Friday, November 29, 2013

An interview with author Michelle Zink

Back in 2009 the Borders Staff had the privilege of meeting author Michelle Zink.  Her first book The Prophecy of the Sisters was about to launch and she wanted to use our bookstore for her launch party.  As the Assistant Manager it was my job to make sure the event went off without a hitch.  What I didn't realize was that I would end up becoming friends with her.  She became a huge part of our Borders family.  She again came to our store for the release of The Guardian of the Gate.  We had an event set up for the final book in the Prophecy series when the bad news came down that we were liquidating.  

I actually found out Borders was closing from her twitter feed, which was devastating to me.  She came to support us during our last week of business, bringing us goodies to cheer us up. Michelle is truly a special member of the Borders family and we try to do what we can to support her as an author and a friend.  I miss talking shop with her like we used to.  We would stand in the middle of the Young Adult section and just talk about what authors were doing well and what wasn't.  

Part of this interview was supposed to be published back in April 2012, but unfortunately due to issues on both ends (including the early birth of my daughter) it never got done.

So here is our interview with Michelle.  and when you're done reading this, make sure to enter our giveaway for her latest book This Wicked Game.  

1) Alan: If someone (let’s just say it’s a middle aged man who reads a lot of mystery/thrillers and suspense - not that I can think of anyone like that off the top of my head) asked you to recommend one of your own books, which one would you pick, and why? 

Lol. ;) Right now I'd probably suggest starting with Prophecy of the Sisters. It's very much a classical fantasy/mystery in the vein of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, with a paranormal twist, and the next two books, Guardian of the Gate and Circle of Fire, have a quest-type element a la Lord of the Rings. That said, I have a couple of thrillers in the works that haven't been announced yet. 

2) Claire: Could you explain the process you go through while writing a book?

Drafting is such an organic process for me that it's hard to quantify, but let me see if I can try. Once I have an idea, I start by fleshing out the main character -- their motivation, appearance, psychology, etc. After that I look at the inciting incident and surrounding events, which helps me figure out where the book should be begin. In YA especially, you really don't have the luxury of a big build up. I try to start my books as close to the inciting incident as possible to draw the reader in quickly. Once I have all of that nailed, I move onto supporting characters, major plot points, and themes, if any (sometimes a theme doesn't reveal itself to me until I begin writing). The last thing I do before I begin drafting is create a Sequence of Events. This is a list of big things that must happen to get me from the beginning of the book to the end (I often have the last line in my mind before I even start writing). The sequence of events has been transformative. By allowing me to see all the big things that must happen, the book kind of reveals itself as I figure out how to get as expeditiously as possible from one major thing to the next. 

3) Claire: Where do your ideas come from and how exactly do you turn them into stories?

Now THAT is organic. I get ideas everywhere, nearly everyday. They can come from movies, stories in the newspaper, things I see my teenagers go through, memories of my own adolescence, and sometimes out of thin air. 

4) Claire: What is next on your agenda?
I have a book/TV option with ABC that I can't talk about, two new books coming out with HarperCollins (2015 and 2016), an adult book in process, and several YA ideas that I'm toying with. I've also been lucky enough to have some out-of-the-box opportunities, like writing for app companies and working on companion novels or "punch ups" of book/TV tie ins (a punch up is where one person writes a book or script and another is hired to make it better, or "punch it up"). I'd love to write literary fiction for adults, but right now I'm focusing on the projects in front of me. I'm also toying with the idea of trying my hand at self-publishing and/or writing more semi-erotic fiction (as in my Shadowguard novella series). Sorry you asked yet? :)

5) Jenn N: After reading your biography I noticed that you started writing later in life. What gave you the courage to pursue a new, challenging career and what advice can you give to other 30 somethings wishing they weren’t stuck behind a desk all day?

