Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Interview with Jennieke Cohen for Dangerous Alliance

Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance

by Jennieke Cohen
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: December 3rd 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Fiction
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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

Can you briefly describe DANGEROUS ALLIANCE and its characters? 

DANGEROUS ALLIANCE centers on Victoria Aston, a 19th century girl who loves Jane Austen’s novels so much, she believes life should turn out exactly like an Austen novel. But then Vicky's older sister and role model, Althea, escapes her abusive husband and starts divorce proceedings. To keep their family home safe from her brother-in-law, Vicky has to enter London’s society and find a husband of her own. She soon finds the charming Mr. Carmichael to be her best prospect, but as strange accidents start befalling Vicky and her family, and her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, starts expressing his doubts about Mr. Carmichael’s intentions, Vicky starts to realize her own life might be much more complicated than the books she loves. 

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

Can I say all of them, because (other than the bad guys) that’s pretty much true?! I will say that the characters who were always the most fun to write were Vicky and Tom’s brother Charles. Charles’s morals are greyer than some of the others and his sense of humor is snarkier, so it was always entertaining finding amusing yet annoying things for him to do and say. 

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

As a young girl, I fell in love with classics by Austen, the Brontës, Alcott, and Montgomery. I was always one for a great romantic plot and my interest in history led me to reading a lot of historical romance when I was in college. I came up with the first idea for DANGEROUS ALLIANCE right around that time. I’ve also always really enjoyed action/adventure and mystery stories and films. So as I started writing and plotting DANGEROUS ALLIANCE, I decided to write an homage to Austen and all the female authors I love while infusing some of those adventure and mystery tropes into a slightly genre-bending story that I would have enjoyed as a teen. 

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

I don’t know if any one song could describe my book, but one I know makes me think of DANGEROUS ALLIANCE is All for Love by Bryan Adams. 

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date? 

I feel like DANGEROUS ALLIANCE is very much a tea time book. Sitting in front of a roaring fire with your tea of choice and a slice of cake or a scone with clotted cream and jam would be a perfect accompaniment! 

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

Absolutely! I would of course say any of Jane Austen’s novels, though I do think PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is perfect for anyone who hasn’t read Austen before. NORTHANGER ABBEY is also great for anyone looking for something shorter, and its plot is basically the reverse of what I did in DANGEROUS ALLIANCE. If anyone’s looking for another YA historical, THE LAST WORD by Samantha Hastings has a very similar feel and aesthetic to DANGEROUS ALLIANCE. 

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

For me the hardest part is always sitting in that chair and getting the words down. It’s especially hard when you have no outside deadlines. I tend to do everything else (brainstorming, research, plotting) in an effort to avoid looking at that blank screen. 

What’s next for you?

I’m working on more historical young adult books—this time with a speculative element—but there’s nothing I can discuss in detail yet unfortunately!

Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kah CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Interview with Lance Rubin for Crying Laughing

Crying Laughing

by Lance Rubin
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: November 19th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
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The author of Denton Little's Deathdate gives us a tragicomic story of bad dates, bad news, bad performances, and one girl's determination to find the funny in high school.

Winnie Friedman has been waiting for the world to catch on to what she already knows: she's hilarious.

It might be a long wait, though. After bombing a stand-up set at her own bat mitzvah, Winnie has kept her jokes to herself. Well, to herself and her dad, a former comedian and her inspiration.

Then, on the second day of tenth grade, the funniest guy in school actually laughs at a comment she makes in the lunch line and asks her to join the improv troupe. Maybe he's even . . . flirting?

Just when Winnie's ready to say yes to comedy again, her father reveals that he's been diagnosed with ALS. That is . . . not funny. Her dad's still making jokes, though, which feels like a good thing. And Winnie's prepared to be his straight man if that's what he wants. But is it what he needs?

Caught up in a spiral of epically bad dates, bad news, and bad performances, Winnie's struggling to see the humor in it all. But finding a way to laugh is exactly what will see her through.

