Author Q&A- Brian Herberger

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Herberger, the wonderful author of Miss E. For those of you who missed it, I read Miss E. (and totally loved it!!!). You can check out my review of the book here! Miss E. is a must read for anyone who loves Historical Fiction.

Anywayy… here is my interview with Brian Herberger!herberger_meet_the_author

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: I always liked writing in high school and college, and I worked on a couple other YA novels but they were never finished.  I was a middle school English teacher for about ten years, and I definitely enjoyed working with students on their writing and getting to read what they wrote.  Some incredibly creative and fun stuff.  I still work for a school system, but not teaching, I’m working with technology and data… which can still be sort of creative, but not much writing involved other than email.  So when I sat down to write Miss E., the book became a great creative outlet, and I always looked forward to working on it.

Q: What inspired you to write? Do you have a muse?
 
A: I get inspired by a lot of things.  I’m fortunate enough to have great family and friends, and two kids who are constantly impressing me with their creativity and questions.  They inspire me every day.  Even something as unimportant as a Facebook post makes me want to wordsmith and get things just right.  There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from choosing just the right words, and knowing that when someone reads what you’ve written, they’re going to think and feel the same things you did.  
 
Something that really inspired me while I was writing Miss E. was simply the idea of standing up for something you believe in.  I’ve always been fascinated by the 60’s and people organizing and demonstrating against a war that they felt was wrong.  I was born too late I guess because I missed all that.  I did drive a VW bug around the little town I grew up in outside of Buffalo, New York.   I’d taped a “NO WAR” sign in the back window and felt pretty good about speaking my two cents.
 
I also did a lot of research for the character of Miss E.  She is based on an amazing woman, who I knew surprisingly little about before I started working on the book.  I really enjoyed the research and the chance to learn more about her.  I’m trying to avoid a spoiler, so I won’t say too much, but I guess if I had to pick a muse, it would be her.  
 
Q: Tell me about your novel, Miss E. What was the original idea behind it?
 
A: Miss E. takes place in 1967 California.  Bets is the main character.  She’s moved to a new town, just started high school, and her father has left for the war in Vietnam.  She gets tangled up in an anti-war demonstration, and struggles with her feelings toward the war – wanting to support her father but also beginning to see how wrong the war is.  While all that is happening, Bets ends up meeting Miss E. – a woman who lives outside of town and keeps to herself.  No one really knows much about her, but Bets eventually figures out who she really is.  OK, no spoilers, right?  I’ll just say that Miss E. is a real person from American history.
And how I got the original idea?  One of my favorite writing stories is the one J K Rowling tells about getting the idea for Harry Potter.  Not that I’m comparing myself to her or anything, but it’s a cool story.  She was riding a train and suddenly had the idea – “Boy is a wizard, doesn’t know it, goes to wizard school.”  And the way she describes it, the idea was just out there and the train went right through it and she happened to be there to catch it.  I was driving home from work on a Friday afternoon, and suddenly got an idea – “A girl meets [blank]”  Read Miss E. and fill in the blank.  I got goosebumps!  I started asking all sorts of questions.  Where does she meet her?  How does she find her?  What would it be like to meet her?  The more I thought about it, the more I felt that I didn’t just want the story to be about this girl finding [blank].  I wanted the girl to have a story of her own.  When I settled on the time period, it made sense to include Vietnam in the story, with her father in the war and Bets getting involved in demonstrations.
Q: Are you working on any writing projects now? If so, what can you tell me about them?
A: I am!  I just started writing something new a few weeks ago.  At first I was working on an idea for another story similar to Miss E. where a young character meets a historical person, someone with a little mystery around him, where no one else in town really knows who he is.  I’m excited about the idea, but before I dug into that story I realized I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to Bets yet.  I really fell in love with all the characters when I was writing Miss E.  It’s amazing how that happens.  Maybe some writers plan everything out and know exactly what their characters are going to be like before they start writing.  Not me.  I think my way’s much more fun!  I had some idea of what I wanted them to be like, but then you put them into a part of the story and they do something surprising or say something new, and you get to know them a little bit more.  It’s really like meeting someone for the first time and then gradually growing closer and closer to them as you get to know them better.  So I’m really excited to be writing another book about Bets.
 
People have asked about a sequel to Miss E., and at first I didn’t really think that was an option. Things are pretty wrapped up at the end of the book.  But I realized there’s still a lot more to Bets’ story, even if Miss E. is no longer a part of it.  We left Bets in 1967, but the war’s still going on, there’s still a lot happening in our country, and she’s still figuring out high school.  The next book is going to take place two years later, and a lot has changed for Bets.  There’s another adventure coming her way, and thankfully, Emmie is part of it.  I’m pretty excited to be writing about Emmie again too!
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: Wow.  That’s a pretty important question.  Something I want the whole world to know?  I feel like it should be something serious like world peace or global warming. I guess when it comes to books, the former English teacher in me just wants people to find something to read that inspires them or affects them in some way.  That’s my measure of success. I’ve discovered that Miss E. is a story that affects generations, young and old.  I heard from a middle school student whose father was in the military and she connected with that part of the story, with Bets saying goodbye, missing her father, and wanting him to come home safely.  I heard from an older gentleman, who was a college professor in the 60’s.  He remembers protests, tear gas lingering on bushes days later.  So he was affected in an entirely different way.  That’s what I look for when I sit down with a book. Is this book making me think, prompting me to ask questions or see things differently?  Can I connect to the characters and story in some way?  Well, it also helps if it’s a good story and it’s fun to read!  If Miss E. does any of that for a reader, then I’ve done something right!
Find Brian Online:

 

 

 

Book Review- Don’t Even Think About It

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Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
Published by Delacorte Press on March 11, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 317
Goodreads
Amazon

We weren’t always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what’s coming.

Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We’re always listening.

Don’t Even Think About It is a cute book, there is no getting around that one. It is written in a first person plural tense, which is really unique. It’s like one big collective mind split into different bodies, but telling the story as one person. So, for example, instead of using “I”, it uses “we”.

The story itself is pretty interesting. It follows classroom 10B as they get ESP powers and can read minds. A lot of secrets are brought out and there is definitely a lot of drama. But its not the kind of drama that made me want to roll my eyes and put the book down… it was the kind of drama that made me laugh a little and really want to find out what was going to happen next.

As I said earlier, the book is written in a first person plural… the plural being the 22 students of 10B that got ESP. However, each of the characters is still unique, which made for a great read. There were the students that I loved (hi Olivia and Cooper!), those that made me laugh (BJ), those that I kind of sort of hated (*ahem* Courtney and Pi), and those that I don’t even remember the names of because they aren’t that important to the story.

I really did enjoy reading Don’t Even Think About It, but it wasn’t my favorite book in the world. I feel like there could have been more to the story. That being said, I still want to read the second one to find out what happens next!

I am going to give Don’t Even Think About It four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Nerdy Girl Design Magnetic Book Mark Giveaway

Hi guys! I am back today with another giveaway!! I have teamed up with Nerdy Girl Designs over on Etsy (click here to visit the store) to giveaway a pack of magnetic book marks!

Melisa, the owner of Nerdy Girl Design, sent me two packs of magnetic book marks: a Star Wars figurine pack and an Alice In Wonderland quote pack.

IMG_1016The Star Wars pack includes:

  • Luke Skywalker
  • Leia Organa
  • Darth Vader
  • Han Solo
  • R2D2
  • C3PO
  • Master Yoda
  • Chewbacca

IMG_1023.JPGThe Alice In Wonderland pack includes:

  • We’re all mad here
  • How long is forever? Sometimes just one second
  • Curiouser and Curiouser
  • Who in the world am I? Ah that’s the great puzzle

 

The backs of the Star Wars pack are the same as the front, and the backs of the quote pack say “Alice in Wonderland”.

The insides of the bookmarks have a magnet on either side, and use the magnets to claps onto a books page.

Check out this slide show to learn more about the bookmarks!!

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To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is repost the Instagram post below using the hashtag #nerdygirlgiveaway and tag three friends! The winner will receive one pack of bookmarks from Nerdy Girl Designs of their choice! Good luck entering!

 

 

 

Book Review- Girl of Nightmares

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Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
Published by Tor Teen on August 7, 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 332
Goodreads
Amazon

It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong…these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.

Kendare Blake has done it again. Girl of Nightmares picks up six months after Anna Dressed in Blood ends, and immediately launches into the ghost hunting world of Cas, Thomas, and Caramel. Only Cas keeps seeing Anna everywhere.

One reason I love Girl of Nightmares is that it feels like a real continuation of the story. I didn’t need to “get back into it” like I need to with other series. The second I started reading it, it felt like I was in familiar territories. It gradually eased into the new plot line in a natural progression.

I also loved the development of the characters. Cas changed so much (in a good way, I might add) in the first book, and his character continues to develop in the second. He’s not perfect, but he is determined and loyal and not afraid to do what he believes is right. Thomas and Caramel also continue to grow, and although they both change in surprising ways, it is all for the best.

Girl of Nightmares is one of those books where you get to the last few pages and say to yourself: “There is no way all of this is going to be tied up in this many words”. Only it is. And the ending is beautiful (although certainly not what I expected). Although I have to admit that I wish there was a third book. I’m not ready to leave Cas and his friends quite yet.

Girl of Nightmares gets five out of five hearts from me!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Blogger Blind Date

A few weeks ago, Jillian over at Rant and Rave about Books proposed a Book Blogger Blind Date. Basically what that means is book bloggers could be signed up (via google docs form) and then based on the answers we gave, she would pair us up to do interviews with each other and get to know each other.

I happed to love the idea, so I signed up!

I got paired with a wonderful blogger named Ashley. She blogs at Inside my Minds. We decided to ask each other some random questions that require some thinking to answer. Over all we had a great time! Below are the questions I asked and her answers!

 


Q: How do you choose new books to read? What is the strangest way you have found a book you love?

A: I watch a lot of BookTube and from those videos if I see a book that seems interesting, I’ll go to the Barnes and Noble website and read the synopsis.  I’ll also look up the ratings and read reviews on Goodreads.  I know this might seem like a boring answer, but I haven’t found any books that I love in strange ways.

