Wednesday, December 23, 2015

THE SUSPECT'S DAUGHTER, Book 4 in the Rogue Hearts series by Donna Hatch

Looks like December is turning into a month full of Book Fours! I featured Book Three of Donna Hatch's Rogue Hearts series last year, and Book Four, THE SUSPECT'S DAUGHTER, released last week on December 15:

Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Grant Amesbury, her dreams of true love reawaken. But his secrets put her family in peril.

Grant goes undercover to capture conspirators avowed to murder the prime minister, but his only suspect is the father of a courageous lady who is growing increasingly hard to ignore. He can’t allow Jocelyn to distract him from the case, nor will he taint her with his war-darkened soul. She seems to see past the barriers surrounding his heart, which makes her all the more dangerous to his vow of remaining forever alone.

Jocelyn will do anything to clear her father’s name, even if that means working with Grant. Time is running out. The future of England hangs in the balance...and so does their love.

Donna also answered some follow-up interview questions:

In our last interview, you mentioned how it was important to have well-developed characters and well-plotted stories before drafting. Do you still find that this is true, and in what ways, if any, has your writing process evolved since? 

That’s absolutely true. My writing process has changed in very subtle ways. I write tighter, meaning more succinct. And I am very choosy about time—some scenes I slow down time to create strong emotional impact. Other times, I transition between scenes with only a few words so as to quickly move the reader to the next significant event. I’ve always done that, but I’ve gotten more careful about it. And I’m highly sensitive to words that feel as if they come from a narrator rather than from the characters themselves.

I am too. THE STRANGER SHE MARRIED flowed well when I read it, and I'm sure THE SUSPECT'S DAUGHTER will too. How has the world expanded since the first few books?

I’ve added more characters but I often bring back others who appeared in previous books—both main characters and secondary characters so it feels as if the characters all live in the same town. I’ve also started studying maps and including mention of real places that existed during the Regency.

What a fun way to add extra layers! Especially with the great dynamic between Jocelyn and Grant. What about them was the most fun to write?

I love their verbal banter. She says exactly what she thinks and takes delight in teasing him. It’s a game to get him to smile, something she does not succeed at doing until much later in the book. He is a man of deep feeling but it’s buried underneath a very thick layer of protection. He delights in being snaky (not a Regency term, of course) and he seldom says what he thinks so she has to learn to read between the lines. There is a lot of verbal parrying between them.

Definitely a case of opposites attracting! When we last spoke, you were editing a YA futuristic novel--is it still in the works?

It’s on the back burner. Right now, I’m working on developing my brand of being a historical romance author. But someday, I plan to find an agent who represents YA futuristic novels and look into getting it published.

Sounds like a good plan! Thanks, Donna, for another excellent interview!

Donna Hatch, author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” has won writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children. A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty five years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

To grab a hold of THE SUSPECT'S DAUGHTER, and the other books in the Rogue Hearts series, feel free to click the links below:


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

MANNERS & MUTINY, Book 4 in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger

I've been a fan of Gail Carriger ever since I learned of her first novel, SOULLESS, and saw her post on what authors can expect after they sell their first book. Since then, she's published a ton of great steampunk novels that are loaded with humor. MANNERS & MUTINY is the fourth and final installment in her Finishing School series for young adults, which began all the way back with ETIQUETTE & ESPIONAGE:

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster—in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

Gail was also kind enough to answer some interview questions:

When you spoke at the Tucson Festival of Books, you discussed the humor in your novels. You've also said, "it is harder to make people laugh than cry." What do you like most about writing humor, and what do you find most challenging?

I love love love the fact that when people talk about my books they always say how reading them left them smiling. I think it's a noble quest to bring people joy and I try to do that with my writing. I figure the world is already pretty tough, why add to that with fiction. The hardest part is simply making that happen. Not everyone has the same sense of humor. So I try to include all different kinds of humor in my books from slapstick to wordplay to puns to callback to farce so that someone can find something to laugh at at least once every few pages or so.

You've definitely made me laugh multiple times! I love all your books, and the Finishing School series has to be one my favorites. You've described Sophronia as a "smart observer of society." In your newest book, MANNERS & MUTINY, Sophronia’s skills are finally put to the test.  What about her journey has most surprised you, and do you think she's finally reached self-actualization?

Thank you! Sophronia actually didn't surprise me much. I was always confident in what path she needed to walk and how she had to mature. It's very close to my own high school experience, minus the exploding wicker chicken, of course. I think she is as self-actualized as any young woman of that age can be. We all change and keep growing further into ourselves as we mature, or is it that our notion of ourselves is what changes?

Probably some of both--the world changes, and we're often redefined in our experiences within it. And an exploding wicker chicken or two definitely wouldn't hurt! As a fellow tea lover, I always have a cup of something hot when I write. When and where did you discover your love affair with tea, and what tea flavor would you pick to have in infinite supply?

My favorite tea is Twinings Gold Label (black box) English Breakfast (or 1706 Strong) imported from the UK. It can be a little pricey, so if I could have an infinite supply it would be preferable.

I'm sure people feel the same way about your books! I just saw the new cover of IMPRUDENCE, and it's gorgeous:

After going back to Egypt in this book, what worlds are you interested in exploring next?

Well Rue and her crew actually go all the way into Africa to Lake Victoria in this book, and then on to Zanzibar. I don't know exactly what's next but I'd love for her to visit Peru and also Japan.

I can't wait to find out which! Thanks, Gail, for such an excellent interview.

