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Author Interview/Giveaway: Jessica Spotswood

Happy Monday! A special Monday!

In the miJessica Spotswooddst of the chaos that is my life right now I recently managed to read Sisters’ Fate, the final book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles trilogy by Jessica Spotswood (you can read my review here). This series is one of my favorites because I think magic and alternate histories are super cool…also romance. I like romance!

Due to how much I enjoy the Cahill Witch Chronicles, I’m super excited that today is a special day because we have Jessica Spotswood here with us answering some questions! Recently Jessica offered a free book to any blogger who wanted to host an interview and giveaway, and there was no way I was going to pass on the opportunity to chat a little with her…and giveaway a really fun read!

Interview

Q. Can you share with us 6 words that describe the Cahill Witch Chronicles for those who may not be familiar as familiar with them?
A. Sisters & witches & kissing! 
Q. I love the mix of alternate history and magic that you get when you read this series! What initially inspired you to write an alternate history mixed with fantasy?
​A. Thank you! ​My inspiration for the magical aspect was a dream I had in which my sisters and I (like Cate, I’m the oldest of three sisters) were fighting over a magical locket. The idea of writing about sisters with a powerful magical inheritance and exploring the mix of love and sibling rivalry really stuck with me. My inspiration for the alternate history was wanting to create a society – worse than today, or real history – in which powerful, clever, independent women were feared and scorned.

Q. The Cahill sisters are all so different. How you identify with one (or all) of the Cahill sisters?
​A. I identify most with Cate because I was in her head for three books; I know her best, know what she would do or say in so many situations. But I’m probably most like Tess – bookish, quiet, observant, good at school, always playing the peacemaker. Maura was hardest for me to identify with because she’s always picking fights, and I am so non-confrontational!

Q. So, Maura just
makes me so angry but I also empathize with her—she really is interesting. If you were ever to rewrite the story from Maura’s perspective what do you think would surprise us about her story? Sisters' Fate by Jessica Spotswood
A. I hope it would be surprising how easy it is to identify with her. She makes a lot of terrible mistakes, but she has a very big heart and big dreams and is really just so full of wanting that she gets in her own way. Also, remember: she’s only fifteen. I bet most of us can think of a time when we acted out of jealousy or ambition and regretted it later.

Q. I’ve heard that you had to completely rewrite book 2, Star Cursed, from scratch. Did you have any similar stressful situations while writing Sisters’ Fate or did wrapping up the series come easier?
​A. No, fortunately writing Sisters’ Fate was much easier! I knew how I wanted the book to end, and at the end of Star Cursed, the stakes were already so high in the relationships between Maura and Cate and Cate and Finn, and tension was already at a breaking point both in the convent and in the city, so it was fun to get to ignite all of that. 

Q. What are you working on now that the series is finished?
​A. I just finished editing an anthology, Petticoats & Pistols, which will be out next April! It’s historical YA – fifteen short stories about American girls throughout history, from pirates to protestors and belles to bank robbers. My authors are amazing: J. Anderson Coats, Andrea Cremer, Y.S. Lee, Katherine Longshore, Marie Lu, Kekla Magoon, Marissa Meyer, Saundra Mitchell, Beth Revis, Caroline Richmond, Lindsay Smith, Robin Talley, Leslye Walton, and Elizabeth Wein. And I just finished writing my first contemporary YA, Wild Swans, which will also be out next April! It’s about a girl dealing with her mother – who abandoned her when she was two – coming back home with the two half-sisters she’s never met. She also falls in love with a tattooed poet.

Q. I know you’re now working in a library (me too!), so you’re surrounded by books all the time. What have been some of your favorite books that you’ve read so far this year?
​A. Yay libraries! My favorite books so far this year have been All The Rage by Courtney Summers (such an important, searingly angry book about rape culture); The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (creepy gorgeous and a master class in voice); ​The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace (a fabulous fantasy which I loved so much I blurbed); and Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt (which I also blurbed – the heroine Penny has an incredible journey).

Q. Okay, this is totally random I know, but I follow you on Instagram and Twitter and I need to know where on Earth do you get all of those adorable dresses that you’re always wearing?!
​A. Thank you! Mostly they are from Modcloth! ​I love a good quirky print.

Giveaway

Have you already read Jessica’s Cahill Witch books? Whether you have or have not, you should still enter the giveaway…because nothing is better than a free book!

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Satisfyingly Fun: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

Hiya!

Moving Sale

Our first yard/moving sale earlier this month.

So, things are getting pretty chaotic around my house! We make our big trans-Atlantic move in less than three weeks and the house is a mess of boxes, not to mention all the stuff we’re selling! Selling most of your things is strange in two ways. First getting rid of it all has mad me understand that yes, it is all just stuff that can be replaced. However, I have also seen myself go all “Gollum” about certain objects! For example, I have these two naked New Kids on the Block dolls (Joe and Donnie for those of you interested) from childhood and Husband gently tried to get me to throw them away. I responded in a very “precious my precious” kind of way and now, needless to say, they are safely inside a box that has been taped up and is going on our shipping pallet.

