Mortal Danger Blog Tour: Interview with Ann Aguirre and giveaway

Hi everyone! The Bevy has the pleasure today of welcoming the author of Mortal Danger, Ann Aguirre to our blog. Ann’s visiting us as part of the blog tour for Mortal Danger and has been kind enough to answer a few questions!

About Mortal Danger:

mortal danger

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly… bad things are happening. It’s a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what–she can trust. Not even her own mind…

Mortal Danger will be released Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

Jen: There are so many different themes present in Mortal Danger, perhaps chief among them revenge. What are some of your favorite revenge plot-lines, either from classic film, television, and literature, or modern day mediums?

Ann: Payback, Dead Man Down, Taken, Harry Brown, Man on Fire, Count of Monte Cristo, Oldboy, The Crow, Gladiator… these movies all have in common the revenge trope. I enjoyed all of the above for various reasons. Generally, someone has been murdered or kidnapped, so that’s how the revenge quest begins, though in Count he was betrayed by his best friend. It’s such a darkly tempting thought, isn’t it? Imagining wrongdoers getting their comeuppance. But a quote from Nietzsche seems apt here, something about staring into an abyss. If you do terrible things for the right reasons, how long before that darkness infects you completely, until you can’t even remember why you’re committing such horrific acts? I’d be afraid I would lose myself if I started down that road.

Jen: Similarly, there’s the Faustian Bargain that the main character Edie makes. The Faustian Bargain has been popularized through many different television shows, books, and films (such as the 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate, for example). Would you say that any of these inspired you in writing Mortal Danger? In what ways?

Ann: Obviously the idea of selling your soul to the devil for power or beauty or success is a tale as old as time. It wasn’t new, even when Marlowe wrote about it in Faustus. I saw that play performed once in college and it made great impact on me. Since then I’ve imagined reinventing the idea, modernizing it, and for me, corporations are sort of the megalithic, faceless villains that I can imagine doing dreadful things behind closed doors. So I guess you’d say I took my inspiration from Marlowe himself.

Jen: Do you think that Edie sees an element of karma to her revenge? Or, for that matter, to revenge in general?

Ann: She’s worried about becoming as bad as or worse than the people who tormented her. It takes a particular sort of person to truly revel in another’s pain. Even if they’re bullied you, most people can’t completely shut off their empathy and just laugh maniacally at pain. That sounds a bit sociopathic, to be honest. So when she was at her most wounded, that sounded appealing, but the reality of it turned out to be much more awful than she expected. Sometimes you think you want something, but once you get it… well, we say be careful what you wish for, don’t we? As for karma, it’s not much on Edie’s mind. She’s very scientific and she’d want to break down any karmic system, make it track rationally. How many bad thoughts equal a bad luck day, that sort of thing. If it can’t be readily quantified, it’s hard for her to deal with, which makes the messy, inexplicable Game so much worse for her.

Jen: Although Edie was obviously wronged by her classmates, how did you balance her good traits with her bad traits (i.e. the morality of revenge) in order to keep from alienating readers?

Ann: I think people want to root for the underdog so I would’ve had to write her as cold and remorseless to lose a lot of readers from the start. No protagonist is a perfect fit for everyone, though; some will find her boring and cautious. Others will judge her silly or shallow. Some people will misunderstand her goals because they can’t know the big picture. I don’t ever write a character while weighing what a reader will think of him or her. That’s a perfect way to paralyze yourself and make it impossible to work. I’m writing about Edie Kramer as a whole person: awkward, shy, scientific, nerdy, quiet, angry, wounded. She’s all of those things and more, just as we all are. Some days I’m cranky and I just want to be left alone. That doesn’t mean I’m generally a terrible person. I’m not sure how readers would feel about me if I was written directly into a book… but I suspect they’d find most aspects of my life implausible. So basically, I tell the story and let the chips fall as they may.

Jen: In addition to writing Young Adult fiction in a variety of genres, you also write Adult fiction in a variety of genres. Do you ever find it a challenge switching gears– from one audience and genre to a totally different one?