I've always been a writer, I just lost my way trying to make a living. Lol. First and foremost, determine if there's any way you can give yourself more time to pursue your goal. Can you downsize your lifestyle at all? Live less expensively so that you might work a less demanding job? I sold my house in California and moved my family to an inexpensive rural town, then sold antiques online to make a living while I wrote. It was terrifying but I was very determined not to spend my life doing something I didn't enjoy. That might not be possible for everyone, but in almost every case, compromises CAN be made to make more time an achievable goal. If that's not possible, create a schedule that sets aside time for your goal every single day. I live and die by mine, and I always have. Back when my kids were small and I had to sell antiques to make a living (which involved spending a lot of time at auctions, taking pictures, listing stuff, packing stuff, etc.), I wrote every night from 9pm to 3am. I gave up TV in 2006 when I was revising Prophecy of the Sisters, because I was determined to become published and just couldn't justify the time away from achieving my goal ( I wrote five books in two and a half years that way. Prophecy was the fifth). Even if you're working a day job, you can build in an hour for yourself every day. That hour should be sacred -- no TV, no social networking, no email. Just focus on doing something to meet your goal for on hour (or however much time you can eek out) a day. With writing, you can write 1,000 words an hour once you get in the habit. That's a book every 2-3 months working one hour a day. Lastly, don't let anyone tell you it isn't possible. It is never too late to reinvent yourself.

6) Rebecca: I know your kids are pretty involved in promoting and such. I was wondering how much they are involved and what they think about having a mom who writes young adult. Also how does having teenagers in the house impact your writing. Do you draw inspiration from them and their friends?

My older two kids are in college now, and they're very busy with their own projects (art and writing respectively). My younger two are less interested (one of them is a political junkie and the other an aspiring filmmaker). Plus, I think the novelty of having an author for a mom has worn off in the face of the not-very-glamourous reality (deadlines, work in your pajamas, mass quantities of caffeine and candy, etc.). They absolutely inspire my writing, even if it's just a seed from something that happens to them or something I hear them talking about. I try to be careful not to pilfer directly, but I do gain inspiration by being around young people so much, and I find that I have more New Adult ideas now that my older two are in college. 

7) Jessica P: Which of your books is your favorite?

The Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy is really the story of my heart. It has the most of me in it, and it's the book that changed my life. 

Jessica P: Do any of your books stand out as being easy or hard to write?

Alice in Prophecy of the Sisters and Raum in A Temptation of Angeles were both challenging. I don't like to create cookie-cutter villains, so I really worked to make them nuanced and human and three-dimensional. One of the things I'm most proud of is Alice winning Best Villain against Lord Voldemort in the Teen Reads Awards, not just because of the award, but because even as people were truly afraid of her, I received emails almost daily from readers who said they felt sorry for her. I consider that a writing win. 

9) Jessica P: Which character from your books would you invite to dinner, and why?

There is a very mysterious character in my upcoming 2015 book with whom I'd love to chat. ;)

10) Jessica P: Are there any authors out there who inspired your writing at all?

So many! Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Janet Fitch, Margaret Atwood, Michael Koryta, Sarah Waters, Lois Duncan. The list goes on! 

11)  What is your favorite tv show?

Six Feet Under will forever and always have my heart.

12)  What type of movie do you like to watch?

We're movie fanatics! I like movies that do something different, which makes Indies a favorite. Lately I've loved Beasts of the Southern Wild, Cloud Atlas, Prisoners, The Master, Twelve Years a Slave. I'm also a sucker for a good inspirational film or tear jerker (Invictus, The Blind Side) and enjoy the occasional smart comedy. 

13) Do you ever get influenced by music while you are writing?

All the time! I purposefully choose film scores that mimic the atmosphere I want in the book I'm writing. They become the "soundtrack" of that novel, and it really helps me stay true to my original vision for the book. 

14) What would be your perfect last meal?

Some kind of mexican food. 

15)  Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Plenty! I love the occasional trashy erotic romance (Black Dagger Brotherhood anyone?), HGTV while I wrap Christmas presents with my girls, A "fruit salad" that my grandmother used to make in the midwest that is little more than apples, oranges, bananas, walnuts and mayonnaise (don't judge!), and probably worst of all, Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos. ;) 

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Laydown Lowdown

After you gather together this week, you might want to take some time to relax with one of this week's new reads or get started on your holiday shopping.

