January 26, 2016

Night Study Guest Post Valek's POV + Giveaway!

About the Author

Maria V. Snyder changed from being a meteorologist to a novelist in 1995, when she began writing to keep her sanity while raising two children. Since then, she has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers, and teaches fiction-writing classes at the local college and area libraries. The classes give her the wonderful opportunity to encourage fellow writers, and to keep improving her craft.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria always had a fascination with big storms. Dreaming of chasing tornados, Maria earned a bachelors of science degree in meteorology at Penn State University. But she discovered, much to her chagrin, that forecasting the weather wasn't one of her skills. In order to chase tornados you had to predict where they might form. Creating fantasy worlds where she has complete control of the weather was more agreeable to her.

Maria's research on food-tasting methods with an expert chocolate taster, her husband, turned out to be a delicious bonus while writing Poison Study.

Maria has a brown belt in Isshinryu Karate, and enjoys playing volleyball and the cello. Traveling in general and via cruise ship in particular are her biggest distractions from writing. Maria has traveled to Belize, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal.

Maria lives with her husband, son, daughter and yellow lab, Hazelnut, in Pennsylvania where she is at work on more LUNA novels. She is also pursuing a master's degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University.

☆ How to find Maria ☆
Website ☆ Blog ☆ Facebook ☆ Goodreads

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About the Book

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana's life has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia is safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he's quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he's been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander's mysterious plans, they realize it's far more sinister than they could have ever imagined.

☆ Where to find Night Study ☆
Goodreads ☆ Amazon ☆ Barnes & Noble ☆ iBooks

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Valek and Janco spent the rest of the day hunting for the familiar sticky feel of magic in the foothills. They returned late and left early the next morning to resume the search. Another two full days passed before Janco stopped Beach Bunny.

He pressed his hand to his right ear. “Son of a snow cat!”

“You’re not thinking again, are you?” Valek drew next to Janco, halting Onyx.

“Not funny. It’s gotta be a superstrong illusion.”

Valek dismounted. “Which direction?”

Janco pointed to the right. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary. The bare branches of the trees dipped and swayed in a cold northern breeze that smelled of snow, despite it being a couple weeks into the warming season. High, thin clouds filtered the sunlight.

Valek pulled his sword. Janco slid off Beach Bunny and yanked his weapon from its sheath. The rattle and tumble of dried leaves filled the air. This patch of forest grew in a dip in the rolling terrain near the base of the Soul Mountains. To the east, the jagged snowcapped peaks stretched high, like a row of gigantic corn plants reaching for the sun.

The mountain range earned its name from old legends. Folk lore claimed the peaks snagged souls as they ascended toward the sky. These trapped souls haunted the frozen heights and sucked the life from anyone who dared climb past the tree line. Valek believed it to be just a story to explain why no one who tried to reach the summit ever returned. The lack of breathable air was the more likely explanation. Although some also asserted that mysterious people who supposedly lived on the other side of the mountains patrolled the upper regions to prevent anyone from crossing into their homeland, keeping their existence a secret.

Pure nonsense. Valek returned his attention to the task at hand. He hadn’t expected Owen’s tunnel to be this high in the foothills, but the isolated location was ideal.

Janco aimed for an ordinary group of trees and hissed in pain as he disappeared from sight. Increasing his pace, Valek hurried after him and encountered magic. The invisible force pressed against his skin. Pushing through felt like swimming in mud. He found Janco rubbing his temple on the other side. Valek scanned the area for possible threats. Nothing so far.

A mass of oversize boulders was piled next to a hill. At first glance, it resembled a natural rock slide from the mountains, but upon closer inspection the heap was too neatly stacked. It must be blocking the tunnel.

“Looks like someone beat us to it,” Valek said.

“No.” Janco’s voice strained with effort. “Move closer.”

He did. The air thickened. Another illusion. “Clever.” It would stop the smugglers from using it, but it kept the tunnel open in case Owen needed it again in the future.

“Could be a trap.”

“Indeed.” Valek tightened his grip on his sword and drew a knife with his free hand. “I’m just going to confirm there’s a tunnel behind it.”

Janco straightened. “Then I’ll come confirming with you, just in case.”

