Friday, 28 September 2012

Happy Birthday to Me! :D

There's always a reason when I say September is the best month of year, not just because of the nice weather and season, and not just because I like the number 9, but because it's my birthday month! XD

Today's my birthday and well, I'm getting one year older XD Anyway, yay to another year in my teen-hood and all the more reason to celebrate! :P I was going to host a giveaway, but right now I don't have much money on hand haha, so maybe next time :)

Anyway, having a birthday on a school day can lead to amazing yet embarrasing moments, e.g. having the "Happy Birthday" song sang to you by the whole class in every single class you have that day; holding a big bunch of balloons tied up by your friends while trying to maneuver around the crazy crowded hall ways; getting called "Poo" and "Oblivious" countless times just to "be mean to the birthday girl" XP They all meant well though and I loved all the celebration spirits of my dear friends :) They made a huge cake for me too! That was yum. I was told that my presents are "on their way" and haven't arrived yet, so I'm looking forward to when I get them and will probably do another post then. A little bird flying outside the window told me that they just might be lots of books XD *wink wink* So that makes me even more excited!

Here are just a few of the cards and balloons my friends gave me:

I'm not really a dog person, so don't know what's with the puppy theme ;P

 And my parents are giving me awesome presents too. Aside from going to take me car-shopping in the holidays, here are just a couple of the cool stuff I got:

I've always loved combat boots XD
Me in my new sandals

And my little sister has made me a cute story book ;D
The best of all is that I'm finally legal to drive! Can't wait to get my license then I won't be restricted to asking my parents to drive me places anymore.

It's been an awesome day and I'm looking forward to the rest of my presents! :) You have a great great day too!!!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Pushing The Limits

Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry

Rating: 4 stars

So, I've been putting this review off for a while due to exams, and now that they're finally over (well, the first set of them anyway), I can get on with it! I hope you all enjoyed the Q&A with the author Katie McGarry and if you live in US/Canada, I hope you've also entered the giveaway. It'll be closed in a few days so good luck to everyone who has entered! 

Like I've said before, contemporary novels aren't really my cup of tea, but the few contemporary novels that I actually liked have all touched me deeply inside. Pushing The Limits is one of such novel. I think a reason I don't seem to like contemporary as much is because for some reason, I've always picked up dark contemporaries. So instead of some light relief I wanted, I get something heavy and painful. However, there is a kind of depth to the darker stories that the cheesy puffs can't compare.

Pushing the Limits was intense, thrilling and unique. As soon as I started reading it, I got sucked into the book completely. The experience of both main characters could be painful and heartbreaking at times, but it made the reader feel with with them and stay with them. It was quite a classic example of characters finding themselves through an emotional journey. I felt their pain and heaviness. It took me on a journey too. This was not something easily accomplished. Aside from the darker parts, I also felt the joy of their love and happiness. It made me appreciate the sweet moments in life a lot more. The romance was intense and heart-warming. I really liked the way Noah treated Echo. He was caring, careful and supportive.

Once again, the main characters were very different from who I am. Noah was honestly a kind of character I was totally unfamiliar with in real life, but I could somehow still connect with him. Noah was determined and protective. Although he was treated unfairly in life, he tried to hid himself behind a made-up tough persona, but eventually he realised he was allowed to have a good life too. He cared for his brothers and wanted to protect them to avoid bad experiences he had. He love Echo and was willing to fight whatever in his way for people he loved. 

I could relate to Echo a lot more. Even though I didn't have her horrible experiences, her position in life was something I could understand. She needed to achieve the best possible grades in school and also obey every single command from adults because she wanted a good life back. Echo was brave yet fearful. She wasn't one of the kickass heroines, rather she was cautious and learned from her mistakes and experiences. She grew up in the book and learned to trust people who loved her. 

Both charaters transformed through the book, but perhaps Echo more so than Noah. She started off as a petite and weak characters whom I would look past without a second glance, changed to someone who could make her own decision and stands up for herself and others. Bit by bit, Echo was able to push past her pain and fear to find what she wants and to look for her own path. Although she might not be the Echo she was at the beginning of the book, she stayed true to herself through the whole thing. I admire her courage. Noah also had terrible encounters in life during his earlier years. I really admire how he was able to stay determined, be able to love and stand up for the right inspite of the bullies he came across, the lack of love and family tragedy. He had a huge capacity for tolerance and compassion. Noah changed from a hot-headed (angry) and single-minded boy to a grown young man  capable of seeing reason clearly and willing to make a sacrifice for people he loved. He learned to be willing to give in a little for a brighter future for everyone.

