Author Interview: Melissa De La Cruz

Leann Reads Books: What was your inspiration for the world of Never After?

Melissa De La Cruz: A little bit of Lord of the Rings, a little bit of Los Angeles. There are some fun LA jokes in the book, like Jack lives in Vineland which is north of Lankershim, which only people who live in Los Angeles would get. It’s an homage to Piers Anthony’s books where the fantasyland looks a lot like Florida.

LRB: How did you decide which fairy tale characters to include?

Cruz: They just kind of come naturally. I love the story of Schehazerade, and also Ali Baba, so I had to have them. Jack and the Beanstalk, because I love the name Jack. I try to use fairyale characters everyone has heard of so they get the reference.

LRB: Who is Alistair modeled after?

Cruz: Alistair is sort of inspired by a friend of mine in college who was hilarious. 

LRB: What made you want to write a fairy tale retelling?

Cruz: I love fairy tales and I love twisting and retelling them to see how far I can change the story while still remaining true to the spirit of it.

LRB: Do you have any writing quirks? Or any superstitions while you’re working on a book?

Cruz: Not really. I can work anywhere. Hospital rooms. Train stations. Your dining table. 

LRB: What authors or books do you draw inspiration from?

Cruz: Stephen King was my favorite author as  a teen, and just they way he is so kind to his readers, and his worldview in general is so generous, I am very inspired by him.

Book Feature! Like Home

TITLE: Like Home

AUTHOR: Louisa Onomé

PUBLISHER: Delacorte Press

RELEASE DATE: February 23rd, 2021

GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Contemporary

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9780593172599

SYNOPSIS:

Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil.

Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good.

Only, Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends on Ginger East with promises to “fix” it. Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama unfolding on a national scale.

Worse yet, Kate is acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact moment they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything⁠—and everyone⁠—she loves.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Louisa Onomé is a writer of books for teens. She holds a BA in professional writing from York University and is represented by Claire Friedman at InkWell Management.

A part of the Author Mentor Match round 3 cohort, she is also a writing mentor and all-around cheerleader for diverse works and writers. When she is not writing, her hobbies include picking up languages she may never use, trying to bake bread, and perfecting her skincare routine. She currently resides in the Toronto area.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Up for grabs, we have TWO (2) finished copies of Like Home by Louisa Onomé! This giveaway will run from February 21st to February 28th at 11:59 PM CST and is open to US residents only. To enter, click the link below!

GIVEAWAY LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d22/?

Review: To Drink Coffee With a Ghost

If Amanda Lovelace has written it, I’m here for it. I have loved what I have read so far of her Women Are Some Kind of Magick series, and while To Drink Coffee With A Ghost was a little more haunting, Lovelace’s voice still shines through.

There were definitely a number of poems that I and myself re-reading as I read this, or tuning back to after I flipped the page.

While this is a quick read, these poems are definitely meant to be savored. Thought about long after you’ve put the book down.

The poems “the letter I cannot send I, II, III” had me bawling my eyes eyes by the time I made it to the last line of the last one.

If you’re looking for a quick cathartic read, anything by Amanda Lovelace I would recommend, but “To Drink Coffee With A Ghost” has been the most cathartic read I’ve had in a long time.

Book Feature: A Twist of the Blade

TITLE: A Twist of the Blade
SERIES TITLE: Shadows and Crowns Series, Book 2
GENRE: NA Romantic Epic Fantasy

STEAM LEVEL: Mild, 2.5/5
RELEASE DATE: 01.28.21
GIVEAWAY ENDS: 02.06.21

TRIGGER WARNING:violence, death, main character struggles with anxiety/ptsd

Mercenary. Survivor. Queen. Who is Casia Greythorne?

BLURB: (May contain spoilers for book 1)

Still reeling from an unimaginable loss and the revelation of an identity she isn’t sure she wants to embrace, Casia has one plan: Try to control something. Something like the strange magic awakening inside of her. Mastering that magic will take her and her friends on a quest through cursed lands, into the dwellings of old gods, and deep into a southern empire filled with deadly foes and unlikely allies.

Meanwhile, the foundations of the Kethran Empire continue to crumble. The king-emperor clings to his crown with increasingly bloodied hands. Monsters and soldiers alike stalk Casia’s every step, determined not to let her return to claim a throne that is rightfully hers. Still, the greatest threat to her possible rule may not lie in the king-emperor, but in a former captain of his army—a man that she came dangerously close to falling in love with.

Elander Revenmar thought he knew who he was. He had a mission, a plan, a god he was content to serve. Then came Casia. A woman as mysterious as she is dangerous. One he should have stayed away from, and whose life he never should have saved.

Because salvation always comes with a cost.

