Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers Blog Tour - Excerpt & Giveaway

I absolutely LOVED Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, so I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for the second book in the series, Dark Triumph. In addition to an exciting excerpt, I have two great contests - one is just for my tour stop, while the other is shared across all the tour stops.

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

About Robin:
Robin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It
is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.
Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.

While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.

In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. You can learn more about those books at

Excerpt from Dark Triumph:

The gardens are deserted, since no one else is fool enough to venture out to this raw, barren spot. I take a slow breath and revel in the solitude. I am forever attended by someone — my ladies in waiting, my brothers, the various hangers-on of my father’s court — and I crave solitude. That and freedom. I glance overhead and try to recapture that soaring feeling I had when my falcon launched from my wrist, but I cannot.

 Instead, an irritable caw brings me back to earth as Monsieur Crow lands on a branch before me, then cocks his head, as if wondering why I have taken so long.
 “You’re a fine one to talk,” I scold him, but he knows I do not mean it and hops close. As I move toward the branch, I see that the note is wrapped tightly around his ankle and covered with black wax so that someone would have to be very close in order to see he bore a message.
 I slip my knife from its sheath, and the bird gives a caw of objection. “I have no other way to get it off, you silly creature.” A quick snip and a slice, then wax crumbles and I am able to unwind the note from his leg. As I shove it into the knife sheath at my wrist, the crow looks to me for a reward. “I have nothing for you today — I am sorry. Now go. Quickly! Before you get us both killed.” I flap my hands at him and he hops but one bush away. “Hsst!” I say, and with a caw of reproach, he launches into the sky and disappears over the castle wall.
 “Talking to the crows, my lady?”
Bertrand de Lur’s deep voice nearly causes me to jump. Instead, I use the startled movement to swing gracefully around and face him.
 “That will earn you a reputation of witchcraft,” he says.
 I tilt my head and smile mockingly at him. “Do they not say that already?”
He inclines his head, conceding the point. “Even so, it is not safe for you to be out here alone, my lady.” While his voice is rich and cultivated, there is something about the way he says my lady that makes the words feel like a slur. Or perhaps it just seems that way because his lust is so thick it reaches out and enfolds me like a mantle. How long has he felt this way?
 “Where are your attendants?” he asks, his voice hard.
 Even though I do not care for Jamette, I cannot surrender her to the threat I see lurking in his eyes. “I ordered them from my side. I have a headache and wanted fresh air.”
 He glances around at the secluded section of garden, his eyes missing nothing. “I would think my lady’s beauty would attract a nightingale or a linnet, not a bedraggled crow.” He steps closer then, and for the first time I grow wary. Does he think me such damaged goods that he can take liberties without fear of reprisal from my father?
 “It is not safe to be alone out here, not with all the men-at-arms we have posted. Any one of them might come upon you and be moved to take advantage of your unattended solitude.” He takes another step toward me.
 Because I want to back away from him, I force myself to move forward until there is but a  handbreadth between us. I gaze steadily into eyes. “Do you really think any of the men would be so foolish as to risk my father’s wrath in such a way? Surely they would not wish to see their guts strung up from the castle walls?”
 There is a long moment of silence, then finally he nods. “Your point is well taken. Come, I am to escort you to your lord father.”

Contest #1 - A paperback of Grave Mercy and a hardcover of Dark Triumph. This contest is exclusive to my tour stop. US/Canada only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest #2 - a prize back from the author. US only.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Flame in the Mist Blog Tour: Interview with Kit Grindstaff

I am very excited to be hosting a tour stop for The Flame in the Mist blog tour with Mod Podge Bookshelf blog tours, since I love high fantasy! For my tour stop, I have an interview with the author, Kit Grindstaff. Be sure to read on after the interview, because there are two awesome contests!

Set in an imagined past, this dark fantasy-adventure is for fans of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Features  Jemma, a fiery-headed heroine held captive in Agromond Castle, yet destined to save mist-shrouded Anglavia.
Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not who she thinks she is, and when the secrets and lies behind her life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy—all these reveal the truth about Jemma's past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace in Anglavia.

