Blog Tour & Top 10: The Hawkweed Legacy by Irena Brignull

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Welcome! I’m so excited to be part of The Hawkweed Legacy Blog Tour. Today, Irena Brignull, the author of the amazing Hawkweed Prophecy series, is going to share her top 10 characters she would invite over to have dinner with her main characters. 

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Title:
 
THE HAWKWEED LEGACY (Hawkweed Prophecy #2)
Author: 
Irena Brignull
Publication Date: 
August 15, 2017

Publisher: Weinstein Books
Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

ABOUT THE HAWKWEED LEGACY
Hardcover, $18.00, August 15, 2017
Poppy is discovering a purpose for her powers in Africa, but she is haunted by a vision of her own death. Taken in by a boy and his great-grandmother, a healer, they vow to keep her safe-even if that ultimately means holding her captive. But Poppy never stops longing for Leo and, when she feels his magic begin to spark, she will do anything to be reunited with him.

Desperate to regain Poppy’s trust and bring her home, Charlock embarks on a plan to reunite Leo with his mother. What Charlock doesn’t foresee are the string of consequences that she sets into motion that leave Ember all alone and prey to manipulation, the clan open to attack from other witches, Sorrel vulnerable to Raven’s ghost, Betony determined to protect her son from his father’s fate, and which leave both Leo and Poppy in terrible danger.

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ABOUT THE HAWKWEED PROPHECY B
y Irena Brignull, Trade Paperback (All new cover!) $10.99, August 15, 2017
Poppy Hooper and Ember Hawkweed couldn’t lead more different lives. Poppy is a troubled teen: moving from school to school, causing chaos wherever she goes, never making friends or lasting connections. Ember is a young witch, struggling to find a place within her coven and prove her worth. Both are outsiders: feeling like they don’t belong and seeking escape.

Poppy and Ember soon become friends, and secretly share knowledge of their two worlds. Little do they know that destiny has brought them together: an ancient prophecy, and a life-changing betrayal. Growing closer, they begin to understand why they’ve never belonged and the reason they are now forever connected to each other.

Switched at birth by the scheming witch Raven Hawkweed, Poppy and Ember must come to terms with their true identities and fight for their own place in the world. Enter Leo, a homeless boy with a painful past who – befriending them both – tests their love and loyalty. Can Poppy and Ember’s friendship survive? And can it withstand the dark forces that are gathering?


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 Miss Haversham, Great Expectations

After being jilted at the altar, I think Miss Haversham really could have done with the support of a coven of witches. I can imagine her escaping the company of men and enjoying life out in the forest. Perhaps it would have prevented her ossifying and souring as the years went by. The bitterness she describes sounds savage – ‘sharper teeth than teeth of mice have gnawed at me’. Perhaps the witches can help heal these age-old wounds?

Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

This calm, intelligent, thoughtful character might be just the right man to change the coven’s centuries’ old prejudice against the opposite sex. I think he’d understand them too. As he tells Scout – ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’. Poppy, Ember and Leo could all benefit from his fatherly wisdom too.

Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye

I like to think that Ember’s innocence and optimism, her burgeoning independence, might be the salve that jaded, exhausted Holden needs. Ember is the opposite of a ‘phony’ and Holden might help her ever becoming one. She, as well as Poppy and Leo, truly understand what it’s like to be an outsider.

Cassandra Mortmain, I Capture The Castle

Cassandra Mortmain was probably my first experience of a literary YA character. Well used to eccentricity, I think her sweetness and charm would make her a positive addition to the Poppy, Ember and Leo trio. Also, I’d love to read her diary entry about the dinner.

Sam Gamgee, The Lord of The Rings

Poor Leo has had a rough time of it in recent years. Abused by his step-father and brothers, he’s perhaps the most isolated of all the Hawkweed characters. Homeless and vulnerable, he could do with the friendship of someone as down-to-earth, loyal and brave as Sam.

Cal, Middlesex

I loved this character and her journey. As a hermaphrodite, she would really challenge the coven’s antiquated notions about gender. I like to think that, on knowing her, they would welcome her with open arms. I know that Poppy in particular would be drawn to her.

