Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Blog Tour: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, Interview with Megan Shepherd

 Fans young and old of The Secret Garden will devour critically acclaimed author Megan Shepherd’s poignant new novel, THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL (Delacorte Press | On sale October 11, 2016 | Ages 10 and up). Brimming with magical realism, this is a superbly written tale of hope even in the darkest of times.

When Emmaline arrives at the tuberculosis hospital during World War II, she discovers a secret: there are winged horses living in the mirrors. One day, she enters the abandoned garden to find that a real winged horse from the mirrors has entered her world and needs her help. 

Emmaline begins to receive letters from the Horse Lord, asking her to protect the white winged horse named Foxfire from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by moonlight but is blinded by bright colors. As Emmaline searches for colorful objects, her friend Anna becomes increasingly ill, and Emmaline begins to remember for the first time what happened to her family. 

Through war and illness, darkness and danger, Megan Shepherd brings strength, light, and hope to this incredibly well-crafted emotional tale.

MEGAN SHEPHERD grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is the author of several acclaimed young adult books. Shepherd lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband. You can visit her at meganshepherd.com and follow her on Twitter at @megan_shepherd.


GC: First things first. Megan Shepherd, when you were young, did you have an affinity for all things equine? 

MS: I was a typical horse girl. I didn’t have a horse or take many riding lessons, but I was obsessed with them. Like my main character, Emmaline, I loved to draw them. They seemed strong, intelligent, and somehow honorable (can a horse be honorable? I think it can), which I think is why many girls are drawn to them. Little girls often feel like the most powerless, overlooked creatures in the world—except when they’re on the back of a horse. Then they’re invincible. 

GC: Unlike the main character of The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, who is growing up in a hospital, you grew up in a library. Has your childhood affected how you write for a younger audience?

MS: Memories of my childhood are filled with books. My parents ran an independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains for forty years, and as a girl I would hide behind shelves and get lost in magical literary worlds. My childhood was a very happy one, unlike that of many of the young characters in The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, who are dealing with illness and war. Maybe having had a secure young life gave me the confidence to turn around and take a hard look at childhood from a different angle.

GC: How did you find the experience of changing genres after writing two YA series—the Madman’s Daughter trilogy and the Cage trilogy?

MS: The thing about young adult books is, they’re long! And the thing about trilogies is, they’re VERY long! So after years spent working on each of my YA projects, I was itching to write a shorter, tighter, more concise story. Also, my young adult books tap into my own teenage years, which were filled with angst and big dreams and curiosity about the world, while my middle-grade books tap into my younger years, which were more innocent and sweeter and felt magical. I love exploring these different sides of my own history.

GC: Why do you believe it is important to tell children stories?

MS: Stories were how I learned about the world. Growing up in a small town, I was able to visit ancient Egypt and modern-day Nigeria and Boston on the eve of the Revolutionary War through books. They let me understand characters who weren’t like me. They let me see how rich—and also scary and beautiful—the world beyond my hometown could be. I believe that for children, books fall somewhere between daydreams and how-to guides for life. Their importance in growing into a capable, sympathetic, thoughtful adult cannot be overstated.

GC: What’s next for you as a writer?

MS: The final book in the Cage series, The Gauntlet, comes out in May 2017. After that, I plan to continue writing both YA and MG fiction, as well as continuing to teach classes and speak at writing festivals across the country. Meeting readers face to face is one of my favorite parts of the job.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Blog Tour: The Star-Touched Queen

A 2016 Most Anticipated Debut by Parade, Buzzfeed, 
Goodreads, Paste Magazine, We Need Diverse Books & more! 