There are plenty of treats for Romance lovers this week.  Your stocking will be overflowing with "Dangerous Seduction," by Zoe Archer, "Wildest Dreams," by Toni Blake, "Chain of Illusions," by Boone Brux, "The Devil Wears Kilts," by Suzanne Enoch, "The Pirate Bride," by Sandra Hill, "Beneath This Man," by Jodi Ellen Malpas, and "Hard Target: Elite Ops," by Kay Thomas. 

Slide your sleigh over to Science Fiction/Fantasy for "The Hum and the Shiver," by Alex Bledsoe, "Last to Rise," by Francis Knight," or "The Land Across," by Gene Wolfe.  

Mystery fans will want to wrap up "Hostage," by Kay Hooper, "Our Picnics in the Sun," by Morag Joss and "Doyle After Death," by John Shirley.

Over in Young Adult, you'll find "Angel Fever," the conclusion to L.A. Weatherly's "Angel" Trilogy, "Pawn," by Aimee Carter, and "Fireblood," by Trisha Wolfe.

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list or your "to-gift" list?  Share with us!  Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

All My Restless Life to Live by Dee DeTarsio

Today, we're proud to be a stop on the blog tour for "All My Restless Life to Live," by Dee DeTarsio, as sponsored by AToMR tours.

Life is a soap opera, especially for Elle Miller, who writes for one.  (Ellen dropped the “n” in her name in hopes of finding a better ending for herself.) When her laptop crashes, she borrows her recently deceased dad’s computer and gets way more than she bargained for.

Elle unravels mysterious communications from his computer, while her mom
to give Internet dating a try. As Elle tries to save her career at "I’d Rather Be Loved" with a storyline featuring a trip through Atlantis, she takes a trip to the Emmy's, and finds herself in the middle of a romance between a real doctor and a hunk who just plays one on TV. Friends, family, and clues from “the other side” all help Elle figure out the difference between living the good life and living a good life.

The title and premise alone drew me to this book.  I've been a fan of "General Hospital" for 19 years and mourn the loss of "All My Children," every day at 1pm.  I hate that soap operas are rarely given respect.  So, it was refreshing to read a novel set in the world of soap operas.  I loved that Elle took her job as a soap opera writer seriously and that she was passionate about the genre.  My favorite scenes in the novel were the ones that took place at her work.  The behind the scenes drama at "I'd Rather Be Loved," such as fears of cancellations and budget cuts, mirrored the problems I read about in "Soap Opera Digest."  I also loved her comical co-workers, especially "Dr. Brad."  The trip to the Daytime Emmy Awards was great, if only the real telecast was as action packed. The unique way Elle communicated with her deceased father could've come off as goofy but DeTarsio made it very touching.  I loved the love/hate relationship Elle had with her mother. I must admit that I am guilty of many of the things Elle faulted her mother for including greeting card envelope theft.  Read the book to see what I mean.  Elle's romantic life also featured some touching and comical moments.  I was quite surprised by her lover's secret and I wouldn't have handled it the way she did.  However, this was a great read and I look forward to the sequel that the book's close seems to set up for.

I recommend "All My Restless Life to Live," by Dee DeTarsio not just to soap opera fans but for anyone who loves a good, lighthearted romance or touching tale.
For more information, please visit the rest of the stops of the blog tour and visit the author's personal website.

Our tour hosts are raffling off 2 print copies of "All My Restless Life to Live," by Dee DeTarsio.  Check out the Rafflecopter for your chance to win.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Give Thanks

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I rounded up the BWOBNY crew to see what they're thankful for. 

"I am thankful for my family & friends. I am especially thankful for [my daughter] who makes every day worth it."

"I am thankful for postcards, and butterflies, and finishing up degrees, and nieces who say hilarious things, and pens that write beautifully, and all of those who have continually loved and supported me through the years."

"I am thankful for the opportunity I've had to go to school (more) and to teach. They both drive me crazy, but my life would be poorer without those experiences. Also for lots of amazing books and friends and family to share them with!"