© Vanessa Applegate
New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger writes steampunk comedies of manners to cope with being raised in obscurity by an expatriate Brit and an incurable curmudgeon. She escaped small town life and inadvertently acquired several degrees in Higher Learning. Miss Carriger then traveled the historic cities of Europe, subsisting entirely on biscuits secreted in her handbag. She resides in the Colonies, surrounded by fantastic shoes, where she insists on tea imported from London.

Miss Carriger's books are published in eighteen different languages. All thirteen of them are New York Times bestsellers via seven different lists (Mass Market, Hardcover, eBook, Combined Print & eBook, Young Adult, Children's Series, and #1 in Manga). She has received the Alex Award from the American Library Association, the Steampunk Chronicle's Reader's Choice Award in YA, and the Prix Julia Verlanger and Elbakin Award from French readers. In 2012 she was honored with a Starburner Award in Literature for her "contributions to the steampunk community."

To get your velvet-gloved paws on the entire Finishing School series, feel free to click the links below:

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound

And be sure to check out Gail's other books:

Parasol Protectorate (5 books) 

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)     Changeless (Parasol Protectorate, #2)     Blameless (Parasol Protectorate, #3)      Heartless (Parasol Protectorate, #4)     Timeless (Parasol Protectorate, #5)

The Parasol Protectorate Manga (3 books)

Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 (The Parasol Protectorate Manga)    Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 2    Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 3

The Custard Protocol (2 books)

Prudence (The Custard Protocol, #1)     Imprudence (The Custard Protocol, #2)

(images and links ©2015 Goodreads Inc)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

THE NEVERSEEN, Book 4 in The Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger

I'm excited to feature Shannon Messenger a week after I featured Suzanne Young, and not just because they're both fabulous authors. I also met them practically at the same time during the ALA conference last June.

I bought the THE NEVERSEEN for the library, and since it's the fourth book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, it had a lot of patron demand. Have a look:

Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.

Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.

Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.”

There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.

Sophie Foster is on the run—but at least she's not alone.

Her closest friends from the Lost Cities have gone with her to join the Black Swan. They still have doubts about the shadowy organization, but the only way to find answers is to start working with them. And as they settle into their new lives, they uncover secrets far bigger than anything they’d imagined.

But their enemies are far from done, and unleash a terrifying plague that threatens the safety of an entire species. Sophie and her friends fight with everything they have—with new allies joining them—but every choice has consequences. And trusting the wrong person could prove deadly.

Shannon also passed along some book recommendations:

Five books I recommend for my readers: (I’m going to cheat, since I write series—and view series as really one long book—and give 5 series instead)

The Unwanteds series, by Lisa McMann

The Sisters Grimm series, by Michael Buckley

The Beyonders series, by Brandon Mull

The Missing series, by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Artemis Fowl series, by Eoin Colfer

Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned--among other things--that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She's studied art, screenwriting, and film production, but realized her real passion was writing stories for children. She's the bestselling author of the middle grade series, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, and the SKY FALL series for young adults. Her books have been published in numerous countries and translated into ten different languages. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats. Find her online at

To get a hold of THE NEVERSEEN, or the other books in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, click the links below:


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

HOTEL RUBY and THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young

I first met Suzanne Young at the ALA Annual Conference last June. Since then, I've purchased her newest debut, HOTEL RUBY, and her bestselling series, The Program, for my library system. Each setting offers a compelling premise:

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn't have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she's met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…Welcome to the Ruby.

In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

Suzanne was also kind enough to answer some interview questions:

According to your bio, you're both a novelist and an English teacher. In what ways, if any, do both careers feed your creativity?  

I love teaching high school, but in recent years there’s been a shift in education that I think stifles creativity. So when I’m in the classroom, I try to be a spark for the students. I try to inspire them. Best way to do that is by letting them be creative. I plan hands-on activities where they can create movies, magazine, or models based on classic books we read. Most recently, they created an entire marketing plan for a unit on advertising.

In writing young adult fiction, I also try to inspire. I hope I write books that people want to read. Because when I help someone discover their love of reading, when I reach reluctant readers, I’m happy. And both teaching and writing helps me accomplish that.

Your writing reaches more people than you know. Currently, I'm selecting teen books for a local youth detention facility, and they've asked for The Program series specifically. I also love how HOTEL RUBY is about healing. What inspired the story, and how did the characters develop as you wrote them?

Although I love the horror elements of HOTEL RUBY, the tale of a family’s grief is always what spoke to me. It’s a love story—but not between Audrey and the guy she meets. It’s a love story of a family and how one girl will do anything to heal them. She will do anything to keep from losing them completely.

The story started with the intention of making it a YA “Hotel California”. Then I added characters, and the deeper I got into their lives, the less it became about a haunted hotel and the more it became about personal demons for the characters.

I think those human elements are what makes Audrey and her brother so relatable. Similarly, The Program series grapples with depression, and the consequences of burying feelings so deeply they almost become forgotten. Along these themes, what do you hope teens might gain from Sloane and James's story?  

Ultimately, The Program series is about hope. The characters are in a dark emotional space—the pressure, the loss, the loneliness—but they kept fighting. Sloane and James never gave up. Not on each other, but more importantly, not on themselves. Sure, they made mistaken and had moments of weakness, but those are the parts of them that are real. So I hope readers understand their pain, but in the end, feel the sense of hope that is waiting at the end.

I definitely felt that when I read it. What are some of your current projects?

In April 2016, I have THE EPIDEMIC (yay!) coming out. It is the sequel to THE REMEDY and the prequel to THE PROGRAM. It ties the two books together. In the fall, I have a contemporary novel called ALL IN PIECES. Stay tuned for more details on that.

I certainly will! Thank you, Suzanne!

To get a hold of HOTEL RUBY, or the books in The Program series, click the links below: 


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound

The Program series:


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound


Pre-order: ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound