Sounds Like Halloween: Day 22 with FT Lukens


FT Lukens joins Sounds Like Halloween with a reading from her SFF fantasy, The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic.


About The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths and Magic: 

Desperate to pay for college, Bridger Whitt is willing to overlook the peculiarities of his new job—entering via the roof, the weird stacks of old books and even older scrolls, the seemingly incorporeal voices he hears from time to time—but it’s pretty hard to ignore being pulled under Lake Michigan by… mermaids? Worse yet, this happens in front of his new crush, Leo, the dreamy football star who just moved to town.

Fantastic.

When he discovers his eccentric employer Pavel Chudinov is an intermediary between the human world and its myths, Bridger is plunged into a world of pixies, werewolves, and Sasquatch. The realm of myths and magic is growing increasingly unstable, and it is up to Bridger to ascertain the cause of the chaos, eliminate the problem, and help his boss keep the real world from finding the world of myths.



About FT Lukens:

F.T. Lukens is an author of Young Adult fiction who got her start by placing second out of ten thousand entries in a fan community writing contest. A sci fi enthusiast, F.T. loves Star Trek and Firefly and is a longtime member of her college’s science-fiction club. She holds degrees in Psychology and English Literature and has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and writing. F.T. lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, and three cats.

Her first novel in the Broken Moon series, The Star Host, was released by Duet Books in 2016. The second novel in the series was released in 2017. Connect with FT on her author site.


Learn more about the Sounds Like Halloween audio series, including authors taking part & what you can expect, here.

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Sounds Like Halloween: Day 20 with Mary Fan

Mary Fan joins Sounds Like Halloween with a reading from her YA dark fantasy novella, Firedragon Rising.


About Firedragon Rising: 

Sinister plots. An underground rebellion. And a treacherous road filled with monsters and enemies unknown.

It’s been three months since Aurelia survived the International Challenge—an elite monster-fighting competition. And the Triumvirate has been keeping a close eye on her ever since … as if they expect her to cause them more trouble.

They’re right.

Now that she knows about the underground revolution—and the dark secrets of her own past—Aurelia is hell-bent on escaping the government’s watchful gaze and joining the rebels. Finally, she’s found a cause worth fighting for. A way for her kind, the Norms, to take back their freedom.

Then, when she overhears a Triumvirate official’s conversation, she learns that it’s even worse than she realized. The government knows about the rebels, and the rebellion. They’re searching for people who sympathize with the cause. And they’re coming after her next.

Suddenly the time for dreaming about the rebellion is over. Aurelia must make contact with the rebels and plot a quick escape … before the Triumvirate has a chance to capture her. But government forces and miles of monster-filled wilderness stand between her and the rebel headquarters, and dangers she never imagined lurk in the shadows.

Before she can fight for the freedom of her people, she must achieve her own—or die trying.

Find it on Amazon or add it on Goodreads.



About Mary Fan:

Mary Fan writes sci-fi/fantasy and young adult books about intrepid heroines and fantastical worlds. Her books include the JANE COLT space opera trilogy, STARSWEPT (YA sci-fi), and the FATED STARS novellas (YA high fantasy). The FIREDRAGON novellas (The Firedragon, Firedragon Rising) are prequels to her YA dark fantasy novel, FLYNN NIGHTSIDER AND THE EDGE OF EVIL, which will be released on May 15, 2018 from Crazy 8 Press.

Mary is also the co-editor of the BRAVE NEW GIRLS anthologies about girls doing techy things in sci-fi worlds. The goal of these anthologies is to encourage more girls to explore STEM fields and raising money for the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund.
Visit her at www.MaryFan.com.
Twitter: @astralcolt
Instagram: @astralcolt


Learn more about the Sounds Like Halloween audio series, including authors taking part & what you can expect, here.