"I am thankful for my friends and family, the love of my late cat Boris, and those who fought and continue to fight for our freedom.  I am also grateful for this blog and great books."

What are you thankful for?  Please share with us.  Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Enter to win a great prize pack!!!!!

Next week we will be featuring an interview with one of our favorite authors Michelle Zink.  In anticipation of that interview we are happy to announce that Michelle is providing us with a great prize pack all about her new book This Wicked Game!

If you win you will get:

  • an autographed copy of the This Wicked Game
  • a bookmark
  • a magnet
  • a Magnolia scented candle
  • a customized voodoo bracelet
Unfortunately we must limit entries to the United States.  

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So go on, take a chance and enter to win!  Good Luck to all!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Laydown Lowdown

We haven't even celebrated Thanksgiving yet but it seems like Christmas decorations, music, and advertisements are everywhere.  Why don't we all take some time to slow down and relax with a good book such as one of today's new releases.

Make your way to Mystery for "Takedown Twenty," the latest caper involving accident prone bounty hunter Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich is available today along with "Nowhere Nice," by Rick Gavin, "Burnt Black," by Ed Kovacs, "A Nasty Piece of Work," by Robert Littell, and  "Dandy Gilver and a Number of Corpses," by Catriona McPherson.

Be careful walking by Romance, you may find yourself "Accidentally a Vampire," by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff. "The Rogue's Proposal," by Jennifer Haymore and "Along Came Trouble," by Erin Kern are also available today.

Slink on over to Science Fiction/Fantasy for "We Will Destroy Your Planet: An Alien's Guide to Conquering the World," by David McIntee, "Bloodstone," by Gillian Phillip and "Watcher of the Dark," by Joseph Nassise.

Bestselling author Richelle Mead, releases her fourth novel in the "Bloodlines' series, "The Fiery Heart" and is the only new release in Young Adult today.

Other new releases in fiction include "King and Mawell," by David Baldacci and "The Christmas Angel," by Jane Maas.

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list?  Share with us!  Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fairy Interesting: OUAT - Think Lovely Thoughts

3.8 "Think Lovely Thoughts"

Tonight we go back in time to the Rumple's childhood, the beginning of Neverland as we know it, and the most shocking and bizarre twist on parent/child drama we've seen yet. And on this show, that's saying a lot! Meanwhile Emma is taking the "Snow" role in determining there must be another way to save David, which of course there is (we hope). Everyone, but especially Neal, has to decide whether Rumple is trustworthy or if he's out to save himself, and Pan's evil plot comes to a head as Henry has to decide whether to believe his family or Pan.

Trust was the theme of the episode: Who can you trust and who should you trust. And in classic Once Upon a Time style, the question is focused on family. Can you trust your family, even if they have shown themselves to be deceitful in the past? Family can be a strength and a liability. The question raised is which one win out - by the end of the episode it certainly seems that family is much more of a liability.

Rumple as a little boy was adorable, and it was striking how many similarities there were between his story and Bae's. Both had fathers who were seen as cowards. Both had fathers who were willing to sacrifice their sons in order to gain power or respect. Both swore they weren't going to be like their fathers. And both are now having the opportunity to redeem themselves.

Side note: The casting they did for Rumple's father was perfect. He's got a lot of the same twitchy mannerisms and the same laugh. So wonderful.

In all of his struggles through his life (of what we've seen to this point, anyway) Rumple has tried to avoid becoming the man his father was. But every step he has taken has moved him in that direction anyway. When it comes down to it, his response to his father (!!!!! but we'll get to that in a minute) is that the difference between them is that he regretted his actions immediately and has spent his life trying to find Bae again. He risked everything to leave Storeybrook last season and his only purpose was to find his son and try to make it up to him. For Rumple's father there doesn't seem to have been any kind of repentance. Even in what we've seen on Neverland so far, he's done nothing to show that he wants what he claims to want at the very end. Other than claiming the doll's name (which I'll get to in a second), the only other thing I can think of is that bringing the Lost Boys to Neverland was Pan's way of trying to reclaim his son and to keep other boys from suffering the same fate that he thrust upon his son in his quest for youth.

