February 28, 2014

Death Sworn Blog Tour Stop & Giveaway!

About the Author

I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).

After selling my first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, I gave in to my mother’s importuning to be practical and majored in biology at Brooklyn College. I then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. I kept writing and submitting in my spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after my first short story acceptance, I sold my first novel to Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins).

I live in Brookline, Massachusetts (right outside of Boston) with my husband Aaron, a researcher and doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and our three children.

☆ How to find Leah ☆

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About the Book

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

☆ How to find Death Sworn ☆
GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble

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☆ Teaser ☆

Ileni stepped forward, afraid she had killed him. As her wards had reacted, she'd realized the dagger was slicing at her hair, not her throat. But then he leaped to his feet, one hand pressed to his side, staring with an expression that should have gratified her: astonishment and fear.

Except he wasn't staring at her.

Ileni Followed his gaze. The cacophony of clicks and thuds and grunts coming from the main training area had gone silent. A cluster of assassins stood in the arched cavern entrance, staring, the pretense of disinterest wiped off their faces.

Her role as their tutor, apparently, was off to a great start.

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This is a tour hosted giveaway!
1 Grand Prize pack signed copies of all 3 of Leah’s books (Mistwood, Nightspell, and Death Sworn), plus signed SWAG for all 3 books as well! US Only.
Void where prohibited by law

a Rafflecopter giveaway

☆ The Tour ☆

Week One:
2/24/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Original Content
2/25/2014- Mundie Moms-Original Content
2/26/2014- Bookish- Original content
2/27/2014- Fiktshun- Original Content
2/28/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads-Review or Original Content

Week Two:
3/3/2014- Supernatural Snark- Original content
3/4/2014- Page Turners - Original Content
3/5/2014- Tales of a Ravenous Reader- Original content
3/6/2014- YA Sisterhood- Review
3/7/2014- A Backwards Story- Original content

February 27, 2014

Steadfast by Claudia Gray Tour Stop: Character Interview - Verlaine!

About the Author

Claudia Gray is a pseudonym. I would like to say that I chose another name so that no one would ever learn the links between my shadowy, dramatic past and the explosive secrets revealed through my characters. This would be a lie. In truth, I took a pseudonym simply because I thought it would be fun to choose my own name. (And it is.)

I write novels full-time, absolutely love it, and hope to be able to do this forever. My home is in New Orleans, is more than 100 years old, and is painted purple. In my free time I read, travel, hike, cook and listen to music. You can keep up with my latest releases, thoughts on writing and various pop-culture musings via Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, GoodReads or (of course) my own home page.

If you want to contact me, you can email me, but your best bet is probably to Tweet me. I don’t do follows on Twitter, but I follow everyone back on Tumblr, Pinterest and GoodReads.

☆ How to find Claudia ☆

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About the Book

The second book in the dazzling Spellcaster series from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray is perfect for fans of the Beautiful Creatures and Hex Hall series.

Nadia, Mateo, and Verlaine saved Captive's Sound from the dark sorceress Elizabeth . . . or so they thought. But despite their best efforts, a crack opened and a new, greater evil seeped through. With Mateo as her Steadfast, Nadia's magic is magnified but her training is still incomplete. And a darker magic has begun to call Nadia. . . .

With her Steadfast, Mateo, and her best friend, Verlaine, Nadia must fight the black magic that tempts her and stop the One Beneath before he comes to claim what is his.

☆ How to find Steadfast ☆
GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & Noble

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Mindy: What's it like having a best friend who's a witch?

Verlaine: It's depressing and awesome at the same time. I mean, more awesome, because Nadia's great, and also it helps to have a friend who can predict the future, defeat evil, help you with your history homework, and all of that. But sometimes being her friend gets me down because being a witch kicks so much ass, and I can never become one!

Mindy: Can you tell us a little bit about what you know about your curse?

Verlaine: Right now that would be "not tons." I know I've been cursed since I was a little girl, and I know it affects everyone in the world except my dads, because they knew and loved me from the time I was born. And whatever the curse is, it makes me ... invisible.