Both of these characters went on a 'journey' to find who they are and what they will be. Me, as the reader, also went on this breath-taking road with them. I really enjoyed  'growing up' alongside the characters, learning more about humanity and the harsh reality of life. At the end, I understood and liked the characters, as well as felt content with the ending. 

The writing style was unique and narrated in both Noah and Echo's perspectives. It alternated so that Echo would narrate one or two chapters and then Noah will continue on and then Echo will come back and so on. It provided more insight to each of these main characters and helped me to understand them better. 

Overall, this was a great read. It's a book I really enjoyed and would definitely recommend it to all contemporary fans.  


No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again. 

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Opal (Lux #3) Cover Reveal!

After so many speculations and such a long wait, the official cover of Opal (Lux #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout is finally here!!! Apparently, the other reddish cover you've seen putting on everywhere else (e.g. the Book Depository) is NOT the cover, so forget that one and remember this one! :D

My apologies for still not putting up my review for Onyx (Lux #2), but at the moment I'm waiting for Jennifer L. Armentrout to get back to me with the answers for a short but exciting author interview. So keep tuned! The only thing I could say was that I thoroughly enjoyed Onyx, it was better than Obsidian (Lux #1) and now I really want to read Opal. I have no idea what will happen next, so just like everyone else, I'm sitting duck here and counting the minutes to the release of Opal in December (So long!). 

But promise I will put up the review for Onyx and Pushing the Limits real soon :)

Anyway,  here's the synopsis for Opal. If you haven't read the first two books, don't read this!


No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.
Together we’re stronger... and they know it. 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Q&A with Katie McGarry and Giveaway of Pushing the Limits (US/CAN) (Stuck in a Good Book hop)

I finished Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry about two weeks ago, though I still hasn't gotten around to write a full and good review of it yet due to exams, my review will come very soon! I do have something special to share with you all here. Many thanks to Katie and her publicist Karen from Media Masters. I have here a fun Q&A with Katie McGarry! Oh, and many thanks also to Karen and Katie for providing a HARDCOVER copy of Pushing the Limits for this giveaway! *squeal!* I want it too!! It was an awesome read. But, it's only open to US/Canada residents as it can only be shipped there. Sorry my lovely international followers, just like me, you'd have to wait for the next time! But don't worry, I've got another giveaway for you coming up soon! Anyways, enjoy!

 KATIE MCGARRY was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie would love to hear from her readers. Contact her via her website,, follow her on Twitter @KatieMcGarry, or become a fan on Facebook and Goodreads.

Q&A With Katie McGarry

Q: What was your inspiration for writing Pushing the Limits?
A: I had two main inspirations: One, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves. The first scene I ever saw in my mind was Echo and Noah leaving town after graduation. Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing overwhelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.

Q: How did you come up with Echo’s name?
A: Echo went through several name changes as I wrote the manuscript. For a while, she had a very normal name, but it always felt off. It wasn’t until I looked at Echo from her mother’s point of view that I found her name. Echo’s mother loved Greek mythology so it made perfect sense that she would name her children after the myths. I read several Greek myths and the moment I found Echo’s, I fell in love. Echo, to me, was the girl who lost her voice. Thankfully, she finds it by the end.

Q: Which character is the most “like” you?
A: All of them. I gave each character a piece of me (though some have larger slices of me than others). Overall, I’d say I’m a strange combination of Echo, Lila and Beth. Echo has my need to please, Lila has my unfailing loyalty to my friends and Beth encompasses my insecurities.

Q: Did you experience friendships with Grace types when you were in high school?
A: Yes. And the more people have read this story, the more this question comes up. Grace has struck a stronger nerve in people than I ever would have imagined. It seems most of us have unfortunately experienced a relationship where a person wants to “like” you and wants to “be your friend,” but only if it serves their needs. In case anyone is wondering, that isn’t friendship.

Q: Are there any parts of the story you feel particularly close to?
A: Yes. The relationship between Noah, Isaiah and Beth. Beyond my parents and sister, my nearest family members were over fourteen hours away. My friends became my family. The peopleI grew up with were more than people I watched movies with or talked to occasionally on the phone. These were people with whom I shared life’s most devastating moments, but also my hardest laughs. These were people who I would have willingly died for and I know they would have done the same for me. They shared my triumphs with smiles on their faces and congratulatory hugs. They held me when I cried and offered to beat up whoever hurt my feelings. These were also the same people who were more than happy to get in my face if they thought I was making a wrong decision.

Q: Did anything that happens to Echo happen to you?
A: Sort of. I was bitten by a dog when I was in second grade and repressed the memory. It felt very strange to have no memory of an incident that other people knew about. It was even stranger to have injuries and not have an inkling where they came from. In college, I finally remembered the incident when a dog lunged at me. I relived the horrible event and sort of “woke up” a few minutes later to find myself surrounded by people I loved. Even though I “remember” the incident, I still don’t remember the whole thing. I only see still frames in my mind and there is no blood in any of the memories.

