Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Blog Tour: The Weight of Feathers (With Giveaway!)


Hey everyone! I'm really excited to be part of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS tour. Today, I'll be sharing an excerpt and quote from this novel as well as hosting a giveaway. First, for those who haven't heard of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS yet...

"For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she's been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice."

Published: September 15th 2015 by Thomas Dunne
Add it on Goodreads



Excerpt: THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore. Copyright © 2015 by the author and reprinted by permission of Thomas Dunne Books / St. Martin’s Griffin.

The feathers were Lace’s first warning. They showed up between suitcases, in the trunk
of her father’s station wagon, on the handles of came-with-the-car first-aid kits so old the gauze
had yellowed. They snagged on antennas, turning the local stations to static.

Lace’s mother found a feather in with the family’s costumes the day they crossed into
Almendro, a town named for almond fields that once filled the air with the scent of sugary
blossoms and bitter wood. But over the last few decades an adhesive plant had bought out the
farms that could not survive the droughts, and the acres of almonds dwindled to a couple of
orchards on the edge of town.

The wisp of that black feather caught on a cluster of sequins. Lace knew from the set to
her mother’s eyes that she’d throw the whole mermaid tail in a bucket and burn it, elastane and
all.

Lace grabbed the tail and held on. If her mother burned it, it would take Lace and her
great-aunt at least a week to remake it. Tía Lora’s hands were growing stiff, and Lace’s were
new and slow.

Her mother tried to pull the tail from her grip, but Lace balled the fabric in her hands.

“Let go,” her mother warned.

“It’s one feather.” Lace dug in her fingers. “It’s not them.” Lace knew the danger of
touching a Corbeau. Her abuela said she’d be better off petting a rattlesnake. But these feathers
were not the Corbeaus’ skin. They didn’t hold the same poison as a Corbeau’s body.

“It’s cursed,” her mother said. One hard tug, and she won. She threw the costume tail into
a bucket and lit it. The metal pail grew hot as a stove. The fumes off the melting sequins stung
Lace’s throat.

“Did you have to burn the whole thing?” she asked.

“Better safe, mija,” her mother said, wetting down the undergrowth with day-old aguas
frescas so the brush wouldn’t catch.

They could have cleaned the tail, blessed it, stripped away the feather’s touch. Burning it
only gave the Corbeaus more power. Those feathers already had such weight. The fire in the pail
was an admission that, against them, Lace’s family had no guard.

Before Lace was born, the Palomas and the Corbeaus had just been competing acts, two
of the only shows left that bothered with the Central Valley’s smallest towns. Back then it was
just business, not hate. Even now Lace’s family sometimes ended up in the same town with a
band of traveling singers or acrobats, and there were no fights, no blood. Only the wordless
agreement that each of them were there to survive, and no grudges after. Every fall when the
show season ended, Lace’s aunts swapped hot-plate recipes with a trio of trapeze artists. Her
father traded homeschooling lesson plans with a troupe of Georgian folk dancers.

The Corbeaus never traded anything with anyone. They shared nothing, took nothing.

They kept to themselves, only straying from the cheapest motel in town to give one of Lace’s
cousins a black eye, or leave a dead fish at the riverbank. Lace and Martha found the last one, its
eye shining like a wet marble.

Before Lace was born, these were bloodless threats, ways the Corbeaus tried to rattle her
family before their shows. Now every Paloma knew there was nothing the Corbeaus wouldn’t
do.

Lace’s mother watched the elastane threads curl inside a shell of flame. “They’re
coming,” she said.

“Did you think they wouldn’t?” Lace asked. Her mother smiled. “I can hope, can’t I?”

She could hope all she wanted. The Corbeaus wouldn’t give up the crowds that came
with Almendro’s annual festival. So many tourists, all so eager to fill their scrapbooks. That
meant two weeks in Almendro. Two weeks when the younger Paloma men hardened their fists,
and their mothers prayed they didn’t come home with broken ribs.