Heathcliff

I’ve added Heathcliff because he’s the first literary character I fell for. I actually think he’d be a great dinner partner for Betony (from The Hawkweed Legacy). She too has a wild, passionate nature, and has lost so much in her life. I think she’d understand Heathcliff and Catherine’s love, the feeling that ‘he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.’

Celie, The Color Purple

Having endured so much abuse and bigotry in her life, I think Celie will relate to the coven and they to her. They care not for a person’s looks but only for their character. Also, Celie truly understands the bonds of sisterhood. With the help of her female friends, she has found her way through all the suffering to experience joy. The elders in the coven would definitely appreciate this notion – ‘I don’t think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt.’ Celie might even open the witches’ eyes to a world beyond life in the forest.

Weird Sisters, Macbeth

I like to think of the three witches that Macbeth meets up on the moor as the ancestors of the Hawkweed witches. They certainly inspired the prophecy that trigger the events in the first Hawkweed novel. The Weird Sisters’ presence at dinner could make for an interesting family reunion.

Hester Prynne, The Scarlet Letter

The Hawkweed stories are full of strong female characters, but Hester Prynne is a true survivor. She refuses to be broken, despite society’s attempts to shame and isolate her. Like Raven, Charlock and Betony, she loves her daughter fiercely. Honest and compassionate throughout all that she’s endured, I think she’d be a great addition to the dinner.


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About Irena:

I’m Irena Brignull, a screenwriter, novelist and mum. I live with my family in London but I was brought up outside the city in the beautiful Chiltern Hills. The other place that has my heart is Greece where many of my relatives are from. 

My first novel, The Hawkweed Prophecy, was published in June 2016.  The sequel, The Hawkweed Legacy, was published in June 2017.

I write screenplays too. My screenwriting credits include the Oscar nominated movie, The Boxtrolls, starring Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning and Simon Pegg. (I was nominated for Best Screenplay for that one at the Annie Awards in 2014.) My adaptation of The Little Prince, directed by Mark Osborne and starring Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, James Franco and Marion Cotillard, closed the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. I also adapted Skellig for Sky which starred Tim Roth, John Simm and Kelly MacDonald. 

Before all this, I was a Script Executive at the BBC and then Head of Development at Dogstar Films where I was the script editor on Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, I Capture the Castle and Bravo Two Zero to name a few.

And before that, I studied English Literature at Oxford University.

I don’t have much spare time but, in it, I like to read books and watch movies. It’s kind of my job, I know. But one day I plan to take up lots more hobbies – horse-riding, tap-dancing, baking, juggling…?

Website |  Twitter 

PRAISE FOR THE HAWKWEED PROPHECY:

“Brignull develops story and characters slowly, long, luxurious sentences balancing the magic and the mundane expertly and building the world of the witches by showing how out of place Ember is in it. Tension builds inexorably to the inevitable witch showdown, which brings small victories but not a happily-ever-after for all. The third person narration switches focus from character to character as they make frustrating, heart-rending, totally believable choices. Fantasy and nonfantasy readers alike will appreciate this gritty and intriguing coming-of-age story.”
Kirkus Reviews
 
“Brignull…debuts with an instantly engrossing novel…It’s a fantasy with the air of a classic, yet one that’s also entirely contemporary in its tight focus on identity, friendship, and romance. Ages 12-up.”—Publishers Weekly *Starred Review*

“Wildly delightful.”— Laini Taylor, author of The Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy
 
“Wise, weird, a touch evil and totally charming, Irena Brignull’s tale of magic in our time is as rich and complicated as sisterhood. From the first page, I felt drawn into a modern classic.”
— Anna Godbersen, author of The Luxe and Bright Young Things series
 
“Irena Brignull’s The Hawkweed Prophecy is a book of wicked, beautiful magic. Compulsively readable and delightfully gritty, one does not mess with these Hawkweed witches.
— Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood and Three Dark Crowns