A Novel 
By Rouhani Chokshi

“A setting drawn from ancient India, romance with feminist sensibilities, and a unique magic system…a stunning debut filled with lush writing, smart characters, and a mysterious plot that provides as many twists as it does swoons.” 
School Library Journal, STARRED Review

“Chokshi's rich, descriptive writing weaves a lush web...a swoony romance, betrayal, and a journey to power and self-affirmation, with a slightly wicked, slightly funny animal sidekick in the best tradition… work together to create a spell that many readers will willingly succumb to. Richly imagined, deeply mythic, filled with lovely language with violet overtones: this is an author to watch.” 
Kirkus Reviews 

“This gorgeous debut promises big things to come from Chokshi, who at barely 25 has decades ahead to dazzle us.” 
—Cosmopolitan.com on “8 Life-Changing Novels by Twentysomething Women” 

“Chokshi’s first novel is filled to the brim with gorgeous, scintillating writing that easily draws readers into its new take on traditional tales. A unique fantasy that is epic myth and beautiful fairy tale combined.” 

A heady blend of mythology and metaphor, THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is sure to appeal to fans of Laini Taylor and Leigh Bardugo. Maya is a great character, full of promise and patience, even as the odds are stacked against her.” 
Romantic Times Book Reviews 

THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN (St. Martin’s Griffin; April 26, 2016) is a lush and vivid standalone debut young adult fantasy that seamlessly weaves the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone with Indian folklore. Featuring a smart, independent anti-princess who must take her place as queen and a forbidden romance that defies the odds, debut 
author Roshani Chokshi pairs beautiful writing with a thrilling pace and compulsive plot, using her own Filipino and Indian heritage to create a culturally diverse and vividly imagined world. 

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire... 

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

From an incredibly fresh voice, Roshani Chokski’s THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is a beautifully written standalone novel that will enchant young adult and fantasy readers until the last page. 

About the Author


ROSHANI CHOKSHI comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she's learning a new kind of storytelling. More information on the author can be found at www.roshanichokshi.com. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

RED blog tour: Fancast by Liesl Shurtliff + GIVEAWAY!

Oh, reader, what big teeth you have! 


Can’t get enough of the new fairy-tale-retelling trend? Don’t miss Liesl Shurtliff’s new dark, humorous stand-alone middle grade novel RED: THE TRUE STORY OF RED RIDING HOOD (on sale April 12, 2016)!

Liesl Shurtliff spins a spellbinding tale, shining the spotlight on one of the most beloved characters from her award-winning debut, Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. This isn’t the Little Red Riding Hood from the canonical children’s tale. Shurtliff’s Red is strong, independent, brazen, and not afraid of anything . . . except magic. But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her weakness. Readers will gobble up this bewitching fantasy as they join Red on her journey of discovery through the sinister dangers of the enchanted dark forest. 

Liesl Shurtliff’s first book, Rump, won over kids and critics alike, earning an IRA Award, a Texas Bluebonnet nomination, a Whitney nomination, and a starred review from Kirkus, proclaiming it “as good as gold.”

In RED, Liesl Shurtliff is at her best. New York Times bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Chris Grabenstein raves that “Liesl Shurtliff has truly out-magicked herself. Red is the most wonder-filled fairy tale of them all.” RED will capture the hearts of readers who like it Grimm, as well as followers of ABC’s TV show Once Upon a Time.


Fancast by the author!


Chiara Aurelia 

She’s got the look, the smirk, and the attitude. She was the perfect snob in Pretty Little Liars and she’d make the perfect Little Red. 


Kyla Deaver

Curls and all! This girl would be adorable as Goldie.


Maggie Smith

She does everything spot on perfect and I can’t get enough of her. I laugh every time she opens her mouth in Downton Abbey.


Donald Sutherland 

Aside from having great hair, he’s a wonderfully versatile actor, something that would be very important for this role.

Peter Dinklage

I loved him in Elf and think he’d make a perfect Borlen. He’s a grumpy dwarf, but in a likable sort of way.  

*Spoiler Alert*


The beast in Red is female and I think Zoe Saldana would be perfect. 

I loved her in Guardians of the Galaxy. She has the perfect mix of badass with just a dash of vulnerability that makes her real and not overdone.