Book Interviews, Interviews, podcast

Ink Feather Podcast Throwback: Interview with Leigh Bardugo and Marissa Meyer!

images-2-300x196I’m excited to kick off my Ink Feather Podcast, something I have literally wanted to do for almost 3 years now. I have a lot of cool interviews in the works, but I wanted to get it off the ground, so I’m starting by re-visiting one of my all-time favorite interviews!

Leigh Bardugo. Marissa Meyer. What more is there to say? Two powerhouses of YA fantasy right now! They are incredible storytellers, both of them, and it was really fun to interview them back in 2013 when their first series were still in the creation stages (at the time of the interview, Leigh had her second Grisha book out, and Marissa had her second Lunar Chronicles book out).

Here’s a link to the throwback episode, and scroll further down if you want to read my original post that went with the interview.

 

Enjoy!

_____________

In the past year or two there have been a few book series that have really stood out in YA fantasy. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles (‘Cinder,’ ‘Scarlet’ and upcoming ‘Cress’) and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Series (‘Shadow and Bone’ and ‘Siege and Storm’) were at the top of that list.

We have been fortunate enough to feature both ladies on Lytherus previously (Click here and here for Leigh, and here for Marissa). However, we wanted more from these amazing New York Times bestselling authors, so we arranged a dual audio interview at San Diego Comic Con. The theme of the interview was similarities between their series, including older fables and fantasy influencing their worlds, strong female characters, and of course rakish boys! And, not surprisingly, they are fans of each other’s series, so they both enjoyed singing the praises of the other.

Book Editorial, Book Events, Books, Editorials, Events

SDCC14: Best-selling fantasy authors talk “End of a series … or not?”

L to R: Hart, Flewelling, Grossman, Taylor, Mayberry, Winters, Cole, and Bardugo
L to R: Hart, Flewelling, Grossman, Taylor, Mayberry, Winters, Cole, and Bardugo

One of the panels I was most looking forward to at San Diego Comic Con this year was the one titled “End of a Series … or not?” Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart from Mysterious Galaxy book store the panel consisted of Lynn Flewelling (Nightrunner series), Lev Grossman (The Magicians series), Laini Taylor (The Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy), Jon Maberry (the Rot and Ruinseries), Ben Winters (The Last Policeman Trilogy), Kresley Cole (Immortals After Dark Series), and Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy).

The first question up: what decides if a series is finite or not- is that pre-planned? Do you destroy the world or leave the story open-ended? Lynn started us off, saying she has a seven book series and one that’s three. She said it’s painful to end a series. Her big series books are more episody vs main overall arcs. But her gut told her it was time. Lev said that stories have structures. He wanted to write about magicians after their education, the unknown parts. For example, what is magic for if no one is threatening the world? Once his characters figured that out, he stopped.

Laini spent five years planning, out of fear, vs. spontaneous writing. But even half way through book two she had no idea about the end. Some things are still open, she said, but she wanted to finish the main story arc. For Jon the ending point was about character growth. He wanted to tell the story until he liked the main character (who started out the opposite). It took him four books for that to happen. Ben got a laugh, because part of his series is about an asteroid colliding with the earth, so he knew it was a trilogy and where it ended—anything past that would have been BS, so he had to stop. Still, he needed to keep the character doing work.

LMZ_8687wKresley has a fifteen book series that isn’t done yet, which has had a continuously pending apocalypse (Leigh’s disgruntlement over this got a lot of laughs). She had the beginning and the end plotted out, but the stuff in the middle she said she’ll keep going with until people don’t want to keep reading. Leigh likes shorter series; she could have gone longer, but decided three was enough. Sometimes limits make things hard, however, because you have to work within those parameters (she wants a sky fortress and a secret island).

The next question was about sustainability. What keeps readers engaged? Leigh said that authors have two choices for character: a character that has everything and you take from them, or they have nothing and you take more. Also, story is always king over world building. Kresley likes to introduce secondary characters like a villain or godmother and switch up expectations. In Ben’s first book in the series the character was young in a lot of ways and had to grow up. What makes people stick is that the characters are still growing. Jon mentioned how we always enter a story with a limited world view. For example, his main character in the Rot and Ruin books is angry all the time, and why he’s mad is part of his limited world view. But once exposed to a larger world view it changed his life. World view isn’t entirely the character’s fault, but as there’s more exposure the view adjusts. Laini said she likes a tight narrative where certain questions are answered. Also, if the writing is beautiful, the reader wants to sink into it.

Lev wrote The Magicians as a stand-alone, because he wasn’t convinced it would be published. But he had to send his characters back into that world. He wanted to know what happened next. Lynn said she also wrote a stand-alone that became two books, and then her editor asked her if she wanted it to be more. She invested so much, and there was more to tell. She writes for herself, as writing is hard, so she needs to love it.