So now, onto the giveaway! I'm giving away a Hardcover copy of Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. This was a book I couldn't put down. This giveaway is also part of the Stuck In A Good Book Giveaway Hop hosted by Kathy from I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Valerie from Stuck in Books. To hop to other blogs in this hop, find the list here. This giveaway is open to US/Canada residents only, due to shipping costs. The winner must reply within 48 hours after I've contacted he/she, otherwise a new winner will be selected. I do retain the right to disqualify any entries that are unfit. Anyway, other than that, GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) By Sarah J. Maas

Rating: 3.5~4 stars

I was very looking forward to the release of this book. I wanted to read it so much that I even got an ARC of it before its release. At the end I had both an e-ARC and a hard copy (I ended up reading the hard copy XD). I love assassin stories, but most of the assassins in books I have read are guys (e.g. Valek from Posion Study), so having a girl assassin as the main character was even more intriguing. After I finished, I can say that I did like the story. It was interesting and well written, however I was a bit disappointed and it was a bit under my expectation.

The most important reason of why it was disapppointing was: while it was an assassin story, AND the main character Celaena was supposed to be the most fearsome/best assassin of the entire continent, she never assassinates anyone or even attempt to in the story, and she wasn't portrayed as a slightly bit fearsome at all! Every exercise/trick she did was always very ordinary. All she does was some muscle exercise, we didn't see anything that was suitable for the name of such a great assassin. Also, Maas glossed over the parts of her exercise and the actual competition of her competiting against other criminals to become the King's Champion. All we really read about it Celaena's feelings toward Dorian and Chaol and what she saw in the castle. While that part was interesting to read about and written beautifully, I didn't see how this matched the idea of having an assassin. Most of this book was revolving around Celaena finding the unusual things in the glass castle about magic, not much was involving real action.

Aside from my complains about that, I actually did enjoy reading the book. I liked the fantasy landscape Sarah J. Maas created. I also really liked the idea of having an entire castle made of glass. I sure wouldn't want to live in there (just like Celaena) but I did think it was a very innovative idea. The writing was also rather beautiful, I liked the word choices and the sentence structures. She didn't have too many run-on sentences which I found very typical in YA books. I liked the descriptions of colours and clothing, as well as the landscape. I could imagine all the characters and the places they were in very well, which I thought was quite important in a book -- to bring out the world it was set in. 

I didn't particularly like the character of Celaena. I didn't know why, but although the book was mainly written from her angle (it's written in third-person perspective), I didn't seem to get to know her very well and didn't connect with her emotions very often. She was quite suspicious of other people's motive, understandable due to her circumstance, but she seemed to always make the wrong assumptions. She wasn't very emotional. I totally didn't get how she really felt about either Dorian or Chaol. Did she ever love Dorian? I don't know. And, did she love Chaol now? It was all very confusing, and I didn't like the fact she delved into a relationship without understanding how she felt. One thing I did like about her was that she was independent and always took up a challenge. She strove to be the best she wanted. She was proactive and she liked reading! XD

I liked Dorian, apart from him being a sort of a womaniser. He really changed through the story and he became a better man. He was very loving and determined to do the things he set his mind to do. He was gentle and not at all like his father, but he still knows how to put up a great fight. I want him to stay that way in that respect, and not develop a cold heart in the next book. One thing I didn't like though, was how much he depended on Celaena. He didn't believe in himself enough. 

Chaol was an interesting character. I liked him and didn't like him at the same time. He hid his emotions from the reader too well. I liked how he stayed strong and observant all the way through story. He was also suspicious of other people's motives and was bent on protecting the people he cared about. His attitude and opinion towards Celaena changed significantly in the book and I liked him better because of that too. However, he could seem cold and hurtful at times. Lastly, Nehemia was an admirable character. She was an awesome friends who would help her friends no matter what it cost her. She was strong and knew when to keep herself closed off from others and when to open up to a friend. As a foreign princess, she actually CARED about her people. Many princesses I had read about rarely did this, they were always so head over heels into their own business (usually their love lives). I liked the rebellious quality Nehemia has too.

Overall, it's a good book, but not a great book. I liked it. But if you are not really into fantasy and magic, then this is probably not your kind of book. The ending wasn't abrupt, but I just felt like it was only half the book. The pace was a bit slow and not too much really happens. I thought Maas could have written more into this book and made it more memorable (especially the ending). I'm still interested in reading the next book and I hope the characters will develop to be better and Celaena will actually become a proper assassin under Maas's hand.