Not literally. It just occurred to me that with magic, you might think I meant, like, Harry Potter's cloak invisible. Just the kind of invisible that means nobody notices you, or likes you, no matter what you do. I work hard in school, but teachers treat me like a slacker. I've tried hard to make friends, but people are either mean to me or don't even remember I'm alive. As for any guy falling in love with me: Forget it.

Nadia and Mateo have seen past the curse a little bit, because other strong magic sometimes interferes. But even they don't care about me as much as best friends should. They try. That's about as much as I can ask, I guess. Still, it's hard going through life knowing not only that almost nobody cares, but that they also couldn't care if they wanted to.

Mindy: Is it better or worse to know that all the horrible things in your life were caused by a curse?

Verlaine: At first I thought it was better. You know, at least I had an explanation. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize it's a lot worse. Before, I always figured I'd find friends and boyfriends at college, that I just didn't fit in here in podunk Captive's Sound. Now I know it's never going to get any better. The curse is always going to follow me. Forever. That's way, way worse.

Mindy: When did your hair turn grey? What was your hair color before it turned grey? What color do you wish your hair was? Do you try to dye it?

Verlaine: When I was hardly a year old. So almost as long as I've even had hair. Apparently it was dark originally, but turned silver around about the time my parents died. Which we think is when the curse got laid down. So my grey hair must have something to do with the curse, but I can't figure out what. I mean, did the forces of evil think, We will make her unloved forever, and also she will have to buy lots of Garnier Nutrisse!

Well, if that was the plan, too bad, forces of evil. I leave it naturally silver. Honestly I think it looks kind of cool.

Mindy: What do you think life will be like now that Elizabeth is gone?

Verlaine: Less scary, for sure. Did you know she put me in the hospital last month? She witched my laptop, which IMO is cheating.

Things will be better for my friends - Nadia won't have to spend all her time battling darkness, and maybe Mateo's visions of the future won't be as bad now that Elizabeth's not here anymore. For me, I don't know if anything changes. Whatever she did to me is still going strong; I'm forgettable as ever.

Mindy: Due to your curse and your lack of connection with most people, I've wondered what a typical day is like when you're home with your dads. Can you tell us what that's like?

Verlaine: Exhibit #327 for the case that I am the least cool person ever -- I really like spending time with my dads. They're the only people in the world who love me for me, and besides, they're actually pretty chill as parents go. Uncle Dave and I play a lot of video games; he's a HUGE gamer, the more swords and battles the better. Uncle Gary's the one who watches "Scandal" with me and freaks out every time something happens to Olivia and Fitz. (We both believe that, in the last episode, Mellie has to become president. Or dictator. Either way.) We don't argue that much, because my grades are good and I'm not staying out and partying. My entire life is, like, the opposite of staying out and partying. I spend more free time with my cat Smuckers than with anybody else. Oh, my God, that is even sadder now that I see it written down. But it's true, so, I'll leave it.

Oh, and FYI: To me, they're my dads. They're the only parents I remember, and the only ones I'd want. But Uncle Dave was my uncle, and Gary got the uncle title along with him, and I was in junior high before I announced that I wanted them to be my fathers from now on. They were really touched, and Uncle Gary even cried a little. When I tried to call them "Dad," though, it felt weird to stop calling them Uncle Dave and Uncle Gary, plus it got really confusing with double Dads in the house. So I stuck with calling them what I called them before.

Mindy: Do you think things will get better now that you have some answers? What answers are you still looking for? Do you think there will be a chance to break the curse?

Verlaine: I think things will get better now, but less because I have answers - since I don't have that many - and more because I think Nadia's finally on the case. And Nadia figures out everything, sooner or later. She defeated a sorceress, right? So a curse has to be, like, nothing compared to that.

The answers I'd like: Whether or not Elizabeth killed my parents. It seems almost certain that she did, but I want to know for sure. And I'd really like to find out how people would see me, if they could see me at all. Would I have tons of friends, tons of guys interested in me - or would I be just as lonely?

Maybe I don't want that answer.

Mindy: Your car was sucked into the ground, right? Are you going to get a new car? If so, what kind of car do you want?

Verlaine: Yes, my car was sucked into the ground, but, benefits of having a witch for a best friend -- Nadia lifted it right back out again. The Land Yacht has a few new dents in its bumpers, but it's already so dented up that a few more bangs and scratches don't make any difference.

