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Blog Tour: Nil on Fire: Excerpt and Giveaway!

NilOnFire_blogtour

Lynne Matson joins SciFiChick.com today to talk about her latest release Nil on Fire, complete with an excerpt and giveaway!


I’m so excited to be here today as part of the NIL ON FIRE blog tour! Today I’m sharing the first chapter of the last book in the Nil series: my forthcoming release, NIL ON FIRE.

As y’all may know, the Nil series is a trilogy about a mysterious island where teens have exactly one year to escape, or they die. Think Survivor meets LOST, with dashes of the Twilight Zone and heaps of FEELS. The trilogy begins with NIL, continues with NIL UNLOCKED, and on May 31, 2016, the trilogy ends with NIL ON FIRE. I can’t wait for y’all to read it!

Before I share the first chapter, here’s the synopsis of NIL ON FIRE:
Despite Rives and Skye’s attempt to destroy Nil, the island remains. And back in this world, Nil won’t let Skye go. Haunted by a darkness she can’t ignore, Skye wrestles with Nil nightmares that worsen by the day and threaten to tear her apart. As Skye fights to keep her mind intact, she realizes that to finally break free of Nil, she must end Nil’s vicious cycle once and for all–and she can’t do it alone.

Who will return to Nil, and in the end, who will survive? In this thrilling final installment of the Nil series, the stakes have never been higher: everyone’s fate hangs in the balance, including Nil’s own–and Nil will fight to the death. When the full force of the island is unleashed, Skye faces an impossible choice, a cruel one she’d never imagined she’d have to make. Soon one Nil truth becomes painfully clear: only one side can win.

Losing isn’t an option, but winning will cost Skye everything.
Awesome, right? (Of course, I’m totally biased, and unreliable. I love these characters more than I love Thin Mints, and if you know me, THAT’S SERIOUS.) Ready for the first chapter?

Here you go! Enjoy!

Chapter
1
Nil
After Noon

Paulo blinked, slowly, his consciousness returning in crisp frames filled with color and scent and sound.

He stood alone on the black rock platform. The acrid smell of death filled the air, accompanied by the distant crackle of flames. Above him, the sun burned like smokeless fire, still high noon. But over the carving, the gate was gone. Skye was gone.
His chance to leave was gone.

Reality set in, stark and devastating.

I failed, he thought.

A cry ripped from his throat like the wail of an injured animal. He dropped to his hands and knees on the harsh black rock, landing so hard that pebbles raked his palms, drawing blood, but he was too consumed by his growing terror and overwhelming bewilderment to care. How had he missed the gate? He’d waved to Skye, grateful she’d made it, knowing he was last and that the timing felt right—the completion of a circle begun three months before, the end of a cycle begun years before he or Skye were ever born. Only he’d hesitated, for reasons that he couldn’t explain. For reasons he couldn’t remember.

He’d lost time, mysterious minutes stolen by an invisible entity.

And now he was alone on Nil.

An angry tear welled in his eye; he wiped it quickly, already pulling himself together, knowing he wasn’t truly alone. There were lions and hyenas and pumas on the island too, and he was very aware that he did not sit on top of Nil’s food chain. He coughed, then choked, tasting smoke and salt. The thick air billowing up from the meadow snapped him to attention like a hot slap to the face.

He needed to get away from the mountain. There was nothing for him here, not now.
Not for three more months, to be precise.

Paulo stood, and with one last look around the silent black platform, he stepped back. Then, even though there was no escape, he turned and began to run. Down the steps, past the fiery meadow.

Around him, the island burned.

The island let him go.
It would wait.
It was accustomed to waiting.
Once it had waited for centuries. Time wrapped the island like an invisible sheath, fluid and constant, both armor and weapon.
The island was weakened but not broken.
The male kept running, through smoke and flames and blood as the island settled in to watch. And to wait. And above all, to renew.
And so it began, again. Only this time, the island would not show weakness.
Or mercy.
That era was over.

–End of Chapter One —

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at NIL ON FIRE. The full novel hits the wild on May 31, 2016. Or, as I like to say…
The end begins on May 31.