And I seriously want to go back and watch every single scene between Rumple and Pan again, just to see if there are any clues I overlooked!

Speaking of which. PAN?! Holy cow, I totally did NOT see that one coming. How on earth can this possibly be? My actual reaction was this: WHAT JUST HAPPENED WHAT THE HAY BALE AND I HAVE NO ABILITY TO CAN
I kid you not; that was what my fingers typed as I gaped at the tv.

So, not only do we have the twist that the forever boy is actually Rumple's father (and Neal's grandfather ... and Henry's great-grandfather and all those other bizarre family connections that now have my head spinning), but Pan's shadow used to be the only thing living in Neverland and it isn't actually Pan's shadow at all. Plus, there's a time limit on Pan's life.

We also have proof that Pan has been a liar from the beginning. He lied to his Rumple repeatedly, he became Pan through a lie to Rumple, he pretty much lies to the Lost Boys continually, and now he's flat out lying to Henry's face to gain more power. This is the thing that makes me believe that he never truly regretted his decision. Rumple is willing to sacrifice his life to save Henry. Pan is willing to lie to Henry to get him to sacrifice his own life so he can live forever. This is not the action of a repentant person.

And hello, what do we do now that Rumple is in the box?! GAH!

The idea of naming came up several times in this episode. We finally see the real significance of the doll Rumple's been mooning over and as soon as Peter Pan asked why Rumple thought he'd used that name I knew it had to be. His father says that "naming makes things better" and then he steals that name in order to further his own power.

And of course, we learn why Rumple is such a good spinner.

Going back to the idea of trust, it becomes really clear throughout the episode that Rumple couldn't ever trust his father. Even now. However, it does seem that Neal can trust Rumple. So often it has come down to his own self-preservation and Rumple has chosen himself, but there does seem to have been a genuine change. And for some reason I buy it and believe it with Rumple in a way I never did with Regina. Maybe it's because he's still manipulative in his "deals" (how mad was he that he couldn't get anything for saving David's life?), but when it comes to family, he's quite intent on taking care of them now. Snow and David are still having a crisis of belief, but Emma comes out as the strong one, determined to find a way to save them all.

And of course the largest test of trust comes in the end when Henry has to decide who he can trust. Does he trust his adoptive mother who lied to him for most of his life, his mother who abandoned him and lied to him about his father, and his father who he has only recently discovered and hasn't had time to develop a relationship with OR does he trust Pan who kidnapped him, but who has used the exact right manipulations with the "sick" Wendy routine and Henry's burning desire to be a hero? When it comes down to it, Henry, surprisingly, doesn't have the faith in his family to believe that they are telling the truth. It does fit with his character and his need to save everyone, but I was so disappointed that he would turn away from his family. Failing to trust them may have cost him his life.

Other notes from the episode:

How much water do you think they need to bring back? And what are they lugging up the mountain to carry water back to the ship? How much and how often will David have to drink? And if Rumple is in Pandora's box, then WHAT ABOUT DAVID?

I found the box thing a little bit lame. But it does set up the next episode (at least from the previews) with the importance of imagination and belief in Neverland. If Pan could steal the box, then they can just figure out how to turn that idea against him. Can they believe Henry's heart back in his chest?

A couple of my favorite HA moments:

David throws Hook the knife and says, "Here, in case your good looks fail you"

The look Regina gave Rumple when he asked if she remembered the spell was priceless.

I also just realized that pixie dust grows on trees, but fairy dust has to be mined. I feel like there's some sort of weird significance in this.

They had better take like a few barrels with them to carry water. How much and how often does he need to drink?

And these were my notes from the Pandora Box to the end of the episode:

NO! Not Rumple! Come save him Neal! AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!



That's totally not true at all. Don't you dare kill Henry. Don't you dare.


You have got to be freaking kidding me.
So I might be a little excited about the next episode. but we have to wait 2 whole weeks!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Laydown Lowdown

Brrrr, it's been in the 30's in our area.  Between this and Daylight Savings Time, all I want to do is stay in with a book and a comfy blanket.  Fortunately, there are plenty of great books to choose from.