After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1)

Stormdancer (The Lotus War #1) by Jay Kristoff

Rating: 4.5 stars

Wow, I really don't know what to say. The language in Stormdancer is utterly stunning. The writing is so beautiful and breath-taking that I sometimes stop and read a sentence over and over again. The words were fluid and flows into each other perfectly, they paint the picture so vividly that I have no trouble imagining every character, environment or movement in the story. It has been so long since I have read a YA novel with such an excellent quality of language. The vocabulary is  also amazing. Thank you, Jay Kristoff.

Now that I'm done ranting about how beautiful the writing is, I'm going to move on to the story itself. The plot is well-planned and draws the reader right in. When I started the book, read about ten or twenty pages, I wasn't sure whether I'd liked it and whether it would be something worth reading. This is because the background of the book involves Japanese culture and is set in "Japan". No offense to any writers, but I just find that generally Western authors don't have enough understanding of an Asian coutry to write well on stories involving Asian characters or culture. But Jay Kristoff, you really topped this. It's not about whether you have a perfect understanding or use of the Japanese language or whether everything in the book was perfectly correct; but it's about how hard you've tried create and portray this story, how much research you've done and how much understanding you have on what you want to write. Even though it is written in English, I've never once forgotten that I'm reading a story with a brave Japanese girl as the central character or I'm in a created world of Japan. The author skillfully weaves the colourful Japanese culture such as the language, clothing, weapons and symbols etc. into the writing. As soon as I decided that this book was worth my time, I read on and I never wanted to put it down until I finished. The plot was tight and set at a good pace, with suprises jumping out at turns. I wanted to know what happens next desperately. Thank you Jay Kristoff, for such an amazing story. 

Honour is something discussed quite a lot in this book. I really liked the take Jay Kristoff took on the idea of honour. Japanese Samuris have a great capacity for honour and they hold it highly. However, in this book, it presents the question "what really is honour"? What kind of people really has honour and how much is honour really worth? Sometimes, there seems to be not much difference between honourable and stupid. The way Kristoff brings out this theme in relation to the setting/characters is thoughtful and interesting. I also really liked the use of Lotus in this book. Lotus is usually something pure and beautiful in Asian culture, but Kristoff twisted it so that the red Lotus (I don't think there's even red Lotus in real life?) becomes the root of all evil. It's contrasting yet interesting.

Now about the characters.  I find all the characters in this book were unique. They are not your typical YA characters, especially the central character Yukiko. She is determined and brave. She is willing to stand up to things/people she believes are wrong and she is open to new information/ideas. At the same time, she is very realistic. She makes mistakes, find it hard to find forgiveness and has wild emotions. Even though she makes mistakes, she trys hard to right them and fight for what she believes in, for those she loves. She is full of strength yet shows her weakness.

I loved the thunder tiger! He is absolutely, hands down my favourite character in the book. He changes a great deal through the book. The affection/connection and trust he develops with Yukiko is something extremely valuable and sweet. His sarcasm and unexpected replies also makes me laugh a lot. He is willing to sacrifice himself for people he loves.

I didn't like Masaru at first. He struck me as a man who did not fit his tiltle of the great "Black Fox" of Shima. He gambles and drugs his life away. However, I then see the reason for his actions and his fierce protectiveness and love for his daughter. My attitude and opinion towards him changes dramatically through the course of this book.

Lastly, though it is almost perfect, there are somethings here and there that can be improved. The only thing I found a bit lacking was the use of Japanese. Some uses of the language are incorrect, e.g. "Hai" is not put at the end. And also there just seemed to be a little too much Japanese words in between the English. It sometimes makes it hard to read and understand. I think this is something Jay Kristoff can perhaps improve on for the next book. 

The ending was sad yet satisfying. I like the way it ended, but wish I didn't have to say goodbye to a certain character. I'm vastly hooked into this story and am very very looking forward to the next book. To top it off, Stormdancer is a book I really would like to own. :)


Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father Masaru are sent to capture one for the Shogun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him, no matter how hopeless the task.

But the mission proves far less impossible, and far more deadly, than anyone expects – and soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country's last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. But trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu soon discover a friendship that neither of them expected.

Meanwhile, the country around them verges on the brink of collapse. A toxic fuel is slowly choking the land; the omnipotent, machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure; and the Shogun cares about nothing but his own dominion. Yukiko has always been uneasy in the shadow of power, when she learns the awful truth of what the Shogun has done, both to her country and to her own family she's determined to do something about it.
Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu plan to make the Shogun pay for his crimes – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire? 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Author Interview with Jennifer Echols!

Hey guys! Sorry I haven't been around much lately, that is because I have exams right now and I'm in a hectic study mode. That means almost no computer and no reading! *sigh* After this week, I'll be able to get back to normal and put some more reviews which I have been putting off for exams.