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Contemporary YA Fiction review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published by: Balzer + Bray

Format: mobi

Genre: YA

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: A stunning debut that neither flinches from telling one story of why the Black Lives Matter movement matters nor does it preach while doing so. This book is every bit as good as you’ve been told it is. Read More

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Exclusive Interview and ARC Giveaway: In Other Lands author, Sarah Rees Brennan

One time Sarah Rees Brennan wrote a story over a few months on her Livejournal, about Elliott, a bisexual red-headed irritant who loves books, who went to magic school in a magic world and immediately had a lot of bones to pick with the rules. Now that story is expanded for print as In Other Lands, and is available now for all your bickering found family, awkward slow crushes, and elven warrior matriarchy needs!

Today, we have the lovely Sarah Rees Brennan here to talk mermaids, friendships, and the importance of storytelling.

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YA Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Title: The Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Published by: Harper Teen

Format: Softcover

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Order at: Amazon | B&N

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: This novel is more cerebral than the Adam Silvera’s other work, deftly weaving a speculative universe within the confines of present day New York. It’s here, in this space, that two teenagers find each other and, in turn, find themselves. They Both Die At The End is a stellar piece of writing filled with love and friendship, joy and grief, courage and redemption, and more twists than you can throw a stick at. Whatever that means. Either way, it’s a candidate for best book of the year from me. I strongly encourage you to read it STAT.

Check out Alex interviewing Adam Silvera about They Both Die at the End and enter to win a paperback ARC!

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Release Day Interview and Giveaway: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Five years ago, Adam Silvera started a notebook that turned into They Both Die At The EndThe release date—September 5, 2017—is coincidentally the same day in which Mateo Torres and Rufus Emeterio receive their respective Death-Cast calls, with notification that within twenty-four hours they will die.

Sound devastating? 

Well, it is. But it’s also incredibly hopeful. These two boys still have one day to live. Once they find each other, Mateo and Rufus turn out to be a perfect foil for each other’s short comings, allowing each of them to … well, you are simply going to have to pick up this book and read it in order to find out for yourself. 

If you’re familiar with Silvera’s work, you’ll know this sort of sweet, funny devastation isn’t a one-off effort. 

More Happy Than Not burst onto the scene in May, 2015 and hit the New York Times Bestseller List the next month. His ambitious debut featured Aaron Soto, a kid who lives in projects in the Bronx who, in struggling with his attraction to other boys, seeks out the Leteo Institute in order to wipe his mind and start again. It’s the greatest of all do-overs and destined to fail. His sophomore effort, History Is All You Left Me, tells the story of Griffin Jennings who is grieving the loss of his love and ex-boyfriend, Theo McIntyre, while his OCD gets progressively worse.

Silvera writes to break our collective hearts. As an own voices author writing queer and latino boys from New York, he’s as authentic as authors get. But there is something in this third novel that’s a little bit different. In the author’s note in my ARC, Silvera writes about how the prior two books stemmed from personal experience but this one came from his own inexperience and in finding the courage to explore that. 

I recently got the chance to chat with Adam Silvera about his newest book.

Alex de Morra: In each of these three novels, the hero’s sexual identity is tied heavily to the story arc. In More Happy Than Not, Aaron wants to erase that part of himself and ends up erasing more than that. In History Is All You Left Me, both Theo’s death and Griffin’s queerness is immutable, as is Griffin’s sense of them as a couple. In They Both Die At The End, Mateo’s identity and his evolution towards living are slowly revealed as he lives more and more of his ‘lifetime in a day.’ Will you talk about that?

Adam Silvera: Since History was the third book I wrote, I was aching to write a narrator whose sexuality wasn’t sheltered or scary. Griffin is just happily gay. And Mateo is relatable because I didn’t come out until I was 19, but had I known that I was going to die at 18, I would’ve come to grips with it on that day. No doubt. I would kiss a guy and say I love you and embrace myself in full force. Not instantly, of course, it would be gradual, but it’s a finish line that would be important for me to cross. 