The floor was opened up after this, and some of the questions were about legit cliffhangers (needs not to be done like a cheap-shot, but can be done) and prequels (hard sometimes if the ending is already known). The panel was funny and engaged, and the audience asked great thought-provoking questions that spurred interesting discussion.

I’m so glad I made it to this panel. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the different angles the authors came from regarding series, and though there is no one right way it was wonderful to get some insight into what helps make a series successful.

Book Editorial, Book Reviews, Books, Editorials, Reviews

The best YA science fiction and fantasy books of 2013

2013 was an incredible year in YA. There were so many amazing books that came out this past year that this list could be insanely long. But we took into account popularity of series, authors, and of course our own personal tastes after reading, and the list we’ve compiled won’t steer you wrong. If you haven’t read the series that some of these books are in, now’s a great time to start. And  the series beginners and stand-alones are also well worth your time. I’m sure we’re going to get some stunning YA in 2014, but to hold you over be sure to exhaust this list! So without further ado, to honor 2013, here are our 13 favorite YA books of this past year:

Siege and Storm, by Leigh Bardugo

siege and stormDarkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer

scarletCinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

An NPR Best Book of 2013

Teardrop, by Lauren Kate

teardropAn epic saga of heart-stopping romance, devastating secrets, and dark magic . . . a world where everything you love can be washed away. The first book in the new series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fallen series

Never, ever cry. . . . Eureka Boudreaux’s mother drilled that rule into her daughter years ago. But now her mother is gone, and everywhere Eureka goes he is there: Ander, the tall, pale blond boy who seems to know things he shouldn’t, who tells Eureka she is in grave danger, who comes closer to making her cry than anyone has before.

But Ander doesn’t know Eureka’s darkest secret: ever since her mother drowned in a freak accident, Eureka wishes she were dead, too. She has little left that she cares about, just her oldest friend, Brooks, and a strange inheritance—a locket, a letter, a mysterious stone, and an ancient book no one understands. The book contains a haunting tale about a girl who got her heart broken and cried an entire continent into the sea. Eureka is about to discover that the ancient tale is more than a story, that Ander might be telling the truth . . . and that her life has far darker undercurrents than she ever imagined.

Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, coauthor of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and creator of the internationally bestselling Mistborn Trilogy, presents Steelheart, the first book in the Reckoners series, an action-packed thrill ride that will leave readers breathless.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

The Eye of Minds, by James Dashner

the eye of mindsFrom James Dashner, the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, comes an all-new, edge-of-your seat adventure. The Eye of Minds is the first book in The Mortality Doctrine, a series set in a world of hyperadvanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares.
Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team. But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black

the coldest girlTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Allegiant, by Veronica Roth

allegiantWhat if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

 

 

 

Requiem, by Lauren Oliver

requiemNew York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller, this exciting finale to Lauren Oliver’s acclaimed Delirium trilogy is a riveting blend of nonstop action and forbidden romance in a dystopian United States. With lyrical writing, Lauren Oliver seamlessly interweaves the peril that Lena faces with the inner tumult she experiences after the reappearance of her first love, Alex, the boy she thought was dead. Named an Amazon Best Book of the Year, this sophisticated and wide-ranging novel brings the New York Times bestselling Delirium trilogy to a thrilling conclusion.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

The Bitter Kingdom, by Rae Carson

the bitter kingdomThe third book in Rae Carson’s award-winning The Girl of Fire and Thorns fantasy trilogy. Elisa, the seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen, will travel into an unknown enemy’s realm to win back her true love, save her kingdom, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny. Veronica Roth called The Girl of Fire and Thorns “intense, unique . . . definitely recommended.”

Perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and George R. R. Martin’s style of sweeping and deeply satisfying epic fantasy, the third and final book in the trilogy takes the young queen on a journey more dangerous than any she has faced before. Elisa will stand before the gate of the enemy. And she must rise up as champion—even to those who have hated her—or her kingdom will fall. Full of sorcery, adventure, sizzling romance, and secrets that challenge everything she believes, this is a bold and powerful conclusion to an extraordinary trilogy. As USAToday.com proclaimed, “Rae Carson has proved she’s a master and has shaken up the YA genre.”

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

9780399162411B.JPGThe Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare

clockwork princessDanger intensifies for the Shadowhunters as the New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy comes to a close.

If the only way to save the world was to destroy what you loved most, would you do it?

The clock is ticking. Everyone must choose.

Passion. Power. Secrets. Enchantment.

Danger closes in around the Shadowhunters in the final installment of the bestselling Infernal Devices trilogy.

 

The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater

the dream thievesThe second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after….

 

 

Champion, by Marie Lu

championThe explosive finale to Marie Lu’s New York Times bestselling LEGEND trilogy—perfect for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT!

He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

Be sure to check out our list of favorite adult SF/F from 2013. 

