Author of the Month: Elizabeth Richards [Interview + Giveaway!]

First Author of the Month post! I’m very excited about this one because the author is someone I really look up to. She’s the author of the brilliant dystopian/paranormal YA novels BLACK CITY and PHOENIX which I enjoyed very much. So without further ado, I present you…

Elizabeth Richards

ELIZABETH RICHARDS!  

Now onto the interview!

How did you get started with writing?

It’s always something I’ve loved to do, even as a little girl, but I started writing my first ‘serious’ novel when I was fifteen. My best friend and I would write during registration and lunch, (and sometimes during class too! Ssh, don’t tell anyone), and pass chapters to each other to critique. It gave me such a rush. But being an author wasn’t something I ever considered doing as a career, as it just wasn’t presented to us as an option. When I got into sixth-form college, I continued writing novels, but I also wrote a few trashy movie scripts, as my friends and I used to make horror movies at the weekend. And one of those scripts actually helped me get into university (I did a BA Hons in Scriptwriting for TV and Film). When I left uni, I went into journalism and wrote for a couple of videogames and travel magazines for a few years, before finally plucking up the courage to write my first YA novel!

What is your writing process like?

Generally it begins with the hook – for Black City it was ‘a drug-dealing supernatural boy who gets a heartbeat when he meets his true love—and the story grows from that. I then spend a few weeks obsessively discussing it with my friends, working out the basic plot, and then I start writing a few scenes to get into the mind of the characters and explore the world. I NEVER write in order, I just can’t do it—I hop about the story, laying down the path, and then go back and fill in the blanks. It takes about 3-5 months for me to write ‘The Shitty First Draft’, as it is a very organic process. If I can, I try and leave it a few weeks before I start revising it. My second drafts are nearly always rewrites rather than revisions—I move whole scenes around, cut characters, fix plot issues (and sometimes even changing elements of the plot). Then the third draft is finally something that resembles a book. After that it’s then on to copy edits, line edits, First Pass pages and finally it goes to press.

What made you decide to write young adult fiction?

I’d tried writing adult fiction several times throughout my teens and early twenties, and it never felt right. It wasn’t my ‘voice’ and I just wasn’t interested in the situations and issues adults dealt with. I felt all the real drama and interesting stuff in life happens when you’re younger, when everything is a first: your first kiss, your first love, the first time you leave home, the first time you’re betrayed. Then I started reading the Harry Potter books, and they were sort of my gateway book into MG and YA literature. From that I devoured as much MG and YA literature as I could, and I knew then that this is what I wanted to do. I went with YA, simply because I like to write darker stories featuring a LOT of kissing and hot boys!!!

How long did it take you to write Black City?

I started writing Black City back in the summer of 2009. It was published in November 2012. So about 3 years! But I was working full time for the majority of that, so it’s not like it is now, where I can dedicate my entire day to writing. Plus, I have a publishing schedule to work to now, so that pretty much determines the pace I write! I can get a book written and edited in about 6 months now.

What did you discover about yourself when you worked on the Black City series?  

That I like to kill my darlings!

Now let’s talk about your newly released book, Phoenix! Which character surprised you the most while writing it?

I’d probably say Elijah, mainly because he only had a minor role in Black City, so it was the first time I got to properly know him. And so I was learning all about him as I was writing the book and I came to really care about him. He has a lot of layers and he’s hard to predict – you can’t necessarily trust his motivations or what he’s really thinking, which makes him exciting to write.

What song best describes Phoenix?

Freedom Fighters by Two Steps from Hell. It’s such an epic score and really suits the action and drama of the book.

Jesselle says: Love this song! It’s perfect! 🙂 

What is your favorite quote from Phoenix?

Ooooh, that’s a good one. Um… I actually really like this quote from the Prologue, as it sends shivers through me:

“Your Transporter is ready, Your Excellency,” Forsyth said.

Rose simply nodded, dismissing the man, and turned his attention back to the ants. He watched the insects for a moment longer before crushing them under the thumb of his white-gloved hand.

            He had waited long enough. The moment had come to put his plan into action. It was time he reminded Ash Fisher and Natalie Buchanan why they should fear him.

The answer to this next question is something I’m really dying to know.  How does the Thracian language sound like?

I always imagine it sounding Spanish, although a more ancient and provincial version of it.

If you wake up one day in the Black City world, what place would you visit first? Why?

I’d go to Beetle’s barge, as chances are that’s where the whole gang will be hanging out. I’d love to meet them all face-to-face (I might fangirl over Ash a little bit though, so I’m sure Natalie will have a few words to say to me!). Plus, Beetle can take me on a canal tour of the city. What better way to see it?

