Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Blog Tour: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You [Excerpt]

Posted May 18, 2016 by Stephanie in Uncategorized / 1 Comment

Blog Tour: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You [Excerpt]The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.
Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.
The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.

Excerpt

Chapter One

       Ben West spent summer vacation growing a handlebar mustache.

       Seriously.

       Hovering over his upper lip—possibly glued there—was a bushy monstrosity that shouted, “Look out, senior class, I’m gonna tie some chicks to the train tracks and then go on safari with my good friend Teddy Roosevelt. Bully!”

       I blindly swatted at Harper with my comic book, trying to alert her to the fact that there was a mustachioed moron trying to blend in with the other people entering campus.

       “I know I should have made flash cards for the poems that Cline assigned,” she said, elbowing me back hard, both acknowledging that she wasn’t blind and that she hated when I interrupted her monologues about the summer reading list. “But I found Mrs. Bergman’s sociolinguistics syllabus on the U of O website and I’m sure she’ll use the same one here.”

       The mustache twitched an attempt at freedom, edging away from West’s ferrety nose as he tried to shove past a group of nervous looking freshmen. It might have been looking at me and Harper, but its owner was doing everything possible to ignore us, the planter box we were sitting on, and anything else that might have been east of the wrought iron gate.

       “So,” Harper continued, louder than necessary considering we were sitting two inches apart. “I thought I’d get a head start. But now I’m afraid that we were supposed to memorize the poems for Cline. He never responded to my emails.”

       Pushing my comic aside, I braced my hands against the brick ledge. The mustache was daring me to say something. Harper could hear it too, as evidenced by her staring up at the sun and muttering, “Or you could, you know, not do this.”

 “Hey, West,” I called, ignoring the clucks of protest coming from my left. “I’m pretty sure your milk mustache curdled. Do you need a napkin?”

Ben West lurched to a stop, one foot inside of the gate. Even on the first day of school, he hadn’t managed to find a clean uniform. His polo was a series of baggy wrinkles, half tucked into a pair of dingy khakis. He turned his head. If the mustache had been able to give me the finger, it would have. Instead, it stared back at me with its curlicue fists raised on either side of West’s thin mouth.

“Hey, Harper,” he said. He cut his eyes at me and grumbled, “Trixie.”

       I leaned back, offering the slowest of slow claps. “Great job, West. You have correctly named us. I, however, may need to change your mantle. Do you prefer Yosemite Sam or Doc Holliday? I definitely think it should be cowboy related.”

       “Isn’t it cruel to make the freshmen walk past you?” he asked me, pushing the ratty brown hair out of his eyes. “Or is it some kind of ritual hazing?”

       “Gotta scare them straight.” I gestured to my blonde associate. “Besides, I’ve got Harper to soften the blow. It’s like good cop, bad cop.”

       “It is nothing like good cop, bad cop. We’re waiting for Meg,” Harper said, flushing under the smattering of freckles across her cheeks as she turned back to the parking lot, undoubtedly trying to escape to the special place in her head where pop quizzes—and student council vice presidents—lived. She removed her headband,  pushing it back in place until she once again looked like Sleeping Beauty in pink glasses and khakis. Whereas I continued to look like I’d slept on my ponytail.

Which I had because it is cruel to start school on a Wednesday.

       “Is it heavy?” I asked Ben, waving at his mustache. “Like weight training for your face? Or are you just trying to compensate for your narrow shoulders?”

       He gave a half-hearted leer at my polo. “I could ask the same thing of your bra.”

       My arms flew automatically to cover my chest, but I seemed to be able to only conjure the consonants of the curses I wanted to hurl at him. In his usual show of bad form, West took this as some sort of victory.

       “As you were,” he said, jumping back into the line of uniforms on their way to the main building. He passed too close to Kenneth Pollack, who shoved him hard into the main gate, growling, “Watch it, nerd.”

       “School for geniuses, Kenneth,” Harper called. “We’re all nerds.”

       Kenneth flipped her off absentmindedly as West brushed himself off and darted past Mike Shepherd into the main building.

       “Brute,” Harper said under her breath.

