Thursday, June 30, 2016

Blog Tour/Giveaway!! Welcome to Sortilege Falls, by Libby Heily

Welcome to the blog tour for
Welcome to Sortilege Falls
sponsored by
YA Bound Book Tours!!

 For my stop, I'm featuring a guest post by the author!
There's also a tour-wide giveaway!!

Welcome to Sortilege Falls
(Grape Merriweather, Book 1)
Digital Edition, 253 pages
Fire and Ice Young Adult Books
First Edition, May 31, 2016
Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult Fiction

 Sixteen-year-old Grape Merriweather has just moved to Sortilege Falls and already she knows something isn't right. A small pack of teenage models, too beautiful for words, holds the town in their sway. The models have no plans on making Grape's life easy. But no matter how cruel they are to Grape and the other “Normals”, no one can stay angry with them for long.

Grape's life changes for the better, or so she thinks, when Mandy, the only “nice” model, befriends her. But that’s when the trouble truly begins. Mandy's friendship places Grape smack in the middle of a medical mystery that has the entire town on edge. One by one, the models fall ill from an incurable disease. Grape quickly realizes that the models' parents are hiding a secret, even as they watch their children die. To save her only friend, Grape will have to find the truth–and that means putting her life in danger.

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Guest Post: Libby Heily
"Coping with Killing your Characters"

Over the course of a novel, you grow to love and respect your characters. They're not really your children, but they are your creations. Your brain developed their lives. You know them and all their dirty secrets. You sympathize with them and you find yourself cheering for them even if they turn out to be the worst people you've ever met. Love is funny that way.

Once you've bonded with the characters that you've pulled from your own twisted imagination, how are you supposed to be okay with killing them? In both Tough Girl and Welcome to Sortilege Falls, I killed off several of my favorite characters. I didn't feel good about it, but they had to die for the story to work. I guess you could say I loved my story more than I loved those characters.

Ouch. That's a tough realization. But it's also true. If I had to slaughter an imaginary family and their cute little puppy to get the story told the right way, then I would do it. I am truly heartless. The best I can do is try to give them a good death, and for that death to not be gratuitous or in vain. I can't give all my characters a good life, but I can usually give them a meaningful death.

I'm sure I've just brightened your day with my grim realization. You're welcome! 

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I was born during a blizzard. I’m told it was pretty cool, but I have no memory of that time. I grew up in two tiny towns in Virginia and spent most of my twenties moving around the US. I’ve lived in Virginia, Florida, Missouri, and Washington. I’ve settled down, for now, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I’m a writer and improviser. I studied acting in college but spent more time rewriting lines than memorizing them. My first play, "Fourth Wall", was produced my junior year. Since then, I’ve written several full-length plays, one-acts, and screenplays. I started writing fiction in my late twenties. Now, I focus mainly on novels but still dabble in theater.

Fun facts about me: There are none. I’m sorry to disappoint you so soon. But, I do love to read, write, and run. My hubby is my favorite person on earth. Dogs are my second favorite. All dogs. Know that. I love orange juice, especially when it’s mixed with club soda. Carbonation is better than alcohol. "Jaws" is my favorite movie. Everything I’ve said so far is true.

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Book Review: City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare (Fifth Reveiw for The 2016 TBR Pile Reading Challenge)

Here's my fifth review for this AWESOME challenge,
hosted by Evie @ Bookish Lifestyle!

For the rules and a list of 
participating blogs,
Just click on the link above!
There are GREAT prizes involved,
so be sure to check out
the rules and consider joining in!!

City of Bones
(The Mortal Instruments, Book 1)
Cassandra Clare
Hardcover, 485 pages
Margaret K. McElderry Books
March 27, 2007
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Book Synopsis
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare's ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

This series is one of those I've had sitting on my shelves for the longest time.... I kept telling myself I would start it, but somehow, other books came up first. I have the complete set of books, too, and they're all hardbacks, with those GORGEOUS covers that first came out. 

Well, thanks to this reading challenge, I finally decided to plunge into the world of the Shadowhunters.

The first thing that struck me was the world-building, which was totally awesome! This author has done a great job of creating a fictional world that really rings true, that seems so vivid and real, one begins to wonder if there are invisible battles constantly going on between these warriors and the horrible demons, while one is walking down the street. At least, that's what happened to me.

