by the evil man who confronted her. She seeks the help of Byron Wagner, one of San Francisco’s most prominent citizens. Marta finds herself drawn to Byron but knows his high social standing prevents any possibility of a relationship between them. This is confirmed when Marta discovers Byron having an intimate conversation with Lillie Collins, the daughter of one of the city’s most elite families. Marta is flushed with jealousy.

However, Lillie defies social customs, and her rebellious nature fits naturally with Marta’s. Despite her envy, the two women become close friends. Marta is caught up in a whirlwind of opulent balls, opium dens and brothels, and police raids in Chinatown. She cannot deny her feelings for Byron, but she must save Missy and protect her new friends from harm. For lurking in the background is the hypnotist. He has become obsessed with Marta and will use all his guile to ensnare her. When he threatens those she loves, Marta is determined to stop him, even at her own peril. Will her boldness entrap her? If so, how can she hope to escape the man’s hypnotic embrace? Then the earth moves, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Review:

Welcome to the tour for The Hypnotist, run by the lovely TLC Book Tours. This book intrigued me right from the start, I don’t know if it was the striking cover or the idea of the darker side of 1906 San Francisco, but I knew I had to get my paws on this book, and you definitely should too, because it’s a really interesting and enjoyable read.

The thing that I liked most about The Hypnotist has got to be the setting. The fantastic detail that Gordon puts into the story really makes it come alive. There’s a great variation between the poor and the opulent parts of town and they really were fantastically depicted.

There’s also a great mix of characters featured in the book. Not just the main ones, but the secondary characters too are well written and interesting. I would maybe have liked to see more depth around The Hypnotist himself, but that doesn’t pull away from the overall story.

The one thing I wasn’t too keen on was the romance aspects of the novel. While I enjoy having a little romance in a crime/historical fiction novel, I felt a little too much importance was placed on the romance rather than the crimes going on. This may please other readers, but for me it was just distracting.

This is a really great read, it’s got great characters, a great story and a fantastic setting. It also concludes with a twist I didn’t see coming, which makes it all the more enjoyable. If you’re looking for a well-crafted piece of historical fiction, look no further.

Blog Tour: Wish For Me – A. Star

24301457Series: The Djinn Order – Book One
Release Date: April 27th 2015
Publisher: Self – Published
Pages: 155
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon. 

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Synopsis:

When the snarky Glory St. Pierre discovers the gold mechanical vase in her deceased grandmother’s basement, she has no idea that she has uncovered a priceless treasure: a genie lamp. With a real genie inside. A very sexy genie with a not-so-sexy grudge against the entire human race.

Irving Amir hates being called a genie. He’s a Djinn, and he is none too happy to be in the service of Glory, who is as intolerable, and beautiful, as humans come. Now he owes her his gratitude for freeing him and three wishes. Damn his luck.

But an arrow through the shoulder alerts Irving to the fact that he is being hunted, and after a truce dinner with Glory ends with them both almost being killed, hating each other goes right out the window. As feelings change and love starts to develop, they must dig through the secrets and lies to find the truth…a truth neither of them will ever see coming.

Review:

This was such an interesting and fun book. As soon as I read the synopsis I was intrigued, a genie who grants wishes and then falls in love with a human? Straight away that sounded like something I wanted to read. Genies aren’t something I’ve read a lot about, but after this I definitely want to read more!

I really liked Glory as a character. She’s really likeable and I enjoyed seeing where her story went. There’s lots of witty dialogue between her and Irving that outright made me laugh, and I definitely enjoyed seeing their relationship come together. Glory is no meek character, she bites back and gives as good as she gets. It was really great to see her and Irving go up against each other, especially given his dislike for humans.

There were a few moments in the book that were a little predictable, but overall I really enjoyed the story and it kept me captivated till the end. As with all books I seem to read recently, there is a massive cliffhanger, but hopefully there won’t be too long a wait for book two.

Wish for Me is definitely not for children, and a word of warning for graphic sex and bad language. If however you’re looking for a light and fun read, this is definitely the book for you. It’s well written, exciting and has some wonderful characters that you’re definitely going to want to see again.

Thank you for checking out my stop on the tour, run by the lovely Xpresso Book Tours. Be sure to check out the other stops and enter the tour give away here!WishForMeTourBanner2