Book Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

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A gritty, fast-paced adventure awaits readers within the pages of The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, a story made all the more frightening when you learn it’s based on a real place.

walledcity_final cover730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.

Inspired by China’s Kowloon Walled City, Graudin’s story takes place in a similarly walled-in city where crime runs rampant and the police have no jurisdiction. Following three teens seeking asylum from the crime-ridden city, The Walled City sets up a fast-paced race to freedom.

Graudin’s story has a lot of the grit and toughness you’d expect from a dystopian world — but The Walled City is far more frightening than any imagined future, because it’s based on something that has already happened. And it’s through Graudin’s characters that this seedy world comes to life.

Dai, Jin, and Mei Yee are all beautifully realized characters with their own challenges, hardships, and traumas — but they come together in an unlikely alliance with the shared goal of escaping the Walled City. Seeing them unite and overcome their struggles is what makes The Walled City such a beautiful, and ultimately uplifting story — despite so much heartache and loss.

The Walled City is in stores November 4th.

 

Blog Tour Giveaway: Loop by Karen Akins

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Today, we’re excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Loop by Karen Akins, a fantastic new science fiction, time-traveling adventure. Learn more about the book here, and then keep reading for your chance to win a copy!

loop karen akinsAt a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.

Loop is available now. But here’s how you can win a copy:

Get started by filling out the Rafflecopter entry form here!

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Wednesday, November 5th.

More from Unmarked author Kami Garcia

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Can’t get enough of Kami Garcia’s work? Here’s a look at her other books & anthologies:

Beautiful Creatures Series – The Caster Chronicles
beautiful creatures boxed setCo-authored with Margaret Stohl

Is falling in love the beginning . . . or the end?

In Ethan Wate’s hometown there lies the darkest of secrets . . .

There is a girl. Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head . . . Green eyes, black hair. Lena Duchannes.

There is a curse. On the Sixteenth Moon, the Sixteenth Year, the Book will take what it’s been promised. And no one can stop it.

In the end, there is a grave.

Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided. Ethan never even saw it coming.

Dangerous Creatures Series
dangerous deceptiondangerous creatures LITTLE, BROWN BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS DANGEROUS DREAMCo-authored with Margaret Stohl

A new series returns to the world of Beautiful Creatures. Some loves are cursed…others are dangerous.

Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she’s a bad girl. She’s Dark. She’s a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she’s around. Lucky for her, Wesley “Link” Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley. When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn’t hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthors of Beautiful Creatures, are back and casting another magical spell. Their signature mixture of mystery, suspense, and romance, along with a dash of fun and danger, will pull fans in and leave them begging for more.

The Legion Series

unmarkedKami Garcia/UnbreakableI never believed in ghosts. Until one tried to kill me.

When Kennedy Waters finds her mother dead, her world begins to unravel. She doesn’t know that paranormal forces in a much darker world are the ones pulling the strings. Not until identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break into Kennedy’s room and destroy a dangerous spirit sent to kill her. The brothers reveal that her mother was part of an ancient secret society responsible for protecting the world from a vengeful demon — a society whose five members were all murdered on the same night.

Now Kennedy has to take her mother’s place in the Legion if she wants to uncover the truth and stay alive. Along with new Legion members Priest and Alara, the teens race to find the only weapon that might be able to destroy the demon — battling the deadly spirits he controls every step of the way.

Suspense, romance, and the paranormal meet in this chilling urban fantasy, the first book in a new series from Kami Garcia, bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures novels.

Anthologies:

 

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepherd: Read-Along, Chapters 28-37

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Today, our read-along for The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard concludes, with a look at Chapters 28-37.

perfectionistsRead our thoughts below, then share YOUR thoughts in the comments for a chance to win an amazing prize pack, including a THE PERFECTIONISTS tote bag & goodies, plus a surprise ARC of an upcoming Harper Teen release. Just comment below, then fill-out the Rafflecopter form here. You can comment on every read-along post for even more chances to win!