Ann: I enjoy both, very much. I have genre ADD, which means I need to switch it up frequently so I’m always tackling something new. YA was a new mountain to climb, but now that I’ve done it, I am eager to keep writing it.

For me, it’s not different. I don’t change my style or pull punches. I use all the same storytelling, worldbuilding, and characterization techniques from writing fiction for adults. The primary difference is the age of the protagonists, which informs their levels of personal experience and emotional development. Other than that, I write the same kind of book; my work tends to be gritty, dark, and action-packed.

The most difficult thing about it is that sometimes I really want to be writing one genre when I have a contract that says I have to finish this book before I can move on to the shiny new idea.

Jen: What do you hope readers will take away from Mortal Danger?

Ann: High school can be devastatingly difficult, but you can make it through and come out stronger at the end. I also hope they’ll be eager to read the sequel.

Thanks for stopping by, Ann!

Enter to win a hardcover of Mortal Danger via Rafflecopter below!

US/Canada only.

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Book Review: A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare Book Review: A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Release Date: 03/27/12
Publisher: Avon
Source: Purchased
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Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be…anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week to

• fake an elopement
• convince family and friends they’re in “love”
• outrun armed robbers
• survive their worst nightmares
• travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe…just maybe…love.

Review:
SWOON…AND SWOON AGAIN.

I actually read this for the first time some time last year, but a few days ago I found myself annoyed that I hadn’t read anything in… a while. I ended up browsing through my Kindle, came upon this, and remembered how much I loved it. I decided I would read through parts of it, but then I couldn’t stop…and I read the whole thing again. Guys, this book is the definition of DELIGHTFUL.

Colin and Minerva’s relationship easily had a spark from the very beginning, but being that they’re polar opposites, there were more than a few times they disagreed. Thankfully for me, this meant a lot of bickering and bantering, as well as a palpable growing attraction between them. Their adventures on the road had me laughing as Colin created hilarious backstories for them, some of which definitely backfired on them. I loved as they slowly grew comfortable with each other, building a strong foundation of trust.

Romances always come with some steamy scenes, and I must admit that sometimes I quickly skim through them, because I prefer witty banter over them. However, here…WHOA, TESSA DARE. Way to make me blush!!

Fun banter and great steamy scenes aside, what I loved most about A Week to Be Wicked was how Tessa Dare created such a solid, healthy relationship. I’ve encountered so.much.angst in my historical romance reads, so it was so refreshing to have this be relatively free of complications and drama. Colin and Minerva fit together perfectly and Tessa Dare set the bar very high for all other romances with with this book.

hilarious, sweet, and steamy. insert exclamation points here because GUH, SO GOOD.

Book Review: At Any Turn by Brenna Aubrey

At Any Turn by Brenna Aubrey Book Review: At Any Price (Gaming the System #2) by Brenna Aubrey
Release Date: 4/28/14
Publisher: Silver Griffon Associates
Source: ARC for review
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So You Want to Be a Hero?

Millionaire CEO Adam Drake, overcame a tortured past to build his own gaming empire. He’s in complete control of his life. With his new found love for brilliant geek girl blogger, Mia Strong, the last piece of his life is in place. He’s at the top of his game.

Your Princess Is in Another Castle.

Until suddenly, she withdraws from him, leaving him in the dark. Something tells him she needs help. But she’s too stubborn or scared to ask for it, and the more he tries to take control, the further he pushes her away. He can’t solve this problem by writing a check or a few lines of code.

He’ll have to dig deep and put himself at risk…or risk losing her forever.

