Saturday, August 30, 2014

Starry Night Blog Tour + Giveaway
Interview with author Isabel Gillies

See below for the full tour schedule

Today, I'm excited to be interviewing Isabel Gillies about her upcoming release Starry Night

Isn't that cover gorgeous? 

Starry Night 
by Isabel Gillies
Publishes: September 2, 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) 

Book description: Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?


Welcome to Love is not a triangle, Isabel Gillies!

Lauren: Would you explain Starry Night to us in one 140 character tweet?

Isabel Gillies: A love story. New York. Teenagers. Family. Friends. School. Falling in love for the first time. Growing up. 

Lauren: You have themes of friendship, first love, following your dreams, and heartbreak in your story, is there anything you wish you could tell your 15 year old self through Wren’s journey in this book?

Isabel Gillies: What I didn't know when I was 15 is that failing, making mistakes and getting it wrong are all GOOD things. I spent a lot of time in my life getting it wrong and it ends up being worth it. You learn tremendous amounts from failing. 

Lauren: If you could use one word to describe your heroine Wren at the beginning of this story and then one word for the end, what would you pick? 

Isabel Gillies: Love this question --  But I'm having a hard time answering! Okay, what changes, and it's a huge change, is that she goes from someone who has never been in love to someone who has. Is there a word for that? Wren is transformed by falling in love. Falling in love is like someone smacking you in the face, there is no question that it has happened to you. You might as well turn a different color once you have fallen in love. So maybe Wren is yellow at the start and blue at the end. 

Lauren: Wren is an artist who is inspired by Vincent Van Gough and especially his painting Starry Night, is there a piece of art or artist who inspires you?

Isabel Gillies: The Unfinished Pieta by Michael Angelo. I saw that sculpture when I was 14 in Italy and it moved me to tears. As it's unfinished you can see the raw stone and the figures that he had begun to sculpt, so it's like life being born out of the rock. It's The Virgin Mary holding her dead son after he had been taken off the cross. I am not particularly religious, what you feel in this sculpture is humanity. A mother mourning her child. It kills you -- even at 14 I got it. 

Lauren: Have you ever experienced any crazy weather events that made you think something was about to happen – like the wind that sweeps through the city when Wren meets Nolan?

Isabel Gillies: For my entire life! Almost every year, or a few times a year, the wind -- or a storm brewing makes me think and feel that something big will happen. And lots of times it does. Think of thunder, so romantic with it's rolling, strong voice, but also ominous. I bet a thunder has sent many a couple in to a great kiss or break up. Weather is close to us and it's extremely powerful, it changes our days and bosses us around. In my first book (which was a memoir), there were low, dramatic clouds in the place that I lived. I always thought those clouds meant something, and it turned out they did, at least to me! I always take note of the weather.

Thank you so much for talking to me today!


About the author

Isabel Gillies, known for her television role as Detective Stabler’s wife on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has published two memoirs,Happens Every Day (a New York Times bestseller) and A Year and Six Seconds (both Scribner). She graduated from New York University with a BFA in film. Isabel lives in Manhattan with her family.

Upcoming Public Events

Saturday, August 30
Decatur Book Festival- Map of My Heart Panel (Decatur, GA)

Tuesday September 2
Barnes & Noble Upper West Side- Launch Event with John Searles (New York, NY)

Sunday, September 14
Books of Wonder- Debut Author Panel (New York, NY)

Saturday, September 27
The Voracious Reader- Reading/Signing (Larchmont, NY)


Starry Night Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, August 26                         

Wednesday, August 27                 

Thursday, August 28                       
Green Bean Teen Queen

Friday, August 29                             
Paper Cuts

Saturday, August 30                        

Sunday, August 31                           
Gone With the Words

Monday, September 1                  
Mac Teen Books

Tuesday, September 2                  



A FINISHED Copy of Starry Night

Giveaway is for US/Canada residents only (Sorry, international readers!)
You must be at least 13 years old to enter
See my policies HERE

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Things I Dislike About Love Triangles (7)

See HERE for previous posts

I don't like

When I cannot tell whether a love triangle is coming…or not. 