Probably I won't get a new car until I get out of college, or the Land Yacht goes to that parking garage in the sky, whichever comes first. My dream car would be a Volkswagen Beetle or a Mini Cooper - something with vintage flair.

Mindy: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Verlaine: A journalist. I realize that's a lot more difficult job to get these days, because of the rise of citizen journalism and the decrease in the number of newspapers. But as long as anyone can do it, I have to try. Reporting comes more naturally to me than anything else ; I intern at the town paper, the Guardian , and pull double duty at the Rodman High news site, the Lightning Rod.

Mindy: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Verlaine: Paris. So beautiful, and the food is supposed to be Amazing . Plus I could scour all the secondhand shops for vintage fashion! I bet you can find amazing stuff in Paris.

Mindy: Thank you so much, Verlaine, for stopping by Magical Urban Fantasy Reads! Maybe I can visit Captive's Sound and we can hang out!

Verlaine: ... I appreciate the thought and all, but between the sinkholes and the curses and everything, Captive's Sound is really not an ideal tourist destination. Maybe I should come see you instead!

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This is a tour hosted giveaway!
3 signed copies of STEADFAST, with swag bookmarks. International
Void where prohibited by law

a Rafflecopter giveaway

☆ The Tour ☆

Week One:
2/24/2014- Fiktshun- Guest Post
2/25/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
2/26/2014- Fantasy Book Addict- Interview
2/27/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads- Character interview with Verlaine
2/28/2014- Jenna Does Books- Author interview

Week Two:
3/3/2014- Mundie Moms- Review and an excerpt
3/4/2014- Parajunkee- Interview
3/5/2014- Bookalicious- Guest Post
3/6/2014- Tales of a Ravenous Reader- Guest Post
3/7/2014- YA Sisterhood- Guest Post

February 26, 2014

How I let drama get the best of me: Lynn Shepherd vs. JK Rowling

***Note I wrote this yesterday and only decided to publish it today.***

As I started to write this, I wondered if I’d ever even post it or if it’d just sit in draft-form, or if it’d get deleted altogether just because I REALLY hate drama. But this is something that I seriously need to vent about. Whether it’s publicly or to myself, but I’ve got to get this all out in writing.

This rant is about Lynn Shepherd’s article on Huffington Post UK, titled “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.” I’m not going to leave a link because it’s easy enough to find.

First off, I absolutely cannot stand drama. Especially when that drama is initiated in a negative way because it brings out the worst in people. Me included. It’s the very reason I’ve stayed away from watching social media feeds, but this one was too hard to avoid as it’s something I’m very passionate about.

Second, I want to talk about how I reacted. When I first read the post Sunday night it really bothered me, so much so that I sent a text to a friend about it, and I’m pretty sure I also woke my mom up to talk about it. And then the next morning it started to absolutely consume me. I became extremely angry and I didn’t know where to release this anger. Of course, since this anger was consuming me, the worst thing for me to do was follow it on twitter. BAD MINDY!

I’ve been thinking and talking a lot lately about how words can be uplifting and inspiring, but also how words can also be poison to a person. And the person speaking the poison might not even know that their words are poison to someone else. Well Lynn’s words were poison to me and I’ll explain why later, but I want to first talk about what I did wrong after reading Lynn’s post.