Can you briefly describe CRYING LAUGHING and its characters?

Crying Laughing is about 15-year-old Winnie Friedman, who’s obsessed with comedy but refuses to perform ever since bombing a stand-up set at her own Bat Mitzvah two years earlier. When the book starts, Evan Miller, considered by many to be the funniest kid in school, laughs at one of Winnie’s jokes in the cafeteria and tells her she should join the improv troupe. Winnie reluctantly does and ends up coming into her own as a comedian at the same time that she gets the worst news of her life: her comedy-hero dad, Russ, has been diagnosed with ALS. Winnie’s best friends, twin sisters Leili and Azadeh, are a huge part of the story, as are Winnie’s dad, Russ (obviously) and her mom Dana. 

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

Winnie, for sure. The foundation of inspiration for this character is my wife, Katie Schorr, so it was a joy to get to imbue Winnie with characteristics of the human I love most in this world. Winnie shares Katie’s biting sarcasm and self-deprecation and massive talent and though Winnie, of course, evolved into her own being over the course of writing the book, I love that the seed of Katie is always there. 

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

So, my father has had a neurodegenerative illness for more than two decades now. When I was a sophomore in college, he was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), but it’s turned out that the actual diagnosis is a subset of ALS known as PLS (posterior lateral sclerosis) which is slower-progressing. When I graduated college back in 2004, I had some success as an actor as my dad’s illness continued to worsen; he jokingly said something to me like, “Maybe, the sicker I get, the more successful you’ll be.” This was a horrifying idea and one that stuck with me and became the inspiration for this novel. I wanted to write about what it’s like to have a parent become sick, how hard it is to watch them become physically weaker, to realize that they’re mortal. I’d initially written a totally different draft of this book where, as Winnie’s dad got sicker, she literally got superpowers. Ultimately, that idea is still in the book, but in a more grounded way, with Winnie’s superpower being her ability to be funny, which I like a lot more, as it allowed me to also look at the way humor can help us survive. 

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

Ha, I’m so bad at questions like these. “With Arms Wide Open” by Creed? That was a joke. Let me think of a real answer. “Never Really Over” by Katy Perry? That was another joke. But I did listen to that song a lot this summer. I’m sorry, I really don’t have an answer to this, I’m going to stop talking now. 

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

Ha, I’m also bad at questions like this. Apple juice comes up in an improv scene toward the end of the book, so maybe apple juice? But I’m also feeling like this book would go great with chocolate milk. No real reason, might just be that I’m in the mood for chocolate milk right now. So, okay, in conclusion: the perfect way to read this book is with a huge chocolate milk and/or apple juice while waiting in line for your favorite comedy show. 

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

Absolutely! Unscripted, by Nicole Kronzer, is another YA novel about improv that’s coming out in April 2020. It’s honest and funny but also intense, as it unflinchingly dives into the misogyny of comedy culture. 

Also Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum is truly magnificent and explores some of the same themes as Crying Laughing, including the way humor can be healing, even during the most serious times. 

Also Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash—funny, timely, and heartwarming in the best way—and any book by Ariel Kaplan

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

First-drafting. For sure. No question. First-drafting is also where some of the purest, most fulfilling moments of the creative process happen, but besides that, most of it is me tamping down my need for everything to be perfect right away and trying to just let my creativity run wild but really wishing I knew exactly where my story was going and then thinking well maybe I should outline and then thinking but I HATE outlining and then thinking OK, so just keep writing and then thinking FINE, I WILL and then thinking this book is terrible and so on and so on and so on. It’s the beautiful, awful magic of making things. 

What’s next for you?

I’m in the early stages of taking a stab at my first Middle Grade novel. It’s hard to reveal anything because I have been changing my mind all the time as to what the book is even about, but ideally the end result will be a weird, funny book that makes kids laugh a lot and think a lot. 