Before I leave, I want to thank you, Angela, for having me today, and for allowing me the perfect space to give readers a NIL ON FIRE sneak peek. Thank you so much for your love of books everywhere and your support of the Nil series over these past few years! I also want to thank all my readers for taking a chance on a crazy island . . . and for sticking with me to the end. This book is for you! To the #NILtribe! #NoRegrets

xo
Lynne


Courtesy of Henry Holt and Co., I have a copy of Nil on Fire by Lynne Matson for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends June 10. I’ll draw a name on June 11, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Blog Tour: Nil on Fire: Excerpt and Giveaway!

SciFi Book Review: Alight

Alight by Scott Sigler

Synopsis:
M. Savage—or Em, as she is called—has made a bewildering and ominous discovery. She and the other young people she was chosen to lead awoke in strange coffins with no memory of their names or their pasts. They faced an empty, unknown place of twisting tunnels and human bones. With only one another to depend on, they searched for answers and found the truth about their terrifying fate. Confronted by a monstrous enemy, they vowed never to surrender—and, by any means, to survive.

The planet Omeyocan may be the sanctuary Em and her comrades seek. But the planet for which they were created turns out not to be a pristine, virgin world. Vestiges of a lost civilization testify to a horrifying past that may yet repeat itself. And when a new enemy creeps from the jungle shadows, Em and her young refugees learn there’s nowhere left to run. They face a simple choice: fight or die.

In the midst of this desperate struggle, their unity is compromised from within—and a dangerous zealot devoted to a bloodthirsty god moves to usurp Em’s command, threatening to lead them all down a path to violent doom.

Review:
Alight is the second installment in a heart-pounding science fiction series. Alive was completely unique and exceptional. I wasn’t sure how this sequel could measure up. However, I was once again completely pulled in to the story. Now that Em and the rest of the children are on the surface of new and foreign planet, the the feel is very different. But there are still many questions left to answer and many more once they start exploring the planet. And just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, a major plot twist took me by surprise. This incredible fast-paced, suspense-filled adventure is only rivaled by the vivid and captivating characters. Teens and adults alike will enjoy this dramatic, science fiction series.

Author Interview: Catherine Egan

Catherine Egan author photo

Author Catherine Egan joins us today to talk about her latest release, Julia Vanishes!

Can you tell us a bit about this world where Julia lives?

Julia lives in Spira City, which is a sort of alternate version of late-Victorian-era London or La Belle Époque in Paris. The Prime Minister, Agoston Horthy, has outlawed all forms of magic and superstition, and witches are drowned in public Cleansings. The city is still reeling from a failed revolution and a terrible plague that left Julia’s brother scarred and crippled. It seems that magic has been virtually stamped out, but scratch the surface and the city is teeming with hidden powers and what Julia’s friend Liddy calls Something Elses.

What are these witches like? What are their abilities?

Witches can only work magic by writing it down, so an illiterate witch would essentially be powerless, and a witch with a pen is considered armed and dangerous. While they can alter nature in some small ways, the larger the spell, the greater the physical toll it takes on the witch. Julia’s mother never fully recovered from using magic to save her son’s life when he was ill as a child. Witches are also physically much stronger than ordinary people. They cannot be burned, and so fire is the test for a witch, and they cannot swim or float, so they are killed by drowning.

What do you have planned next after JULIA VANISHES? Any other stories on the horizon?

My horizon is made of stories! Right now I am still working on the sequels to JULIA VANISHES, but I confess that every now and then I guiltily spend my writing time making notes on my next planned book instead of tending to Julia. I’ve loved writing these books, but I am very ready for the next thing, and it is ready for me!

What is your favorite genre to read?

I don’t know if I have a favorite genre. I suppose the majority of my books are literary fiction, SFF, or historical. If you mix those three together, like in Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’m in heaven.

Can you tell us about your journey to getting published?

I think I’ve been stumbling blindly for a long time without a clear idea of what I wanted to write or what I wanted to do with it. I published short stories in journals for many years – I thought I was writing magic realism for adults, but if I’d noticed earlier that half my stories had teen protagonists and a ghost or a troll or a fairy godmother it might not have taken me so long to come around to YA fantasy.