I’m sure hearts stopped beating for a moment with the cliffhanger ending of Phoenix. A lot are very eager to read the final book! What can readers expect in Book 3?

I’m not allowed to reveal too much at this stage, but I can promise you there will be lots of action, shocking revelations and kissing!

What is your message to Ash and Natalie, now that the series is coming to an end?

Thank you for the incredible journey, my friends; for the tears, the heartache, the laughter, and the joy. I’ve enjoyed every second of it. And I’m sorta gonna cry now. But know you will always be in my (dual) heart. And whenever I shut my eyes I will hear your cry. “No fear. No power.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?  

Write what you love to read. Don’t try and write in a genre you’re not completely passionate about just because you think it’ll have a better chance of selling, as it’ll show in your writing and ultimately it’s not good for your career.

Thank you Elizabeth for the opportunity to interview you and for making this day super special! 🙂

Connect with Elizabeth: 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialElizabethRichards

Twitter: http://twitter.com/theredpenofdoom

Website: http://officialelizabethrichards.com

So why is JUNE 15TH a special day? IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! And what’s a birthday without a GIVEAWAY? 🙂

PRIZE:

A paperback edition of BLACK CITY

Open INTERNATIONALLY and ends on June 22nd. 🙂

Please click on the Rafflecopter link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Time Between UsTitle: Time Between Us

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone

Published: October 9, 2012

Publisher: Hyperion

Pages: 368

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Synopsis: 

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning, spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new voice in YA fiction.

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

I will never forget that day when I saw the cover of Time Between Us in a book blog. I was so mesmerized by how dreamy and magical it looked. I can’t stop gazing at it! After reading the captivating synopsis, I told myself “I have to read this.” And I’m glad I did. Up to this moment, the scenes play inside my head like a song on loop. The story never leaves and I don’t think it ever will. This book goes straight to the place where it deserves to be: the treasure chest in my heart. To me, the story is not just a bounded piece of literature; rather, it’s a precious jewel.

Time Between Us is the first time travel book I’ve ever read and I love it to bits! It transported me to a dazzling world where reality and science fiction are perfectly blended together. The experience was INCREDIBLE. Tamara Ireland Stone’s writing style brims with radiant beauty. Gliding over her flawless and enthralling words was such a delight. It was really good to move along the current of soulful thoughts that felt so natural and so real. With clear and colorful descriptions, Time Between Us glows with life. Scenes were brilliantly designed in a neat and organized structure which resulted in a smoothly-paced tale that carried me into a stream of infinite magic and wonder. Time traveling is a complicated idea but in this book, it was so effortlessly illustrated. Each detail was presented one at a time and won’t confuse readers.

So let’s go to the story itself. Anna and Bennett are two teenagers from completely different times. She’s from 1995. He’s from 2012. They are not supposed to meet, but they did. Thanks to Bennett’s awesome time traveling gift. I don’t want to get into detail with the plot because I want to leave some mystery for future readers of this book to discover. Their experience of the story would definitely be memorable if there’s an element of surprise.

Anna and Bennett are believable characters. I fell in love with them in an instant. Anna’s strong-willed personality is what makes her awesome. I greatly admire her courage of taking a “daring adventure” with the guy she loves. And Bennett. Oh, Bennett. Just saying his name brings a smile to my face. He’s sweet, adorable, caring, and very loving. He would do anything to make Anna happy to the point of breaking the rules of his talent.

Another thing I love about Anna and Bennett is their faith. In times of helplessness and pain, faith is what kept them going. It made them stronger and better individuals. With faith, they won their battle with time. They believed in each other, they believed in their love. And most of all, hope glimmered in their hearts.

Time Between Us is a fantastic novel that captures the importance of time. With time as the heartbeat of the story, I realized that every tick of the clock holds precious moments that people ought to treasure.

Truly, Time Between Us is a story of love that that transcends the test of time. I’m so excited to read Time After Time! My heart wishes for October to be NOW. 🙂

Rating:

5/5 stars

Blog Tour: Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards [Review + Guest Post + Giveaway!]

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Hello everyone! Today’s my stop in the Phoenix Philippine Blog Tour. It’s the very first blog tour I joined which makes this post special to me! 🙂

Phoenix

Title: Phoenix

Author: Elizabeth Richards

Published: June 4, 2013

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Pages: 368

Source: ARC provided by the author

Synopsis: 

Ash and Natalie are just starting to build a life together when things in the United Sentry States go from bad to worse. Ash and Natalie find themselves at the center of turmoil when dictator Purian Rose threatens Natalie’s life unless Ash votes in favor of Rose’s Law—a law that will send Darklings and other dissenters to a deadly concentration camp known as the Tenth.