I do not like to be surprised about love triangles. I like to avoid them completely, and that's not easily done when I cannot anticipate them. It would be incredibly helpful for me if books came with love triangle warning labels. But in lieu of that, I wish book descriptions were more clear about whether they contain triangles or not. It would save me so much trouble. I feel like I'm constantly dodging minefields these days!

I don't know if it's strategic marketing, but I've found books that clearly contain triangles, which only mention one love interest in the descriptive copy. On the other hand, I've also seen books that don't feature any sort of love triangle, which allude to multiple love interests in the blurb. Why is cover copy deliberately misleading? Why does it appear that some publishers want to downplay the triangle angle, and others want to create one that isn't there? I get that sometimes it's a spoiler (though I always want to know either way), but sometimes it seems purposefully confusing. 

Or, really, it would just be easier if all love triangle books featured three people on the cover, and arrows explaining the relationships…just kidding (sort of). And while we're at it, it would be tremendously helpful to me if all first-books-in-a-series stated right on the first page whether they are planning on adding a love triangle in the second book. I got blindsided again this week by a series that has added a different love interest in book two when there was no triangles even hinted at in book one. Why does this keep happening? 

Does this bug you too? 
What's something you dislike about love triangles?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Early Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Illusions of Fate
by Kiersten White 
Read: July 3, 2014
September 9, 2014 by Harper Teen
Source: Edelweiss (Thank you, HarperCollins)
Category: Fantasy, magic, YA, 

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

Book description:  “I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray

I had a great time reading Illusions of Fate. It was refreshing to read a fantasy book that is a standalone. The story is overall on the lighter side, and was the perfect book to read during a busy week, when couldn't handle anything too emotionally taxing.  Still, there are some intense moments in these pages, and one revelation that shocked me. A few times White lulled me into a sense of happy enjoyment only to BAM throw something at me that greatly upped the tension.

Jessamine is of mixed race (although you can't really tell that from the cover). She comes from the small island Melei where wealthy vacationers often have relationships - i.e. flings - with the native inhabitants. Jessa is the product of exactly such a situation. Trying to escape her mother's designs to marry her off, Jessa has recently moved to a larger city in the country of Albion to attend the boarding school where her father works. Jessa is determined to succeed, but she is struggling with prejudices from her classmates, must work to support herself and isn't getting any help from her dad, whom she essentially bribed to get into the school. 

From the beginning I liked Jessa. She is smart and determined, despite the odds against her. In this society it is the royalty alone who possess magic, and when Jessa gets caught up in a dangerous power struggle with some of them, she must do it without the aid of any sort of powers. I appreciate that this isn't the typical story of a girl who suddenly discovers that she has hidden abilities she didn't know about. Jessa is at a distinct disadvantage, and must rely on her brain and wit to survive, which she thankfully has in abundance. Jessa also finds some very helpful allies, but in many situations, she has only her self to count on. 

One of Jessa's new friends is a society girl named Eleanor. I loved this girl. She comes off as shallow and flighty, but it's clear she's a lot smarter than the front she portrays to the world. Eleanor's interactions with Jessa were always fun. Everyone needs a friend like her. This book also contains a romance that is sweet and on the lighter side. Mysterious love interest Finn also had great banter with Jessa. I like that Jessa didn't let him get away with his schemes to keep her safe, and that her feelings for him grew over time. Though his affections seemed a bit more instant. 

This standalone is more heavily focused on relationships, and we are shown only a little bit of this magical world. I was left with a feeling that it is a lot vaster than what we see in Jessamin's story, and I do wish that we'd been able to learn more about it. But I found what we did learn to be interesting. I also would rather leave a book feeling like I only got a tiny glimpse of a complex world, than a sense of flatness: feeling like an author only created what she needed to for the story. This story thankfully fell under the former category for me.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mini Review: Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

Of Metal and Wishes
by Sarah Fine
Read: July 23 - 30, 2014
Published: August 5, 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Edelweiss (Thank you S&S)
Category: Fairytale retelling, YA

Series: Book 1 of a series - Duet?
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository 

Book description: There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.