I first tried multiple times (without success) to post a comment on her post. But because the post was getting so much attention (I think!), it didn’t work for me. So the next morning I went searching for her, and, lo and behold, she has published books and they are in the same genre that JK Rowling is now marketing in. This all started to make sense now! Jealousy got the best of Lynn Shepherd. And anger then got the best of me as I then decided to give Lynn my 2 cents-worth on twitter by saying, ”I'm sorry @Lynn_Shepherd that envy of JK Rowlings success consumes your life, but u destroyed ur own by bashing people that read her books” and, “@Lynn_Shepherd didn't you ever stop to think that maybe JK Rowling only introduced her fans to your genre?” Lynn spoke her opinion in her post, so I didn’t (and still don’t) think those tweets were inappropriate. I let her know my thoughts, but I guess that wasn’t enough to cure the poison in me and make me feel better. So, while the poison was still boiling my blood, I was thinking that if it’s okay for Lynn to talk crap about books she knows nothing about, it would also be okay for me to review her books on Amazon and Goodreads (without reading them) and give them all one star in my reviews. And, in my mind, I thought it was deserved. I was thinking, “She attacks, I’ll attack back.” But a few hours later I realized that rating her books one star on Amazon was absolutely wrong because I’ve never condoned that kind of behavior before so why would I now? So, let me say again that I hate when I react so badly. I usually give myself enough time to realize that those evil thoughts are wrong and that I shouldn’t act on them. I haven’t, and don’t ever intend to, read her books, so I don’t think it’s right of me to rate something I’ve never read, even if I’m still upset with her actions. So I immediately went in and deleted my reviews on Amazon. I still wanted to leave my 2 cents-worth on Goodreads, but at the time, I didn’t realize that I could just clear out my rating and still leave my comments about her books without deleting and starting over. But this morning, I was still thinking about my actions, and decided that if I couldn’t remove my one star ratings of Lynn’s books on Goodreads, then I’m just going to delete them off my Goodreads feed altogether. Luckily I discovered that there is a way to just clear out an already starred rating without having to delete it, so that’s what I did.

After all that drama, for most of the day I’ve been able to pretty much let it go and haven’t allowed the words from her post to consume my entire day like they did yesterday. That is . . . until I then saw some tweets from people who were upset, saying that Lynn was being bullied by all the people who were responding to her article! I did see a blog post about someone not agreeing with the one star rating on Amazon, and that’s fine, that’s their opinion and it’s valid. At that point I had already decided that my prior actions were immature (and I figured that out on my own), but I don’t think that anything I’ve seen written or posted about Lynn would be considered bullying. I mean, if you (Lynn) behave badly in public and insult other people (JK Rowling’s fans) then you better expect to be criticized right back, even if the backlash is immature. That is partially why I’m not beating myself up over my own behavior. I corrected my own bad behavior…and I’m sorry that I had one star reviews about Lynn’s books out on Amazon for about 3 hours (and on Goodreads for probably about 18 hours.) I feel bad about what I did, and I certainly won’t do it again. And I didn’t even need someone to tell me that it was wrong. I decided that on my own. However, I do think that Lynn Shepherd’s post was in a sense like one of those bullies who goes around pushing people, but never expects to be pushed back. But those kinds of bullies SHOULD expect to get punched back; especially, if they happen to push around someone who has done a lot of good for a lot of people. And they for sure better expect a lot of backlash from a lot of those people.

There were a lot of ways that Lynn could have written that post without being so insulting, petty and jealous and still get her point across. She could actually even have acknowledged her own envy brought about by a successful author changing writing genres and still being successful, and she wouldn’t have gotten this much backlash. But, then, she also wouldn’t have gotten this amount of attention. But the problem was that Lynn was rude. And she wasn’t just saying rude words to an author that she thinks will probably never see the article, she also insulted JK Rowling’s adult fans. I was disgusted! She said something that offended me personally. And then she was extremely rude to THE ONLY author that I would probably act like an extremely crazy fangirl over. Now, if Lynn had crazy people truly bullying her by stalking her over her Huffington Post article, then I’d be concerned. But that’s not happening. Instead, Lynn put herself in a very public forum, insulted a huge number of people, and got a negative reaction. So she better expect some reasonable internet backlash. It’s kind of (but I know not quite) like insulting a race of people . . . if you do that, you better expect a BIG backlash from that race. It’s understandable.

Now I want to discuss why I was so easily offended by Lynn’s article. It was primarily this paragraph:

“I didn't much mind Rowling when she was Pottering about. I've never read a word (or seen a minute) so I can't comment on whether the books were good, bad or indifferent. I did think it a shame that adults were reading them (rather than just reading them to their children, which is another thing altogether), mainly because there's so many other books out there that are surely more stimulating for grown-up minds. But, then again, any reading is better than no reading, right? But The Casual Vacancy changed all that.”