Lace’s grandmother set the schedule each year, and no one spoke up against Abuela. If
they ever did, she’d pack their bags for them. Lace had watched Abuela cram her cousin Licha’s
things into a suitcase, clearing her perfumes and lipsticks off the motel dresser with one sweep of
her arm. When Lace visited her in Visalia and they went swimming, Licha’s two-piece showed
that her escamas, the birthmarks that branded her a Paloma, had disappeared.

Lace’s mother taught her that those birthmarks kept them safe from the Corbeaus’
feathers. That family was el Diablo on earth, with dark wings strapped to their bodies, French on
their tongues, a sprinkling of gypsy blood. When Lace slept, they went with her, living in
nightmares made of a thousand wings.

Another black feather swirled on a downdraft. Lace watched it spin and fall. It settled in
her hair, its slight weight like a moth’s feet.

Her mother snatched it off Lace’s head. “¡Madre mía!” she cried, and threw it into the
flames.

Lace’s cousins said the Corbeaus grew black feathers right out of their heads, like hair.

She never believed it. It was another rumor that strengthened the Corbeaus’ place in their
nightmares. But the truth, that wind pulled feathers off the wings they wore as costumes, wasn’t
a strong enough warning to keep Paloma children from the woods.

“La magia negra,” her mother said. She always called those feathers black magic.

The fire dimmed to embers. Lace’s mother gave the pail a hard kick. It tumbled down the
bank and into the river, the hot metal hissing and sinking.

“Let them drown,” her mother said, and the last of the rim vanished.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna-Marie McLemore was born in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and grew up in a Mexican-American family. She attended University of Southern California on a Trustee Scholarship. A Lambda Literary Fellow, she has had work featured by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, CRATE Literary Magazine's cratelit, Camera Obscura's Bridge the Gap Series, and The Portland Review. The Weight of Feathers is her first novel.

Giveaway: Thanks to the fabulous people at Thomas Dunne, I am giving away one copy of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS. This giveaway is only open to US and CA participants and ends October 3rd. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Blog Tour: Dream Things True (With Giveaway)


Title: Dream Things True
Author: Marie Marquardt
Published: September 1st 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin
Goodreads
Source: eARC courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town.

Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much -- except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard. But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There's too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives."

Review: Two things I'm constantly seeking nowadays, in terms of YA novels, are originality and diversity. DREAM THINGS TRUE fits that bill. This is a novel that deals with current issues that will touch many hearts and leave readers wondering how many people must be going through this.

First off, this is a novel about Alma and Evan- two every people with incredibly different backgrounds. While Alma must keep her family and situation a secret, Evan's life is all about fulfilling expectations. Both characters are incredibly flawed yet somehow blend well together into what I can only describe as this sort of awry perfection. Evan lives a life of privileged and as he gets to know Alma, he begins questioning his beliefs and thoughts. His upbringing is nothing like hers. While this is occurring, Alma is dealing with her own struggles, one of which being how to become close to Evan without revealing that she's an undocumented immigrant.

What I loved about the novel is how it explored to very different classes and cultures. The Spanish included in the novel was a nice touch, though I often found myself google translating half of the dialogue (Hablo muy poco espanol- I think that's how you say it.). The writing was also another thing I adored. It felt flawless, so I found myself easily getting into the story and sticking with it. I actually finished this in one day.

Now, the romance itself can be categorized in the insta-love category. It felt all-consuming, which gave me mixed feelings. Typically, I prefer relationships to build, but I also think teenagers are very much all or nothing when it comes to romance. I understood it from that perspective. The downfall is I do think the story line took a backseat to the romance. I would've liked the novel to focus more on Alma's family and situation and slightly less on her relationship with Evan.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and recommend it to fans of Simone Elkeles. It's one I won't be forgetting anytime soon. I'm definitely look forward to seeing what the author has in store for us next.