“I loved this book! Irena has created such beautifully complete world–our world, and nestled within it, a simmering world of magic. The Hawkweed Prophecy has everything: friendship, desire, delicious earthy magic, secrets and spells and at its centre, the wonderful young Poppy, on a journey of self-discovery. I so hope there is more to come!”
 Karen Foxlee, author of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and A Most Magical Girl

The Hawkweed Prophecy was bewitching from the get-go. Irena Brignull does an amazing job weaving a tale of pure magic in this debut novel. She’ll have you on a roller coaster of emotions from the very first page. Get ready to be spellbound.”
— Paige McKenzie, author of the New York Times bestselling Haunting of Sunshine Girl series

“Brignull’s The Hawkweed Prophecy is a deft exploration of friendship, sacrifice and betrayal. I can’t decide who I love more, the sweet and trusting Ember or the spunky, dark Poppy. You can’t help but cheer for both girls, and ache when they are pitted against one another. I was completely absorbed in the sinister, complicated world of magic and witches. The coven is described so confidently and beautifully, it’s hard to emerge from the novel without wondering if these women are operating somewhere just below the surface of our world. Full of romance, heart and suspense, readers will find themselves staying up all night just to spend a little more time with Ember and Poppy.”
— Madeleine Roux, author of the New York Times bestseller Asylum

 

Tour Schedule

8/21: Two Chicks on Books – Q&A
8/22: Wandering Bark Books – Guest Post
8/23: In Wonderland – Review
8/24: A Binding Attraction – Top 10
8/25: Miranda’s Book Blog – Guest Post
8/26: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes – Review
8/27: The Irish Banana Review – Fast 5

8/28:
books are love – Q&A
8/29: A Backwards Story – Review
8/30: Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Top 10
8/31: Live To Read – Review
9/1: Just Commonly – Review
9/2: Quartzfeather – Review
9/3: Lori’s Little House of Reviews – Review
9/4: Never Too Many To Read – Bookish Collage

Book Blitz & Excerpt: BOOKBURNERS

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About BOOKBURNERS:

The critically acclaimed urban fantasy about a secret team of agents that hunts down dangerous books containing deadly magic—previously released serially online by Serial Box, now available in print for the first time!

Magic is real, and hungry. It’s trapped in ancient texts and artifacts, and only a few who discover it survive to fight back. Detective Sal Brooks is a survivor. She joins a Vatican-backed black-ops anti-magic squad—Team Three of the Societas Librorum Occultorum—and together they stand between humanity and the magical apocalypse. Some call them the Bookburners. They don’t like the label.

Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in a fast-paced, kickass character driven novel chock-full of magic, mystery, and mayhem, written collaboratively by a team of some of the best writers working in fantasy.

An Excerpt from Bookburners Episode 1: Badge, Book, and Candle

He set his hand on the book’s cover. Sal hadn’t noticed before how the leather was discolored: most of it matched Perry’s skin, but a crimson bloom spread beneath his fingers. She heard a sound she couldn’t name: a footfall, maybe, or a whisper, very soft. Goose bumps chased goose bumps up her arms.

“Perry, who are the Bookburners? Do you think someone’s following you?”

“I thought you didn’t want to know.”

 She leaned over the couch, over his shoulder, and checked through the blinds. Street still bare. Red Toyota pickup. Honda Civic. Garbage. E-Z Carpet Cleaner van.

“Please, Sal. They would have nabbed me on the way. They did not. Ergo, I wasn’t followed.”

“What the hell is going on?”

Someone knocked on her door.

“Shit,” Perry said.

“Jesus Christ, Perry.” She grabbed her phone off the living room table. “Who is that?”

 “Aiden. Probably.”

 “Mister Brooks?” The man on the other side of the door was unquestionably not Aiden—too old, too sure, too calm. An accent Sal couldn’t place twined through his words. “Mister Brooks, we’re not here to hurt you. We want to talk.”

“Shit,” Perry repeated, for emphasis.

Sal ran to her bedroom and returned with her gun. “Who are you?”