And some debts can only be paid for in blood.

COMPARABLE TITLES:
Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
From Blood and Ash – Jennifer L. Armentrout
Kingdom of Runes Saga – Audrey Grey

Purchase link for A TWIST OF THE BLADEhttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HR2PFW4

Thank you to Book of Matches Media for hosting this tour!

Author Interview! Katharyn Blair’s Unchosen

Leann Reads Books: What was the inspiration for the story of Charlotte and Unchosen?

Katharyn Blair: I wanted to write a story from the perspective of the one who wasn’t “supposed” to save the world. I also wanted to write a sister story, and those came together in UNCHOSEN

LRB: How did you develop this world?

KB: It took a while to let everything percolate, and quite a bit of Pinterest and Spotify and daydreaming. Eventually, I went to the drawing board to try and map out the world and the rules. It took quite a few tries (and some serious input from my lovely, brilliant editor), but we finally got it down!

LRB: What came first – the plot or the characters?

KB: They arrived at the exact same time, actually, which is what tends to happen with me. It’s kind of weird, but it’s what happens! 

LRB: Do you have any writing quirks? Or any superstitions while you’re working on a book?

KB: I absolutely cannot write without first making a playlist. You gotta get the vibes right, you know? Usually, each character will have a song, and it really helps me see them. 

LRB: What authors or books do you draw inspiration from?

KB: I spent my childhood reading R.L. Stine, J.R.R. Tolkien, Libba Bray, and too many others to count. They gave me the fantastical view of the world I use today. But for this book, in particular, I was strongly inspired by The Walking Dead. It’s one of the stories in recent years that has completely captivated me and helped me feel strong when things get hard and scary (and that, I’ve found, is the mark of a great story). 

Review: Daughter of Dreams and Dread

MINI REVIEW!

I’m still reeling from finishing this book. Thank you to @bookofmatchesmedia for including me on this tour! 

While I loved Estelle – she’s an incredibly strong female protagonist who grows into being a badass and into her magic, – the story took a weird, hard turn for me in the middle. At one point, I had to close the book and make sure I was still reading the same book.

That said, the twist at the end had me 🙀, and I flew through the last handful of chapters.

TRIGGER WARNINGS – Graphic violence, abuse, adult language, mention (not graphic) of rape and assault.

BLURB:

When fate tears Estelle Verndari from an ordinary world, dreams become a sinister new reality. In Kiliac, different is dangerous. Different means magic, and magic is punishable by death.  

Lost and alone in a forest of nightmares, Estelle is saved by Rose, a man with fire in his eyes and blood on his hands. But she must learn to survive this brutal new world if she ever hopes to make it home. As the forest becomes a sanctuary, Rose captures her heart, and Estelle discovers a secret magic in her soul—the ability to heal in a world full of ruin.

But an ancient power is calling her name. A tyrant king is drowning the forest in death, and taking up arms to defend it means giving up on finding her path home. If Estelle’s secret is uncovered, everything she’s grown to love will be destroyed.

Thank you to Book of Matches Media and Clare Kae for the advanced copy in exchanged for my hosting this tour and for the advanced reading copy.

ORDER LINKS

www.amazon.com.au/dp/B08HH1LVYN/

Review: How to Remember Everything

I’ve never been great at remembering anything. I carry a journal with me just about everywhere to write down important information so I don’t immediately forget it. And when I’m meeting new people, I’m great with faces, terrible with names.

So a book on How to Remember Everything, yes, please!

I didn’t go into this book with a whole lot of hope for me. Because, again, nothing much sticks in the ok’ memory trap. But, let me tell you, Weinstein’s methods actually work! Even for someone like me!

Jacob Sager Weinstein breaks his memory tips and tricks down into 11 easy to understand chapters with examples and memory tests. And I actually found myself remembering the lists and memory tests he set out in the chapters using the tricks and tips presented in the book.

Hopefully I can remember these tricks going forward, though, to be able to use them. 🙈

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and author Jacob Sager Weinstein for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Purchase Link: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781250235268

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

Up for grabs is one (1) physical copy of How to Remember Everything. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run from November 2nd to November 9th at 11:59 PM CST. To enter, head to the rafflecopter giveaway below!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d10/

AUTHOR INFORMATION

AUTHOR BIO: Jacob Sager Weinstein’s work has appeared in The New Yorker and The Onion, and he has written for HBO and the BBC as well. He lives in London with his wife and children.

His latest book is HOW TO REMEMBER EVERYTHING: TIPS AND TRICKS OF THE MEMORY MASTERS.