But today I'm inviting Jennifer Echols here for an author interview! Exciting isn't it? She is the author of many romantic contemporary novels: Such a Rush, Going Too Far, Forget You, The Boy Next Door, Love Story, Major Crush and quite a few more. She is also working hard on her upcoming novel (or novels?) right now too. I rather enjoyed reading Such a Rush, and you can check out my review here.

So, thanks Jenn for dropping in and share a bit about yourself to my readers and me! And welcome to my blog :)

Me: If there is one place in the world you could choose to live in, where would it be and why?

Jenn: I’d live in Key West, FL, because it’s basically in the middle of the ocean, it’s beautiful, and the people there have a live-and-let-live attitude that I really enjoy. I’ve been there several times, but I made the most memorable trip by myself as a penniless graduate student. I drove down from Kentucky, which took about 24 hours, and stayed in some of the most beautiful campgrounds on earth.

Me: Does Leah resemble you in any way or can relate to you in any way? If so, how? Do any of the other characters in your books reflect or resemble you?

Jenn: I understand Leah because I know how she got that way and why she does what she does, but I think we’re opposites. I’m much more like her spacey do-gooder friend Molly. But the character I've written who's most like me is Lori in The Boys Next Door and Endless Summer.

Me: Do you consider yourself an adrenaline junkie? If so, what is the craziest thing you’ve done?

Jenn: I’m absolutely not, but I try to push myself. I’m a very good swimmer but I tend to overestimate how good I am and nearly drown. See the beginning of Forget You.

Me: Was there some inspiration (or reason) that you’ve chosen to write in the contemporary genre? What do you like most about writing a contemporary novel?

Jenn: I’m writing the book I want to read. I’d rather read a contemporary than anything else, just as I’d rather watch a contemporary romantic comedy movie. With paranormal, I’m waiting for the paranormal stuff to be over so we can get back to the romance.

Me: Do you compare your main male characters and try to construct them differently? Who is your favourite character in out of all the books you’ve written? (I know this is a probably a hard pick XD)

Jenn: I do make a conscious effort to make my heroes different in each book. That isn’t hard, though, because the books themselves are different, and to create tension, the characters have to be the worst people that these circumstances could happen to. My favorite hero is always the one I’m writing at the moment, and that is the absolute truth.

Me: What inspired you to start writing? Did you just enjoy writing hence started writing your own novels, or was there something that prompted you to write?

Jenn: I loved reading so much already, but when I read Can You Sue Your Parents for Malpractice? by Paula Danziger when I was 12 or so, I realized you could write something really romantic and fun and get paid for it.

Me: After writing Such a Rush, do you want to become a pilot? Did you feel all the rush and adrenaline with each flight (during the writing of the book)?

Jenn: I do feel all the rush and adrenaline, because I’ve gone flying with my dad a lot. My son will probably become a pilot, but I had rather just write books about it, thanks.

Me: What was the reason (or what inspired you) for you to write a book with flying as a main theme/part of the plot? Did you have to do a lot of research (aside from asking your Dad and brother XP)?

Jenn: I was vacationing with my extended family at the beach and went with my dad and my son to watch the banner planes take off and land at the airport. When my dad told me that most of the pilots were really young because they were trying to build up hours to get their airline pilot licenses some day, I was hooked. I’m always on the lookout for situations young people get into that they’re not equipped to handle. As for research, I watched a lot of airplanes crash online, and my dad was kind enough to take me up quite a few times. I’ve been flying with him since I was five, but you notice different things when you’re writing a book about it.

Me: Was Grayson a hard character to construct? Why did you make him as who he was?

Jenn: Grayson was very difficult to write because he’s a character type that’s trying to be something else, and he’s hiding a lot. So there are many layers to him, and all of that has to come through correctly to the reader. As I’ve said, the characters have to be people who would be really devastated by what’s going on in the book, so I made him someone who would handle his family tragedies both heroically and badly.

Me: When you write, do you write in order from beginning to the end, or do inspirations and snippets come to you at random times? So you would then write them down as they are, and reorganise them later.

Jenn: The latter. It’s a terrible, disorganized way to write a book, and I wish I wrote in order!

Me: What was one important experience in your life that helped you become who you are today?

Jenn: I was drum major of my high school marching band (see Major Crush for that one), and though I’d always been that girl who does all the activities and is in charge of half of them, this was the first time I bit off more than I could chew. See, it’s that terrific plot for a YA novel--I was fifteen years old and not equipped to handle being in charge of 175 people, many of them boys, many of them older than me, by myself. But I worked through it, and it was also one of the best experiences of my life.