Review:
After reading and enjoying At Any Price so much, it was a no brainer that At Any Turn would be top priority on our TBR lists. Although At Any Price would have made a great standalone, Mia and Adam’s story seemed to contain so much more substance from many of our previous NA reads, so who were we to refuse more?! But perhaps sometimes, less is more… While we both continued to enjoy Brenna Aubrey’s writing, At Any Turn definitely took …well, a turn. Here’s a break down:

 

ADAM

Lindsey: Adam was super intriguing to me in At Any Price, and I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how I felt about having this sequel in his POV. Sometimes you don’t want to get in the love interest’s head, you know? It kind of takes away a bit of the appeal and the ~mystery or whatever. That was the case in At Any Turn, but on a way more intense level than I thought it would be. Like don’t get me wrong, Brenna Aubrey did an amazing job at making Adam’s voice completely different from Mia’s, and I seriously felt like I was in a guy’s mind, and I’ll admit it was interesting/eye-opening to be in there. But perhaps I was a bit too overwhelmed by how intense Adam was. At times I actually felt like he was acting like a psycho and even though I could see (or read, rather) his thought process and why/how he would come to a conclusion and/or decision to do something, I wasn’t too much a fan of having to read said thought process. It wasn’t even his sometimes selfishness (which I do think was rooted in how much he cared for Mia), but moreso the fact that it was all just TOO MUCH TO HANDLE.

Steph: I’m always super hesitant about POV changes, but I was glad that this would at least be an actual sequel and not one of those “same story, different take” situations. For some reason, I kept expecting Mia’s POV to pop up every once in a while, but that’s not to say that I thought Adam’s voice was similar to Mia’s — it wasn’t. However, I do think being in Adam’s mindset took away from the charm and allure that I liked of him in At Any Price. So much so, that I thought Adam was pretty…crazy? He was more than a little overbearing, his feelings about Mia came across as obsessive, and I have to say that I was very uncomfortable by the control he wanted to expel over Mia and their relationship. NO BUENO.

MIA

Lindsey: I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t in Mia’s head for this book, but I felt a little disconnect from her and the character I got to know in At Any Price. Of course she is dealing with some serious stuff which would definitely play a factor in how she acted, but I just wanted to shake her. I could definitely relate with the frustration and lack of control Adam felt over her situation and I seriously just want to know what was going on in her head during all of the events in this book! In a way, it made sense because in the first book you don’t really know what Adam’s thinking, and now that this book is in Adam’s POV, you don’t know what Mia’s thinking… But since we’ve already had an entire book (and a great one, too) in Mia’s POV, I felt like I just couldn’t recognize her at times.I suppose finding out that you _______ and then that you _____ (if you’ve read this book, I’m sure you can fill in those blanks), is more than enough to cause you to ~not be yourself~ so maybe that explains that. 

Steph: I know Mia was hit with some heavy stuff, which definitely explains her decline in confidence, but it was so frustrating to have her crying and being melodramatic in all of her scenes. Yes, Adam took some drastic measures in their relationship, and I don’t blame her at all for taking a few steps back from him, but Mia was definitely withholding some important details, too. Furthermore, she kept going back to him with the intention of ~clearing the air~, and maybe discussing their issues, but it all continued to result in the same vicious, cycle of annoying.

ADAM & MIA

Lindsey: At Any Price was frustrating because of the constant interruptions to Mia and Adam fulfilling the ~auction, but that was in a good way because it built up to every next moment that they were together. With that said, in At Any Turn, it was suuuuper frustrating that they were constantly not in sync with each other. Although Adam and Mia obviously had their burdens (and secrets), it was a little discouraging  how unhappy they were and a lot of why I enjoyed the first book was because they clicked really well. I mean, props to Brenna Aubrey for creating mad angry tension between the two and totally conveying how messed up it was between them, but still… I did miss the Adam and Mia from At Any Price. Even the scenes when they were together–as in together-together, I didn’t find as compelling to read because of all the drama.