“I’m looking for Mister Brooks. I know he’s in there.”

“If he is, I doubt he’d want to see you.”

“I must talk with him.”

“Sir, I’m a police officer, and I’m armed. Please step away from the door.”

“Has he opened the book?”

 “What?” She looked into the living room. Perry was standing now, holding the book, fingers clenched around the cover like she’d seen men at bay clutch the handles of knives. “Sir, please leave. I’m calling 9-1-1 now.” She pressed the autodial. The line clicked.

“Stop him from opening the book,” the man said. “Please. If he means anything to you, stop him.”

 “Hello. This is Detective Sally Brooks,” and she rattled off her badge number and address. “I have a man outside my apartment who is refusing to leave—”

Something heavy struck the door. Doorjamb timbers splintered. Sally stumbled back, dropped the phone, both hands on the pistol. She took aim.

The door burst free of the jamb and struck the wall. A human wind blew through.

Later, Sal remembered slivers: a stinging blow to her wrist, her gun knocked back against the wall. A woman’s face—Chinese, she thought. Bob haircut. Her knee slammed into Sal’s solar plexus and she fell, gasping, to the splinter-strewn carpet. The woman turned, in slow-motion almost, to the living room where Perry stood.

He held the open book.

His eyes wept tears of blood, and his smile bared sharp teeth.

He spoke a word that was too big for her mind. She heard the woman roar, and glass break. Then darkness closed around her like a mouth.

© 2017 Max Gladstone, with permission from Saga Press

About the Authors:
 
headshot_gladstoneMAX GLADSTONE has been thrown from a horse in Mongolia, drank almond milk with monks on Wudang Shan, and wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat. Max is also the author of the Craft Sequence of books about undead gods and skeletal law wizards—Full Fathom Five, Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, and Last First Snow. Max fools everyone by actually writing novels in the coffee shops of Davis Square in Somerville, MA. His dreams are much nicer than you’d expect. He tweets as @maxgladstone. Bookburners, which he wrote with Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery, is available from Saga Press in January.
 
headshot_dunlapBefore joining the Bookburners, MARGARET DUNLAP wrote for ABC Family’s cult-hit The Middleman in addition to working on SyFy’s Eureka. Most recently, she was a writer and co-executive producer of the Emmy-winning transmedia series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and co-created its sequel Welcome to Sanditon. Her short fiction has previously appeared in Shimmer Magazine. Margaret lives in Los Angeles where she taunts the rest of the team with local weather reports and waits for the earthquake that will finally turn Burbank into oceanfront property. She tweets as @spyscribe. Bookburners, which she wrote with Max Gladstone, Mur Lafferty, and Brian Francis Slattery, is available from Saga Press in January.
 
headshot_laffertyMUR LAFFERTY is the author of The Shambling Guides series from Orbit, including the Netfix-optioned The Shambling Guide to New York City and Ghost Train to New Orleans. She has been a podcaster for over 10 years, running award-winning shows such as I Should Be Writing and novellas published via podcast. She has written for RPGs, video games, and short animation. She lives in Durham, NC where she attends Durham Bulls baseball games and regularly pets two dogs. Her family regrets her Dragon Age addiction and wishes for her to get help. She tweets as @mightymur. Bookburners, which she wrote with Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, and Brian Francis Slattery, is available from Saga Press in January.
 
headshot_slatteryBRIAN FRANCIS SLATTERY is the author of Spaceman Blues, Liberation, Lost Everything, and The Family Hightower. Lost Everything won the Philip K. Dick Award in 2012. He’s the arts and culture editor for the New Haven Independent, an editor for the New Haven Review, and a freelance editor for a few not-so-secret public policy think tanks. He also plays music constantly with a few different groups in a bunch of different genres. He has settled with his family just outside of New Haven and admits that elevation above sea level was one of the factors he took into account. For one week out of every year, he enjoys living completely without electricity. Bookburners, which he wrote with Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, and Mur Lafferty, is available from Saga Press in January.
 