The Perfectionists is in stores now. Here is the read-along schedule for you to follow along:

Remember, EVERYONE who comments & fills out the Rafflecopter form HERE will be entered to win the amazing prize pack. Get more chances to win by sharing your comments on the read-along at the other participating blogs:

Our Thoughts on Chapters 28-37

HELLO DRAMA! Things really build up momentum in these final chapters, with more betrayals and surprise twists. The girls are closer than ever to being caught, and therefore they’re more desperate than ever to find out who really killed Nolan. Their firm belief that Mr. Granger did it pushes them to seek out hard evidence at his house, putting them all in even more danger … and risking further trouble with the police, given the whole “breaking and entering” thing. (Not to mention the tampering with evidence.)

As an adult, I was cringing at every mistake the girls made — including breaking into their teacher’s house. But at the same time, I had to know what they’d find out!

But of course, leave it to Sara Shepard to keep us guessing … the book ends with a HUGE twist, and even more questions than ever about Nolan’s murder. The ending definitely suggests something bigger than revenge on a class bully was going on — but it’s still unclear who is a good guy and who is not to be trusted. There’s a lot of betrayal and intrigue at work, and I guess we’ll just have to wait for the sequel to learn more!

MORE ABOUT THE PERFECTIONISTS:

In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke…until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes another story of dark secrets, shocking twists, and what happens when five beautiful girls will do anything to hide the ugly truth.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

TWITTER CHAT:

Be sure to join us on the morning of November 6th (time & hashtag TBA soon!) in a Twitter chat with Sara Shepard herself, where we’ll discuss everything we thought about The Perfectionists.

For the comments: What are YOUR thoughts on the ending of The Perfectionists? Be sure to tweet using the hashtag #PerfectRead. Sound off below & then fill out the Rafflecopter form HERE for your chance to win an awesome prize pack!

New YA Releases: October 28, 2014

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Here’s a look at today’s new YA releases:

waterfallWaterfall by Lauren Kate

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fallen books comes WATERFALL, a novel about love, betrayal, and epic consequences—a world-altering tale told by a girl whose tears have the power to raise the lost continent of Atlantis. This second novel in the Teardrop series is intensely romantic, with strong, hot main characters caught up in a thrilling fantastical love triangle. For readers who love Lauren Kate and the worlds of Alyson Noël, P. C. Cast, Maggie Stiefvater, and Veronica Rossi.

Eureka’s tears have flooded the earth, and now Atlantis is rising, bringing with it its evil king, Atlas. Eureka is the only one who can stop him, but first she must learn how to fight. She travels across the ocean with Cat, her family, and Ander, the gorgeous and mysterious Seedbearer who promises to help her find Solon, an enigmatic lost Seedbearer who knows how to defeat Atlas.

Once on land, Eureka is taunted by gossipwitches, a group of displaced Atlantean sorceresses, and ambushed by locals struggling to survive amid the destruction her tears have wrought. And she feels no closer to facing Atlas or saving the world when Solon lets slip that love is Ander’s weakness, and that any affection he feels toward her makes him age faster.

Trying to make sense of the dark world her sorrow has created, Eureka receives startling insight from an enchanted pond. Her bewildering reflection reveals a soul-crushing secret: if she’s strong enough, Eureka can draw on this knowledge to defeat Atlas—unless her broken heart is just what he needs to fuel his rising kingdom…

In Waterfall, Eureka has the chance to save the world. But she’ll have to give up everything—even love.

catalystCatalyst by S. J. Kincaid

This exhilarating, explosive, and heartrending conclusion to the Insignia trilogy brings Tom and his intelligent, passionate, and brave young friends stunning tests and dangerous confrontations and through to an impossible future they could never have predicted.