LANCE RUBIN is the author of Denton Little’s Deathdate and Denton Little’s Still Not Dead. He’s worked as an actor, written and performed sketch comedy (like The Lance and Ray Show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre), and done a lot of improv. He’s also the co-writer, along with Joe Iconis and Jason SweetTooth Williams, of the musical Broadway Bounty Hunter. Lance lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons. You can follow him online at and on Twitter at @LanceRubinParty.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Interview with Miranda Asebedo for A Constellation of Roses

A Constellation of Roses

by Miranda Asebedo
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 5th 2019
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
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Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

With lovable and flawed characters, an evocative setting, and friendships to treasure, A Constellation of Roses is the perfect companion to Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots.

Can you briefly describe your novel A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES and the characters in it?

A Constellation of Roses is about Trix McCabe, a drifting teenage girl with a gift for petty theft. When Trix is arrested for an unrelated crime, she’s given the choice to go live with her deceased father’s long-lost family in rural Kansas, or face prosecution. It turns out that Trix’s new family is also gifted with magical abilities. Aunt Mia bakes pies that can cure all woes from loneliness to heartbreak. Ancient Auntie can read fortunes. Sixteen-year old Ember can read the darkest secrets of anyone she touches. Trix also finds a friend (and a crush) in town golden-boy Jasper Ruiz, who delivers pies for the family bakery, but it seems like he’s got secrets of his own. While Mia wants to welcome Trix with open arms, Trix is wary of letting anyone into her life. Through a series of flashbacks, readers begin to piece together exactly what happened to Trix and how she came by her mysterious scars. It’s very much a story about deciding if you’re going to let your past shape your future for better or for worse. And of course, family and magic pie! 

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

Trix is my favorite character. I had so much fun writing Auntie’s witty one-liners, but Trix really had my heart from the beginning of this story. She’s been through some very traumatic experiences, and she has moments where she’s ready to give up, but she keeps holding on. Even when her life is truly ugly, she finds beauty in simple things, like sketching an old couple holding hands on the bus. And I hope that somewhere out there, a reader discovers Trix and finds inspiration in her. Trix’s life is far from perfect, and she’s done some things she regrets, but in the end she chooses to let go of her anger and her guilt, and move toward a brighter future. 

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

A Constellation of Roses started out with the idea that every scar tells a story. For Trix, her scars tell a sad story, and they’re a reminder of a very dark period of her life. She struggles with how visible the marks are to other people, and the idea that others feel that they have a right to know how she got them simply because they’re visible. The story really started with Trix’s character, this very guarded and lonely girl, but as it expanded, the theme of scars kept coming up with other characters as well. Some of them have physical scars, while others carry around invisible ones, marks of guilt or trauma they’ve experienced in their lifetime. Trix’s main conflict is whether she’s going to let her scars rule her life and her choices, and ultimately, she chooses to rewrite the story of her scars, to see them as beautiful rather than destructive, and let them be an inspiration for good. 

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

I think if I could choose one song to describe A Constellation of Roses, it would be Tenille Townes’ “Somebody’s Daughter.” It’s about seeing a young homeless woman who’s panhandling at an intersection, and the singer wonders who the girl used to be before she was reduced to only being “that girl by the stoplight.” She wonders about the young woman’s life before this point, when she was a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a first love. And I think that’s an important theme in A Constellation of Roses. It’s about realizing that we’re more than just our struggles. We have worth and value, and even though we might be going through a tough time, we still deserve compassion and kindness.

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

I haven’t found my perfect Trix yet! But when I was working on character art and trying to find comparisons for how I pictured my characters, I did find a few ringers. I think Zendaya would be perfect for Ember. Not only does she look like how I imagined her, but Zendaya is so talented and creative, which fits in well with Ember. Zayn Malik would make an excellent Shane. He’s got that great devil-may-care smile that is Shane’s trademark as Trix’s first love and the story’s bad boy. And I think Tyler Posey would make a perfect Jasper. He’s a golden-boy with a dark secret, and I think Tyler could pull it off. Betty White definitely has the comedy chops to do justice to Auntie’s many one-liners. But I haven’t found my Trix yet, so maybe some readers can help me cast her! 