       I scuffed the planter box with the heels of my mandatory Mary Janes. “I’m off my game. My brain is still on summer vacation. I totally left myself open to that cheap trick.”

       “I was referring to Kenneth, not Ben,” she frowned. “But, yes, you should have known better. Ben’s been using that bra line since fourth grade.”

As a rule, I refused to admit when Harper was right before eight in the morning. It would just lead to a full day of her gloating. I hopped off of the planter and scooped up my messenger bag, shoving my comic inside.

“Come on. I’m over waiting for Meg. She’s undoubtedly choosing hair care over punctuality. Again.”

Harper slid bonelessly to her feet, sighing with enough force to slump her shoulders as she followed me through the front gate and up the stairs. The sunlight refracted against her pale hair every time her neck swiveled to look behind us. Without my massive aviator sunglasses, I was sure I would have been blinded by the glare.

“What’s with you?” I asked, kicking a stray pebble out of the way.

“What? Nothing.” Her head snapped back to attention, knocking her glasses askew. She quickly straightened them with two trembling hands. “Nothing. I was just thinking that maybe senior year might be a good time for you to end your war with Ben. You’d have more time to study and read comics and…”

       Unlike the tardy Meg, Harper was tall enough that I could look at her without craning my neck downward. It made it easier to level her with a droll stare. Sometimes, it’s better to save one’s wit and just let the stupidity of a thought do the talking.

She rolled her eyes and clucked again, breezing past me to open the door.

       “Or not,” she said, swinging the door open and letting me slip past her. “Year ten of Watson v. West starts now. But if one of you brings up the day he pushed you off the monkey bars, I am taking custody of Meg and we are going to sit with the yearbook staff during lunch.”

       “I accept those terms,” I grinned. “Now help me think of historical figures with mustaches. Hitler and Stalin are entirely too obvious. I need to brainstorm before we get homework.”

About the Author

the only thing worse authorLily Anderson is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU is her debut novel.

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Stephanie
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Blog Tour: The Star-Touched Queen [Interview]

Posted May 5, 2016 by Stephanie in Blog Tour, Interview, Spotlight / 0 Comments

Blog Tour: The Star-Touched Queen [Interview]The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance, Retelling
Pages: 342
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...
But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.
A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

Interview

What/Who were your biggest inspirations for the characters in The Star-Touched Queen? Which character in The Star-Touched Queen did you personally relate to the most and why?

For Maya and Amar, they were inspired by the Hades/Persephone. But I imagined those two mythological characters a little more differently. In Maya’s case, I knew that ambition was her defining trait, but I wasn’t sure whether that would manifest as seeking emotional or material fulfillment. Turns out, it was a bit of both. Kamala was inspired by my love of fiendish side characters like Mogget from Garth Nix’s SABRIEL and is probably the character I relate to the most. Her sense of humor can be a little abrasive. But she’s fiercely loyal to her friends. Other people in TSTQ were inspired by a collection of people whom I met/knew/heard of growing up.

Have you always been drawn to Mythology and what are some of your favorite mythological tales?

What myth specifically inspired Star-Touched? Always! I was raised on mythology. It was one of the most important outlets for me to connect to my Filipino/Indian heritage. My favorite Indian myths are Shakuntula, Nala and Damayanti, and Savitri. My favorite Filipino story is the Igorot tale of the Sky Maiden. My favorite Western myth is Hades and Persephone. TSTQ was specifically inspired by Hades & Persephone.

Let’s talk inspiration. What Indian folklore inspired The Star-Touched Queen and where could someone who might be interested in reading and learning more about it and other Indian stories (cough, me, cough) learn more?

The main Indian folktales/myths that inspired TSTQ or particular scenes were: Shakuntula (plays on the idea of memory and forgotten loves), Savitri & Satyavan (bargaining with Lord of Death, wily females!) and Narasimha (the fourth avatar of Lord Vishnu who defeated the demon king Hirayankashipu). Honestly, most of these were stories I heard growing up with my family. But my favorite thing to read when I was younger were the Amar Chitra Katha comics! They’re these illustrated tales from Indian mythology and I love them so so so much.

What scene in THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN was your favorite to write?

