Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Interview with Sara Ella for Coral


by Sara Ella
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: November 12th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Mermaids, Fairy Tales
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg


Multiple award-winning young adult author Sara Ella reimagines The Little Mermaid in a powerful and unexpected way.

Sixteen-year-old mermaid Coral has always been different, standing out from her stoic sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease. Said to be carried by humans, the Disease imposes emotions on its victims, causing them to commit unspeakable acts. The growing illness inside her, while terrifying, fascinates her very core. Where others see danger, Coral sees life. Could it be the colorless merfolk who are truly ill?

Above the sea, seventeen-year-old Brooke Jordan has nothing left to give. A homeless girl abandoned and forgotten, the only thing Brooke can rely on is the ocean. Her aching feet find refuge within the cool and comforting waves, while her broken heart grows harder with each passing day. When Brooke's and Coral’s worlds collide, everything alters in an instant. From learning to stand alone, to discovering the strength it takes to rely on another, the girls find that living requires taking that first painful breath. Each must make sacrifices, and when it comes to finding true love? Let’s just say the boys in their lives must learn to swim if they’re ever going to survive the storms.

Battling the odds against them, the girls will do whatever it takes to survive. But what must end for love and life to finally begin?

Taking a new twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairy tale, this modern-day story explores mental health from several perspectives, questioning what it means to be human in a world where humanity often seems lost.

Can you briefly describe CORAL and its characters?

The novel is a twist on Hans Christian Andersen’s original The Little Mermaid. The book explores mental health topics including anxiety, depression, and suicide from multiple perspectives. Readers can expect some nods to the Disney version, but this is not a traditional happily ever after tale.

Coral is a mermaid who lives with her two sisters and their father the Sea King. Their underwater society is one that shuns emotion. The Disease, said to be carried by humans, is their greatest fear. Even worse, those with the Disease are always taken by the mysterious Red Tide. When her oldest sister falls ill, Coral will do anything to save her.

Brooke is a human girl who has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated and forgotten. We begin her story at Fathoms Ranch—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. It isn’t until Brooke meets a young girl named Hope that she begins to believe life might be worth living after all.

Merrick has spent his life living in his controlling father’s shadow. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, Merrick believes everything will be made right again.

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

The characters in Coral all have a part of me in them. I believe most authors would say that’s true of their characters. I relate to Brooke’s anxiety, to Coral’s battle to understand her own emotions, and especially to Merrick’s desire to fix everything. In the end, I would probably say I relate to Brooke the most. But as far as favourites go? That would have to be good old Nigel Grimsby -- everyone needs a friend like Grim in their lives.

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

Disney and fairy tales always lend the most inspiration. I always knew I wanted to write a story inspired by The Little Mermaid. However, I hoped to approach it in a way that didn’t involve the dreaded “insta-love” scenario that makes many readers cringe nowadays.

I listened to The Disney Story Origins Podcast (Episodes 06a and b) as I began my research. The original version of this tale is heartbreaking. I was most inspired by the line, “But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.” As I neared the end of the first draft I realized the heart behind the novel was missing. When I finally recognized the story needed to focus on mental health, Coral came to life in a way I never anticipated.

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

“You’re Worth It” by Cimorelli.

Winter is here and we love to find out your favourite cosy spot to read. What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

Definitely a tea or coffee shop (by the beach, if you’re able) with something warm to drink. I recommend Savoy’s “Miracle Mermaid Tea” for this one. Don’t forget to have a scone with it!

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish CORAL?

“The Siren” by Kiera Cass never disappoints if you’re wanting another ocean-themed tale. That will forever remain one of my all-time favorite reads. If you’re looking for something more mental health-focused, “By Your Side” by Kasie West was on point in regards to what it’s like for someone who suffers from anxiety.

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

Having the courage to scrap everything and rewrite if it’s what’s best for the story. In Coral’s case, it was.

What’s next for you?

I’m taking a pause to focus on my family right now. Of course, I’m still writing. I will always write. My next idea is brewing and I can’t wait to share it when I’m ready. If you follow me on Instagram @saraellawrites, you’ll see some hints as to what I am hoping to write next.

Once upon a time, Sara Ella dreamed she would marry a prince and live in a Disney castle. Today, she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses, raising her little prince to be a king, and conquering realms of her own imaginings. Oh, and her husband is definitely more swoon-worthy than any Prince Charming.

Sara’s UNBLEMISHED trilogy has received high praise and multiple awards, but none as rewarding as the love and support she receives from her readers every day. Her new story CORAL, a reimagining of THE LITTLE MERMAID, releases in the fall of 2019.

When she’s not on deadline, Sara Ella can most often be found fangirling on Twitter, Instagram, or her YouTube channel. She may or may not be obsessed with #Bookstagram, and she has a serious condition known as “Coffee Snob-itis.” She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away.”