AdM: It’s interesting that you mention History was actually the third book you wrote even though it was the second one published. What led to swapping History with They Both Die? 

AS: I just knew this book needed more time and wasn’t worth presenting to any editor just yet, and I’ve spent a total of five years on this book from initial thought to final manuscript. The world and characters have grown so much.

AdM: In both Happy and They Both Die, the worlds are built off present day New York but in each case, these are changed due to the presence of a new technology corporation: Leteo Institute in Happy and Death-Cast in They Both Die. But while a name for those who went through the Leteo procedure didn’t feature, there is a name for those who have gotten the call from Death-Cast: Decker. It struck me that when these types of neologisms come up— Cylons, Replicants, Muggles, Hobbits—they are no longer considered human by some even while their humanity is at the core of the story. What does the term Decker mean?

AS: The term Decker is a sort of slang for someone whose fate is “on the deck.” And vocabulary evolving is a natural part of the world changing. The distinctions for deckers felt urgent and heartbreaking. It’s literally a word that someone can personally identify as for less than a day. 

AdM: You have a gift for writing friends that are both intensely loving and fiercely, painfully honest. Will you talk about creating these characters? 

AS: I love when my friends keep it real. When we confront each other and say uncomfortable things, even if it stirs some conflict. We’re most honest with the people we love the most because we want the best for them.

AdM: Speaking of friends…the book ones count, too! I’m so excited to see a reprisal of The Scorpius Hawthorne books. It’s also interesting to see them pop-up even though the speculative worlds of Happy and They Both Die are different ones. I had even heard a rumor you had plans to put them in History. Should we keep our eyes out for them in future books?

AS: Im so happy this Easter egg made its way back in too! And yes, the character Dhonielle in History got cut because I failed to give her the depth she needed to read as a convincing character. But Scorpius Hawthorne was invented as a fun play on Harry Potter and if I write more grounded speculative novels, I think I’ll continue to sneak in this fake saga about the demonic boy wizard. Even if it’s a one-liner.

AdM: If we had forever to talk, I’m sure I could come up with a million questions. Fortunately for us, you’ve got to get back to writing your next effort. For now, though, what question are you hoping someone asks you about this book? And what’s your answer? 

AS: I’d love for someone to ask me if they actually die at the end and I’ll tell them to read and find out.  🙂

A very special thank you to Adam Silvera for joining us today. If you want to follow his writing exploits, please follow him on twitter at @AdamSilvera as he’s likely to give a heads up on touring, writing sprints, and sneak peeks of his writing. Oh, and buy this book. All of his books. And tissues. Trust me. You’ll need tissues. 

Before you go…we also have an opportunity for you to win it below! Enter now and win an ARC of this gorgeous and devastating book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Alex claims to read more than any normal, healthy adult should though the rest of the Binge on Books team would beg to differ. You can read all of his reviews here.

Connect with Alex on Twitter: @Alex_deMorra

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Historical YA Review: A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Published by: HarperCollins

Order at: Publisher | Amazon | B&N

Format: e-ARC

Genre: YA historical fantasy

Reviewed by: Moog

What to expect: Queer historical YA full of simmering heat, loads of pining, and an irascible main character you will both love and be exasperated by in equal measure.

Bonus: Check out our exclusive interview with Mackenzi Lee and enter to win a paperback ARC of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue!
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Book Talk: Interview with Julia Ember, author of The Seafarer’s Kiss

A quote from a recent article in Vice magazine came back to me vividly as I sat down to read The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember. Queer retellings of stories are a reminder, Vice asserted, that the classics don’t just belong to straight white guys—they belong to the LGBTQ community, too.

Yes, this. Always and forever this. Far too often the classic stories of our childhoods display a very one sided and narrow view of the world, reflecting back the conventions of the time in a pretty package. The original Little Mermaid tale of 1837 is just that–a reflection of what society expected from women at the time. The story follows a mermaid who is willing to give her all–her family, her history, her very identity–in order to marry a man, who in the end refuses to acknowledge her sacrifices, and she dies. No true page time is given to her thoughts or wants. She exists to love a man and when he can’t love her back, she has no more reason to exist.  