Q: Do you prefer hard copy books or eBooks? How strongly do you feel about your preference?

A: I’m 50/50 when it comes to hard copies and eBooks.  I love how hardcovers and paperbacks feel in my hands, but I love the convenience of my Nook.  For a really long time I was reluctant to get an eReader, however now that I have one, I really love it.

Q: If you could assemble a team of 3 book characters to be stranded on an island with, who would they be and why?

A: Harry, Luna and Hermione because Harry and Luna have the DATD skills and Hermione has the book smarts.  Plus, Harry can always summon his broom too!

Q: If you were the main character in a book, what kind of book would it be and what challenges would you face?

A: It’s a toss up between Harry Potter and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I would want to face the same things the main characters did, just to experience them for myself.

Q: What would you do if you found out that you are actually a character in a book and our reality isn’t real?

A: I’ve been mulling over this question for a while, and this is one question that I don’t have an answer for.


A

Ashley also gave me a short list of random facts about herself! Here they are:

  1. I’m a Bostonian
  2. Baseball is my favorite sport to watch
  3. The Red Sox are my favorite team
  4. I did gymnastics for eight years, and competed for six and a half
  5. My favorite book to movie adaptations are Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
  6. I’m definitely a PotterHead
  7. I’m part Greek and yes I know how to make Baklava
  8. I’ve always been a reader
  9. I still shop in the kids department and I’m 28 years old, but I’m also 4’11…
  10. I love yoga and I use the Fit Star Yoga app
  11. Lilacs are my favorite flower
  12. I come from a big family so I’m family orientated
  13. I’m lactose intolerant, and yes I can still have some dairy
  14. The MLB All-Star Game is my favorite to watch, because the outcome of the game actually means something.
  15. I don’t eat seafood

I want to thank Jillian again for organizing such a fun event! I had a great time getting to know Ashley, and I hope we can do it again some day!

Head on over to Ashley’s blog, Inside my Heads, to check out my interview!

Book Locket Giveaway

Hey guys! So I was lucky enough to be able to team up with Dino Stories on Etsy to bring you this wonderful giveaway! If you win this giveaway you will receive a custom cover book locket!

Dino Stories was kind enough to send me a sample necklace, and I chose the Standard Book of Spells: Grade One by Miranda Goshawk (which is one of the text books Harry Potter uses, for those of you who don’t know).

The necklace took about two weeks to arrive, mostly due to the fact that Dino Stories is based out of Australia. When it got here and I opened the package, the locket was wrapped 1in an adorable little package! It felt like Christmas in July!

I opened up the little pouch and the locket inside was wrapped nicely with a piece of plastic so it wouldn’t get tangled or damaged on it’s long trek around the world.

4When you order a locket, you can choose between a 16″, 18″, and 20″ chain. I got the 20″ chain, and the chain that came was a true 20″. It feels like a sturdy material, so I feel comfortable wearing it around without fearing that it will tangle or break.

The cover on the necklace is absolutely beautiful! It looks 5exactly like the picture that is advertised on Dino Stories Etsy store, and I could not be more happy with it! The color is stunning, and the title is very easy to read.

8The locket opens up fairly easily (but don’t worry, there’s no way it would open on its own) and there are places to put pictures on both sides of the locket. Now I just need to print some small pictures!

So now for the exciting part! You have a chance to win one of your very own lockets, and you can have any cover you want on the front! All you have to do to enter is comment what book cover you want on the front of your locket in the comment section below! And ta da! You are entered!

Please share this giveaway with anyone you think would be interested! I’m looking forward to seeing what book covers you choose!

*UPDATE* winner has been chosen and contacted. Thank you to everyone who participated!!

Book Review- Anna Dressed In Blood

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Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake
Published by Tor Teen on October 17, 2011
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 320
Goodreads
Amazon

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

Anna Dressed in Blood is probably my favorite book ever. There is just something about it that keeps drawing me back… and I have read it more times than I can count. It is exactly what Cassandra Clare’s blurb says: Spellbinding and romantic.

It’s hard to choose one thing to love in the book. That’s mostly because I love everything about it so much. I love how real the story feels and how honest and raw the characters are. It’s almost as if Kendare plucked them out of real life and trapped them in the pages.
The story line keeps me on the edge of my seat no matter how many times I reread it. It’s like I notice a new detail every time, and it just keeps adding to the story.

I love how vividly everything is described. It’s like reading a movie… I can see the scenes unfolding in front of me. I can make out Cas and Thomas and Caramel and Anna and everyone else and all the houses and shops and the school and everything.

One thing I love, perhaps most of all, is how Cas isn’t made out to be some sort of superhero. He is vulnerable and has struggles of his own. He has his weak moments, and has to ask for help sometimes.

I could probably go on all day about Anna Dressed In Blood. And I can’t express enough how much I think everyone in the world should read it because it is just that good. It should be no surprise that I am giving Anna Dressed In Blood five out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Also, a while back I had the chance to interview Kendare Blake! If you are interested in that, feel free to check it out here!