When Ash can’t bring himself to trade Natalie’s life for those of millions of Darklings, her fate is sealed. Enter Elijah Theroux, the handsome Bastet boy Natalie once saved from her mother’s labs, where he’d been experimented on and tortured. It was his venom the Sentry used to create the lethal Golden Haze, the heart of the government conspiracy that led to Black City’s uprising and Ash’s rebirth as the Phoenix, the face of the rebellion. Elijah is back and Ash doesn’t like him; it’s clear he’s taken with Natalie, and Ash fears she may have feelings for him as well.

But Elijah also may have the answer to taking down Purian Rose for good—a powerful weapon called the Ora. Ash, Natalie and Elijah just have to escape Black City undetected to find it. But fleeing the city and finding this weapon (if it even exists) are easier said than done, and the quest could tear Ash and Natalie apart, even pushing them into the arms of others.

This enthralling sequel to Black City is just as absorbing, delicious and steamy as the first book, leaving readers hungry for the series conclusion.

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads 

My review: 

Phoenix takes off a few months after the horrible events in Black City such as the riot and Ash’s execution which he miraculously survived. Purian Rose, the wicked leader of the United Sentry States wants to pass a law that will segregate the Darklings from humans. He wants Ash to vote in favor of it; or else, Natalie will die. Torn between saving his people and the girl he loves, Ash is thrust into a very serious and complex situation that tests his loyalty to the Darklings and to Natalie. The whole premise of Rose’s Law has a hidden agenda that will shock readers at the moment of discovery. Soon, the war begins and citizens of the nation are forced to take sides to save their lives.

In Black City, readers witnessed the beginning of Ash and Natalie’s beautiful and alluring relationship. In Phoenix, on the other hand, that relationship deepens and evolves into a mature one. Despite the complicated circumstances in the story, Ash and Natalie showed how strong they are as a couple. Their relationship became rocky at some point yet both did not give up no matter how betrayed and hurt they felt. Now that is what you call true devotion. Readers will get to know more about Ash and Natalie in their internal monologues. Feelings of love, desire, heartbreak, grief, and bewilderment unfold their strengths and weaknesses in those monologues. Amid the difficult situations, there are of course sweet moments that will set readers’ hearts ablaze.

Reading the book was a grand adventure. Phoenix takes readers to dangerous and magnificent places in the United Sentry States that will leave them completely breathless. Each place Ash and Natalie went to with the sexy and gorgeous Bastet boy Elijah leads to startling revelations. Those scenes splintered my heart into pieces as I read them. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. It felt like fiction became my reality. The emotions were so genuine and that’s one of the factors I look for in a book. I believe being real comes from within and I definitely can say that Elizabeth Richards wrote Phoenix with all her heart, making the book timeless and most of all, priceless.

Also, Phoenix wouldn’t be as spectacular as it is without the heart-stopping tension surrounding the story. There were lots of running, hiding, and bloody battle scenes! I kept pounding my bedside table as I felt tension wrapping its arms around me. My mouth unleashed an outburst of “WHAT”, “OMG” and “OH NO,” with each expression ending in infinite exclamation points. Add to that my facial expressions which made my mom curious as to what was happening to me. New characters are also introduced in Phoenix that added spice and spark to the story. Each fresh face has an essential role and contribution that made the plot twists and turns very appealing and intense.

Phoenix is a remarkable novel. I’m completely drawn to Elizabeth Richards’ powerful writing. The vivid descriptions painted clear and striking images in my mind. And the emotions embedded within the brilliantly crafted prose make the novel a magnificent work of art. Like The Sight, this amazing sequel to Black City will certainly enclose readers in an enthralling experience they’ll never forget. I seriously can’t wait for Book 3!

Rating:

5/5 stars

Guest post:

In today’s ‘Scenes That Inspired’ Elizabeth shares the building that was the inspiration behind Thrace’s infamous tiered-roof taverns, which appear in PHOENIX.

“Ash lifts the truck door, letting in a welcome blast of cool air, which smells of spices and herbs. We’re in Thrace’s bustling central market, which puts the one in Chantilly Lane to shame. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of round buildings made from red sandstone bricks. Many of the buildings have murals painted on the walls, so the city is a vision of color. But this isn’t what’s most striking. All the buildings have elaborately tiered roofs, covered in tiles made from a strange, shimmering metal I’ve never seen before. It’s highly polished and reflects the light, so the whole city seems to be glittering, like sunlight on the sea.”