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The Irish Banana Review

Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday Blog Tour!: Skins and Other Stories & Giveaway

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Welcome to Roald Dahl’s 100th Birthday Blog Tour hosted by Hannah from Irish Banana and Wunderkind PR. I am so ecstatic that I was invited to review one of my all-time favorite collections of short stories, Skin and Other Stories by Mr. Dahl. 

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By: Roald Dahl
Published by: Puffin Books
Genres: Young Adult, Short Stories, Fiction, Horror, Fantasy

 

About Skin and Other Stories:

How would you get rid of a murder weapon without causing suspicion? Where would you hide a diamond where no one else would think of looking? What if you found out that the tattoo on your back was worth over a million dollars? You will discover that just about anything is possible in a Roald Dahl story, and here are eleven of his very best.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | The Book Depository


MY RANTS AND RAVES OF SKIN AND OTHER STORIES

Roald Dahl is most known for his novels, but what some people do not know is that he has a collection of short stories, Skin and Other Stories, which are equally as intriguing, humorous, and amazing as his most cherished children’s books. Each story in this book is quirky and unique. This is definitely a collection of short stories that I always turn to during Autumn, because it is the perfect combination of dark, witty, and wicked tales to curl up with. 

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The first time I read these stories was in high school, and after recently rereading them, I love this collection even more. These stories are strange, imaginative, and have the most elaborate twists. This collection ranges from a story about a  priceless, all-covering back tattoo to helpless, crying roses to an overly suspicious, wounded WWII-pilot. I like that these stories are entertaining, but there is also some satire behind these stories, which are layered with commentary on the irrationality of human actions and human nature. If you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, or Chuck Palahniuk, I highly recommend that you read Skin and Other Short Stories. Dahl’s storytelling is indifferent, frightful, and creepy, which make his stories overwhelmingly memorable. 

Overall, Dahl’s Skin and Other Stories is the perfect book for any young adult and/or adult fan that loves dark humor and mystery. It is hard for me to pick out a favorite story in this collection, but if I had to choose, I would highly recommend reading “Lamb to the Slaughter.” The female protagonist is smart, witty, and so deceiving. I believe this is the most well-known short story written by Dahl, but there is a reason for that notability. This story is brilliant. The major twist in this short story is humorous, dark, and shocking. But mainly, I like this story, because it is so absurd. It would definitely make a good episode for a “getting away with murder”-type of show.

 

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Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and beloved storytellers. He was born in Wales of Norwegian parents and spent much of his childhood in England. After establishing himself as a writer for adults with short story collections such as Kiss Kiss and Tales of the Unexpected, Roald Dahl began writing children’s stories in 1960 while living with his family in both the U.S. and in England. His first stories were written as entertainment for his own children, to whom many of his books are dedicated.

Roald Dahl’s first children’s story, The Gremlins, was a story about little creatures that were responsible for the various mechanical failures on airplanes. The Gremlins came to the attention of both First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who loved to read the story to her grandchildren, and Walt Disney, with whom Roald Dahl had discussions about the production of a movie.

Roald Dahl was inspired by American culture and by many of the most quintessential American landmarks to write some of his most memorable passages, such as the thrilling final scenes in James and the Giant Peach – when the peach lands on the Empire State Building! Upon the publication ofJames and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl began work on the story that would later be published as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and today, Roald Dahl’s stories are available in 58 languages and, by a conservative estimate, have sold more than 200 million copies.

Roald Dahl also enjoyed great success for the screenplays he wrote for both the James Bond film You Only Live Twice in 1967 and for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, released one year later, which went on to become a beloved family film.  Roald Dahl’s popularity continues to increase as his fantastic novels, including James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The BFG, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, delight an ever-growing legion of fans.

Two charities have been founded in Roald Dahl’s memory: the first charity, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, created in 1991, focuses on making life better for seriously ill children through the funding of specialist nurses, innovative medical training, hospitals, and individual families across the UK.

The second charity, The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre – a unique cultural, literary and education hub – opened in June 2005 in Great Missenden where Roald Dahl lived and wrote many of his best-loved works. 10% of income from Roald Dahl books and adaptations are donated to the two Roald Dahl charities.