Mystery/Thriller fans will want to pick up "Dust," the 21st "Kay Scarpetta," tale by best-selling author Patricia Cornwell.  Other new releases in the genre include "An Old Betrayal," by Charles Finch, "Tooth for a Tooth," by T. Frank Muir, "A Christmas Hope," by Anne Perry, "White Fire," by Douglas Preston, and "Ghost Medicine," by Aimee Thurlo.

Skip over to Science Fiction/Fantasy for "Long Live the Queen," the 3rd "Immortal Empire," novel by Kate Locke or "Apparition," by Trish J. MacGregor. 

Romance fans will be "Rescued by a Stranger," by Lizbeth Selvig, the only new release in the genre today.

Over in Young Adult, you'll find "Splendor," by Elana K. Arnold, "Loud Awake and Lost," by Adele Griffin, "Afterglow," by Karsten Knight and "This Wicked Game," the first in a new series by Michelle Zink.  Please check back in a few weeks for a full review and interview with Michelle!

Other new fiction releases include, "Stella Bain," the latest by best-selling author Anita Shreve and "The Runaway Wife," by Rowan Coleman. 

Will any of these books make your "to-read" list?  Please share with us!  Remember to support your local bookstores whenever possible.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fairy Interesting: OUAT - Dark Hollow

3.7 "Dark Hollow"

Tonight it's back to Storybrooke where Ariel and Belle team up to find Pandora's Box and escape from the clutches of Pan's henchmen. Who of course, are just blackmailed Darling brothers trying to save their sister. Henry resists Pan, but Pan plays off his tender heart and trusting character to maneuver Henry right where Pan wants him. Snow and David fight and make up. Again. Emma has to control her power to capture Pan's shadow when Neal and Hook get in a cat fight over a lighter and Regina and Rumple sit around waiting.

Belief in love was the theme of the episode. Snow is angry because David didn't believe in their love enough to trust her with his injury and the knowledge of the cure. Belle and Rumple's belief in love leads them both to hope, courage, and the opportunity to defeat Pan once and for all. Ariel's belief in her love for Eric drives her to go to Storybrooke. Henry's belief in his family's love makes him the biggest challenge Pan has faced, but also drives him to swallow Pan's lies about Wendy. Hook's belief that he will earn Emma's love is driving him to be more noble and more petty and Emma's belief in Henry is pushing her forward in her quest and in her strength. She also proves what I said last week in that it is her love that powers her magic, not her anger. She was annoyed, but Emma cares deeply about both Hook and Neal and getting the shadow to save Henry, and that is what allows her to light the candle. And Michael and John are driven by their belief that they can save their sister.

From the minute Michael and John started talking their British accents were nagging at me and the glasses - I did get who they were before it was revealed, but just barely. I got really excited though. I really do like the way this show takes all of these things we "know" and turns them on their head and twists them around.

As soon as Pan told Felix not to let Henry see where he was going, I knew it was a set up. Henry can be so insightful at times, but at others, his "true believers heart" blinds him to the truth, which is why Wendy was the perfect tool. When Pan says that to save magic will require courage he fails to leave out the whole Henry has to die thing - which became clear in the preview for next week.

This was one of those episodes where I just wanted to smack Snow. Really hard. I understand why she is upset, but she needs to get over it. They're yelling fight came none too soon. They're adorable as a couple, but Snow gets on my nerves sometimes.

Belle's jacket was particularly adorable this episode - and my question from last week was answered: Belle does call him Rumple.

My favorite lines of the episode were tied between Doc Hopper and Leroy's exchange and Hook and Neal's:

Leroy: Can we panic now?
Dr. Hopper: Yeah. Sure. Maybe. Just a little.

Neal: You came to Neverland on a pirate ship through a portal, but you draw the line at a magic coconut?
Hook: Fair enough.

I was really hoping that no one in Storybrooke ended up injured by that flying manhole cover!