I wrote a novel for adults that nobody wanted, but I had a long exchange about it with the editor of Coteau Books, a small indie press in Saskatchewan. He gave me excellent feedback for a very thorough rewrite. When I told him I was going to take a break and write a children’s book, he told me to send it to them when I was done, and so I did. This “break” turned into me feeling like I’d found my genre, and Coteau Books published my three novels about a young Sorceress finding her place in the world.

While those books were coming out, I was working on JULIA VANISHES, which I sent by standard query to four agents when I was done (or: when I thought I was done!). Steve Malk thought it was promising and asked if I was willing to revise it. I said OF COURSE and we spent about a year reworking it. He would send me (excellent) notes, I’d rewrite the book, send it back, and he would send more notes. The result was a much better book, of course, and it sold quickly once it was done.

What are your plans for book release day?

I haven’t thought about it yet! It should probably involve chocolate, don’t you think?


About the Book:
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers invites readers to meet a heroine like no other in JULIA VANISHES (on sale June 7, 2016 / $17.99 / Ages 14 up), the first book in the Witch’s Child trilogy by Catherine Egan. Filled with murder, magic, mystery, and betrayal, this captivating read will have teen readers and fantasy lovers hanging on every page as they become acquainted with Julia and the things she needs to do in order to get by—even if it leaves a mark on her conscience. Even as the line between good and evil seems to become more blurry every day. . . .

Julia lives in a city terrorized by a serial killer. A city that witnesses the drowning of anyone deemed a witch, and that has outlawed all forms of magic. With no biological family to call her own, Julia and her brother have taken up with a group of thieves who steal in order to survive. And Julia makes a great thief and spy, thanks to her unusual ability to remain unseen. Not invisible exactly, but just beyond people’s senses. In her world, it is a valuable trait to have.

Now a teenager and fully immersed in the life that has been handed to her, Julia finds herself being paid to spy in the house of Mrs. Och, a woman known to aid witches and associate with a cast of mysterious characters. It seems as if suspicious activities are happening both inside and beyond the house’s walls, too and Julia’s boss wants her to report back with every detail.

As Julia becomes more entrenched in the Och household, she realizes that the job she has been paid to do is a conflicting one. If she delivers the information required of her, she can harm some of the very people she is starting to care for. But if she doesn’t, she won’t receive her payment, and she puts herself at risk for some very unpleasant consequences. A traitor no matter how she looks at it, Julia now faces the ultimate dilemma and the results will both surprise and stun readers.

About the Author:
CATHERINE EGAN grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Since then, she has lived on a volcanic island in Japan (which erupted while she was there and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now-husband), in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Beijing, on an oil rig in the middle of Bohai Bay, then in New Jersey, and now in New Haven, Connecticut. She is currently occupied with writing books and fighting dragon armies with her warrior children. You can read more about her at catherineegan.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ByCatherineEgan.

Fantasy Book Review: Five Kingdoms: Death Weavers

Five Kingdoms: Death Weavers by Brandon Mull

Synopsis:
Since arriving in the Outskirts, Cole and his friends have fought monsters, challenged knights, and battled rampaging robots. But none of that has prepared them for Necronum.

In this haunting kingdom, it’s hard to tell the living from the dead, and secret pacts carry terrifying risks. Within Necronum lies the echolands, a waystation for the departed where the living seldom venture.

Still separated from his power, Cole must cross to the echolands and rely on his instincts to help rescue his friends. With enemies closing in, Cole risks losing everything to find the one thing that might save them.

Review:
Cole and his friends visit the strange Necronum kingdom, searching for missing princesses, in this latest installment in the Five Kingdoms series. It’s a land of ghost-like echos and strange rules.

The Death Weavers is the fourth installment in this epic fantasy series for middle readers. It’s full of danger, suspense, drama, and plot twists. There are also some familiar and beloved characters from another series who make an appearance. This is by far the most unique land that Mull has created – vivid and immense. I’m a big fan of his novels, and these just continue to impress. I look forward to the final installment in this exciting and captivating series.