Enter Julia Ember and The Seafarer’s Kiss. This gorgeous young adult novel subverts the original, asking readers to view the Little Mermaid in a wholly different light. Mermaid Ersel is a strong, independent female with a layer of protective blubber that keeps her warm in the ice shelves of the northern sea. When she meets Ragna, the sole survivor of a shipwreck and befriends her, feelings blossom between the two. Ersel’s would be suitor catches them and issues an ultimatum: give up this budding relationship or be stuck under the thumb of the Mer-King making babies for the rest of her life. So what does Ersel do? Creates a third choice and takes her own destiny in hand.

Everything about this book is magic — the imagery of the frozen waters of the north is glorious and so real; the sweet new feelings between Ersel and Ragna are confusing and fragile; the questioning of Ersel’s choices and the effects they’ll have on her future underscore what all teens (and adults) feel. And while the themes and threads of the original are still there, this reimagined Little Mermaid is a fierce presence who waits for no man to make choices for her. Plus it incorporates a great deal of Norse Mythology including several killer appearances by the God of Lies themselves, Loki.

Luckily I was able to catch up with Julia Ember before the release of her book to talk The Seafarer’s Kiss, Norse Mythology, homosexuality among the Vikings, and what she ultimately wants to see more of in books.

Judith for Binge on Books: Julia, welcome! I can’t fully do justice to how much I loved the book and its haunting take on the Little Mermaid myth. What was the evolution to writing this? Did you wake up one day and decide that you needed to redo a classic story? Was there a spark or something specific that forced your hand in writing this particular idea?

Julia Ember: I’m so glad you loved the story!

Before deciding that academia wasn’t for me, I spent two years doing a postgraduate degree in Mediaeval Literature. As part of my course, I studied both Anglo-Saxon and Norse poems, as well as their mythology and history. I’ve always been truly fascinated by the pre-Christian Vikings, their legends, their gods and in the cultural shift that happened after they started living among Anglo-Saxons. In a way, it’s a myth that the Vikings conquered the Anglo-Saxons. They did invade their land, but in the end, Anglo-Saxon culture, which was part of the Latin Christian Empire already, lured many of the Vikings away from their historic way of life. There is an Anglo-Saxon poem called The Seafarer which follows an exiled sailor as he laments his loneliness on the high seas. It is a hauntingly beautiful poem. A lot of my inspiration for the character of Ragna came from thinking about that cultural war, and the clash of cultures that plays out in the Seafarer poem.

The Little Mermaid has always been my favourite fairy tale! I always knew that if I was going to write retellings, it would be the first story I would explore. The book itself started out as a short story/novelette. I actually went out on submission with that, had a few requests, but it didn’t sell.

Judith: Since you draw so heavily on Norse Myth to infuse this book, is it safe to assume that there is a Little Mermaid story in that cannon? If so, how do The Seafarer’s Kiss and that myth differ?

Julia: Sadly, there is no Little Mermaid story in Norse Myth! As a category, Norse Myths don’t tend to be particularly romance driven tales nor do they tend to be very character focused. Norse literature and myth is heavily focused on achievements and heroism – conquering monsters, far off lands. The Norse elements in Seafarer’s Kiss are incorporated into the world-building and the characters of Ragna and Loki. Ragna is a gender-swapped, very lose interpretation of Ragnar Lodbrok, a Viking leader who started the process of taking over Anglo-Saxon England. Ragnar may or may not have been a real person, but his legend is pervasive. My version of Loki is much closer to the sinister Norse God than the playful Marvel counterpart.

Judith: So if there’s no Little Mermaid, did you find evidence of queer narratives in any Norse Mythology you used as research?