Me: What is one thing you haven’t done in your life, but would really love to do?

Jenn: Learn to surf. I will do it.

Me: Are you an outdoorsy girl, or an indoorsy girl?

Jenn: I’m definitely outdoorsy, as you can probably tell from my books! Not camping, though. Don’t ask me to camp. I like coffee and bathrooms. 

Thanks so much for visiting Jenn! One thing I would love to do is learn to skii and snowboard XD Haha, I like camping though, but not for too long, otherwise I'll miss the nice bathrooms and a comfy bed too!

Jennifer Echols
 Jennifer Echols was born in Atlanta and grew up in a small town on a beautiful lake in Alabama—a setting that has inspired many of her books. She has written nine romantic novels for young adults, including the comedy MAJOR CRUSH, which won the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the drama GOING TOO FAR, which was a finalist in the RITA, the National Readers’ Choice Award, and the Book Buyer’s Best, and was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults. Simon & Schuster will debut her adult romance novels in 2013, with many more teen novels scheduled for the next few years. She lives in Birmingham with her husband and her son. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Author Interview with Maria V. Snyder and Giveaway (INTL) of a SIGNED copy of Storm Glass

I'm so very excited to invite Maria V. Snyder to my blog here today for an awesome author interview! Maria V. Snyder is one of my favourite authors of all time and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading her books. She is the international best selling author of the Study series, Glass series and now the Healer series, she has also written many other books. Here are just the covers of some of her books:
Poison Study
Touch of Power
Inside Out
Storm Glass
(The giveaway!) 

And she is also putting the finishing touch on her latest novel Scent of Magic which will come out in December this year.

So, Welcome to Framed In Words, Maria! Thanks so much for doing this author interview with me! You are one of my favourite authors so it's in a way a dream come true for me :) It's awesome to be talking with you! (I actually first got to know about your books through reading Touch of Power, one of your latest books and then I went backwards.)

There are 29 interview questions and Maria will also be giving away a SIGNED copy of Storm Glass to one lucky winner! Thank you so much!!! And yes, the giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!

Without futher or do, on to the good parts!

Maria V. Snyder
Me: If there is one place in the world you could choose to live in, where would it be and why? 

Maria: This is a hard question! I’m torn between Australia and the UK.  I just loved London and would have liked to explore more of the country and also visit Scotland, Ireland and Wales.  Plus living in London, I’ll be close to the other European Countries where I could visit as well.  Australia because it’s gorgeous and the people are super nice and friendly.  Can I have a house in both places?  When the weather in the UK is bad, I’ll go to my summer home in Australia J.

Me: What is important in a good Young Adult main female character/heroine for you? What qualities do you look for or think is important for a good and strong YA female character? (And also what qualities do you always include in the construction of your own YA central characters?) 

Maria: What’s very important to me is that they are independent – and are not afraid to go beyond their comfort zone.  I like them to solve their own problems, but a few times they have help – I frequently have my main ladies work with a partner to solve bigger issues, and occasionally they do get rescued because they don’t have the skills to defend themselves. But when they realize they need to learn a skill like self-defense, they’re proactive and find a teacher.  Qualities that are a must for my ladies are intelligence, humor (they all tend to be a bit snarky and sarcastic), kindness, willing to sacrifice themselves for others, and persistence – to not give up even when it looks like all is lost.

Me: Do any of the characters in your writing reflect or resemble yourself? If so, who and which books are they from? How do they reflect on you?

Maria: I think all my characters, both good and bad have part of me in them. As a writer, I have to be a bit of an actress and put myself into their shoes so all their thoughts and actions get filtered through me (I hope this makes sense!).  Some examples, Opal is closer to me than my other main characters.  She starts out not very confident in her abilities and self-conscience – that was me in middle and high school and while I wanted to go into music, acting and art, I didn’t have the confidence to pursue those careers.  I also think the sarcastic/snarkiness comes from me as well.  And when Yelena gives her money to Fisk and Avry gives money to a street rat, that’s all me again – no one should go hungry in this world.  No one.  It boggles my mind that we can’t work out a system to get food to those who desperately need it.  Another aspect of me throughout the books is the character of the older brother – Ari, Belen, Cog – they’re my “ideal” older brother, protective, sweet, and ready to defend the main character with their lives.  Having no older brother, this is what I imagined one would be (I’ve since learned they can be annoying, and competitive, too). As for the bad characters…would I torture my enemies – perhaps not, but I would go after them with a vengeance!

Me: Why did you choose Opal to be the central character for your second series the Glass Series?

Maria: I didn’t!  My editor liked her and thought she had potential.  In fact, I was in the middle of telling my editor why Opal wouldn’t work, when an idea for STORM GLASS popped into my head!

