2014 Debut Authors Bash – Helene Dunbar + giveaway

2014 debut authors bash button

 

I’m taking part in the blog tour for debut authors of 2014. The tour is hosted by YA Reads, and let me tell you, there are some great authors among the stops! You should definitely go check them out!

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Helene Dunbar is the author of These Gentle Wounds. I’ve had the chance to interview her, and it was great fun! Check it out:

 

How did you come up with the inspiration for These Gentle Wounds? 

The book came out of a number of freelance articles I’d written for an education publisher on the cases of Susan Smith and Andrea Yates, two mothers who killed their children. In January 2011, a mother in New York State drove her four kids into a river, killing three of them. I became curious about what sort of life the surviving child would have and so I started writing about it.

I was also interested in exploring the life of a teen who had survived childhood trauma. Not much has been written about post-traumatic stress disorder in non-military terms.

 

Did you know from the beginning that your main character would be a boy?

Absolutely. I personally find writing a male character much easier than a female character.

 

Was it hard being a woman, writing from a boy’s perspective?

See about. Not sure why that is really….I always joke that there’s a 16 year-old boy living in my head. But that sounds kind of creepy.

 

‘These Gentle Wounds’ has an average rating of 4.46 on goodreads (as of July 18th). That’s really good! How do you react, if you receive a low rating/negative review?

I was a drama critic for many years so I understand how subjective those opinions (both good and bad) can be. I actually don’t mind negative reviews that are well thought-out. The only ones that really bother me are negative reviews based on things that are factually incorrect. Also, positive reviews based on things that are factually incorrect bother me. I like truth. I don’t have to agree with it.

 

Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us about it?

I just turned in edits for my 2015 book, WHAT REMAINS, which is a love story between three friends and deals, in part, with the challenge of overcoming grief. My agent is shopping the “book of my heart” and I have one or two other things in various stages of completion.

 

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes, but I never intended to write fiction. I was always involved in journalism. I wanted to be a baseball reporter, but then decided to pursue drama criticism very seriously and did that for a while. I still write features about traditional Irish musicians for a Dublin-based magazine.

 

Besides writing, what do you do? Any hobbies? At the moment, I’m too busy to do much else. I have 2 jobs, a husband, and a child. So…just not enough hours in the day. I will say that nothing makes me happier than seeing a band I love. So I guess music is my biggest hobby, but on the spectator side. Despite years in band (clarinet) and choir, I’m a woefully bad musician.

 

If your favorite author were having dinner at your place, what would you cook and who would be visiting?

So. Difficult. It’s hard to say who my favorite author is. I will admit to being a huge fangirl of Maggie Steifvater, so I guess I’d serve something without preservatives because she’s allergic to them.

 

To me, the characters in a book are very important. Who are some of your favorite characters? 

This is also hard, but I’ll give it a shot and name the first couple that come to mind.Niall from Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely Series because he broke my heart.Rudy from Hannah Moskowitz’s Teeth because he stayed open to possibility.Sebastian from Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited because he’s Sebastian.Richard from Donna Tartt’s The Secret History because he reminds me of me and his college reminds me of mine.Jason from Amber Dermont’s The Starboard Sea because his screw-ups gutted me.Kavinsky from Maggie Steifvater’s The Dream Thieves because, as reprehensible as he is, he’s so perfectly crafted. I like characters who are complex and slightly tortured in some way:)

 

What are you currently reading? What do you plan on reading next?

I’ve been mostly reading 2014 debut ARCs and just finished Philip Siegel’s The Breakup Artist and am indulgently rereading The Raven Boys books waiting for the new one in October.

I’m DYING to read Stephanie Kuehn’s COMPLICIT and Emma Trevayne’s CHORUS.

 

Do you have any favorite book genres?  

For the most part, I prefer contemporary. However, as a teen, I read a TON of speculative fiction (Harlan Ellison in particular) as well as fantasy (Roger Zelazny, Michael Morcock and Elizabeth A. Lynn were my favorites). I’m glad to see magic realism really starting to come into its own in YA because that’s a perfect blend for me as a reader. 

 

Do you have any genres that you would like to explore more? 

Honestly, there are so many things on my TBR list already that I’d better stick with what I’ve got. That being said, I’ll read anything with strong character development and complex personalities. As a writer….I’m playing around with magic realism right now and having a lot of fun with it.

 

Are your taste in books and movies/tv shows similar or completely different? 

Pretty similar. I don’t watch a ton of TV, but I love shows that make me cry such as The Fosters and I adored Being Human (the US version). Babylon 5, 30Something, and The West Wing will always be favorites. 

 

I didn’t really like any of the books I read during my time in school. Did you read any books that made an impression (good or bad) back when you was a student?  

I read a lot of Shakespeare in high school and always had a soft spot for Hamlet. Moby Dick is probably my least favorite book ever alongside The Heart of Darkness. I was fortunate to have an amazing English teacher in high school though who allowed for debate.  

