Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

Have you read Conjured? If not, you need to-- pronto. It's the newest book by Sarah Beth Durst. Author of some of my fave books: Drink, Slay, Love and Vessel.
 (Click the links above to read my reviews of the books)

The lovely Sarah Beth Durst has graciously agreed to stop by for an interview about her newest book, Conjured.

The Book

1.       Conjured was like nothing I have read before! It is completely different from your other books. What was it like creating a world full of both benevolent and malevolent magic?

 One of the best things about being a writer is being able to play with magic.  Beautiful magic.  Dangerous magic.  I love it all.  For Conjured, I was able to explore both sides: Eve can do almost anything, including making the birds in her wallpaper fly around the room, changing the color of her eyes, and flying into the air.  But there’s a cost.  Every time she uses her magic, she blacks out and experiences terrifying visions of a creepy carnival.

2.       What was your favorite scene in the book to write?

 I loved writing Eve’s visions.  To write those, I asked myself what’s the prettiest, creepiest thing that Eve could possibly see.  Sometimes I creeped myself out…  :)  Here’s a bit from one of my favorites:

Bottles clink together on the shelves.  Skulls snap their mouths open and shut.  The skull of a mouse, of a bird, of a cat, of a man.  Across the wagon, the Storyteller knits a ribbon of red and blue and gold.  It coils around her feet already.  Still, she knits it longer and longer.

 “Once upon a time,” she says.

I want to speak, but my lips won’t move.

“A man and a woman wanted a child…”

I touch my face with my fingers.  My skin feels soft and pliant, but my lips are sealed shut.  I tug at them, and then I tear.  My fingers gouge my cheeks and chin and lips.  My mouth will not open.


3.       Speaking of favorites, which character in Conjured gets golden star status? (I personally was in love with Zach and all his nerdiness.)

I did love writing Zach.  His voice came to me right away (and he didn’t shut up for a while).  But I think my heart belongs to Malcolm.

The nuts and bolts:

4.       What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Be kind to yourself.  It’s so easy to be critical.  There’s such a temptation to compare an idea or an early draft with someone else’s finished book.  But that’s like criticizing a baby for not being able to do long division yet or looking ridiculous in high heels.  You have to give your book time to grow.


5.       Many people are interested in the writing/publishing process. What did you find the most difficult aspect of writing a book?

I always have a point in my process that I call the “doomed” stage.  Usually this happens midway through the first draft, when you start to doubt yourself, your vision, your story, your characters, and/or your choice of shoes.  For me, the best way to deal with the doomed stage is to keep writing.  In fact, I think that’s the cure to pretty much any writing problem ever: write more.

6.       I noticed in the author notes that the idea behind Conjured came from a dream. I am both intrigued and terrified by this. Where else have you found inspiration for your books?

Really varies.  For example, ICE was inspired by the Norwegian folktale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” specifically a picture book illustrated by P.J. Lynch.  It’s essentially “Beauty and the “Beast” meets Arctic adventure.  DRINK, SLAY, LOVE was inspired by wondering about unicorns on a random afternoon -- and deciding that, obviously, unicorns are secretly vampire hunters.  VESSEL was inspired by a dream.  And CONJURED both was inspired by a dream and caused a few nightmares in return!

Something random:

7.       Would you rather always get stuck behind someone at least a foot taller than you at every movie, concert, etc. or always get stuck behind Slowface Johnson whenever you are in a hurry?

Tall!  My husband is over a foot taller than I am, and I’d rather go with him anywhere.  Plus getting somewhere when I’m in a hurry is more important than perfect visibility.

8.       Would you rather have psychic visions of available parking spots or have the ability to always choose the fastest checkout line?

Fastest checkout line.  Visions of parking spots wouldn’t help me.  I’m lousy at parking.  Seriously bad at it.  I’ve had the concept of parallel parking explained to me many, many times, and I fail to grasp it on some fundamental level.  I also can’t whistle, despite how many times people say to just put your lips together and blow.


Are you sold yet? If not, check out this trailer! I guarantee it will send chills down your spine.

Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.


Mini-Review: The School for Good and Evil (Soman Chainani)

The Deets:
Audience: MG and YA
Pages: 488
Publisher: May 14th 2013 by HarperCollins
ISBN: 9780062104892
Genre: fairy tale, adventure, mystery
Source: library book

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

Such a fun book! I really enjoyed this one, and I can't wait for the next books to hit the shelves.