Who are you, Lynn, to say that Harry Potter is not stimulating, especially when you haven’t read them? I myself had not been a big reader before I read Harry Potter because, as a child, I hugely struggled with reading and comprehension. And guess what? When I read Harry Potter in my early 20s I became a lover of reading. “Yes Lynn, I was one of those grown-ups reading Harry Potter, and I’m not going to go into why adults love Harry Potter because there are enough adults that actually have read them to understand why.” And then after I discovered my love of reading through Harry Potter, I experimented by trying other books. I actually became quite fond of V.C. Andrews at that time, but there was no huge attachment like I had with the Harry Potter world. Harry Potter changed my life completely! I was one of those people that was showing up for the midnight release of the newest HP book, and I’d read the new release within 1-2 days after getting it. But it still took me almost 10 years after that before I found the right kind of books that would hold my interest. But I now read 50-100 books a year! And guess what Lynn? I primarily support new authors, much more so than already successful authors! But still, to this day, I have not had any book blow me away nearly as much as the Harry Potter world did. And not just me! I remember when I was first reading HP that a woman told me that her two AUTISTIC boys would only ever show interest in Harry Potter books. That is purely amazing! Why would you EVER ask someone with that kind of writing skill to stop writing?

OK! This post has become WAY too long, but I think I’ve gotten my point across. I’ll just end by saying that I feel really bad for Lynn’s publisher, publicist and anyone else she has taken down, affected and/or hurt over that ridiculous article. I sure hope Lynn sees why her article was hurtful.

February 2, 2014

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi Blog Tour! Character Interview & Giveaway

About the Author

Veronica Rossi is the author of post-apocalyptic fiction for young adults. Her debut novel, UNDER THE NEVER SKY, is the first in a trilogy. Released in January 2012, it was deemed one of the Best Books of Year by School Library Journal. The second book in the trilogy, THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT, debuted in January on the NY Times and USA Today Best Seller Lists. The final book in the series, INTO THE STILL BLUE, is expected to release January 2014.

Foreign rights to the UNDER THE NEVER SKY trilogy have sold in over twenty-five territories to date and film rights have been optioned by Warner Bros.

She completed undergraduate studies at UCLA and then went on to study fine art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons. When not writing, she enjoys reading, painting, and counting down the minutes until she can get back to making up stories about imaginary people.

☆ How to find Veronica ☆

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About the Book

The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi's "masterpiece" Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Times bestselling Through the Ever Night (Examiner.com).

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it's time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won't even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn't just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he's also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

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Mindy: I'm super excited to introduce Cinder and Willow from Veronica Rossi's Under The Never Sky trilogy! Please welcome Cinder and Willow!!!

☆ Willow Interviews Cinder ☆

Willow: Okay, are you ready?

Cinder: No.

Willow: Great! How do you feel about Aria?

Cinder: What? I'm not answering that.

Willow: What about Brooke? I saw you looking at her.

Cinder: I was not!

Willow: Yes, you were, but that's okay. Next question. Do you think you like Perry because you're as grouchy as he is?

Cinder: He's not grouchy.

Willow: But you are.

Cinder: (laughs) Willow... please stop.

Willow: Okay. What do you think my dog Flea would say if he could talk?

Cinder: That he likes grouchy people more than not grouchy people.

Willow: That was a good one. Okay, one more. How does it feel to be part of the Tides, now that you're not wandering alone all over the place?

Cinder: Real good. I like having friends.

Willow: Like me?

Cinder: Definitely. See? That wasn't grouchy.

Willow: I guess you got me. That's all I have. Thank you for your honesty.

Cinder: (rolls eyes) Can we go do something fun now?

Willow: Yep. Let's go!

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This is a tour hosted giveaway!
1 Signed set of the UNDER THE NEVER SKY Series US Only
Void where prohibited by law

a Rafflecopter giveaway

☆ The Tour ☆

2/2/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads - Guest Post
2/3/2014- Bookalicious- Guest Post
2/4/2014- Pageturners- Interview
2/5/2014- Ravenous Reader- Guest Post
2/6/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
2/7/2014- Once Upon a Twilight - Interview
2/8/2014- Mundie Moms- Interview
2/9/2014- Curling Up With A Good Book - Guest Post

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.