Steph: DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA. I enjoyed their relationship in At Any Price, but I have to say that it gave me a huge headache here. Brenna Aubrey can write some good steamy scenes, but those didn’t make up for the fact that there was a major lack of communication between Adam and Mia; it’s clear to me that they’re not in the right place for each other. There were some surprising turn of events towards the end of the book, but it only worries me because these two don’t have a healthy relationship right now, and the addition of these situations only implies more disaster ahead.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Lindsey: Despite the somewhat disconnect I felt from Mia, how crazy Adam got, and how mentally heavy I found At Any Turn , it was still a compelling read, which I think Brenna Aubrey definitely deserves major credit for. I may be ragey and all “OMG WHY WHAT NO” over those not-so-little plot twists at the end, but there’s no way I’m not reading At Any Moment. I still have hope for Adam and Mia, and hopefully they’re able to overcome it all.

Steph: At Any Turn was a bit of a departure from At Any Price in terms of tone, but I found myself so engrossed in the continuation of Adam and Mia’s story. Was I annoyed and frustrated by the actions of the characters? Definitely. Will I continue one with the series? Without a doubt. While the direction of this installment was different from what I expected, Brenna Aubrey had me hooked on every word and I’m eager to see how she surprises me in the conclusion, At Any Moment.

Mia and Adam: GET YOUR SH*T TOGETHER. Because you’re awesome when you’re not fighting.

Book Review: Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

park-focBook Review: Flat-Out Celeste (Flat-Out Love #2)
Release Date: 22/05/14
Publisher: CreateSpace
Source: Purchased on Kindle
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For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.

But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.

Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him.

Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.

Review:

I’m going to admit that I was a tad bit skeptical when I found out that Jessica Park was writing a spin-off/sequel/companion to Flat-Out Love in Celeste’s POV. I absolutely ADORED Flat-Out Love and while I thought Celeste was an interesting, likeable, and funny character, I wasn’t too sure I wanted to read an entire about her. There’s also the fact that she was super young in Flat-Out Love and reading about her as a high school senior with a love interest and all that? Weeeird.

But then right before its release, I decided to read an excerpt Jessica posted just for curiosity’s sake. It featured my favourite Matt, it was hilarious, and I was now intrigued. Later, with a cancelled flight and a four hour wait at the airport, I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, I found myself really enjoying it, and sped through half of the book in one sitting. While it’s true that Flat-Out Celeste may be your typical coming-of-age story where a girl learns to live in and be comfortable in her own skin, I truly think the characters make all the difference here. These were characters I already loved, so it was a definite plus. Their little quirks, what makes them tick, what and who they love… With that said, I shall break down my thoughts on the book by characters. SPOILERS~~~

CELESTE: Celeste was… hilarious. She’s a lot of things, but that’s the word I will choose. As I mentioned, I liked her well enough in Flat-Out Love, but she was just that little kid sister …who was a just a little too attached to her dead brother. Although it was still weird at times to wrap my mind around the fact that she (and everyone else) was older in this novel, she truly became her own person and I really enjoyed reading in her POV, and her story. It was fun to get to see her thought process instead of just reading about what she says or does. It was also a little sad because she fully knew how “abnormal” her behavior was, but we also get to see her come out of her shell, but also to accept herself.

MATT: Mattyyyyyy. He was probably my favourite part of Flat-Out Love. I knew he obviously would make appearances in this novel, but I was so so so delighted to find that he had more than random cameos and that he was actually a really huge element of Celeste’s story. I don’t know if it was possible to adore him more, but I do after this. How much he cared for Celeste just breaks me, and in turn, it was also sweet to see how much Celeste cared for Matt, and how much she appreciated him. It was really precious seeing him through Celeste’s eyes in the older brother role, rather than the love interest as it’d been with Julie. Ahh, he cares for her so damn much and he’s the best. Their brother-sister interactions also had me cracking up. (PS. I would like Flat-Out Matt, part 2 now, please and thank you).