Me: Do you compare your main male characters and try to construct them differently? Who is your favourite character in Storm Glass?

Maria: I do try to make my male leads different. However, I lean towards those strong silent types J Their differences come out in how they react to certain situations and what their goals are.  My favorite character in STORM GLASS is Kade.  My favorite all time character is…Janco – he’s so fun to write.

Me: If one character from any book can come alive, who would you want to come alive and why? (Which book he/she is from?)

Maria: I’d pick a character from one of my books because I’m close to them all.  They’re my friends.  Since I only get to choose one, it would be Valek.  Because he’s Valek – super cool and deadly.

Me: What inspired you to start writing? Did you just enjoy writing hence started writing your own novels, or was there something that prompted you to write?

Maria: Boredom inspired me!  My first job after college was as a meteorologist for an environmental consulting firm. The amount of work came in waves, and we were either extremely busy or bored. During the slow times, I started writing a short story. Ideas were always floating around in my mind, but that was when I began using them. I submitted my first short story for critique at a writing conference in Philadelphia, and when the workshop leader gave me 7 out of 10, I thought that was pretty good for a first effort and decided to stick with writing for a while. After my son was born and I only had about one hour a day to myself, I had to decide what was important enough to spend that precious time on. Most days writing won.
Me: How many books are going to be in the Healer’s series? It’s going to be a trilogy right?
Maria: There will be three books in the Healer’s series.  I don’t like to call them trilogies, because I find that typical trilogies are basically one big story broken into three parts and that second book is all middle – nothing is resolved.  I like to make each of my books a stand-alone, with a main plot being resolved by the end. 

Me: What is your favourite hobby/past-time activity?

Maria: Playing volleyball – it’s fun, great exercise and I can play with my family.

Me: Do you eat food while you are writing/working? If so, what sort of “brain” food do you like the most?

Maria: I always drink tea while writing – my favorite is English Breakfast right now.  I’ll also 
snack on salty snacks like popcorn, Sun Chips and pretzels when I’m writing.

Me: Is the research behind your books hard to collect? Do you spend a lot of time researching? Which series did you enjoy writing the most and why? I really loved learning new things whilst reading your books, especially about glass making skills. What prompted the Glass theme of this trilogy?

Maria: I try not to go overboard on the research because it takes away from my writing time, however I’m a stickler and want to get things right. What I do is start writing and when I have a place where I need to research more detail, I’ll mark it down to fill in later.  I love doing hands-on research for my books.  It’s the best way for me to be able to translate an experience into words.  All my classes and lessons have been loads of fun and sometimes scary (horses are big and kilns are hot!) and I learn so much more than what goes into a book.  What I like best is exploring new subjects and skills – I don’t need to become an expert at anything, but I learn enough to be dangerous ;>  I have a legitimate reason to be a dabbler. 

Researching glass blowing for the Glass series was the most fun because I didn’t need years of experience to understand how to work with molten glass – I just need years of practice to make anything that looks decent ;>  The glass theme came from my Study books – I needed a reason for Opal’s sister Tula to be out at a factory late at night by herself.  So…I thought of glass kilns and how they have to be so hot all the time and someone would need to feed coal to the fire.  It was one of those quick decisions that I threw in there, thinking I’d never do anything else with.  Yes, I was very wrong and it ended up being part of another series.  Now when I make even the smallest decision, I really think about it because I never know when a character or situation will come back!

Me: What is your favourite dessert? 

Maria: Donuts! They’re hard to resist – my favorite is vanilla cream-filled. Yum!

Me: Have you ever had the soft drink L&P? It’s a New Zealand special, so if you haven’t, you are missing out!! :P 

Maria: I haven’t heard of L&P – my go to drink is tea – I also like it iced with lemon. Otherwise, I enjoy Diet Coke with Lime.

Me: So I heard you are a beach kind of girl, what’s your favourite beach (or beaches) and what’s your favourite water activity?

Maria: The most beautiful beach I’ve seen is in Piha and part of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park in New Zealand.  It has black sands, big rocks, just gorgeous.  Too bad I only spent about 20 minutes there and only had one day to sightsee when I was in N Zed last year.  As for more local beaches, I really like Virginia Beach.  My favorite water activity is cruising – as in Cruise Ship cruising.  I’m not much of a swimmer – I prefer to stay on the sand and nap.

Me: Did you use to (or do you still) like playgrounds? What was your favourite thing in playgrounds? 