And next week it looks like things are finally coming to a head. I love Neverland and Pan, but I would like to see more of the other characters. I miss the Storybrooke crew.
What did you think about this week's episode?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

October Book Club: Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed

As the Averley's return from Lord Averley's appointment in India, Somerton is in an uproar. Not only do they have to prepare for the family, but at the last minute the servants also discover that Lord Averley is bringing home a new wife and her children along with his own daughters. Rose, a house maid who grew up with Lady Ada and Lady Georgiana, the Lord's daughters, suddenly finds herself promoted to lady's maid and thrust into the intrigue and challenges of the upstairs world. Lady Ada misses India, but her dreams of attending Oxford and maybe meeting the charming Ravi again, the young man from India she met by chance on the trip home and with whom she shares a daring secret, keep her going. As the newly formed family tries to settle in and figure out how to live together, marriage proposals, scandals, and secrets swirl around them, threatening to cause everything to fall apart. With the sweeping, intricate feel of Downton Abbey, a touch of the Cinderella story, and the salacious tone of Kate Brian's Private series, this first installment of Rasheed's At Somerton series pulls you into the two worlds of the early 20th century and holds onto you until the last page.

Want to own it?
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What we thought:

Rebecca T: I really enjoyed this book. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but somehow they all weave together and it wasn't as hard to follow as I thought from looking at the family tree on the inside cover. I had pretty much guessed the big reveal, but I don't think it was supposed to be a secret for the reader so much as something we were supposed to watch each of the character's slowly discover. I liked how there were so many different story lines developing and the way they wove together throughout the course of the book. An entertaining read that left me wondering what will happen next.

Grammy T: I thought it was a good book. As soon as I finished it I wanted to know if the second one had come out yet, because I need to know what happens! I think that watching Downton Abbey helped me get a better picture of the way the house was run and how the upstairs and downstairs worlds worked. There were a lot of characters and I found it hard to keep track of them sometimes, but I was still able to follow the story. Overall I really enjoyed it.

Eileen: In spite of this book being rather predictable and overly dramatic at times, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The setting in opulent but turbulent pre WWI England is well described. I will definitely be reading the next book in the hopes of seeing things more from Rose's perspective. And hopefully we will not have heard the last of Ravi and the story of Indian independence either.

Melanie: Cinders & Sapphires is a wonderful tale that combines our love for drama with our love of history. I love a book that is not only entertaining but reminds us of those who came before us and the struggles they faces not only socially but also politically. The story weaves in and out of the romantic and dramatic lives of its characters faster than a motorcyclist in traffic, and as I was reading, I couldn't help but be reminded of the play La Ronde by Arthure Schnitzler. That being said, I would argue that there were one too many characters to keep track of. The author might think to put a list of characters at the beginning of the book [to supplement the family tree inside the front cover] so we as readers don't forget who is who. Otherwise, this is a delightful novel that anyone would enjoy and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Jenn N: I loved the premise of Cinders & Sapphires. I loved the similarities to Downton twisted with YA melodrama. I also appreciated the fact that the problems with Ava and Ravi's forbidden relationship were caused by not just money but by clashing political views as well. I suspected the secret of Rose's heritage from the beginning; I would've liked it if the author did a better job of keeping that under wraps, and at times it was hard to keep all the characters straight. However, Cinders & Sapphires was a fun and interesting period piece, and the ending sets up for what should be one awesome sequel. I will definitely be picking up the next installment.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tarbabies, by Allen R. Brady

I just recently finished reading Tarbabies, by Allen R. Brady.  It's an apocalypse told on a local scale.  When the protagonist first hears about them in Manhattan, they're considered more of a nuisance than an actual threat.  But soon after that, they continue to spread outward from the city.  Finally, there's nowhere to go.

What are tarbabies?  Well, we're not entirely sure.  It's not like they're fast, vicious monsters like werewolves or vampires, and they're not really zombies, either.  Just don't let them touch you.  In fact, they've been called different things by different people.  But "tarbabies," named after Brer Fox's scheme to catch Brer Rabbit in the Uncle Reemus tale, seems to be the name that "sticks." 