Tom Raines and his friends are eager to return to the Pentagonal Spire to continue training for the elite Intrasolar Forces, but they soon discover troubling changes: strict new regulations and the revelation that the Spire is under new military control. What begins as an irritating adjustment soon reveals a dangerous shift in reality. Those now in control are aligned with corporate sponsors and their ruthless agendas. And when the military academy begins welcoming new cadets with suspicious neural processors, the first step in a plan with horrifying worldwide ramifications, Tom is desperate to stop it, even if that means keeping secrets from his closest allies.

Then a mysterious figure, the other ghost in the machine, begins fighting against the corporations, but with methods even Tom finds shocking. And when the enemy comes for Tom, how much can Tom endure in the battle to save himself? He must decide if he can still fight when the odds of success seem to be sliding from his grip.

compulsionCompulsion by Martina Boone

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

shadowboxerShadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan

Thai martial arts, international crime, celebrity and mythical creatures combine in this masterful new tale of two people facing incredible dangers, from award-winning author Tricia Sullivan.

Nothing she’s faced in the cage will prepare her…

Jade is a young mixed martial arts fighter. When she’s in the cage she dominates her opponents—but in real life she’s out of control.

After she has a confrontation with a Hollywood martial arts star that threatens her gym’s reputation, Jade’s coach sends her to a training camp in Thailand for an attitude adjustment. Hoping to discover herself, she instead uncovers a shocking conspiracy. In a world just beyond our own, a man is stealing the souls of children to try and live forever.

get happyGet Happy by Mary Amato

In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises.

resisting ruby roseResisting Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries

Still reeling from the heartbreaking events that unfolded on Grissom Island, Ruby Rose is trying to come to terms with the fact that she’s gone from a vigilante in killer shoes to a stone-cold killer. Everyone from her therapist to her smoking-hot boyfriend keeps trying to convince her that she hasn’t crossed over to the dark side, but Ruby isn’t so sure. It doesn’t help that her nemesis, Detective “Mastermind” Martinez, is still out there, waiting for another chance to take her down.

When an alleged CIA agent named Skryker shows up and asks for a meeting, Ruby figures it just means more questions about her case. But he has information of an entirely different nature and a job offer: join an elite force of young assassins, including Skryker’s right-hand guy, Quinn Donovan. Quinn is distractingly charming, handsome—and deadly. Ruby resists becoming a killer again, but as she becomes more ensnared in a web of deceit, no one around her is safe.

earth and skyEarth & Sky by Megan Crewe

Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong. But despite the panic attacks tormenting her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy. Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: our world no longer belongs to us. For thousands of years, Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for its inhabitants and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments. Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help–but with each shift in the past, the very fabric of reality is unraveling, and soon there may be no Earth left to save.

atlantiaAtlantia by Ally Condie

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

For the comments: Which of today’s new releases are you most excited about?

Blog Tour Q&A + Contest: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

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Today, we are so pleased to be hosting the first stop on the official blog tour for The Walled City by Ryan Graudin — a thrilling story based on a REAL walled city, and the crime that thrived there. The book is a fantastic read, made all the more compelling when you learn that it’s based on something that really existed.

We talk to Ryan about the real-life inspiration and more in our exclusive Q&A below. Then keep reading for more about The Walled City and your chance to win a copy of the book & other cool prizes!

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walledcity_final coverTHE WALLED CITY is set in this very dangerous labyrinth, where teens are forced to run drugs or sell themselves into prostitution. Tell us about the real-life Walled City that inspired your book’s setting?

The Kowloon Walled City was a neighborhood in 1980s Hong Kong that housed over 33,000 people in its 6.5 acre borders. The buildings were so thickly stacked that the sunlight couldn’t reach the streets. The passageways through the city were a labyrinth of tunnels. There was always water leaking down the building’s walls since there was no proper drainage. Conflicts between Britain and China ensured that police had no jurisdiction there, so anyone who wanted to do anything illegal flocked to the Kowloon Walled City. Dentists who were licensed to practice in China but couldn’t work in Hong Kong set up shop there. Dozens of manufacturers set up factories there to escape taxation and quality control. The place was crammed with noodle-makers, steel factories, seafood restaurants…. Anything and everything. The Triad maintained a large presence there, which accounted for much of the drugs and brothels.