 

To be honest, I judge a book by its cover. Is that something you do as well? What are some of your favorite covers? 

Yeah, I have to admit to being pulled in by covers and titles. I pick up a lot of books and then put them down if the cover doesn’t intrigue me, which is a shame. Now that I read more on Kindle, this is probably less of an issue. The cover for Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens is probably my favorite. 

 

Did you choose the cover for ‘These Gentle Wounds’ yourself? 

I’m fortunate to have had some input into my cover. Brian Farrey (my editor) sent me two early ideas and I wrote him back immediately and BEGGED him to get the rights to the image they used. Oliver Charles, the photographer/model looked so much like the Gordie who lived in my head and the feel of the cover was just what I was hoping for. I didn’t want anything too dark and depressing because ultimately, Gordie’s story is about finding hope. 

 

If you were to name your kids after book characters, what would they be called? Personally, I’d go for Noah – I tend to see that name everywhere and they’re always gentlemen! Haha.

I wanted to name our daughter Julia after 1984 (but really it was the Eurythmic’s song from the movie that was the motivation), but I have a cousin named Julie and it was too close. Besides, it wouldn’t have fit her. I always like formal boys names and would have loved Sebastian or Julian for a son, but I’m sure my husband wouldn’t have agreed.  

 

I love to go through peoples bookshelfes. Can I see yours?  

YES. I love this idea!

Helene's bookshelf

 

 

And now onto the giveaway!

Helene Dunbar is offering one signed copy of These Gentle WoundsOpen international! Just fill out the rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends on October 10th, 12AM (GMT+1). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note, I’m not responsible for the item.
If you’re below 18 years old, please make sure to have your legal guardian’s permission to give share your adress with me, should you win.

 

 

2014 Debut Authors Bash – Hillary Monahan + giveaway

2014 debut authors bash button

 

I’m taking part in the blog tour for debut authors of 2014. The tour is hosted by YA Reads, and let me tell you, there are some great authors among the stops! You should definitely go check them out! You can get to the full schedule here.

Hillary Monahan is the author of Mary: The Summoning, book one in a new Bloody Mary series. I’ve asked her about her favorite horror stories, and here it is, the favorites of Hillary Monahan:

 

This list. This list! It’s in no order because I tend to shuffle my favorites depending on my mood. I’ve added and removed titles repeatedly over the last few days. That should tell you how hard it was for me to narrow the field. But, without further ado, here goes:

HOUSE OF LEAVES – Mark Z. Danielewski

HOUSE OF LEAVES is disjointed and sometimes hard to read because of formatting. By the end, you don’t care because the story is that good. Johnny is one of the best unreliable narrators I’ve encountered on the page. It’s a haunted house book, only it’s not, only it is? It’s incredibly hard to describe, but I can tell you that the house with its “five and a half minute hallway” is nightmare fodder. Real paranoia inducing stuff. I hadn’t been that uncomfortable reading horror since Lovecraft’s The Dreams in the Witch House.

THE SHINING – Stephen King

I love hotels. I hate hotels. The first statement is because of room service. The second is because of The Overlook. This was the first King novel I ever read and it’s the one that sticks with me. Sure, PET SEMETARY and SALEM’S LOT are probably scarier, but this one has a special place in my heart. Topiary gardens, a little boy with a terrible gift, a father attacked by a malevolence that can’t be caged? Yes, please. I love that King makes isolation so scary here. Jack Torrance not only has to battle the hotel’s ghosts, he has to wrestle his inner demons, too. It’s heartbreaking and terrifying and wonderful all at the same time.

THE WITCHING HOUR – Anne Rice

Yes, Anne Rice is a bit verbose and can talk about the color, fabric, and particular billow pattern of drapes for three-page stretches but I’m okay with it because, by the end of an Anne Rice description, I see what she wants me to see. She controls my mind’s eye. I respect that power. I also respect that Anne Rice took vampires out of the Nosferatu closet and made them beautiful tragedies. There’d be no Edward Cullens without Lestate. (Thanks? I think?) And while we all know and love INTERVIEW, I will argue that THE WITCHING HOUR is the far superior book. Sweeping back stories, that same languid dread you find in the vampire chronicles only with incestuous witches? Yes. This. All of this. I love this book.

AMERICAN GODS – Neil Gaiman

This is one of those polarizing books. Folks tend to adore it or loathe it, few fall in between. I’m in the adore category. Gaiman takes a recent widower and sends him traveling across the country. It’s part adventure story, part fantasy, part horror story, part mystery, part love-letter to America. It’s weird. It’s uncomfortable. It’s also epic. AMERICAN GODS is so thematically sprawling, people could debate where it should be shelved in a bookstore for hours. I go with horror simply because of the atmosphere. There’s a gloomy pall that taints even the brightest spots in the book. But, with a main character named Shadow, what do you expect?