–          From PHOENIX, page 238

THRACE

[Photo: © Amelia Vincent 2013]

 “Weirdly, the shape of Thrace’s famous taverns was inspired by this Buddhist Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes. I loved the tiered roof, circular shape of the building, and the stone carvings on the wall, and wanted to incorporate it into my novel. However, I wanted the taverns to have a rustic-meets-futuristic feel, which is why they’re made from red sandstone bricks with hand-painted murals on them, but have these advanced-technology, solar paneled roofs.”

About the author:

Elizabeth Richards

Elizabeth Richards is an award-winning journalist, who spent her early career reviewing video games before making the bold (or crazy) move into travel writing, despite suffering from terrible travel sickness. In her spare time, she ran a successful lifestyle website aimed at teenage girls, where she got to interview many of her favorite bands, go to gigs and                                                       basically blag loads of free swag all in the name of ‘research’.

Elizabeth lives in Buckinghamshire, England, with her husband. BLACK CITY is her debut novel. The sequel, PHOENIX, is out on June 4, 2013.

Fun facts about…Elizabeth Richards 

  • She’s an identical twin…and yes, she is the evil one.
  • She’s part sloth.
  • She hopes to see 10 volcanoes before she dies. She’s already climbed Vesuvius, had lunch on top of Mount Etna and watched Stromboli erupt at night.
  • She’s a little bit obsessed with Daniel Radcliffe.
  • Some of her favorite TV shows are Buffy, Being Erica, and Extreme Couponing.
  • Her favorite authors are JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Beth Revis, Stephen Fry, and Veronica Roth.

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Prizes:

One paperback copy of Black City, One hardbound copy of Phoenix, and swag! Open INTERNATIONALLY. 🙂

Please click on the Rafflecopter link!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Splintered by A.G. Howard

SplinteredTitle: Splintered

Author: A.G. Howard

Published: January 1, 2013

Publisher: Amulet Books

Pages: 371

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Synopsis:

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

*Image and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

From the moment I saw Splintered on blogs, I knew I had to read it. The cover oozes with absolute brilliance and mystery. The green, red and blue colors, as well as the striking eye of the blond girl, encompass a magnetic pull that will entice anyone who sees it. The words “Welcome to the real Wonderland” will compel readers to explore the intriguing world of this fictional masterpiece.

I loved the story. Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite childhood tales and reading Splintered transported me back to that world. I didn’t expect that the Wonderland in Splintered is dark, eerie and crazy. It is very different from the Wonderland I knew as a kid. But you know what?  I found it AWESOME. A.G. Howard did a fantastic job in constructing the world. The sequences of events in the book are wonderfully presented and the powerful, vibrant descriptions produced a cinematic effect in my imagination. I was also charmed by the impeccable and enchanting writing style. It enraptured me from the very beginning until the last sentence of Chapter 21. So beautifully written! To be honest I read this book in two weeks because I devoured every word. And by the time I finished reading, it was difficult for me to let go.

The madness started with the introduction of Alyssa’s character and her ability to hear voices of plants and insects. I really liked that the main character is presented alongside her intriguing gift. It immediately gives that creepy sensation that crawls on your skin until you’re cloaked with the spine-chilling mystery of the story. I’m always amazed by books that give readers “feels” right away, because it means they are in for a wonderful haunting experience.

So the story takes readers deep into the origin of Alyssa’s ability when she decides to embark on a quest for truth—about her identity and the supposed “curse” that runs in her family. And down the rabbit hole she goes…with the swoon-worthy, selfless and oh-so-handsome Jebediah Holt. Jeb is Alyssa’s best friend who she has a crush on since forever. In the course of their journey through Wonderland, their feelings toward each other were magnified. The passionate kisses and tender moments they shared will make your heart explode with giddiness. Believe me in this one because I caught myself blushing as I read those scenes. 🙂

Now enter Morpheus, the radiant and mystifying winged creature from Wonderland, who frequently visited Alyssa’s dreams when she was a child. Morpheus added flavor to the recipe of this stellar novel. His character’s alluring and daunting presence infused excitement and tension. Some readers may view him as a “villain,” with him being the backbone of conflicts and obstacles in the story. But for me, his manipulative nature is what makes him Morpheus. And even if I’m Team Jeb, there’s something about Morpheus that made me like him. I can’t fathom what that something is but I have a strong feeling that Morpheus is so much more than what I perceived him to be.

This gripping tale of madness and magic took me to a one of a kind adventure and I’m so thrilled there’s a sequel. That ending was a total cliffhanger! I’m so excited to read more!  🙂

Rating:

5/5 stars