If you are a fan of fairy tales-- or in this case fractured fairy tales-- you will LOVE The School of Good and Evil. It has everything a great adventure needs: romance, villains, and lots of dry humor.

I must admit though, I have mixed feelings for Sophie and Agatha. Well, really I have issues with a certain prince (Tedros) that shows up. Here it is in a nutshell: Sophie and Agatha get mixed up (or so they think) on their way to the school for Good and the school for Evil. Sophie spends most of her time trying to convince everyone she is meant for good instead of realizing how selfish she is. Agatha agrees with Sophie and plots to get into the school of Evil as well. Until...

You can guess the 'until'. I was really disappointed with that aspect of the story. It just felt wrong. I"m not saying the prince should choose the 'bad guy', but for two besties to fight over a guy like that just doesn't cut it in my book. If Agatha was such a great friend, I feel like Tedros should take more of a back seat to Sophie. Maybe I'm the only one that feels this way, but I ended up thinking Agatha was a good bit selfish herself.

Now, don't get me wrong. I really liked Sophie and Agatha. Agatha was a riot! She had me laughing all throughout the book. Sophie mistakes were also pretty entertaining. In addition to the two girls, there were a smattering of other characters that added to my enjoyment. I personally like Dot-- the witch with the chocolate touch.

I read something that said this might become a movie. That will be awesome, and I will be there. There is an epic battle scene that will leave you on the edge of your seat. You will not be disappointed!   

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Minute Review: Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonist

The Deets:
Audience: anyone
Pages: 128
Publisher: September 24th 2013 by First Second
ISBN: 9781596438231
genre: graphic novel, fairy tale
Source: eARC from Netgalley.

Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists

From favorites like "Puss in Boots" and "Goldilocks" to obscure gems like "The Boy Who Drew Cats," Fairy Tale Comics has something to offer every reader. Seventeen fairy tales are wonderfully adapted and illustrated in comics format by seventeen different cartoonists, including Raina Telgemeier, Brett Helquist, Cherise Harper, and more.

Well this was just fun! It's the perfect combination of graphic novel and fairytale anthology. In this book, you will find the well-known fairytales, but you'll also find a few you might not know about.

For instance, I had never heard of "The Boy Who Drew Cats" or "The Princes and the Tortoise." The stories are well told; they are simple but do not leave out the major elements. I think the format of this book makes each of these fairytales accessible to all readers. The combination of illustraions is also enjoyable. Some stories are ellaborately illustrated, while other take a more simplistic approach. Either way, it's going to be a hit with any fan of fairytales.

Book Tour and Review: The Snatchabook (Helen and Thomas Docherty)

The Snatchabook
Where have all the bedtime stories gone?

One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down...when a Snatchabook flew into town.

It's bedtime in the woods of Burrow Down, and all the animals are ready for their bedtime story. But books are mysteriously disappearing. Eliza Brown decides to stay awake and catch the book thief. It turns out to be a little creature called the Snatchabook who has no one to read him a bedtime story. All turns out well when the books are returned and the animals take turns reading bedtime stories to the Snatchabook.

The Snatchabook is a delightful story for younger readers. When I read it aloud to my youngest son, we both fell in love with the story. I loved the message and art work; he loved the characters.

The Snatchabook is adorable. It's a cross between a flying squirrel and a fox-- or at least that's what my son thought. In our house, books are a treasure. So when we read a story about books being stolen, that was serious business! Jacob quickly guessed the plot, but that was okay. It was a great adventure to see the pictures and watch the Snatchabook win a place in everyone's hearts.

You cannot read this book without falling in love. It's impossible. On a surface level it promotes reading (reading teachers rejoice), but more importantly it promotes sharing and acceptance. Snatchabook is lonely. He steals the books because he has no one to read to him. Breaks your heart, doesn't it? One smart little girl discovers the truth and works to find acceptance for the Snatchabook.

Happy endings abound.

The simple rhyme scheme makes this a fun read aloud for younger readers. The set up on the page is gorgeous. The images are phenomenal. I loved seeing all the little animals tucked in their beds reading. This is a must buy book.

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