Somewhere in the midst of all the chaos and NKOTB doll hoarding, however, I managed to find time to read the concluding book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Sisters’ Fate! I had been looking forward to this final installment in the series for so long and I’m glad it was able to be my relaxing read in the midst of the transition and change!

Sisters' Fate by Jessica SpotswoodOverview

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

My Thoughts

I am not specifically drawn to witches when reading but definitely to any storyline where characters have special magical abilities. I can’t help it! I just am a little obsessed with fantasy! Spotswood’s alternate history series mixed with fantasy is one of my favorite because its just a fun read and a good conclusion to the series. Honestly, sometimes I am let down by the concluding book in a series (ahem… we shall not name some of those infamous let downs here), but none of that happened with Sisters’ Fate. This installment picks right up where book two left off—I would have freaked if it hadn’t—which means that there is pretty much a ton of things happening at all times! We have secret meetings, memory erasing, romance, fighting, angry mobs, prison breaks, fires, pestilence…and did I mention romance?! *winky winky*

Interestingly enough Sisters’ Fate doesn’t read like your average final installment. There wasn’t this sense of things being closed down throughout like in most final books in a series. In fact I found myself wondering just how Spotswood would end everything because there was so much going on! I even checked Goodreads to double check that it was, in fact, the last book. This a unique quality for the end of a series because it shows that Spotswood didn’t check out of the storyline early — she instead continued to bring the same action that we found in the first two books and doesn’t begin tying things up until the last quarter of the story. In the end, some relationships were healed and some weren’t. Some loose ends were tied and some were not and I enjoyed that it wasn’t all tied up in a pretty package!

To be fair however, sometimes I did get annoyed with the back and forth bickering between Maura and Cate…and even sometimes Tess. Maybe this is normal for sisters? I don’t know because I don’t have any. It did seem as though a spat between Cate and Maura punctuated every cool action the storyline had for us and at times I felt like some of the arguing could have been reduced, but it does all play a roll wrapping the story up so I guess I really shouldn’t complain. Either way, the sisterly arguments, while maybe annoying at times, didn’t seriously interfere with my enjoyment of seeing the Cahill sisters’ stories come to conclusion.

Don’t read Sisters’ Fate unless you have read the first two books in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, or else you’ll be utterly and totally confused. But, if you did read and enjoy Born Wicked and Star Cursed than I definitely think you’ll find this to be a satisfying end to a fun trilogy!

Want to win this book? Check back tomorrow morning for my interview with author Jessica Spotswood and a giveaway of Sisters’ Fate!

Details

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Publisher:G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (August 14, 2014)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 368 pages

Series: Third/Final book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles

YA/MG: YA/MG

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When Will I Learn? Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Hello!

Okay, so I’ve been trying to figure out why I haven’t been reviewing books recently. and I came to the conclusion that I was feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the amount of books I had read and not yet written reviews for, but also by the time it takes to write a review.

I decided to try something new. Over the next few weeks you may see reviews pop up with different formats and lengths. I’m trying to figure out what is sustainable for me. I’ve also decided to forget about all of those unwritten book reviews piling up and start fresh. So bear with me!

Leviathan by Scott WesterfeldOverview

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men. Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered. With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

My Thoughts

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

This was the cover that kept me from this book for so long.

To be fair, I held off on Leviathan for years. I was intrigued by the story, but the cover was killing me slowly every time I saw it at my local library. I know I shouldn’t let that stop me from reading a potentially enjoyable book, but alas, it did. Everything in me revolts at this cover…I think it’s that protruding forehead bone. But I digress…

In need of a new audiobook, I found this one available on my library’s Overdrive account (if you haven’t started using Overdrive you should!) and finally decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did because Leviathan was such an interesting mix of alternate history and steampunk adventure. It reminded me a lot of Kenneth Oppel’s Matt Cruse trilogy, which I loved. The characters are interesting and are found in unique situations (by choice and not) and both are forced to deal with their own prejudices and misconceptions of others.

The steampunk/alternate history setting had me scouring the internet for more information. Of course I know the basics of how World War I began (thank you Social Studies teachers and Jeopardy!) but I had to know more about the details, which I then compared to Westerfeld’s version. Weaving in the Clankers and Darwinists was a brilliant way to illustrate the clash between eastern vs. western ideals that played a part in the start of World War I. Scott Westerfeld, you get mucho points on the world building scene!

Recommended For

Leviathan is not the book for every reader. If you’re already a fan of the steampunk sub-genre, than this one would get your little steam engine going right away. That being said if you haven’t delved into this sub-genre I think Leviathan’s story is strong enough to be a quality introduction. If you enjoy audiobooks, this was the perfect book to listen to and it was narrated by the amazing Alan Cumming. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book and am embarrassed by how long it took me to actually read it…when will I learn?!

Details

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse (October 6, 2009)
Format: Audiobook
Length: 8 hours and 20 minutes
Series: First in a series
YA/MG: Both
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Waiting on Wednesday: The Glass Sentence

Welcome back!