On September 13, 2006, the first national Roald Dahl Day was celebrated, on what would have been the author’s 90th birthday. The event proved such a success that Roald Dahl Day is now marked annually all over the world. September 13, 2016 is Roald Dahl 100, marking 100 years since the birth of the world’s number one storyteller. There will be celebrations for Roald Dahl 100 throughout 2016, delivering a year packed with gloriumptious treats and surprises for everyone.

 

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1 winner can pick 5 books from the Roald Dahl collection! US Only.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: As I Descended by Robin Talley

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Cover Art - AS I DESCENDED (1)

Title: As I Descended
By: Robin Talley
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication date: September 6, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy, Fiction

ABOUT AS I DESCENDED:

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository


MY RANTS AND RAVES OF AS I DESCENDED

If you are a fan of Shakespeare’s notable Macbeth, like me, then you will want to read this dark, modern-day retelling of the cursed tragedy. As I Descended takes place at a boarding school in the South, which disturbingly has a past polluted with death, murders, and hauntings. Robin Talley’s retelling is attuned to the greed for power portrayed in the original play, but adds a modern touch reminiscent of Mean GirlsPretty Little Liars, and Supernatural.

Similar to the “Scottish play,” Talley incorporates the supernatural and preternatural as means to create a spine-chilling ambiance and foretell the characters’ tragic flaws. Of course, in this novel, something wicked this way comes, bringing with it flickering lights, sinister shadows, vengeful ghosts, and the clashing of thunder. Spirits haunt not only the buildings of the school, but also the students’ nightmares/dreams. These spirits are particularly vengeful, creepy, and whispering menaces. 

As I was reading, I kept interconnecting which of Talley’s characters are associated with Shakespeare’s original cast list. The author does not stray too far from the original characters’ personalities and flaws. The characters believe themselves to be controlled by the eerie unknown, but overall free will and fate are questioned. 

In As I Descended, Robin Talley adds a great spin and dark twists to Macbeth by switching the the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth with the closeted couple and roommates, Maria and Lily. Duncan, Shakespeare’s beloved Scottish King, is swapped with the queen of the school, Delilah. And I love that Talley interchanges Banquo’s character with Brandon, Maria’s gay, best friend. But overall, as a personal fan of witches, folklore, and anything that goes bump in the night, I appreciated the twist that Talley creates in regards to Shakespeare’s character Hecate, the queen of the witches, who is interchanged in As I Descended with the scary, Hispanic folklore figure, La Llorono. (I dare you to Google her; she’s super creepy!)

In addition to thoughtfully changing the social constructions of Shakespeare’s characters, Talley’s writing parallels the Bard’s original work on both an emotional and psychological level.  Naturally, when analyzing Macbeth, many critics analyze the gender roles of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth; therefore, they try to define the “norms” of masculine and feminine behavior often blurred/inversed between these two characters. Talley steps outside this social division, and explores a f/f retelling of Macbeth. Instead, I found Talley’s words and her characters reflecting a social commentary on the competition and injustices that many current young adults, more importantly the LGBTQIA community, face in a world full of greed, hate, and judgment.

As I Descended is a well crafted retelling of Macbeth. and like Shakespeare, Tally has created characters that test the societal values and beliefs of their own time periods. Similar to the original tragedy, As I Descended is about empathy, ethics, ambition, and moral order. Overall, I enjoyed exploring the connections and differences between the original Tragedy and this modern-day retelling. Each chapter is threaded with intense scenes that left me anxious and too intrigued to turn away from the story.

4 star rating

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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ABOUT ROBIN TALLEY:

I live in Washington, D.C., with my wife, our baby daughter, an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. Whenever the baby’s sleeping, I’m probably busy writing young adult fiction about queer characters, reading books, and having in-depth conversations with friends and family about things like whether Jasmine’s character motivation was sufficiently established in Aladdin.

My website is at http://www.robintalley.com, and I’m on Twitter and Tumblr.