This is a publisher hosted giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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☆ The Tour ☆

Week One:
1/18/2016- Dark Faerie Tales- Interview
1/19/2016- The Bibliophile Chronicles- Review
1/20/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
1/21/2016- The Moonlight Library- Review
1/22/2016- Read Now Sleep Later- Interview

Week Two:
1/25/2016- Seeing Double In Neverland- Review
1/26/2016- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Excerpt
1/27/2016- a GREAT read- Review
1/28/2016- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Interview
1/29/2016- Mundie Moms- Review

January 7, 2016

Passenger Blog Tour! Interview + Giveaway!

About the Author

Alexandra Bracken was born and raised in Arizona, but moved east to study at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. She now writes full time and can be found hard at work on her next novel in a charming apartment overflowing with books. You can visit her online at www.alexandrabracken.com or on Twitter (@alexbracken).

☆ How to find Alexandra ☆

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About the Book

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play¬ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep¬arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

☆ Where to find Passenger ☆
GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

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Mindy: Hi Alexandra! First I want to say welcome to Magical Urban Fantasy Reads! I am looking forward to PASSENGER and I know my readers are as well and am so happy that you could stop by for a visit!

Alexandra : Thank you so much for having me!! I’m excited to hear what you guys think when you have it in your hands!

Mindy: For the readers: can you tell us a little bit about PASSENGER and the characters?

Alexandra : Of course! I pitched Passenger as being like Outlander meets National Treasure to my editor, and I think that description still works pretty well! It’s the story of Etta, a modern New York City teen, who finds that she’s the latest in a long line of time travelers—unfortunately, she discovers this during a violin performance, and only because she’s basically being kidnapped and brought into the past by the head of another family of travelers. He needs her to find an object that he claims was stolen from him, and if she refuses… well, she loses her path home forever. She’s joined on the adventure by Nicholas, another reluctant traveler currently working as a privateer in the 18th century.

Mindy: Will we get to see the cover for WAYFARER soon?

Alexandra : I wouldn’t say soon, unfortunately! We’re still working on it and trying to land on the right option. Passenger is a hard cover to live up to! ;)

Mindy: Were any of the characters in the book inspired by people from your real life?

Alexandra : Sort of—Etta was really inspired by the teens (and some now-adults) I met while I lived in New York City who had grown up there. Most of them are incredibly self-sufficient, cultured, and driven, almost like the city sharpened them. Etta inherited a lot of those traits, which helps her survive this whole ordeal and bounce back when she takes hit after hit.

Mindy: Who was your favorite character to write? What about your least favorite?

Alexandra : I really, really loved writing from both Nicholas and Etta’s point of views; they’re different in so many ways, and had such different upbringings, but they’re so well-matched in the ways that really matter. I love Etta’s spunk and Nicholas’s dry humor.

Both Sophia and Cyrus were really difficult to write, and for two very different reasons. Sophia, a traveler Etta’s age who’s grown up in this world, is an absolute pill for the most part, but I find her anger and frustration really understandable. She’s a young woman who wants more and opportunity, but for all of the advantages and opportunities innate in time travel, they’re very old-fashioned and priggish about gender roles. And, well, Cyrus is just plain E-V-I-L.

Mindy: What is your favorite passage/scene in PASSENGER?

Alexandra : I really love the scene with the snake, mostly for Etta’s reaction and Nicholas’s realization in that moment that she’s it, and all of the quiet despair and happiness that came bundled with that.

Mindy: What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

Alexandra : Hah! The better question is, what didn’t I research? I had to learn a lot about the violin and violinists and a tiny bit on musical theory, I revisited a lot of the primary documents I worked with when I studied early American history in college, struggled (in vain!) to find some sort schematic of a non-military tall ship vessel, seafaring, World War II, dress styles from head to toe, typical food dishes… I LOVE this kind of stuff, though, so it was an absolute joy. The fact that they’re time travelers gave me a little wiggle room on this, but I also consulted quite a bit with the Oxford English Dictionary to make sure that Nicholas wasn’t using words that were standard in the 18th century, to double-check that the meaning of a word hadn’t changed, and that he would be able to glean what Etta meant if she used a modern phrase.

Mindy: What are you reading right now? Or what do you have on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

Alexandra : I’m reading Winter by Marissa Meyer veeeeery slowly, both because I don’t want it to end, and because I don’t actually have that much time to read right now. I’m getting close to the end of drafting Wayfarer, Passenger’s sequel, and trying to use every spare moment for it.

Mindy: Who is your ultimate Book Boyfriend?

Alexandra : Ron King-of-My-Heart Weasley. Always!