What came first: the Walled City, or the characters?

The Walled City came first! I learned about it back in 2011 when I met a woman named Jackie Pullinger, who worked in the Kowloon Walled City for over twenty years before it was torn down in the early 90s. As I listened to her talk about the neighborhood I was amazed that such a place existed, much less that I’d never heard of it before! I went home and fell into a rabbit-hole of research: watching documentaries about the city, reading biographies of people who lived there. The more I found out the more I wanted to know. As I researched I started to imagine the different people who lived there, and the stories they might tell. Thus Jin Ling, Mei Yee and Dai all came into being.

ryan graudinYou’ve done lots of traveling. Did you travel at all to the Kowloon Walled City Park, or to Hong Kong, while writing THE WALLED CITY? Have any other real-world locations inspired this book?

Traveling is one of my passions, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do a good deal of it. My husband and I did go to Hong Kong and visit the Kowloon Walled City Park in January (it was at the very tail end of the book writing process). The park was so fascinating! They have a museum there dedicated to teaching visitors about the former lawless neighborhood. They also have some of the original cannons and the remains of the Old South Gate (both of which make an appearance in the novel).

Other travels helped inspire this novel as well. In 2007 I spent six weeks living and working in the slums of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Meeting the children there and seeing what they did to survive had a huge influence on Jin Ling’s storyline. I probably would never even have had the courage to attempt Mei Yee’s brothel storyline if I hadn’t spent several weeks in El Alto, Bolivia with my sister-in-law, who works with a non-profit that provides women in the red light district with health classes, child care and the opportunity to leave prostitution through microbusinesses. Setting the book in Asia was also a very daunting task, which I probably wouldn’t have tried to tackle if I hadn’t lived in South Korea for a year. (Chinese culture and Korean culture are, of course, very different, but spending time in Korea gave me the courage I needed to research Chinese culture thoroughly.)

You have a lot of very cinematic music on the playlist for THE WALLED CITY on your website. Do you listen to music while you write? While you brainstorm? How does music influence your writing?

Music is a must for me. I almost never write without it. (It’s been that way for me as long as I can remember. I used to do all my homework with my headphones on.) I create different playlists for each of my novels. The songs I pick usually reflect the mood of the novel in some way, as listening to them helps put me in the mood I’m trying to create on the page. For THE WALLED CITY I actually created three separate playlists, one for each character.

A lot of Jin Ling’s songs were frantic and fast, suited to her chase scenes and choppy voice. (“Mombasa” by Hans Zimmer from the Inception Soundtrack, “Love is Gonna Save Us” by Benny Benassi, “Kodo – Inside the Sun Remix” by Yoshida Brothers.) Mei Yee’s tracks were much slower. Soft and full of longing. (“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Emily Browning, “Any Other Name” by Thomas Newman.) Dai’s songs were a little more lyrical and desperate. (“Some Nights” by Fun. , “Pompeii” by Bastille, “Idioteque” by Radiohead.) Other albums, like Zack Hemsey’s The Way, held an overarching feel for the story and made it onto all three characters’ playlists!

THE WALLED CITY has three rules: run fast, trust no one, and always carry your knife. What would you say are “the three rules” of being a writer?

Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid of what people think. Get Macfreedom and use it mercilessly when you’re procrastinating on the Internet.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Must-have writing snack?

Does black coffee count as a snack?

Favorite Disney movie?

Mulan!

The beach or the mountains?

Beach. I’m fortunate enough to live a short drive from one.

Song that can always get you dancing?

Gangnam Style by Psy. Or really any K-Pop.

Favorite Halloween candy?

Mallowpumpkins.

Starbucks beverage of choice?