ILLUSTRATOR BIO: BARBARA MALLEY is an illustrator from Southern California.  She earned a BFA from the Laguna College of Art + Design and an MFA from California State University Fullerton.  Barbara has worked professionally as an animation character designer, a product designer, and as a cartoonist.  Her artwork has been published in books and magazines, exhibited in several group and solo gallery shows, and was sported on the mask of a professional hockey goalie. Currently, she is working as an adjunct instructor at CSUF and LCAD and is freelancing as an illustrator and character designer.

When she’s not obsessively drawing in her sketchbook, Barbara loves to watch ice hockey, collect rocks, memorize star catalogs, read comic books, and travel by train.  She lives with her cat, Gremlin, and parakeets, Pea and Poop.

Review: Love Surreptitiously

Surreptitiously: in a way that attempts to avoid notice or attention; secretively.

Sidney works in content and layout for World Tripping magazine and is up for promotion when the long-time Editor announces that all personnel changes will be put on hold as he retires and introduces a new Editor-in-Chief. 

The story of Sidney and Quinn’s secret affair blooms from there – staying late, sneaking kisses behind closed doors, dates far enough from the office that they hope no one will catch them.

Love Surreptitiously was cute, but definitely not my favorite read of the year. There were a number of times when I didn’t know who was speaking and found myself re-reading dialogue to try to figure it out.

It’s also written 90% in Sidney’s POV, with just little glimpses into Quinns POV. I wish there had been more times when the book switched between them.

The blossoming romance between the two, however, was sweet, and that kept me engaged in the book. And, while absolutely predictable, I truly enjoyed the predictability in the story in this one.

Love Surreptitiously is available now – and is free with Kindle Unlimited.

Thank you to Give Me Books PR and author Tarrah Anders for the free advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

GOODREADS LINK: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54864495-love-surreptitiously

PURCHASE LINKS – $2.99 for a limited time!

US: https://amzn.to/3jwisNZ

UK: https://amzn.to/3boy8QA

CA: https://amzn.to/34T4yBp

AU: https://amzn.to/2EQiVvk

Free in Kindle Unlimited

AUTHOR BIO

Tarrah Anders is a contemporary romance author who is all about the feels, with the twists of sexy mixed in between. Writing has always been a passion and Tarrah loves to share her words, her characters and the world that they live in with her readers. Tarrah enjoys creating characters that you can be friends with, so get ready to make some new friends. 

She is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, but living in beautiful San Diego with her family, while working in Program Management within the social work field.

AUTHOR LINKS

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/tarrahanders

Newsletter: https://smarturl.it/BEMYBUDDY

Website: https://www.tarrahanders.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/tarrah-anders

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarrahanders

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tarrahanders

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tarrah.anders.5

BOOK REVIEW: Tourist Attraction

I love books that are set in beautiful destinations. And Alaska might be one of my favorite places in the world. When there are fun books set in this beautiful location, you know I’m all in. Which is why I loved The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler.

The town of Moose Springs is so beautifully and thoroughly described that readers are quickly transported to this small town in Alaska.

I absolutely loved Graham and completely understood his compassion and concern for his small town. I also really liked Zoey – I admired her determination in saving for her trip to Alaska, and trying to make the best of her trip, even as things started to go sideways.

I also found all of the relationships believable and wanted to be a part of the Moose Springs community and all of the love and support that’s there. 

However, the only thing I ever questioned was how Zoey and Lana became friends. That relationship and the dynamic between the two never really made any sense to me. And, while the history of how the two became friends is explained, the dynamic never really makes sense between the two throughout the entire book.

I really enjoyed this romcom, even though the ending was pretty predictable. Granted, light and predictable is exactly what I needed right now during this pandemic and lockdown. Especially when every day there’s something new on the news, it was perfect to be transported to a remote, small town in Alaska and spend some time there.

I was provided a free advanced readers copy for my honest review. This blog contains affiliate links.

BOOK REVIEW: Purple Cow

All marketers encounter this issue – especially when the products are “good enough” and business is “fine.” The company doesn’t want to change their product offering to disrupt the marketplace. That disruption – what Godin calls the “Purple Cow” – is the new, the remarkable, the product or service that everyone is talking about. 

Remember the cronut – EVERYONE knew about it. Not because the bakery did any significant advertising or marketing around their new baked good. But because their new, remarkable bakery item was JUST. THAT. GOOD. And people wanted to share it with their friends and family.

Godin asks marketers and business people alike – why doesn’t your business offer a remarkable product or service? Or, what can you do to your current products to make the service remarkable that people will leave your store talking about your business?

Godin’s book is short and, if you’re in business in the marketing department, product development, or all the way at the top, you should definitely read. It definitely had me thinking about new ways to invigorate the products and services offered in my office.

This blog contains affiliate links.