Definitely the scene where Amar and Maya are working together in the constellation room. I think it’s an important scene about interpretation, which, to me, is a major theme in TSTQ.

Did you listen to any music while writing this book? If yes, what would you say was your MOST played artist or song?

Sometimes I listen to music when I write. It just depends on whether the song is distracting me or fueling some weird atmospheric part of the scene. Sometimes it’s just one song on repeat. I listen to a lot of hip hop. And when I pretty much rewrote TSTQ in February 2015, I felt furious. Not with anyone. But just with the story. Like it was itching to be told right and I was failing it. I think the songs I listened to the most with TSTQ was either Kid Ink’s “Show Me” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice.”

What is your dream movie cast for STAR-TOUCHED?

LOVE this question. I’ve always envisioned Lakshmi Menon (the Sri Lankan model) as Maya-esque. Amar has some definite Arjun Rampal undertones (swoons forever). Gupta is kinda cheeky and nerdy, and reminds me of Imran Khan (actor not Pakistani cricket player). Gauri is cheeky, but fierce, so definitely Preity Zinta or Deepika Padukone. Nritti: Aishwarya Rai. And Mother Dhina: Rekha.

What is the most exciting part about publishing your first novel?

Interacting with readers. Talking to the YA community gives me so much life.

How did you build your world and keep everything straight for STAR-TOUCHED?

Flashcards, charts, webs, etc. I know everyone has their own tricks! Flashcards, backs of receipts, corners of napkins. Which is to say, I did not keep things straight at all. This is why you have beta readers. To throw virtual tomatoes at you and point out that given the rules of your world, you cannot do the thing you just did.

What is your next project? Is it in the same world as STAR-TOUCHED?

I just finished the companion novel to TSTQ! So, I’m hoping to get started on edits soon. I can’t wait for y’all to read it. I love it so much.

What is the one thing you want readers to walk away from STAR-TOUCHED with?

I hope readers see a little of how fairytales and folklore celebrate our shared experiences across cultural spectrums. And I hope their dreams are a little star-touched and that they close the book thinking they’ve tasted fairy fruit and walked through more than one life.

About the Authorroshani chokshi

Roshani Chokshi comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she’s learning a new kind of storytelling. The Star-Touched Queen is her first novel.

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Stephanie
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What’s Next [3] – The Star Maps of Hearts

What’s Next [3] – The Star Maps of Hearts

Posted March 10, 2016 by Stephanie in Meme / 2 Comments

What’s Next? is a meme created by Hafsah @ Icey Books where you list 3-5 books that you are wanting to read soon but can’t pick which one to read first. I am excited to start giving it a try! If you’re interested in participating in this meme, click the button above! 🙂 Here are a […]

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In Real Life [Review]

In Real Life [Review]

Posted March 3, 2016 by Stephanie in Review / 6 Comments

My Thoughts This book made me grin like an idiot! I quickly fell in love with the story and with the characters. Even though I loved the writing and the story itself, there were a few flaws. And a few things I would have done differently. But all-in-all, I loved this book! The story is ultimately […]

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Fangirl [Review]

Fangirl [Review]

Posted December 10, 2014 by Stephanie in Review / 2 Comments

  My Thoughts: This book was a breath of fresh air. In the world of bad boys everywhere comes the love story of a girl falling for the good guy. It was so nice to read about a true nice guy. Nice guys do not finish last in this story. Fangirl was a longer book […]

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Born At Midnight [Review]

Born At Midnight [Review]

Posted October 18, 2012 by Stephanie in Review / 0 Comments

My Review: Kylie gets in trouble with her parents by being at a party that the cops showed up at. Kylie is then sent to the Shadow Falls Camp. She is told that it is a camp for troubled teens. She soon finds out that they’re not troubled because they always get in trouble, however, […]

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13 To Life [Review]

13 To Life [Review]

Posted October 18, 2012 by Stephanie in Review / 2 Comments

My Thoughts: This is a wonderfully paced and easily read novel. Shannon Delany knows how to write for the young adult. I’m not saying there were flaws, but there weren’t many. For starters, I read on somebody else’s review that Pietr’s last name was of a female surname for the Russian culture. His name should […]

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