Grande, non-fat, no water dirty Chai latte.

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Title: THE WALLED CITY
Author:
Ryan Graudin
Pub. Date: November 4, 2014
Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run.

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

About Ryan:

Ryan Graudin grew up in Charleston and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in Creative Writing in 2009. She is the author of All That Glows and The Walled City. She resides near Charleston with her husband and wolf-dog. You can find her online at http://www.ryangraudin.com.

Her work is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumblr

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(1) Grand prize pack: It includes: A finished copy of THE WALLED CITY, rice candy, a miniature lucky cat, a traditional Chinese paper cutout of a dragon, and a pamphlet from the real Walled City Park! US ONLY

(9) winners will receive: A finished copy of THE WALLED CITY. US ONLY.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

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Blog Tour Schedule

Week One:

Week Two:

Blog Tour Q&A + Contest: Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson

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Today, I am so pleased to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson, featuring an exclusive Q&A with the author about his whimsical new middle grade series.

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pennyroyal academyI love the idea that a princess can be a hero. How did your definition of a princess, as we see in PENNYROYAL ACADEMY, come about?

Pennyroyal Academy began as an animated television series. In the early days, it was a pretty straightforward parody of “Disney princess culture.” The initial idea I had was that Cinderella and Princess Peach (of MarioKart) lived together as roommates, and then it became “What if all the princesses lived in the same place?” which then led to the idea of a military-style princess training academy. But as I started planning to write it as a book, I realized there might be a way to do the idea with a bit more substance. So I tried to strip away a lot of the parody elements and general silliness and create a more substantial world around the idea of a princess training academy. I focused in on Grimms’ Fairy Tales because they’re such dark, rich, substantive stories. I knew that if the girls in my book were going to train to become princesses, they would need an enemy to fight against. That led me to the idea that only a princess can defeat a witch. They are the last line of defense for the people of this world when the witches start rolling in. What I particularly liked about this as an overarching conflict was that it allowed me to create a world that joined all the Grimms’ tales together. Cinderella and Snow-White both live in the world of Pennyroyal Academy. Maybe not at the same time or in the same place, but the characters in my book have heard of and idolize these princesses of the past. Think of them as the George Patton and Douglas MacArthur of this world. Legendary military heroes, only in horse-drawn carriages instead of tanks.

MALarson_authorphotoYou’ve written a lot for children’s television, including Disney. Did your experience in children’s TV influence your work on PENNYROYAL ACADEMY? In what ways?

I never would have thought of the idea if not for my television writing. Before I moved to Los Angeles, I was writing dark, indie screenplays that no one would ever want to produce or probably even watch. When I moved out west, a friend of mine who I’ve known since kindergarten was an animator at Cartoon Network, and the show he was on needed writers. I wrote a couple of spec scripts and got the job. I’ve never been particularly picky about what age level or genre I write for, so animation writing, happily, became my job. And the best way to have longevity in a TV career is to create your own show. I was constantly trying to think of ideas to pitch, and Pennyroyal Academy was one of them. In more general terms, writing for children’s animation has been invaluable. You have to churn out so many scripts and concepts that you quickly learn to not be too precious about your ideas. And you deal with so many notes from so many different parties that you learn to accept rejection as just something that happens. A lot. It’s not personal, it’s just part of the day when you’re someone who comes up with stories. Some will work, some won’t.

Family was a theme that really stuck with me, reading PENNYROYAL ACADEMY—both the family you’re born with, and the family you make for yourself. What sort of impact did your family have on PENNYROYAL ACADEMY?