Here's an excerpt...

"That thing on the porch won't go away. I called the police, but I don't think they're coming. They've got their hands full with the Manhattan quarantine, so they can't waste their time on a nothing little town like Otterkill. That means it's up to me and the neighbors, and there are fewer of us every day. Fewer of us, and more of them. Every person we lose is one more monster to deal with. The Spiller family, the folks from the Retirement Center, even the Mathises' Rottweiler are now stalking the streets, waiting for someone to get too close. A single touch is all it takes. I don't know which of my neighbors became the thing on the porch, and I suppose it doesn't matter. I've got to get out of here, but the Tarbabies are already showing up in Albany, and Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. There's nowhere left to run, and there's no point in hiding. Not when the shadows themselves are after you."
The menace of the tarbabies builds throughout the book, as the creatures start appearing everywhere.  There is a particularly harrowing scene on the Appalachian Trail, when the main character and his wife are pursued by a "thing that was a duck."  If that sounds funny, it's because it is.  But Brady still makes it frightening.
Allen Brady is a local writer here in the Hudson Valley, and I've performed in a couple of shows that he's written or co-written.  Tarbabies is published by Spore Press.  I look forward to more novels from Allen in the future. 
Hopefully in December, I'll be able to give you a little blog about my NaNoWriMo efforts this month.  Until then, keep reading!!!
Alan Andrews

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

We Love Thor: Blog Hop Fun

So this week, Amalia Dillin's second book in the Fate of the Gods Trilogy came out! And if you haven't read her books yet, you totally should.
The first book, Forged by Fate, came out earlier this year and you can read Rebecca T's Top 10 Things she loved about it. Then Tempting Fate, a novella showing things from Mia and Adam's point of view came out a few months ago. Now we finally get to read more of the story in Fate Forgotten which came out yesterday! Amalia does such a great job of weaving together the Biblical account with other mythologies from around the world. Especially Thor. Because Thor rocks.

So this is our stop in the Thor Love Blog Hop! You can head over HERE to check out the other blogs who are taking part too.

One of the things we founded the Booksellers Without Borders NY blog on is our eclectic group of Borders family members who add different takes on the books, tv shows, or movies we review. We like to try to do group posts fairly regularly, so we thought this would be a fun time to do that. So here are some of our favorite Thor versions!

NaomiRuth: My favorite is probably Amalia Dillin's from Forged by Fate. Amalia's Thor is so interesting as a character. ... he cares so much about Eve and does the best he can for her. I like Amalia's world-building and how interactions go between the mythologies. ... it's more than just liking her Thor, but liking her Thor in her world.

Jess B: Thor is my second favorite super hero ;) My absolute favorite is Avengers Disassembled: Thor by Michael Avon Oeming. It's when the Avengers have to help fight the Norse God apocalypse and Thor doesn't know if he should be helping fight it or help usher it in. It's sooooo good! Oh!!!! And Frog of Thunder is hilarious! Throgs is the character name and he is Thor, but Loki turned him into a frog; they are hilarious!!!!

Rachelyons: The Beard and I have seen both The Avengers and Thor and absolutely love them! Thor is my favorite superhero after Iron Man. The Beard puts The Avengers on almost every day because it's on Netflix. ... He's been reading Thor comics recently - he just read a part where Thor puts Asgard in the desert and Loki becomes a woman - "typical comic book craziness" he says.

Rebecca T: I'm a big fan of comic book movies, though I'm still a bit intimidated by the comic book world of books. I really do like the version of Thor in both the recent Thor and The Avengers movies and I'm really excited about Thor: The Dark World movie coming out this week! But I never really paid much attention to Thor until I became Twitter buddies with Amalia. Her enthusiasm for Norse mythology and Thor in particular was infectious and I absolutely adore the way she writes his character in the Fates of the Gods series. But my favorite incarnation of Thor is from Amalia and Mia Hayson's Thor in Zombieland serial they took turns writing on their blogs a couple of years ago. You can find all of the links HERE and should be ready for some absolutely hilarious hi-jinks.