What I love - 
Of Metal and Wishes is a gorgeous retelling of the Phantom of the Opera. It features an achingly sweet romance that builds steadily throughout the book, set in front of the backdrop of the harsh reality of a corrupt meat carving factory. The whole mood of the story is gorgeously rendered, with moments of lightness and beauty to counteract the social injustices and dark brutality of the world. This was my first Sarah Fine book, and I was seriously impressed with her ability to create atmosphere, retell a classic story that is not often retold and make me care about Wen and the people she cares about - while also wanting to hurt the ones who hurt her. Of course I'm always worried about love triangles, but I so enjoyed the way Wen's relationships with both Melik and the Ghost play out, without falling into an awkward triangle trap. Although my emotions were different for each, I felt so much for both of them. 

What I wish - 
I do wish we'd gotten a little greater context for this tale, is this a fantasy world or the future? How big is this country? I wanted to know more! I really liked steampunk themes at play, but I had trouble placing this time period. I hope that we'll get a wider picture of this world in the next book. 

Love Triangle Factor: None - This book closely follows the original Phantom story, and if you know that, you'll have a good idea of how the relationships work. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Tricky. The action of this book wraps well, but there are some obvious loose threads left over. This book could have stood on its own, but I'm also thankful to be getting  a sequel. So Mild/Medium depending on your perspective.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Interview with Storm Siren author Mary Weber + Giveaway

I am thrilled to be talking with Storm Siren author Mary Weber today.

This book is excellent. 

Thankfully it released yesterday, because you are all going to want to go buy a copy. 
Or enter to win one below. 

This is definitely one of my favorite reads of the summer. Don't miss my gushing thoughts, HERE.

Welcome to Love is not a triangle, Mary!

Lauren: Would you explain Storm Siren to us in one 140 character tweet? 

Mary Weber: Storm-summoning girl bought to save the world along with earth-moving boy & sexy trainer. Too bad the girl & her power can't be controlled.

Lauren: Too bad indeed. One of my favorite scenes of Storm Siren is the first one, in which we’re able to see firsthand, both Nym’s amazing power and also her incredible vulnerability and self-loathing. Would you talk about what compelled you to write about this girl who is both strong and broken at the same time, as well as the evolution of her character throughout the book? 

Mary: Oh wow, what a beautiful question!! Thank you! And simply answered – in my mind Nym is a bit of a reflection of all of us. Not that everyone has her struggles (obviously) or even that we can all relate to the way she deals with those struggles. But I tend to think each one of us is, in our own way, incredibly strong and yet also broken to some extent.

With Nym, I wanted to explore that – the beauty and power we each possess which so often gets hidden beneath wounds or harsh expectations or, especially in her case, self-loathing. I also wanted to bring Nym to the point where she realizes that the part of her she hates is quite possibly the thing that is her unsurpassed asset. Because that is so much what I believe – that some of our greatest strength comes out of the broken and mended places in our souls.

Lauren: What a beautiful answer! One of my favorite parts of this book is watching Nym discover that strength inside of her.  

Your story begins with a big scene, but it also ends in quite the cliffhanger. I’d love to know how you wrote this book. Did it start with an idea or a scene? Did you plot and outline, or just start writing? Did you always know where you’d end the first book? Please tell us about your writing process.

Mary: I was researching Joan of Arc actually! I love the idea of her as a protagonist. I mean she’s this amazing historical figure who ends up taking on a nation! It was during that research when I came across this old poem of St. Patrick where he’s basically calling forth the elements as a shield. Totally Last Airbender stuff before it was a thing, which is freaking awesome and definitely appealed to my geek heart!

As far as the actual writing process, I started with a chapter-by-chapter outline developed over multiple plotting sessions with my sister and husband. Annnnd then I spent ten months writing. I’d just finished the book a week before it was due to my editor when the alternate idea for the ending popped in my head (I was in the middle of making spaghetti at the time, ha!). I rewrote the last chapter and ran it by my two daughters. One of them was delighted. The other, uh...walked in, slammed the stack of pages on the floor, and informed me she’d never read my writing again. :0)

Lauren: Wow. I'm thinking your readers are going to have a variety of reactions to that end as well. It killed me, but I can't wait for the next one! 

