Thursday, July 25, 2013

Interview & Giveaway: A. L. Sowards

A.L. Sowards grew up in Moses Lake, Washington, then came to Utah to attend BYU and ended up
staying. She wrote most of her latest release while her twin toddlers were sleeping and did most of the revisions while they were supposed to be sleeping, but were really using their crib mattresses as trampolines.

Favorite reads?
My favorite book from 2012 was We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance, by David Howarth. It’s a true story about a special-ops mission in Norway that goes bad, and it reads like a novel. (Of course, part of the reason I enjoyed it so much could have been because I’d hurt my back and couldn’t pick up my then two-year-old twins, so my grandma was taking care of them and I just sat back and read it without interruption.) Some of my other favorite WWII-era books include Band of Brothers, by Stephen Ambrose, The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz, and Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. Some of my favorite books growing up were The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare, Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, The Perilous Gard, by Elizabeth Marie Pope, and just about anything by Alistair MacLean, Jack Higgins, or Dick Francis.

Inspirations for the book?
Sworn Enemy follows characters from my first book, Espionage. At first I didn’t plan to write a sequel, but so much happened in Europe between D-day and V-E Day and I wanted those characters involved in some of it. I thought Yugoslavia would be an interesting setting, and while I was doing research on WWII Yugoslavia, I read a little more about WWII Romania and decided on that for the second book. 

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
It’s a dream I’ve had for a long time. I started out writing picture books on scrap paper at my grandparent’s house. They were self-illustrated, and I’m sure they were horrible, but I guess you have to start somewhere.

Any Pet Peeves?
People in the grocery store who start unloading their groceries on the belt before the person in front of them has unloaded theirs.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
No contest. Chocolate.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
I swam competitively for about 16 years, and that led to strange shaving habits. We wouldn’t shave all season, and then for our big meet we’d shave not only our legs but our arms too. It felt really cool in the water to have all that hair finally off. 

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
I guess if the book had a soundtrack, I’d want most of it to be the type of music Hans Zimmer or John Williams compose, with some period songs like “Lili Marleen” thrown in.

Do you need anything to write?
I just need my laptop and relative quiet, but chocolate never hurts.

How long do you write on any average day?
Depends on how long “nap” time or “quiet” time lasts. On a good day, I’ll get a few hours. I try to 
write about 5,000 words a week, but that changes if I’m editing instead of writing.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
Read it for the awesome battle scene.

Author Info:
twitter: @ALSowards

As World War II rages, the people of Eastern Europe are hopelessly trapped between two formidable forces: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union. In their midst, a band of heroes prepares for the changes the coming battles will bring.
After narrowly escaping her Nazi captors, French Resistance worker Genevieve Olivier has fled to Allied territory with the help of American Lieutenant Peter Eddy. Their connection is undeniable, forged in the crucible of danger. But despite their blossoming feelings for each other, they must both finish the work they began . . .
In the safety of England, Genevieve hopes to find purpose as a nurse—all the while unaware that the Gestapo still seeks the woman who slipped through their grasp. When she is called upon to resume a life of danger as a French spy, will her desire to prove herself be her downfall?
Recruited by an elite special-ops team intent on thwarting the Nazis, Peter finds himself  engaged in a personal battle as well—there is a traitor among his comrades. Deep in the Carpathian Mountains, Peter combats an unknown foe. The stakes are high as he fights to save the lives of his teammates.
They are miles apart, yet as Genevieve and Peter fight for their own survival, they find a common well of strength in their faith—and their determination to be reunited.

France, 1944: Nobody expects Peter Eddy to survive his first commando mission—to retrieve a code book stolen by the Nazis—so when he does come back alive, his success is rewarded with an even more daunting assignment. Partnered with French Resistance leader Jacques Olivier, Eddy must identify which of three Allied contacts in Calais is a double agent and use the traitor to help implement a strategic Allied diversion that might win the war. Eddy and Olivier secretly cross the English Channel to confront their suspects one at a time, but what appears to be a clean assignment soon turns disastrous, and a shocking betrayal leaves Eddy in the grip of the Gestapo. With the courageous aid of Olivier and his sister, Genevieve, Eddy evades his captors with a dangerous escape plan. But as the Allied invasion approaches, treachery in the least likely places leads to fresh graves in the bloodied European soil—and only the power of loyalty and love can transform tragic endings into new beginnings.

Ends 8/16
Choice of paperback (shipping in US only) or Kindle for either Espionage or Sworn Enemy.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Review: Daughter of the Earth and Sky by Kaitlin Bevis

Cover Blurb:
Some vows can never be broken.
          Persephone thought she could go back to her normal life after returning from the Underworld. She was wrong. 
          The goddess Aphrodite is born among the waves with more charm than she can control. Zeus is stalking Persephone and her loved ones, and Thanatos is no longer content with Persephone's silence.
          He wants her soul.
          Persephone can't tell anyone about Thanatos' betrayal, and it drives a wedge between her and Hades. Her mother is still keeping secrets, and Melissa's jealousy of Aphrodite threatens to tear their friendship apart.
          Alone, Persephone turns to a human boy for comfort. But will their relationship put him in danger? 
          Sacrifices must be made, and Persephone must choose between her human life and her responsibilities as a goddess. If she doesn't, she could lose them both.
          But will either life be worth choosing once Zeus is through with her?

I feel there's always a bit of risk involved when started a sequel. If the sequel is magnificent, then great. Go ahead and read it. But if it shines one smidgen less than the original, suddenly no matter how much you enjoyed the original before it doesn't seem that great. And you think, what was the point of all that if it doesn't get any better.
          These were just a few thoughts running through my head as I started Daughter of Earth and Sky, sequel to Persephone. But they only stayed there for about five pages. After that, Boom! the story was back with all it's deliciousness.
          Persephone is definitely getting more mature. This book had more angst than the last one, but it was angst that made sense. I got to see Persephone living under unimaginable stress and dealing with it really highlighted the best of her character. I loved the interaction between Persephone and Hades. I was worried their characters would shift between the books as sometimes happens, but nope! As far as Aphrodite, I don't feel like I got to know her very well in this book, but she looks like a promising addition to the cast. And Zeus! I knew he was a dirt-bag from the myths, but what a dirt-bag!
Characters 4.5 Stars
          I love seeing ancient mythology translated to modern times. Kaitlin Bevis makes it work so well. The tension built with each chapter. I thought things couldn't get worse, so of course with every chapter they did. I have this book to thank for at least one sleepless night. To make matters worse, the ending finished with a no holds barred cliff-hanger, so be warned. There's no turning back.
Plot: 4.6 Stars
          Kaitlin Bevis has such a talent for writing addictively. Her writing is simple and straight-forward, but loads of fun!
Style: 4.7 Stars

Rating: 4.6 Stars
Source: Author
Genre: Fantasy
YA Fiction

Check out my review of Persephone!