Thursday, August 29, 2013

Authors are Rockstars Tour Stop: Rae Carson (Interview + Giveaway!)

Howdy, my bookish friends! It's that time of the year again: the Authors ARE Rockstars Blog Tour! I participated in this tour last year (also on the 29th of August, eh!), and it's my utmost honor to be a part of it once more! The Authors ARE Rockstars tour, in case you're unfamiliar, is an annual tour hosted by the fabulous Jaime of Two Chicks on Books, Rachel of Fiktshun, and Mindy of Magical Urban Fantasy Reads that showcases the awesomeness of over 100 authors every August. Thank you for all that you do, Jaime, Rachel, and Mindy!

Today, I am SO SO excited to present to y'all the amazingness that is Rae Carson.

Why is Rae Carson a Rockstar?

Rae is one of the most inspirational people I've ever "met". She has such a strong personality: both incredibly determined and incredibly reassured. She writes amazing books for sure, but I'll get to that in a second. I just want to say: Wow. If you ever read the stories about what Rae has gone through, and how she battled her way through misogyny and people who should reconsider their moral path--it's truly inspiring. Besides, Rae connects with her fans a lot and it's really awesome to see that she responds to your tweet, even when it's super embarrassing. And then of course, her books are among some of my all-time favorites. Just: dang. I bow down to this woman. SKILLZ.

And on a personal note... I do believe that The Girl of Fire and Thorns was one of the first--if not the first--ARC I ever received, so I owe a lot to Rae just for how much she helped me kickstart my blog. Love you, Rae! *she says with the most serious and solemn face possible, with a handful of tissues on the side*

Before I get to the interview, you should know what this series is about.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
By: Rae Carson
Release Date: Already released
Publisher: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

-Summary from Goodreads
Purchase: Mrs. Nelson's (Help support my local indie store!)* || Barnes & Noble || Amazon || Book Depository

Here is my review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns ///// Here is my review of the sequel, The Crown of Embers (Find it on Goodreads here)  ///// Lastly, find the last book, which just came out on August 27th, here on Goodreads!

Alright, without further ado... let's get to the INTERVIEW!

Hi Rae! Welcome to The Reviews News. *waves* Thanks!! *waves back*

1) Your books draw heavily from Spanish roots, which I think is incredibly cool. How much research did you have to do, if any at all, to make sure the period/cultural information was at least reflective of the Spanish culture?

I was pretty immersed in it at the time. I lived in California's Central Valley, in a place were non-Hispanic whites are a minority. My Latina friends were teaching me Spanish, and I was watching Spanish telenovelas religiously. So all the Spanish influences came pouring out in a very organic and natural way.

2) In Elisa's world, religion is as embroidered into their lives as breathing. Did you ever think that the religious aspect could be a turn-off to some readers?

The religion absolutely turns off some readers! But I feel strongly that teen experiences should be explored in literature—in all their incredible diversity—even if they make readers uncomfortable. In a country where more than 80% of people still claim to believe in a god, it's odd to me that more books don't explore religion. I'm not a religious person myself, but I'm determined to have empathy for the millions of teens who are. 

3) I'll admit: when I first read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, what happened to Alejandro and Humberto completely shocked me. I think that was the first book where my naive expectations of "everyone's safe! Always!" was irreversibly knocked down. I love you for it, but man, that was brutal. Did you ever feel as though you couldn't carry through with a plot point because it was just too emotionally unbearable?

I'm not going to lie; it was reeeally hard to do what I did to Humberto. I liked him a lot. But I wanted Elisa to experience true loss, especially in regards to war. War sucks. People die. And it's dishonoring to all those who have risked their lives in service to their countries to pretend otherwise.

Also, while Humberto was generally a nice guy, he was Elisa's kidnapper, and she deserved better. No heroine of mine will ever end up with a man who abuses her.

4) Did you always set out to make Elisa an overweight heroine to begin with? What were your influences for her character?

Yes, I always intended for her to be overweight. Even later, when she is more fit because of her changed lifestyle, I hope readers continue to picture her as a larger girl. I chose to make her that way after dumping a guy who was obsessed with my weight—even though I could run 6 miles every day, I was never skinny enough for him. So writing about Elisa was my way of giving the finger to him and his douchey perception of beauty.

5) Your husband and you both write. Has this impacted your writing in any way? Do you both never sleep? (The second question is a joke. I think.)

My husband is my first reader for every single thing I write, and he has a great editorial eye. For example, after I drafted The Crown of Embers, I could tell that a few scenes weren't paced right. So he broke them out into an Excel spreadsheet!!! and showed me how I could re-order them for maximum impact. It's the sexiest thing he's ever done for me. 

And what is this "sleep" you speak of? 

6) You're writing a new series in the Gold Rush Era, which is AWESOME. What can we expect? :D

The first book is tentatively scheduled for early 2015. It will have some similarities to the Fire and Thorns series because epic journeys! And magic! And horrifying deaths! And KISSING! But it will be different because guns! And DYSENTERY! I'm very excited about it.

P.S. Questions:
-Humberto or Hector?
HECTOR. Hands down. No question.

-How much will we die from The Bitter Kingdom's feelz?
A lot, I hope. "Am DED from FEELZ" is pretty much the best thing you can say to an author.

-Will you come to my funeral?
Of course! I'll bring Hector with me.

-How embarrassed were you by my absolutely facepalm-worthy fangirling video of The Crown of Embers that I sent you a link to on Twitter last year? (I hope you don’t remember it. And I’m not posting the link again, haha. Oh gosh. I swear I have no eloquence. T.T)
How could I forget something that epically awesome?!?

Thank you so much for stopping by! ^.^ We eagerly await the final part of Elisa's epic story.

Thanks for having me!