LINKS: Website | Twitter Facebook | Tumblr

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
 
Week 2:

 

Giveaway:

3 Finished Copies of AS I DESCENDED (US Only) 

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Treat Yo Shelf & Giveaway: June Monthly Recap

Treat Yo Shelf:

June Monthly Recap

Welcome to my monthly recap post, in which I fangirl over the books I read this month, bookish items I acquired, book events I attended, bookish news, and/or subscription boxes I received in the month of June.

What did I read?

It was another slow reading month for me. Sorry, guys.

What books did I buy? 

I was on a “Book Buying Ban” this month, but I did purchase one book, Autofocus, because I wanted the awesome swag that came with the pre-order. 

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What books did I receive from Publishers/Authors to review?

  • Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi from HarperCollins/HarperTeen (Hardcover & e-ARC)
  • We Own the Night by Ashley Poston from Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books (e-ARC)

What books did I receive from friends/fellow bloggers?

  • The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker (ARC)
  • The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (signed Hardcopy)

June’s Uppercase Box

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GiftLit Box

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June’s BOOM!BOX from Espionage Cosmetics

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Bookish Swag I bought or received from Authors/Publishers/Bookstores/Bloggers

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I bought NovellyYours’ Unbirthday candle and it smells freakin’ amazing!!! NovellyYours is an Etsy account created by Brittany at The Book Addicts Guide, and her book inspired soy candles are fantastic.

June Favorites

  • Being part of my niece’s wedding and reading a Neil Gaiman poem during the ceremony.
  • Bringing back my favorite Summer drink: Starbuck’s Green Tea Frappuccino
  • Participating in the Irish Banana’s blog tour for Autofocus. I had so much fun taking pictures themed around my review for the book. Plus, I adored the book. 

Have you heard? Bookish News

  • My book buying ban wasn’t too successful, since I bought one book. But hey, it’s the little steps, right? HAHAHA!
  • Sarah J. Maas and Emery Lord are coming to Joseph Beth Booksellers on September 15, 2016 in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. Check out the event details HERE!
  • Decatur Book Festival author line-up is now live! Check out their site HERE
  • YallFest author line-up is live! Check out the list HERE!
  • I have three bookish giveaways posted on my Twitter account. See information and rules below:

BOOKISH GIVEAWAYS

Retweet and Follow to win (US only). Click on the picture to link to each Twitter post giveaway:

SUMMER GIVEAWAY #1 (ends July 8, 2016 at midnight):

SUMMER GIVEAWAY #2 (ends July 8, 2016 at midnight):

GIVEAWAY #3 (ends July 8, 2016 at midnight):

This contest is supposed to end July 1, but I will be extending the contest for my blog followers. Enter to win PRESS BACK tattoos inspired by Kristen Simmons’ Metaltown.

press back contest

How did you treat your shelves in June? What books did you buy? What books did you read and would highly recommend?

Thank you for stopping by. Happy Reading!

 

Blog Tour & Giveaway: AUTOFOCUS by Lauren Gibaldi

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Title: Autofocus
By: Lauren Gibaldi
Published by: Harper Teen
Publication date: June 14, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Fiction

ABOUT AUTOFOCUS:

Family.

It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository


 review in photography

Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi is by far my favorite Young Adult Contemporary book I have read this year. Right from page one, the story smoothly unfolds when the main character, Maude, is given a high school assignment: to use photography as a means to define “family.” But for Maude, “family” is hard to define, because she was adopted and her birth mother died from complications during childbirth. Defining “family” is a true crisis of nature versus nurture in Maude’s eyes, especially when her birth mother left no information about herself or her own family for Maude to discover.

footprintGibaldi does a remarkable job depicting a seventeen-year-old that is lingering between the blurred lines of adolescence and adulthood. Maude is one of the most courageous female protagonists I have read in a long time. I often found myself comparing her to Louisa May Alcott’s Jo March in Little Women—a heroine surrounded by family and friends, yet who often shadows herself in a world of creativity as she pleads for life to remain unchanging. Like Jo March, Maude is creative, stubborn, and overall frustrating, especially when she is enamored with concrete and fixed depictions of people. Throughout Autofocus, Maude is often comparing people to who they are now and who they once were, and this leaves her with a mindset that change is hard to accept.