Book Events, Book Interviews, Books, Events, Interviews

SDCC13: Exclusive dual interview with Leigh Bardugo (‘Shadow and Bone’) and Marissa Meyer (‘Cinder’)

images (2)

In the past year or two there have been a few book series that have really stood out in YA fantasy. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles (‘Cinder,’ ‘Scarlet’ and upcoming ‘Cress’) and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Series (‘Shadow and Bone’ and ‘Siege and Storm’) were at the top of that list.

We have been fortunate enough to feature both ladies on Lytherus previously (Click here and here for Leigh, and here for Marissa). However, we wanted more from these amazing New York Times bestselling authors, so we arranged a dual audio interview at San Diego Comic Con. The theme of the interview was similarities between their series, including older fables and fantasy influencing their worlds, strong female characters, and of course rakish boys! And, not surprisingly, they are fans of each other’s series, so they both enjoyed singing the praises of the other.

Click on the sound link below to listen to this fun, unique interview.

Book Interviews, Books, Interviews

Featured Author Week: Part two of our two-part interview with author Leigh Bardugo (‘Siege and Storm’)

Seige and StormWe’re back for the second part of the audio interview with Leigh Bardugo, New York Times bestselling author of Shadow and Bone and the newly released Siege and Storm. 

In this second part we delve into the meat of book two, talking about the world, the decisions of the characters … and the boys, oh the boys! We get down to the nitty-gritty of the Darkling and the other lovely male characters which help shape the book. We also delve into boundaries and being your true self, for both characters and people.

This interviewed can be listened to if you’ve only read book one, though there are definitely spoilers if you are unfamiliar with the world. The sound is a bit tinny on occasion, we apologize for that, but it’s a great interview, and we hope you get a ton out of it!

Miss part one? Click here to listen to the first part of the interview, where we talk about the general themes of the Grisha world and Leigh’s writing life.

Thanks Leigh for an awesome week on Lytherus! Want to know more about Leigh? Check out her website, twitter (@lbardugo), and tumblr. Also, she’s touring right this very moment for Siege and storm, so click here to see if she’s coming to a city near you!

Book Interviews, Books, Interviews

Featured Author Week: Part one of our two-part interview with author Leigh Bardugo (‘Siege and Storm’)

Bardugo_AuthorPhotoCROPPED_lowres
Lytherus was lucky to sit down for a fantstic, detailed, two-part interview with New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo for the release of Siege and Storm, book two in her Grisha trilogy.

In this first part of the interview Leigh delves into the Russian influence in the story and people’s thoughts on this, the science behind her magic, her writing routines, and more! She even has some encouraging words for the would-be published author.

Sit back and be entertained by this amazing insight into Leigh’s Grisha world and her life as a writer. We hope you enjoy it, and stay tuned tomorrow for the second part of this interview where we delve into ‘Siege and Storm’!

 

Thanks Leigh! Want to know more about Leigh? Check out her website, twitter (@lbardugo), and tumblr. Also, she’s touring right this very moment for Siege and storm, so click here to see if she’s coming to a city near you! And don’t forget to enter for your chance to win one of her books! The contest is open until 12:01 EST on Sunday!

Book Reviews, Books, Reviews

Featured Author Week: ‘Siege and Storm’ by Leigh Bardugo takes the series to amazing new heights

Seige and StormSo often second books in a series don’t live up to the first, especially when the first book is blow-your-mind amazing. I’m happy to announce that not only did Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm match Shadow and Bone, it surpassed it. This is an exceptional second book, and fans of the first won’t be disappointed.

What’s it about? Here’s the description on Amazon:

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

This book is much darker (ha! Get it?) than the first one in the series. The tension is there like before, but in new and different ways. There’s a lot of crazy stuff happening inside of Alina’s mind, and it gets a bit freaky at times (in a good way!). Her struggles with this new power and her responsibilities to her friends, country, and herself are all wearing on her. Seeing how she deals -or doesn’t deal, depending- is one of the core points of this book. Leigh pulled on my heartstrings with this struggle, and it was excellently executed.

The struggles between Mal and Alina are also extremely well done. As she’s evolving he’s trying to keep up, and there’s always this doubt in her mind as to whether he can truly understand her. Granted, it is a doubt placed by the Darkling, but that doesn’t deny the truth of it. Seeing their relationship progress was hard, enlightening, and at the end, endearing. I can’t wait to see what happens in book three.

The plot goes to a whole new level in this book too. Leigh plants a few subtle clues in book one that help add to the story in book two, but there was no way I could have guessed the direction she was taking the story in based on the first book. So it was like a whole new world opened up to me with the full opportunities that are presented to Alina in Siege and Storm. I cannot wait to see how the story progresses in book three, because the doors that opened really leave a lot of room for interesting and powerful things to happen. I don’t want to get too specific, because I don’t want to give anything away, but it was wonderfully done.

The author brings forward familiar and beloved secondary characters from the first book, and adds a few new people to them (most noteably Surmhond, a deliciously rakish sea pirate), and this combined with the introspection and higher stakes makes for a fantastic page-turner. Siege and Storm took the series to a whole new level. I can’t wait to see what she does with book three!