Winter is around the corner and we love to go find our perfect spot and enjoy a good book. What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

A large part of A Constellation of Roses is set in the McCabe Bakery & Tea Shoppe, the family business. So I think the perfect drink for this book would definitely be a cup of hot tea, liberally laced with honey. It would be best enjoyed at home, wrapped up in an old knitted afghan, preferably in an obnoxious color, the sort of blanket which makes more than one appearance in the book, as well! 

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

I would definitely recommend my debut, The Deepest Roots, which is set in a neighboring town where the girls are all born under a mysterious curse that gives them strange abilities. Careful readers will note that Jasper Ruiz, Trix’s new love interest, is the nephew of Deputy Ruiz from The Deepest Roots! Emily X.R. Pan’s The Astonishing Color of After would also be a good fit!

What’s next for you?

I’m hard at work on the next book!

Miranda Asebedo was born and raised in rural Kansas with a love of fast cars, open skies, and books. She carried that love of books to college, where she got her B.A. and M.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature. A Seaton Fellowship recipient, her short fiction has appeared in Kansas Voices, Touchstone, and Midway Journal. 

Miranda still lives on the prairie today with her husband, two kids, and two majestic bulldogs named Princess Jellybean and Captain Jack Wobbles. If Miranda's not writing or reading, she's most likely convinced everyone to load up in the family muscle car and hit the road.

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Happy Monday, beautiful bookish people! I find that I always need coffee ☕ in my life to keep me going, but everyone in my office prefers tea 🍵. So let's sort this out guys, are you a coffee or a tea person? . I have been keeping this book in my shelves for a while now and I am so excited it is now available in stores: #AConstellationOfRoses by @mirandawritenow and I love this quote Miranda shared on Trix's profile: “I never felt so visible in my life, as if the universe was telling me, There you are, Trix McCabe. Abandoned. Thief. Drifter. We see you now.” Honestly, this book is amazing and it focuses on very hard topics beautifully and in a way it makes you feel part of the story and you end up loving each single character. . Thanks to Wunderkind PR, Miranda and HarperCollins, we have the opportunity to offer you a copy of Miranda Asebedo's new novel. See below to enter the giveaway and remember to check our tour (link in @theffbc bio). . ENTRIES FOR THE GIVEAWAY: ▪︎Follow @theffbc & @whatmakespatri ▪︎Follow the author @mirandawritenow ▪︎Follow the publishing house @epicreads ▪︎Comment (to let us know you are participating!): what powers would you like to have? Also, coffee or tea person? . . EXTRA ENTRIES FOR THE GIVEAWAY: ▪︎Tag a friend (each friend will be an extra entry). ▪︎Share on your stories about the giveaway (remember to tag me @whatmakespatri and @theffbc) ▪︎Follow @michellesulk & @artsyreadergirl ▪︎Follow any other FFBC team member participating in the tour (let us know on the comment section who did you follow). Check everyone's Instagram handles below: @sirenareader @kagunderman @book_rambler @novelknight @shelflifechronicles @L.M.durand @sometimesleelynnreads @booking_belle @confessionsofayareader @thecleverreader @onemused @fortheloveoffictionalworlds @its_a_she_revelation @hollymbryan @MorganVegaWrite @love2dazzle @anewlookonbooks @lifeofemilyxo @thereadingcornerforall @avdreaderblog @jessicabeckett @theheartofabookblogger @wishfulendings . GIVEAWAY IS OPEN INTERNATIONALLY. ENDS ON DECEMBER 2nd 2019. Winner will be announced on @theffbc. . Go to my site to enter our rafflecopter giveaway in order to win another copy of the book!
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