Even thought I’ve spent my career up until now writing for film and television, I always wanted to write books. My mom took my brother and I to the library all the time when we were kids. At first I would leave with a stack of Garfield books or whatever, but then on one visit I noticed a book with a picture of a rabbit on the front. It was Watership Down. I read that book over and over again, not even really understanding what it was about. I just knew it was magic. That was the switch flip that made me want to write books. My mom has done home daycare my entire life, so there were always dozens and dozens of books around the house, but it was those regular trips to the library that got me hooked. My dad was a radio DJ and a massive movie buff, so he was the driving force behind my love of cinema and music. To this day, Apocalypse Now is one of my top three films, and my dad showed that to me at a very young age. So his love of story also influenced me pretty heavily. I also have one brother who is just under two years older than me so needless to say, his interests were my interests. He introduced me to Stephen King when I was very young, and I became addicted to that sensation of being scared by a book. There’s a short story of his called “Graveyard Shift” that haunts me to this day. My brother also got me into Bunnicula and countless other more age-appropriate books. But you can see how vividly I connect stories to each member of my family.

We hear a lot about different fairy tales throughout PENNYROYAL ACADEMY. What were your favorite fairy tales growing up?

I have to admit, my exposure to fairy tales came primarily through Disney. I love most of the Disney fairy tales, actually. I think they get a bit of a bad rap these days. Sleeping Beauty is one of the most gorgeous things ever put on film, and The Little Mermaid will always be my favorite animated film. I didn’t sit down and read Grimms’ Fairy Tales until I started writing this book. And then I completely fell in love. Now I’ve read them all multiple times in multiple translations, and gotten into the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Perrault and Oscar Wilde. There are little fairy tale Easter Eggs all throughout Pennyroyal Academy, most from fairly obscure Grimms’ stories. Everything from character names to scenes to subplots. I wanted the reader to be able to feel the fairy tales throughout the story, even if they aren’t familiar with the fairy tale itself.

I am hopeful that there will be a sequel to PENNYROYAL ACADEMY—it feels like we still have SO much to learn. Assuming there will be another book, what can readers expect?

I don’t want to say! I’m such a proponent of going in cold, knowing nothing. I guess I’ll say that there are even more Brothers Grimm elements in the second book, so fairy tale fans will have lots more Easter Egg hunting to do. And there might be giants. Maybe. We’ll see.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Song that can always get you dancing?

I loathe dancing. And yet “Groove is in the Heart” gets me every time.

Favorite Halloween candy?

Anything with peanut butter. In fact, hold the candy and just give me a jar.

Starbucks beverage of choice?

Boring. Venti Americano.

French fries or tater tots?

Tater tots are the one true prepared potato form.

Skill you wish you possessed?

Dancing.

Favorite member of the Avengers?

EMMA PEEL. I know that’s not what you meant, but there is no denying she is the greatest Avenger of all time.

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Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow’s princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

Enlist today at PennyroyalAcademy.com!

Blog Tour Schedule:

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You can enter to win a Pennyroyal Academy Recruitment Kit by filling out the Rafflecopter form here!

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about the bookAnd here is more about Pennyroyal Academy, which is in stores now:

pennyroyal academyPennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow’s princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war.  She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academy masterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.

about the authorM.A. Larson (www.malarson.com) is a film and television writer who lives with his wife, daughter, and two dogs in a canyon in California. Larson has written for Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney UK, Discovery Kids Channel, The Hub, and Nickelodeon. As a writer on the cult sensation “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, he has been a guest at “brony” fan conventions from Paris, France to Dallas, Texas. Pennyroyal Academy is his first novel.

Unmarked author Kami Garcia’s Top 5 Fandoms

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As we celebrate our October Book of the Month, we asked Unmarked author Kami Garcia to share with us the top 5 fandoms that she adores. We LOVE that Kami is also a fellow fangirl … even while we, ourselves, are fangirls of her work. Here are Kami’s picks:

star warsStar Wars

Star Wars was the first fandom I fell in love with, long before fandom was a term. I remember standing in line to see the first movie and deciding I was going to marry Han Solo by the time I left the theater. For me, Star Wars is the perfect example of the hero’s journey, unforgettable characters, and a villain who is as complex as the hero.