Mindy: What inspired you to write YA?

Alexandra : The funny thing is, I only ever wanted to write children’s books, pretty much from the moment I knew I wanted to be a writer. (This was in third grade after I wrote a short story about the planets in the solar system.) I had so much fun reading the books I grew up that I thought it must be just as fun to write them. And, mostly, it is.

I think I ended up gravitating toward YA because of when I started trying to write to one day hopefully be published. I was a freshman in college and I had so many thoughts and ideas and feelings about those teen years I had to get them out.

Lightening Round Questions

Mindy: Twitter or Facebook?

Alexandra : Twitter

Mindy: Favorite Superhero?

Alexandra : Sailor Moon (she’s still my hero)

Mindy: Favorite TV show?

Alexandra : Right now? It’s The Knick.

Mindy: Sweet or Salty?

Alexandra : Salty… like me (just kidding!)

Mindy: Any Phobias?

Alexandra : Spiders and the ocean

Mindy: Song you can’t get enough of right now?

Alexandra : Shine a Light by BANNERS

Mindy: Upcoming Movie you’re most looking forward to?

Alexandra : It was The Force Awakens… so now I guess it’s Rogue One? Sign me up for endless Star Wars movies forever and always!

Mindy: Thanks so much Alexandra for answering my questions!

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This is a tour hosted giveaway!
3 winners will receive a finished copy of PASSENGER. US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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☆ The Tour ☆

Week One:
12/28/2015- Novel Novice- Review
12/29/2015- Fiktshun- Interview
12/30/2015- Mundie Moms- Review
12/31/2015- Me My Shelf And I- Guest Post
1/1/2016- Page Turners Blog- Review

Week Two:
1/4/2016- Dark Faerie Tales- Interview
1/5/2016- Fangirlish- Guest Post
1/6/2016- Supernatural Snark- Review
1/7/2016- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Interview
1/8/2016- The Book Cellar- Review

December 31, 2015

Endure Blog Tour! Guest Post + Giveaway!

About the Author

Sara B. Larson is the author of the acclaimed YA fantasy DEFY, and the sequels IGNITE and ENDURE. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes in brief snippets throughout the day (while mourning the demise of naptime) and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” When she’s not mothering or writing, you can often find her at the gym repenting for her sugar addiction.

☆ How to find Sara ☆

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About the Book

The remarkable third novel in Sara B. Larson's bestselling Defy series!

At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers, and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy, that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page.

☆ Where to find Endure ☆
GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

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With your series being fantasy was there any research involved in writing it? Highs and lows throughout writing the Defy Series.

I have had such an amazing experience writing this series. I’ve learned and grown so much as an author—and as a person. These characters have been tested and tried, pushed to the breaking point and I have had to go there with them. To hurt with them, to fight with them, to try and hold on to hope alongside of them. And in the end, I wept with them as lives were lost and celebrated when they triumphed. Sometimes it was a struggle to convey on the page what I was feeling and seeing in my mind, but I worked and worked on those scenes until they rang true to what I wanted them to be…and I hope my readers will feel that as Alexa’s story comes to an end. This story came from a place of deep personal grief and loss, but it morphed into a story of seeking hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable darkness and of finding courage to do what you know you must, even if the outcome is terribly uncertain. It also became a story of what true beauty is and of the many different kinds of love and how they can shape and drive you in all aspects of your life, for bad or good.

In short, there were lots of ups and downs writing the DEFY series, but I feel incredibly privileged and blessed to have gone on this journey with Alexa, Damian, Rylan, and everyone else. I hope my readers will feel the same way.

This is a publisher hosted giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

☆ The Tour ☆

Week One:
12/28/2015- Fiction Fare- Review
12/29/2015- Dark Faerie Tales- Interview
12/30/2015- A Backwards Story- Review
12/31/2015- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Guest Post
1/1/2016- The Book Cellar- Review

Week Two:
1/4/2016- Supernatural Snark- Interview
1/5/2016- Novel Novice - Guest Post
1/6/2016- Page Turners Blog- Review
1/7/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
1/8/2016- Mundie Moms- Review

Dear followers, fans and peeps! Some of the books I review on Magical Urban Fantasy Reads are provided to me for free by either the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. Please know that I am in NO WAY compensated for my reviews. All opinions are mine and I am not required to give a positive review in exchange for a free book! But some of the purchase links on my blog are monetized through places like Amazon, Book Depository or Barnes & Noble.