Why did you decide to write high fantasy? 
I never actually made a conscious decision to write fantasy, or anything remotely epic. I was scrawling down a few quick synopses to shake out some ideas, and the third one reached out from the page and pulled me into it, a story that was demanding to be told. The essence of it was, “Girl trapped in castle…abducted…dreams of escape”--the bare bones of THE FLAME IN THE MIST. As I began to flesh it out with the Mist, the creepy Agromond family…well, it became clear that it was clearly not quite of our world! 

Having a central symbolic element around which there’s a high-stakes destiny for the main character is another thing that to me, marks high fantasy. In THE LORD OF THE RINGS it’s the Ring; in HARRY POTTER it’s horcruxes; in HIS DARK MATERIALS it’s Dust. In THE FLAME IN THE MIST it’s the Mist, a symbol of suppression (not just Jemma's, but the whole country's), and Light, representing Jemma's true self, her Power. However I didn’t sit down and think “How can I add this kind of symbolism?” so again, these elements weren't a conscious decision; they just evolved naturally once the larger background of how and why Jemma got to Agromond castle began to emerge. 

What are some of your own favorite high fantasy books/authors?

The first two that spring to mind are HARRY POTTER, and Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy. I love that both are rooted in familiarity, with parallel worlds that exists alongside, or within, the real one. The Muggle world is literally our own, and Book 1 of Pullman’s trilogy—THE GOLDEN COMPASS (NORTHERN LIGHTS in the UK)—opens in a steampunkish version of Oxford which is still recognizably Oxford.  

C. S. Lewis also comes to mind, not just for the children’s books most of us at least know of, but also for his adult sci-fi SPACE TRILOGY. I read them at college, and the last in particular stayed with me, with its brooding sense of big, dark doom.
Fast forward to current series-in-progress, and I have to add Leigh Bardugo’s fabulous GRISHA TRILOGY. I loved SHADOW AND BONE (and Alina and Jemma have Light in common!) and can’t wait for SIEGE AND STORM. 

What is the most challenging part of writing high fantasy?
Any fantasy world has to have its rules, which have to be consistent: If a character suddenly steps out of line with them, the reader will be jarred out of the story. So one tricky part is establishing that world's logic and making it feel as natural as if it were part of our known reality. 

Another mark of high fantasy being an epic quality, which demands high stakes, the tension has to be kept up throughout. Even in passages of relative calm, you can’t afford to let the main issue disappear from the page for too long. It has to constantly be there, lurking around a corner or under a rug, ready to pounce on your hero or heroine. That can also be tremendously challenging. 

If you could have any fantasy power, what would you choose?

Being able to fly! I dream about that quite a lot, and it feels fabulous.
Can you tell us anything about what you are writing next - is The Flame in the Mist the start of a series?

Well, there might be a sequel, which might be about three quarters written, and might have to involve a spoiler alert if I say much about it! I’ve also had two other ideas brewing for a while. One, already started, is a dystopian fantasy told from three points of view. It has similar paranormal elements to THE FLAME IN THE MIST, though in a very different setting. The other, told from two points of view, flips between a dystopian current world and Tudor England. At the moment that one is pulling at me more. 

When you aren't writing, how do you enjoy spending your time?
I love reading. Walking. Cycling. Hanging out with friends. Cozying up with my husband to watch a movie. Any of those things might win, depending on my mood and how energetic I feel—or not. Widening the lens, spending time with my gorgeous niece and nephew in England, when I can get over there, is high on the list. So is traveling and exploring new places, which I’d love to do more. It's a great way to stir up new ideas!
You can find out more about KIt Grindstaff and The Flame in the Mist at her website.

There are two contests you can enter. The first is a Rafflecopter giveaway, just fill out the form to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
There is also going to be a Twitter chat on April 19th, where you can win some awesome swag:

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