buffyBuffy the Vampire Slayer

I’m a die-hard Buffy fan. I have my own replica stake, my dogs are named Spike & Oz, and one of the most exciting moments of my life was meeting Spike (James Marsters) at Montreal Comic-Con. He narrated my friend Melissa Marr’s audiobook, and she was nice enough to take me with her to meet him—though she did request that I keep it the fact that I named my dog after him to myself. I love stories in which very different people have to come together in order to defeat an uber-powerful adversary. Buffy is the perfect example, and the group dynamic was a huge inspiration for the Legion.

sam-dean-supernaturalSupernatural

Sam and Dean. Need I say more? For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show: angels, demons, a Chevy Impala, classic rock—and did I mention two hot brothers—equal a show and fandom made of win. In case my fan status is still in question, I have a life-sized standee of Dean in my office and a replica of Ruby’s knife made by Gil Hibben, who designed all the weapons for The Expendables.

VampireOriginals-featureThe Vampire Diaries/The Originals

Did I mention my love of hot brothers? In case Sam and Dean are a little too human for you, I give you Stefan and Damon: hot vampire brothers. One of my favorite things about The Vampire Diaries is the combination of vampires, werewolves, witches, and vampire hunters— because in the end, why choose just one? Damon and Caroline are my favorite characters, and it’s not just because Candice Accola narrated the UNBREAKABLE audiobook (though that was a fangirl request of mine). And I never thought I’d love a bad boy as much as Damon… until I met Klaus.

o-GAME-OF-THRONES-facebookGame of Thrones

Game of Thrones is the ultimate epic fantasy, complete with swordfights, intrigue, magic (dragons, anyone?), complex characters you’ll love (or love to hate), and a plot with twists you’ll never see coming. In the sprawling world of Westeros, people are never what they seem and no one is safe—two of the reasons why I love the books and the show. Game of Thrones also provides plenty of great catchphrases, like “winter is coming” and “fire and blood.”

In case there are any other fangirls & fanboys out there, be sure to check out my Pinterest boards for all of these fandoms: GoT, TVD, Star Wars, Buffy, and SPN (and lots more).

Blog Tour Guest Post + Contest: Compulsion by Martina Boone

Today, we have the pleasure of hosting an official stop on the blog tour for Compulsion by Martina Boone. Martina is stopping by with a guest post today – thanks, Martina!

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Leah Cypess, today’s Compulsion for Magic tour stop guest author, knows a little something about characters with limited magic. Her main character in Death Sworn—who Booklist called a “a heroine at the intersection of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna and George R.R. Martin’s Arya Stark”—is losing her magic at the same time that she’s supposed to be teaching magic to a group of deadly assassins. The more she uses her magic, the less she has, and the less she has, the more danger she is in. Since she is one of the authors who said generous things about Compulsion, she’s here today to share Ileni’s thoughts on “small magic.”

But what about you? For a chance to win the HUGE tour mega prize of books and the $100 gift card, tell us about the magical gift you’d like to have or one you wouldn’t wish on yourself.

Here’s what Leah had to say . . .

If you could have any “everyday” magical gift, like finding lost things or knowing what people want, what gift would you want and why?

I’d settle for being able to recognize peoples’ faces and names when I meet them! My 7-year-old daughter has this gift, and I’ve trained her to whisper people’s names into my ear, since I have terrible facial recognition skills. But to go for something a little more magical – I would want the ability to do things super-fast, so I could actually get to the end of my to-do list before 3 a.m.

What everyday magic would your characters wish they had and why?

I don’t know if Ileni of DEATH SWORN would settle for everyday magic — she used to be a powerful sorceress, and nothing but true magic would satisfy her. That said, I think she would like the ability to tell when people are about to try to kill her. That would be immensely useful in the Assassins’ Caves.

Eight, Barrie’s love interest in Compulsion, has inherited his family’s gift of knowing what people want and feeling compelled to give it to them. What’s one gift you’re glad you don’t have? Or your characters would be glad they didn’t have?