Julia: Norse mythology is sadly pretty heteronormative, although a few pre-Christian Viking historical sources do indicate that Vikings thought homosexuality was a normal part of getting older. Kind of an odd cultural phenomenon there. The Vikings were a lot like the Romans or the Greeks, in that homosexuality wasn’t illegal or expressly frowned upon, but people did think that in a gay relationship being the passive partner undermined a person’s masculinity.

The god Loki, however, is an interesting one. They are often described as a man, but some legends show them as a woman. There is a well-known Norse myth where Odin punishes Loki by forcing them to give birth to monsters. In that legend, Loki’s gender is very obscure. They become pregnant and give birth, but retain many masculine qualities. The legend does, however, use feminisation as a form of punishment, where other legends simply present Loki as androgynous or female. In my version of Loki, I wanted their fluidity to be something they embraced. I also wanted them in full control of their own identity and self-presentation.

Judith: Even though this is a fairytale retelling, did any of your own experiences influence the writing?

Julia: Seafarer’s Kiss is an #ownvoices bisexual book, and so I wrote that aspect of Ersel and Ragna from my own life experience. I think, like Ersel with Havamal, I also have a bad habit of hanging onto people for a long time, hoping that they will change.

Judith: With that in mind, what do you want to see more of in books? Particularly in YA and NA?

Julia: I definitely want to see more diverse fantasy! I think contemporary has been charging ahead in terms of number of books published with characters across the LGBTQIA spectrum and POC. In fantasy, we’ve had a number of very high profile books that have had terrible representation when that shouldn’t be the case. I think speculative fiction offers such a perfect opportunity for writers to develop worlds that aren’t predominantly white or cishet. It’s disheartening how many books fall into that specification considering the writers are creating new worlds, where nothing else is the same as ours. Prejudice shouldn’t be the common factor between our world and fantasy kingdoms.

Judith: What is one question you would want a reader to ask about this book but they never do?

Julia: It’s not really a specific question, but I wish readers would ask more questions about Ragna and her past! She’s a really fierce, independent character, but I think Ersel and Loki steal most of the limelight from her.

***

Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spends her days working in the book trade and her nights writing teen fantasy novels. Her hobbies include riding horses, starting far too many craft projects, PokemonGo and looking after her city-based menagerie of pets with names from Harry Potter. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life.

Julia is a polyamorous, bisexual writer. She regularly takes part in events for queer teens, including those organised by the Scottish Booktrust and LGBT Youth Scotland. A world traveler since childhood, she has now visited more than sixty countries. Her travels inspire the fantasy worlds she creates, though she populates them with magic and monsters.

Julia began her writing career at the age of nine, when her short story about two princesses and their horses won a contest in Touch magazine. In 2016, she published her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, which also focused on two girls and their equines, albeit those with horns. Her second novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss will be released by Interlude Press in May 2017. The book was heavily influenced by Julia’s postgraduate work in Medieval Literature at The University of St. Andrews. It is now responsible for her total obsession with beluga whales.

In August 2017, her third novel and the start of her first series, Tiger’s Watch, will come out with Harmony Ink Press. In writing Tiger’s Watch, Julia has taken her love of cats to a new level.

Learn more on her site.

The Seafarer’s Kiss is out now from Interlude Press.

***

Judith is the owner of Binge on Books, as well as the boutique press, Open Ink, and the literary PR company, A Novel Take PR. You can also find Judith on HEA USA Today and  Teen Vogue talking queer fiction.


 

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YA Review: History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Published by: SOHO Teen

Format: mobi

Genre: YA/LGBT+

Order at: Amazon | B&N | Publisher

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: Adam Silvera has injected both speed and steroids into his craft since writing More Happy Than Not and poured it into this sophomore effort. This book was made to break your heart. Read More

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YA Fantasy Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupecobone witch

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Format: mobi

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Order at: Amazon

Reviewed by: Alex

What to Expect: Magic and identity reappropriation for a teenage girl.
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