corkboardI mostly liked Maude because she is very determined and fearless. She does not wallow in self-pity; instead, she travels to her birth mother’s hometown, which happens to be the college town that her best friend Treena is attending. While staying at Florida State University for a week, I love that Maude dares herself to make connections with people that once knew her birth mother. And more importantly, I enjoyed that Maude not only discovers the true meaning of family, but she also discovers herself.

blurryUnsurprisingly, I was not a big fan of Maude’s best friend, Treena. I know Treena is in college and she’s going through her own identity crisis, but for crying out loud, her best friend is only staying with her for one week. But without Treena’s slip-ups, Maude would have never met and received help from Treena’s college friend, Bennett. Bennett is by far my favorite character in the book. He’s dorky, honest, caring, funny, and has an eclectic knowledge of pop culture/references. Honestly, you cannot go wrong with having a friend that loves and references Star Wars, Spider-man, and Toy Story, RIGHT?! Bennett is the perfect friend to help balance out Maude’s uneasy and erratic actions during her one-week journey to find information about her birth mother.

spidermanOverall, I really enjoyed Autofocus, and I can definitely see this coming-of-age story being a re-read for me whenever I’m in need of a reading-slump cure. Maude is a dynamic character, and I love that most of her internal dialogue is framed in self-encouraged philosophies. I really appreciated that Maude uses her photography assignment not only as a means to define “family,” but to essentially define herself. In the end, she portrays maturity and understanding that identity is not always a still-frame, but a collection of snapshots that shape who you are.

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star rating

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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Win a finished copy of AUTOFOCUS (US Only)

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about Lauren

Lauren Gibaldi

Public librarian and author of THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, MATT’S STORY (a Night We Said Yes novella), and AUTOFOCUS (out 6/14/16), all with HarperTeen/ HarperCollins. Fan of dinosaurs and cheesy jokes. And you.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

 

tour schedule

Week 1:
 
Week 2:

 

Note: All photographs were taken by me and edited with an Apple app called Color Card. All quotes featured in the photos are from an e-arc/galley of Autofocus provided by HarperTeen/HarperCollins. A gigantic thank you to Irish Banana Tours for inviting me on this blog tour. 

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Irish Banana Tours

Book Blitz: The Queen’s Poisoner + Giveaway

The Queen’s Poisoner (The Kingfountain Series Book 1) 

by Jeff Wheeler

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ABOUT THE QUEEN’S POISONER

As usurper of the throne, the rule of King Severn Argentine’s is already highly contested. To keep his power, King Argentine rules with an iron fist and destroys any opposition. In a failed coup attempt the Duke of Kiskaddon loses his son as a permanent prisoner to the king to ensure his loyalty.

THE QUEEN’S POISONER follows the Duke’s young son Owen on his journey for redemption and revenge as he figures out how to survive the court of Kingfountain. In order to keep his head and gain the merciless king’s favor, Owen must delve deeper into the world of mystery and secrecy that surrounds him. Readers will be clamoring for the next installment of The Kingfountain Series.

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N

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About the Author

Jeff Wheeler took an early retirement from his career at Intel in 2014 to become a full-time author. He is, most importantly, a husband and father, and a devout member of his church. He is occasionally spotted roaming among the oak trees and granite boulders in the hills of California or in any number of the state’s majestic redwood groves. He is the author of The Covenant of Muirwood Trilogy, The Legends of Muirwood Trilogy, the Whispers from Mirrowen Trilogy, and the Landmoor Series.

To learn more about Jeff Wheeler visit his website: www.jeff-wheeler.com

You can follow him @muirwoodwheeler

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Click the Rafflecopter Link below to enter the Giveaway:
A chance to win a copy of The Queen’s Poisoner. GOOD LUCK!

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Irish Banana Tours