I love the relationships Nym has with her trainer Eogan and also with fellow trainee Colin. One is quite contentious and possibly romantic. The other develops into a strong friendship. Will you talk about the impact both has on this girl who had been so isolated before? 

Mary: Oh man – I adore your questions! Seriously!

Like most people, rich friendships are enormously important to me. I think they breathe something into our souls that we’re not always capable of giving ourselves.

In Nym’s case, these friendships help speak value into her as a person. They also challenge her beliefs about herself, her world, and her abilities. With Colin, Nym is given a stability she’s not known before, as well as forced to see herself as someone not just worth fighting for, but worthy of respect.

With Eogan, he doesn’t make it easy on her, and that conflict forces Nym to really figure out who she is as a person. He also treats her with a tenderness that is both confusing and softening to the walls around her heart.

At the end of the day, the common thread between both Eogan and Colin is that they add to Nym’s soul and, ultimately, make her feel safe.

Lauren: Oh goodness, you are making me swoon over here. These guys! I love them. 

Nym’s owner Adora has some crazy parties at her house. What was your inspiration for them? If you attended one, how would you be dressed?

Mary: *laughs* Years ago my sister and I started throwing ourselves these random, costume birthday parties together. And, well, I’m not saying Adora’s parties are based on ours (or that Adora is based on my sister) but… if we DID perchance have an Adora-type party, we may have at one time looked like this:

Yes, that is totally a creepy cat lady picture. (*photo by Sarah Kathleen Photography)
Or… I might go to a party dressed like this:

Okay, now I’m curious – how would YOU dress up, Lauren?!!!!

Lauren: Haha! I love that you guys threw costume parties. These days I mostly enjoy watching my kids dress up, but I have been a very homemade looking kitty before. 

Switching topics now...This blog is called “Love is Not a Triangle," and I tend to talk about the subject of love triangles fairly frequently. I even rate them in my reviews. I was very happy to find that Storm Siren has a triangle rating of NONE.  I also like to ask visiting authors their opinions on them. So love triangles: like them or loathe them? I won’t hold it against you if you say ‘like.’ Also, are you able to reveal whether the rating will remain none going forward?

Mary: Aww I love it!! (And did I mention I’m wild about your blog’s name?!) Okay, so I’m going to be completely honest and tell you that I’m kind of a mixed bag on the love triangle thing. Mainly because when a triangle is done super well, I am the biggest heart-tugged cry baby!! HOWEVER…I prefer a story stand strong on its own without a triangle. (I also appreciate when a heroine doesn’t even need a man.) I’m totally a romantic idealist at heart (I’ve known my husband since I was 3 months old), and while I believe love is a beautiful feeling, I also believe it’s a continuous, active choice.

Soooo…I can tell you there will be no love triangle in the rest of the trilogy. :0)

Lauren: Oooh! I like that answer. It's definitely making me excited. 

If you could describe the Storm Siren series using only colors, what would you pick for each book? Is there anything you can tell us about what we can expect next in your series?

Mary: Oh super fun!! Hmm, let’s see. For Storm Siren I absolutely adore the blue on the cover. It so symbolizes the story for me. And while I’m not sure yet what the plan is for Book Two’s cover, in my mind that story is red and black – because Nym is pissed. And Book Three? Golden yellow. Like the color of summer. :0)

As far as what to expect in the series… I’ll just say we’re going to be seeing a lot more of Lord Myles, Princess Rasha, and the kindom of Bron. Oh, and there might wraiths. Ahem. But anything beyond that is, in the words of Doctor Who’s River Song: “Spoilers.” ;0)

Thank you SO very much for having me, Lauren!!! *hugs you to pieces*

Thank YOU so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Mary! 


About the Author

Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. 

In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean. 

Find Mary Weber: Twitter |  Facebook | Website

Order Storm Siren (out now!): Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Or at your favorite indie bookstore



Win a finished copy of Storm Siren!

Giveaway is for US residents only (Sorry, international readers!)
You must be at least 13 years old to enter
See my policies HERE

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