The amount of detail involved in this fictional world is just fascinating, and everything hangs together perfectly. The whole rationale for the existence of the Shadowhunters is very believable, in spite of its totally supernatural origin. Adding to the fascination is the invention of the Downworlders, as well as the use of magical runes, which I found especially intriguing, as well as exciting.

The last third of the book was a relentless, nonstop ride, with lots of action and edge-of-your seat suspense. I found myself turning pages as fast as I could, while berating myself for not being able to read faster.

In spite of having such positive feelings about the book, I was surprised that I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. There was an intangible something that I found less than satisfactory, and I couldn't figure out what it was, at first. Then it hit me: it was the characters. For some reason, I just couldn't relate fully to all of them.  This was especially true of the main characters, Clary and Jace. 

Clary was not as kick-butt as I would have liked her to be, for instance, and came across as weak at times, while Jace didn't really come across as all that wonderful a hero, nor did he seem all that attractive. I don't know....something just didn't click with these two.

As for Isabelle and Alec, I didn't like them at all. Isabelle struck me as rather standoffish and arrogant, while Alec's initial dislike for Clary (for which there's a very good reason, but still) really annoyed me. Besides, they somehow didn't seem all that committed to their cause.

As for Hodge, I really liked him quite a bit at first, as he reminded me somewhat of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. He turned out to be a huge disappointment, though. 

Clary's mom is gone from the story most of the time, but I did like that she loved Clary enough to attempt to protect her from a world she considered much too dangerous for her daughter. I wish she had been more active in the book.

The villain was very well depicted. He was appropriately evil and ruthless, and the huge surprise with him toward the end was very well handled.

Luke was another character I really liked. I thought at first that he might be related to Clary in some way, but it turned out that wasn't the case at all. He cared a lot about her, though, and was a very strong father figure to her. 

My favorite character of all was Simon. I loved, loved, loved him! He'd been Clary's best friend her whole life, and had a secret crush on her. Clary was, unfortunately, totally oblivious to this, until she finally found out in the most unexpected way. 

Simon is, I think, the most rounded-out character in the novel. He's very smart, incredibly resourceful, and is always there for Clary. In spite of the scorn sometimes heaped on him by the Shadowhunters, who only refer to him as "the mundane" (this is a normal person who is not a Shadowhunter or other paranormal creature), he actually does quite a bit to help out the others in their ongoing battle against the demons, and I thought he didn't get a fair shake from the Shadowhunters.

This novel has some very interesting twists and turns, which are all very imaginative. It also has some humorous scenes, as when the vampires couldn't start their motorcycles because Alec and Simon had put holy water in the tanks. Since the bikes run on demon energies, the holy water rendered them useless. The vamps were really ticked off!

The very surprising revelations toward the end almost spoiled everything for me, and I wanted to scream at the author. However, I calmed myself down, and rushed over to Wikipedia to get more information on the later development of the series. This is like reading ahead, I know, but I just couldn't stand not knowing the truth about these very uncomfortable revelations! I'm glad I did this, because I discovered it was not really the end of the world. It turned out that Clare was just setting things up for the next novel in the series. Still, I had a really 'freaking out' moment there!

The romance aspect of the novel was also a bit disappointing, although, again, I realized that it would probably develop further as I got further into the series.

Although I can't give this novel five stars, I felt it deserved at least four. The writing and pacing are absolutely top-notch, and the author's imagination, again, is amazing. If only I could have liked the main characters more.... I'm hoping that things will improve in the rest of the books, which I do intend to read.

All in all, Clare has written an exciting beginning to this series. In all fairness, I read this book in fits and starts, as I had several other things going on at the time. Perhaps I should re-read it, in order to experience it with more focus. If my feelings toward it change, then I will come back and rewrite this review.

The concept of demon hunters is not a new one, but this author's take on it is definitely fresh and original. I do recommend this book for all paranormal and urban fantasy fans, and am really looking forward to more adventures in the world of the Shadowhunters!    


Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for The Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the best-selling author of The Mortal Instruments series, as well as The Infernal Devices and Magisterium series. Her latest novel, Lady Midnight, was published on March 8, 2016. She lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.