Maria: I haven’t gone to a playground in years – my kids are too old.  However, when I was little, I loved the swings.  There’s something about swinging that’s just fun :-)

Me: Did you have a special interest in healing/medicines? Where/how did you get the inspiration to write your latest series the Healer series? (I fell in love with Touch of Power)

Maria: Part of the inspiration came from Yelena, my character in POISON STUDY.  She has healing abilities, but that was just one of her many talents. I wanted to explore what it would be like to be a healer. Avry has to take on the injury or illness and then heal herself.  The ability to heal with magic is very appealing to me.  As a mother, I hate to see my children sick or injured and always wish I could make it all go away.  I also have to give credit to an old Star Trek episode titled The Empath about a race of healers/empaths who would can take on the injury or illness of another.  I watched all the Star Trek episodes, but this one always stayed with me.

Me: Do clowns freak you out?

Maria: No. But birds flying close to my head freaks me out.  Shudder!

Me: What is your favourite genre for books? (Do you have a preference and why?)

Maria: I’ll read anything with a strong story and engaging characters. However, I lean more toward reading fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. I think those stories have more action and are faster paced.  If the story is all about a relationship, I’m not interested.

Me: What do you think is important for a Young Adult book?

Maria: IMO characters are the most important for all books. If the reader doesn’t care about your main character, then he won’t care about the plot, twists, or action.  And the character has to grow and change during the story – she has to learn from her mistakes and change.  If the main character stays the same, then what’s the point?  When I’m reading, I’ll pause around page 30 and ask myself a question. Do I care?  If the main guy or girl dies on the next page, would I be upset?  If the answer is no, then I close the book and pick up another.  There are too many good characters out there waiting that I don’t want to waste my time on one that doesn’t engage me.

Me: When you write, do you write in order from beginning to the end, or do inspirations and snippets come to you at random times? So you would then write them down as they are, and reorganize them later. 

Maria: I write from beginning to end.  Inspiration and snippets of conversations or twists will come to me at random times, but I note them down in my notebook that I use for each novel where they wait until I reach that part of the story.  I use them to motivate me.  Write two more chapters and then I can get to that juicy romantic scene ;>

Me: If you can travel back in time or forward into the future, which way would you go? (If you choose to travel back in time, which era would you want to go back in and why?)

Maria: I’d go into the future – we have history books about the past and while I’m sure they’re not accurate, I’ve no desire to go where indoor plumbing and Advil haven’t been invented ;>

Me: What is your all-time favourite book (and why)? What about movie? Who is your favourite author?

Maria: This is always a hard question to answer since I’ve many favorites.  These two books stand out in my mind: The Gate to Women’s Country, by Sheri S. Tepper and Jaran, by Kate Elliott – both excellent science fiction that are all about girl power.  My favorite movie is The Princess Bride – I can quote whole sections from that! And I’m not going to say who my favorite author is because all my friends are authors and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  But if your readers would like to see what books I’ve read and how I rated them, they’re welcome to check out my Goodreads page at:

Me: What did you want to be when you were 16? 

Maria: At 16 I wanted to be a meteorologist and chase tornados.

Me: What is one thing you haven’t done in your life, but would really love to do?

Maria: I’d love to live in another country for a couple years.  I don’t think you ever really get to know a place when you visit for a few weeks.

Me: Have you finished writing Scent of Magic or are you still working hard on it?

Maria: Yes, I’ve finished SCENT OF MAGIC and it’s at the printers.  I need to start working on book 3, TASTE OF DEATH next week!

Me: Do you play a musical instrument? If so, which ones? 

Maria: I play the cello and the piano.  I don’t play as much now as I’m too busy writing – my readers are very demanding :-)

Me: When you were in school, which subject is your favourite and which subject is your most-hated?

Maria: I hated English and writing – true!  And I couldn’t spell either.  Thank fate for spell check!  Favorite subjects – art and music of course!

Me: Are you an outdoorsy girl, or an indoorsy girl? 

Maria: I’d like to say outdoorsy, but that’s not me.  I actually like rainy days so I don’t feel guilty about being inside.  And most of my hobbies are all indoors.

Me: If you can go anyway in the world to travel (all cost-covered) for as long as you like, which three places would you go? 

Maria: New Zealand, United Kingdom, and Australia.

           Questions 30A – No question number 30??  After all that??  Well, we can’t stop at 29 –that’s just not right ;>  So let me ask you a question, Angela – who is your favorite…oops…favourite fiction character of all time?  How about those reading this interview – who is yours?  Do tell!
Thanks so much for inviting me on your blog! If your readers would like more info about me and my books, I have the first chapter of all my books on my website as well as a number of free short stories they can read.  Here’s the link:  And my blog is:

Thank you so much for dropping in on my blog, Maria! I had a lot of fun talking to you and I'm sure my readers had a lot of fun reading our interview too. All the best for the coming books! Now, onto the giveaway! Yes, the giveaway is International :) Good luck!

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