I’ve been in the mood to read more middle grades fiction recently, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that for this week’s Waiting on Wednesday post I’m focusing on the upcoming middle grades fantasy  The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove.

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It is Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grovegenerations, have been traveling and mapping the New World—a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods.  Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston, and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.

Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrack’s maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrack’s life, they are in danger of losing their own.

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I am completely intrigued by the premise of this book!  The whole idea of each continent experiencing a different time period sounds utterly cool, I can’t handle it. I have a feeling this could totally be a Doctor Who plot! Luckily, the advance reviews on Goodreads are really positive, so I’m hoping that when The Glass Sentence (which is supposed to be the first book in a trilogy) on June 12 (only a few short days away!) I’ll be able to get my hands on a copy and see for myself!

What books are you waiting for this week?

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Awesome Points: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Well hello again!

When I first saw this book I was a goner. If you’ve known me for any amount of time you probably know that I really, really am a total sucker for covers with girls in beautiful gowns, mostly because I just want to wear them. Well, Grave Mercy has an awesome gown on the cover and an awesome fantasy inside!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversWhy be the sheep, when you can be the wolf? Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I knew this book was going to be fabulous just from looking at the co ver andGrave Mercy didn’t let me down. Grave Mercy has a hardcore heroin, smouldering romance (yes, smouldering), and an absorbing fantasy storyline.

Ismae is seriously bad@$$. She transformed from a vulnerable victim to someone with the power to choose her own future. Also, she trained at a convent for assassin nuns. ASSASSIN NUNS. For real. Doesn’t it make you think of that Doctor Who episode, Tooth & Claw with the werewolves and assassin monks?!

The whole fantasy mixed with adventure and alternate history is right up my alley. I love how the setting is a mix of medieval Europe and a completely created world where supernatural things can happen. The idea that the god of death leaves a kill mark for his minions to find is so creepy-cool.

As usual, I like a good romance. Now, I do need to say that the love story is so incredibly expected. I mean, you know from the start who the love interest is, but that doesn’t matter! This romance is just so sexy that it wraps its tentacles around you and completely sucks you in. Awesome points for Robin LaFevers!

So, Grave Mercy definitely has the BookTasty stamp of approval! If you’re high school aged, a fan of fantasy and you’re looking for a new series to get lost in, the you need to read this one. I’m hooked in this series for sure!

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 3, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 14 hours and 14 minutes

Narrator(s): Erin Moon

Series: His Fair Assassin #1

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy)

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Cliffhanger Central: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Hello!

Who is ready for a review?!

Over the summer I finally read Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood! This series is just so much fun!

Star Cursed by Jessica SpotswoodWith the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate’s friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn’t want to be a weapon, and she doesn’t want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood’s schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she’ll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess’s quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

The Cahill Witch Chronicles are just such fun reads so far! Ever since reading Born Wicked I had been waiting for Star Cursed. Apparently I never actually reviewed Born Wicked though…which makes NO SENSE! I must have just looked over it when planning reviews, but I completely loved it. So, you should definitely read that one before Star Cursed.

In the second book, we pick up where book one left off. Cate has reluctantly joined the sisterhood and is living at their convent only to discover that it is actually a safe haven for young witches to train their powers. I’m pretty sure this is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much; it takes place in a boarding school! Cate’s world opens up a little bit more as we learn of other witches and the divisions within the Sisterhood. She is delving deeper into the history of Prophesy and what must happen in order to stop the tyranny of the Brotherhood. The always reluctant Cate must make decisions based on who she can trust and who has ulterior motives in order to save those she loves the most.

One of my favorite things about Star Cursed are the scenes in the “hospital”…I cannot for the life of me remember what its called (Edit: Jessica Spotswood herself (!) responded to my question on Twitter and the hospital is Harwood. Thank you!) but the characters we meet here really make what the Brotherhood does that much more hateful and evil. Oh and speaking of hateful…Maura?! Seriously…you’re my least favorite character in any book I’m currently reading because you just don’t get it! She is sooo frustrating and creates so much sister drama that I am sooo glad I’ve never had sisters! haha (I’m sure they’re not all bad like Maura!)

Oh and romance? Yes…the romance is back! Finn Belastra is back and just as swoon-worthy as before…almost even more so because he and Cate can only meet in secret due to the roles each of them must play.  Just think of stolen kisses under the cover of darkness…you’re welcome!

The ending? Cliffhanger central!! Seriously, this ending made me immediately check Goodreads for the release date of book three (which, by the way, is still untitled and has no release date yet..)! So, until then I’ll be checking Goodreads regularly to figure out book three’s release date.

If you like supernatural fiction with just the right amount of romance then you should read The Cahill Witch Chronicles… but you should start with Born Wicked first since it’s book one in the series.

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (June 18, 2013)

Format: e-book (ARC)

Length: 371 pages

Series: Book 2 in The Cahill Witch Chronicles

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:  Star Cursed: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Book Two