FEED – Mira Grant

So the world is taken over by zombies. Survival is damned near impossible, but in our tech age, we figure out ways around it. Safe zones, automatic blood tests, lots and LOTS of weapons. Because of the regimented way of life, there’s a lockdown on . . . pretty much everything. Including information. FEED is the story of people who’ve taken to the underground to bring real and accurate news to the masses. It’s another mixed bag book, meaning you’ve got horror, sci-fi, dystopian—a little bit of everything here. This is NOT your typical zombie novel (if you want a good one of those, check out Charlie Higson’s THE ENEMY for YA or M.R. Carey’s THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS in adult.) It isn’t page upon page of zombie attacks. In fact, if anything, the zombies are a setting and a plot enhancer, not the plot. But, still horror in my eyes. Tension, anxiety, tragedy. It has all the markers of horror without being typical in any way, shape, or form.

 

Thank you so much Hillary! I’ll definitely go check some of these out!

 

I’ve been so lucky to get an ARC of MARY: The Summoning from Netgalley, and here’s my review:

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MARY: The Summoning – Hillary Monahan – Bloody Mary #1 – 256 pages – Disney-Hyperion

There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.
Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.
A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.
Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.
A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late?

• • •

This book has been on my preorder-list for a while and that’s not gonna change! I love the Bloody Mary legend and thus this was a must read for me.

I was expecting this to be a scary book, so I was very carefully planning when to read it, due to being a girlygirl who don’t want to be alone at nighttime when reading stuff like this. Turned out to be a good thing, because this really was a scary read! A couple of chapters in, I started worrying if it was gonna go down the teenage-drama road instead, but turned out it didn’t, yay! The drama that is in this book is completely fair!

I liked the way this book was being told, the writing style was really good. It was scary, yet funny at the same time, which means I kept me breath several times throughout this book.

As for the characters, I really liked them. Except for Mary, she’s a bitch (ofc!). And the name Kitty….you know it’s gonna be scary when you name your characters that, right?!:)

All in all, a really great book!

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And now to the fun part – the giveaway!

Hillary Monahan will be giving away 1 copy of Mary. Open to US only. All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a meaningful comment below. If you’re not a resident of the US, you’re welcome to leave a comment, please just let me know that you’re not entering the giveaway:)

If you’re below 18 years old, please make sure to have you legal guardian’s permission to give me your adress if you win.
I’m not responsible for the item.

The giveaway is open until October 10th, 8PM (GMT+1).

Bout of Books – Wrap up

 

Day 7: I didn’t finish my book as I hoped, but I did read 70 pages. And I also read 62 pages of A Feast for Crows. I read 132 pages in total.

Bout of Books total: 1722 pages! That’s an average of 246 pages a day. That’s good!😀 And more than I normally read. So I’d say this readathon was a success!

 

How did you do during this readathon? 

Bout of Books – Progress Day 6

 

Day 6: I was downtown for the most of the day yesterday, so I didn’t get much reading done. When finally I was home and had some time at my hands, I was just so tired! I only managed to read 120 pages of Dead Until Dark, which I’m currently reading.

Goals for day 7: Since today’s the last day, I really want to get some serious reading done, but I also feel like watching Sherlock, so I don’t know which it’s gonna be. I’ll definitely finish my book though, which is 231 pages. I’m not sure I can do more than that:) If I can, though, I’ll be starting Poison Study:)

 

How did you do on day 6? What are your goals for day 7?

Bout of Books – Progress Day 5

 

Day 5: I managed to finish Teen Angst? Naaah… and what a disappointment that book was! I read 245 pages.

Goals for day 6: I’ve been downtown most of the day, so I haven’t read anything yet. I hope to get some reading in tonight, maybe 100-150 pages.

 

How did you do on day 5? What are your goals for day 6?

Bout of Books – Progress Day 4

 

Day 4: I finished If I Were You, which was 325 pages. I also read 80 pages of A Feast for Crows, and managed to start a new book; Teen Angst? Naaah… in which I read 13 pages. That makes for a total of 418 pages! I did pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Goals for day 5: I’m not sure, because I think that maybe the Ned Vizzini book (Teen Angst? Naaah…) is a heavy book which I need to think about, so I’m not sure if I can finish it today, but if not, then I’ll find something else to read:) Just read a lot!

 

How did you do on day 4? What are your goals for day 5?

Bout of Books – Progress Day 3

 

This will be my progress post for the Bout of Books readathon.

Day 3: I finished Day 21, which was 275 pages. I also started If I Were You by Lisa Renee Jones, in which I read 16% or 61 pages. That makes for a total of 336 pages. I’m satisfied!

Goals for day 3: Try and finish If I Were You (323 pages). Not sure if I can, but I’ll try:) Maybe do the mini challenges as well:)

 

How did you do on day 3? What are your goals for day 4?