I don’t think Ileni would want the gift of being able to tell what people think of her — useful though it would be, it would also be incredibly depressing, since most of the people around her don’t think much of her. For someone used to being honored and admired, that would plunge her into a depression that even a hot assassin guy might not be able to pull her out of.

Barrie is tied to her family’s plantation, Watson’s Landing, in a magical way, and the whole landscape becomes magical for her. What’s the one place in your book that you wish you could bring to life?

Most of the caverns described in DEATH SWORN are actually based on real caves — so they already exist! I do wish I could visit the ones I haven’t made it to yet, especially Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico.

If you were going to a Halloween party and you had to dress as a character from a Southern Gothic or a Gothic romance, what would your costume look like?

Like my pajamas, because I would probably make an excuse to stay home and work on copyedits or something. (Sorry to shatter any illusions about authors’ exciting lives….)

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Hah! I think most writers can relate—if not to the pajamas then at least to yoga pants. The glamorous life indeed . . .

Now your turn! Tell us about your magic.

 And/Or . . .

Bonus option: If you’ve already left a comment on another tour stop about what kind of magic you’d like or you just want to do something different for extra entry points, show us your magical, gothic, or Southern gothic costume! How would you do a character like Ileni from Death Sworn or a character a gothic romance like Jane Eyre or Rebecca du Maurier’s Rebecca? How would you do Scarlet from Gone with the Wind? Or show us an“everyday magic” as part of a Halloween costume! Post a comment with the URL to your photo and we’ll share it. Use tag #CompulsionMagic.

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Here’s more about Compulsion, in stores October 28th:

compulsionThree plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

Pre-Order Compulsion:

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

Signed copies are available for pre-order from One More Page Books. You can also pre-order with the special I have a Compulsion for readingbookplate from Eight Cousins. Pre-Order Incentives Going on here.

Early Praise for Compulsion:

“Darkly romantic and steeped in Southern Gothic charm, you’ll be compelled to get lost in the Heirs of Watson Island series.”

— #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Jennifer L. Armentrout

“A fresh twist on the Southern Gothic — haunting, atmospheric, and absorbing.”

— Claudia Gray, New York Times bestselling author of A Thousand Pieces of You and the Evernight and Spellcaster series

“Compulsion is a stunningly magical debut with a delicious slow burn to be savored. I want to live in this story world!”

— Wendy Higgins, USA Today and NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil trilogy from HarperTeen

About Martina Boone:

Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them.

She’s the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site devoted to encouraging literacy and all things YA Series.

From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, and Auggie the wonder dog, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.

Website | Blog | Tumblr | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter

 

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Do you have a Compulsion for Reading? Then you don’t want to miss what Martina Boone is giving away! 5 lucky winners will each win the following:

Grand Prize Winner – will win EVERYTHING pictured above! That’s the right! That entire bag of books will go to 1 reader!! *US residents only

Next Winner – will win a $100 gift card to the book store of their choice! *open internationally

3 Additional winners will each win a Compulsion prize pack which features a signed copy of Compulsion, a Compulsion necklace and bookmarks. *open internationally

To enter to win, please fill out the Rafflecopter form here!

Exclusive Q&A with Unmarked author Kami Garcia: Part 3

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Today, we continue our three-part exclusive Q&A with Unmarked author Kami Garcia. Check out part 1 here and part 2 here if you missed it. Today, it’s time for FLASH QUESTIONS!

kami garciaFavorite decade?

1980’s

Must-have writing snack? 

Baskin Robbins Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream & Diet Coke

Favorite Disney movie? 

The Rescuers 

The beach or the mountains? 

Beach

Song that can always get you dancing? 

September by Earth, Wind & Fire

Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space)

Noise-canceling headphones, MacBook Air, Diet Coke with lots of ice, my photo inspiration wall & my Magneto helmet

Thanks again, Kami!