I don't know about you, but those were some AWESOME answers. I know I can't wait for Rae's new series--but first, I don't know if I'm ready to handle the emotional wreck that I will become after The Bitter Kingdom.

Rae CarsonAbout Rae:

I write books about teens who must do brave things. I'm originally from California, but I moved to Ohio to marry my husband, who is the smartest and therefore sexiest man I know. We live in Columbus with my teenaged stepsons, who are awesome. My books tend to contain lots of adventure, a little magic and romance, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. I especially love to write about questions I don't know the answers to.

Find Rae: Website || Goodreads || Twitter || Facebook

And finally... the GIVEAWAY!

What can you win?
-A signed hardcover copy of The Bitter Kingdom from Rae herself!

What are the rules?
-The prize can only be shipped to an address in the U.S. But that doesn't mean you can't get your friend in the states to enter for you, and then for them to mail it to you wherever you are if they win! *nudge nudge*
-The giveaway will run for one week, from August 29th, 2013 to September 5th, 2013. You must enter within that timeframe.
-The winner will be given 48 hours to respond following initial contact. If there is no response, another winner will be selected.

What do I do?
-Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Only leaving a comment is mandatory, but if you follow Rae on Twitter or tweet about the interview + giveaway, you get extra entries! Woot!

Monday, August 26, 2013

I'm Back! (Sort of)



(okay okay, I know you're all rolling your eyes here because I'm probably going to leave again, so I'm not really back back, but just stay with me for a moment!)

Yeah... I'm sorry guys. I'm horrible.

Yeah yeah yeah, I get it. I deserve it. Come on. You can slap me. As much as you want.

-slapping over-

Okay! I really am sorry, guys. I know, I keep on disappearing for no reason whatsoever, and then I'll post a random review like nothing happened and disappear again. It's quite horrible of me and I apologize.

But- this time I actually have a legitimate reason for my voodoo phantomness!

So I debated about whether or not I should post this, because goddamnit, EXCUSES SUCK. But I figured that this isn't an excuse so much as an explanation, so I'm going to make a wee little exception and explain really quick why I'm like Nearly Headless Nick.

I had planned on posting a LOT this summer, but the moment I got out of school I got diagnosed.

Specifically, I got diagnosed with two things: bipolar disorder, and also granulomatous uveitis. (I also went back to my home country of China for the first time since six years ago, when I first came here. Here being 'murica. But that's a post for another time.)

I have to stop with the sarcasm here and actually be serious for a moment because I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way. Sorry, no more GIFs for a while.

So. I mean first off I should clarify that I've been taking meds and my uveitis is much better. I should also clarify: uveitis is an eye inflammation. It's the reason why I've been missing from social media, and more importantly, this blog. I was completely blind for three days while I got this lovely little inflammation (apparently I can't whisk a sarcastic bone out of my body) and that was just... so eye-opening (heh... eye-opening...) (Oh, I had the inflammation for two months. The blindness was just the worst part. So don't worry, I'm not exaggerating one thing to cover the fact that I keep on vanishing). Here: close your eyes. You can do this for ten minutes, or an hour, however long you want. But close your eyes and try to do something normal, something that you'd usually do when you're bored, or a mundane chore: anything.

It's hard, right?

I know most of us here (especially if you're reading this) spend a LOT of time on the internet. I was also taking two years worth of math at the time, so it was like:

I lied about the no-GIF rule. Sorry not sorry.
except it was really more like this:
I know that sounds really dramatic and stupid... but ah, man, that was tough. Turns out my uveitis was caused by TB. I'm lucky though, the bacteria is still latent in my body, so it's not contagious and I'm taking medicine to prevent it from becoming active. But yeah. Yay inflammation and blindness...

But! My eyes are so much better now! (No duh Juli, look at your internet time log...)

Anyways, I just wanted to let you know about that. IF YOUR EYES EVER HURT, do NOT dismiss it as pink eye! PINK EYE DOES NOT HURT.

^Seriously. Go see a doctor just in case if that happens. I thought I had pink eye for the longest time, and in that time my optic nerve was getting damaged like frick. Not the best feeling.

Anyways. I don't want to seem like I'm complaining--I'm really grateful I got to have this eye-opening (eye-closing?) experience. I think I learned a lot from it. And I'm not going to say much about being bipolar because I'm not very comfortable with it yet and until I can accept it without raging like a raptor from Jurassic Park, I shall remain silent and let other beautiful people on the internet talk for me about that little beast.

So... yeah. Hi guys. I've missed you all so much it blows my mind. And I was prepared to miss y'all a LOT.


I hope this disjointed post--so so disjointed, and such poor writing...--shed some light (light is great. seriously. no more darkness please.) on my mysterious existence. I'm not going to go back and edit it because I feel like ranting on about bipolar stuff but I don't trust myself to do it without 1) boring you to death and 2) hating myself, so if you spot any grammar/spelling errors, I apologize on behalf of Juli's English Inc.

School's starting for me again, but I'll do my best to post more this year. I already have a few posts scheduled, so yay for that.

Also, wow, my blog is OVER TWO YEARS OLD. That's insane. Be on the lookout for a celery-bration! Celery because yo, nutrients. And nutrients keep y'all alive.*

*Actual festivities will not include celery**
**Well, maybe for me. I'll eat celery. But I can't mail it to you because how do you even mail vegetables.***
***Hmm... celery is also green. And my blog is green. Wow wow wow serendipity yo. 

YEAH... I'm back.

Hi guys. :)

(I'm so sorry, I couldn't help myself. Please forgive me. T.T)
P.S. Only editing to say that if you know me IRL and you're doing the jazz fingers because yo, you can totally dish on dat Juli now...

I've got my eyes on you... -.-
The Reviews News
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