JULIE (BUT REALLY MORE LIKE JULIE/MATT): I was beyond heartbroken to find out that Matt and Julie had broken up. Like SHOCKED TO THE CORE. What? How? WHY? I really liked that Celeste attempted to play matchmaker for them and even though she basically forced them to confront each other and didn’t really think about how much it would bother them… you can’t be mad at her for doing it. The whole proposal thing was a little bit of a shocker as well, and admittedly marriage proposals are something I’m actually not fond of in novels, but I DID NOT EVEN CARE THIS TIME. Tied in with the skydiving facebook chat from Flat-Out Love, the whole thing was dang cheesy, but also lovely. If this was another novel/series, I don’t know how I would feel about using such a massive part of someone else’s story (Julie’s) to be a major scene in a new story (Celeste’s) just because it kind forces the focus away from the ACTUAL story, but 1) Because it’s Matt and Julie, I seem to have made an exception, and 2) Matt is a huge part of Celeste’s life, as was being one of the obstacles to Matt moving to California with Julie, so it wasn’t thaaat far off. Anyway, Matt/Julie: YES. Also to note is how Julie sort of became a surrogate sister to Celeste in Flat-Out Love, so I was glad that they still had that relationship years later, even if Julie wasn’t living in the Watkins house anymore.

JUSTIN: So I have to admit I wasn’t always Justin’s biggest fan. That’s not to say that I didn’t like him because I did! It’s just that personally, he had way too much energy for me and sometimes he was just EXHAUSTING to read because I felt like I was running a mental marathon, much like the ones I imagine he was running in his own mind. As someone who comes into Celeste’s life and changes it for the better, however, I thought he was perfect. His emails were definitely endearing, his little plans for their dates were cute, and he and Celeste were super adorable together. Although he was everywhere and anywhere, he truly did care for Celeste and he always came across as most genuine and really sweet–just in the form of a giant ball of pure energy. It was a good balance.

AND IN THE END… When it comes down to it, I’m super glad that Jessica Park decided to continue on with these characters because yeah, Celeste’s story wasn’t really ~over. In many cases, I seldom enjoy when an already perfect story is re-opened and it turns out the original HEA didn’t last. Like WHEN IS THAT EVER A GOOD IDEA? Thankfully, it worked out here, and it was sewn into another enjoyable, cute, amusing story. I may have enjoyed Flat-Out Love a billion times more, but Flat-Out Celeste was definitely a memorable and sweet contender.

A delightful surprise over how much flat-out love I felt for Flat-Out Celeste.

Ten Classics KT Needs to Read. ASAP.

ttt

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, in which we create top ten lists that involve books.

This week’s TTT is a little embarrassing for moi. I hated reading when I was a kid, and when I was forced to, it was in the hands of the public “god-forbid-we-study-novels-about-or-written-by-women-lest-the-boys-be-turned-off-of-reading” school system, so I have a lot of catching up to do in the classics department.

tttjuly1

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – I’ve heard that this is the female version of The Catcher in the Rye and I liked that one in high school.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – This is one that I’m so so embarrassed at not having read yet. I lived off of the movie as a kid (I don’t have a sister so anything with sisters was, still is, my gold) but again, hated reading so that was out.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy – I’ve wanted to read this ever since I watched the 2008 BBC movie starring Gemma Arterton.

tttjuly101

Dracula by Bram Stoker – The orig vampire? Yes, please.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – No excuse for this one. I want to read it at Halloween sometime!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – Anything by Jane Austen, really. I KNOW I AM HORRIBLE, I HAVE NOT READ A JANE AUSTEN NOVEL. I’ve started them alll and Mansfield Park was my fave so I want to continue it.

tttjuly102

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – I don’t even know what made me obsessed with reading Mrs. Dalloway. I have a friend who has read every classic known to man and I must have found this book on her shelf once and it sounded like a very ‘me’ book.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – That same friend is OBSESSED with Jane Eyre. I’ve read Wuthering Heights (don’t know why i chose that first over JANE) and enjoyed it and I started JANE in the winter. This is my next classic to tackle.

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger – Another started-yet-not-finished classic. I picked it up in high school after reading Catcher in the Rye and had to bring it back to the library before I’d finished and I never picked it back up. ONE DAY.

tttjuly103

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut – I need more Kurt Vonnegut in me life.

Are there any classics that YOU’RE embarrassed to admit not having read yet?