Fantasy Book Review: Demigods & Magicians

Demigods & Magicians by Rick Riordan

Synopsis:
Magic, monsters, and mayhem abound when Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase meet Carter and Sadie Kane for the first time. Weird creatures are appearing in unexpected places, and the demigods and magicians have to team up to take them down. As they battle with Celestial Bronze and glowing hieroglyphs, the four heroes find that they have a lot in common-and more power than they ever thought possible. But will their combined forces be enough to foil an ancient enemy who is mixing Greek and Egyptian incantations for an evil purpose?

Review:
I’m a big fan of the Percy Jackson series, so I jumped at the chance to read Demigods & Magicians, where Percy and Annabeth meet the Kane siblings. I don’t read the The Kane Chronicles, so I’m not as familiar with the characters. But the characters (especially Sadie) are fleshed out well.

Demigods & Magicians is comprised of three short stories. The first, is an adventure with the two boys as they meet while fighting a monstrous creature. The second story involves the two girls in a similar way. In the third story they all team up to take down the big baddie. Fans of either or both of the series will enjoy this book. The stories are exciting and humorous as the kids all get to know each other and the Egyptian magic versus the Greek demigod powers. It’s fast-paced and a fun, quick read.

Fantasy Book Review: The Tale of a No-Name Squirrel

The Tale of a No-Name Squirrel by Radhika R Dhariwal

Synopsis:
Squirrel never expected to be anything other than a slave: the last animal slave in Bimmau. That is, until he is invited to a high profile wedding and takes a sip of the forbidden ceremonial wine, unlocking a mysterious riddle. The riddle reveals that there is a key which has the power to grant Squirrel his freedom (and a name!), but also could enslave anyone in Bimmau. Disastrous if it falls into the wrong hands! Squirrel and his friends find themselves in a race to find Brittle’s Key before the army of crows gets to him…and before the mysterious Colonel finds the key first.

Review:
Squirrel and his friends embark on a big adventure to several lands with diverse creatures. With fun clues and plenty of intrigue, this is a fun story that all ages will enjoy. And the accompanying illustrations are gorgeous. The feel of the story reminded me of Disney’s The Rescuers – with plenty of danger and adventure, but still light-hearted. I thoroughly enjoyed this world of talking animals and a sweet, Squirrel with a good heart.

Prize Pack Giveaway: The Last Star

the last star prize pack the last star prize pack

Extended Sampler: https://issuu.com/penguinteen/docs/the_last_star_sampler

Courtesy of Penguin Teen, I have a prize pack consisting of a tote bag, poster, and a finished copy of The Last Star by Rick Yancey for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends May 20. I’ll draw a name on May 21, and notify winner via email.

ENTER DAILY TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING!

Good luck!

Continue reading Prize Pack Giveaway: The Last Star

Fantasy Book Review: Once Upon a Dream

Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

Synopsis:
It should be simple-a dragon defeated, a slumbering princess in a castle, a prince poised to wake her. But when the prince falls asleep as his lips touch the fair maiden’s, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.

With a desperate fairy’s last curse controlling her mind, Princess Aurora must escape from a different castle of thorns and navigate a dangerously magical landscape-created from her very own dreams. Aurora isn’t alone-a charming prince is eager to join her quest, and old friends offer their help. But as Maleficent’s agents follow her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are and, moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?

Review:
Aurora is caught up in a dream world that has replaced everyone’s memories. When she begins to find clues to outside the castle, she eventually discovers that everything she knows is a lie. Prince Phillip slays the dragon and kisses Aurora to awaken her, but instead falls asleep as well. While he fell in love (instantly) with her, Aurora has no memory of him. Still, the two work together to defeat Maleficent once and for all.

Once Upon a Dream is an inspired re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty. In fact, the author takes the original Disney story and expounds on it – building it to a darker, complex tale. The insta-love from the movie is expounded on here and made more realistic. This magical story is full of suspense and captivating characters. The setting and darker, twisted feel reminded me a bit of a Neil Gaiman fantasy. I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh take on a familiar fairy tale.