Interview with Julie Eshabugh for Crown Of Oblivion

Crown of Oblivion

by Julie Eshbaugh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 12th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg


Astrid is the surrogate for Princess Renya, which means she bears the physical punishment if Renya steps out of line. Astrid has no choice—she and her family are Outsiders, the lower class of people without magic and without citizenship.

But there is a way out of this life—competing in the deadly Race of Oblivion. To enter the race, an Outsider is administered the drug Oblivion, which wipes their memory clear of their past as they enter a new world with nothing to help them but a slip of paper bearing their name and the first clue. It’s not as simple as solving a puzzle, however—for a majority of the contestants, the race ends in death. But winning would mean not only freedom for Astrid, but citizenship and health care for her entire family. With a dying father to think of, Astrid is desperate to prevail.

From the beginning, the race is filled with twists and turns. One of them is Darius, a fellow racer Astrid meets but isn’t sure she can trust. Though they team up in the race, as Astrid’s memories begin to resurface, she remembers just who he was to her—a scorned foe who may want revenge. Astrid also starts to notice she has powers no Outsider should—which could help her win the race, but also make her a target if anyone finds out. With stakes that couldn’t be higher, Astrid must decide what is more important: risking her life to remember the mysteries of the past, or playing a cutthroat game in order to win her—and her family’s—freedom.

Can you briefly describe CROWN OF OBLIVION and its characters?

Crown of Oblivion is the story of Astrid, a girl who enters a dangerous race to win citizenship and free herself and her family from a life of servitude. Right before the race, all contestants are dosed with the drug Oblivion, which purges their personal memories, leaving them with no knowledge of who can be trusted, and no sense of self. The terrain is dangerous, and the pace gruelling. Astrid might not remember herself, but she knows she must have had a reason to enter this race and to believe she could win, and that’s what she intends to do. 

Along the way she crosses paths with people who claim to know her and want to help her, as well as Darius, another racer whom she is reluctant to trust. In a world where everyone’s a stranger, Astrid can only depend on herself. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

Astrid is definitely a favourite character of mine. She is fierce but still vulnerable, considering her circumstances. She’s the kind of girl who charges forward in the face of fear, if it means helping someone she loves. 

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

I’ve always been fascinated by memory and how it forms us. I started writing this book in late 2016, and a few months later, my step-mom, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, moved back to my local area with my father so I could help take care of her. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law was also suffering from dementia and could no longer recognize anyone in our family. It was heart breaking. They both passed away this year. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I know now that supporting and loving these two wonderful women as they coped with memory loss inspired a lot of this book. 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

Heroes by David Bowie.

Winter is here, and we love to find our perfect cosy spot. What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

I think Crown of Oblivion is the kind of book you want to read by the window, watching the snow fall outside, drinking a cup of hot tea. 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish CROWN OF OBLIVION?

I’m currently reading Star-Crossed by Pintip Dunn, and I am loving it! It’s got a completely unique, complex plot in a sci-fi world that reminds me of Beth Revis’s Across the Universe trilogy. I recommend it to readers who are interested in sibling rivalries, ethical dilemmas, and sci-fi mysteries. 

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

This is a great question, and I suspect every writer would have a different answer. For me, it’s getting the small moment-to-moment, scene-level story on the page, while staying on track with the big story of each of the characters’ individual arcs. Fortunately, I have worked with a wonderful editor who helps me stay on track.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on a book that’s got a mysterious, almost gothic vibe. I can’t say much more than that! It’s very early and I don’t want to say too much because so much could still change. Stay tuned!

Julie Eshbaugh is a YA writer and former filmmaker. She made two short films and then spent several years producing an online video series for teens which received several honors from the Webby Awards. Her new YA fantasy standalone, CROWN OF OBLIVION, is coming from HarperTeen November 2019. IVORY AND BONE (HarperTeen 2016) and OBSIDIAN AND STARS (HarperTeen 2017), her prehistoric fantasy duology, are out now. You can learn more about Julie’s writing escapades by visiting www.julieeshbaugh.com.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Spotlight + Giveaway: The Light at the Bottom of the World (Light the Abyss #1) by London Shah

The Light at the Bottom of the World (Light the Abyss #1)

by London Shah
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: October 29th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg


Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean's surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father's been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he's innocent, and all she's interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she's picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she'll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture-and her father might be lost forever.

Author London Shah is a British-born Muslim of Pashtun ethnicity. She has lived in Britain's capital city for most of her life via England's beautiful North. When she's not busy re-imagining the past, plotting an alternate present or dreaming up a surreal future, then she's most likely drinking copious amounts of tea, eating all the sweets and cakes, strolling through Richmond Park or along the Thames, getting lost on an evening in the city's older, darker alleyways—preferably just after it's rained—listening to punk rock, or losing herself in a fab SFF book or film. If she could have only one super power, it would be to breathe underwater. THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD is her debut novel.