Rating:

3.5 Stars



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marie Marquardt is a Scholar-in-Residence at Emory University's Candler School of Theology and the author of Living Illegal: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration. She is widely published on issues of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. South. Marquardt has also worked as an advocate among immigrants in Atlanta. She is a founder and co-chair of El Refugio, a hospitality house near the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. Dream Things True is Marie's first young adult novel.

From Dream Things True (St. Martin's Griffin) by Marie Marquardt

Evan led her onto the dock, where a dozen people she didn’t know were climbing into ski boats. She watched as all of these strangers, presumably students at her new school, casually distributed themselves into boats.

Do teenagers own boats? Alma wondered. Evan led her onto his boat, where two other people were already rummaging around under the seats for life jackets. An athletic-looking girl with long brown hair threw her one.

“I’m Caroline,” she said, “and that’s Logan.” She motioned toward a short, muscular guy with a shaved head. He had his back to Alma, and was untying ropes from the boat. Hearing his name, he turned and grinned.

“¡Bienvenidos!” he said in terrible, Southern-accented Spanish.

“Just ignore him when he acts like an idiot,” Caroline said. “That’s what I do.”

Evan got behind the wheel and started the engine. Just as he was backing out, an amazingly beautiful girl came running down the dock.

“Evan, hon! Wait for me!” she called out.

The girl reached the edge of the dock and, without hesitating, leapt gracefully across the water and toward the boat. She was wearing nothing but a bright-red string bikini. Her sandy-blond hair bounced and shone like a model’s in a shampoo commercial.

Evan pulled her safely onto the boat, and she collapsed into the passenger seat.

“Thanks, sweetheart,” she said to Evan.

“This is Alma,” Evan said, nodding in Alma’s direction. “She’ll be starting at Gilberton next week. And this is Mary Catherine,” he said, grabbing onto the beautiful girl’s shoulder and squeezing hard. “She’s my perpetually late neighbor.”

“But he loves me anyway!” Mary Catherine proclaimed. Then she smiled, revealing perfect teeth to match her perfect body. Were they flirting? Alma felt a tightness in her chest, knowing that she was no competition for this girl.

The engine rumbled, and the boat lurched forward from the dock. Evan grasped Alma’s arm to steady her and then pulled her toward him. “Ready to learn how to drive?”

“You’re mocking me,” she called out above the noise of the engine. “I don’t think you even need a license to drive a boat,” Evan said.

“Plus, no brakes, so we’re safe.”

Keeping one hand on the steering wheel, he wedged her body in front of his and guided her hand to the throttle. “Do you want to go faster?”

“No.” The wind pressed her back against him, and she felt the heat of his chest through the T-shirt.

“Are you scared?” His lip brushed her ear as he spoke.

“Yes,” she said. Her body was off balance, as if the floor of the boat were shifting under her.

“Get over it,” he replied, lifting her hand gently and placing it on the throttle.

Together, their hands guided the throttle forward. She tried looking across the lake, in the direction that he was steering, but all she noticed was his hand on hers. The floor kept shifting. She wondered if this was what it felt like to be drunk. He slipped out from behind her.

“I’m gonna dig out the skis. Just keep going straight, Alma. It’s easy.”

She grasped the wheel hard to avoid falling back. The boat skittered over the water, and the wind fused Evan’s T-shirt to her practically bare skin. Alma tried hard to ignore the dull ache spreading at the pit of her stomach.

After a few minutes, Evan took the wheel. Caroline and Logan both dived into the water and began to swim fast as Evan tossed a ski rope in their direction.

“This should be entertaining,” he said as they wrestled with their slalom skis.

“Entertaining?” Alma asked. “Yeah, they’ll both show off.” “Are they, uh, a couple?”

“Most of the time. They fight all the time and break up every couple of months.”

Evan shoved the throttle forward and the boat lurched.

“Logan gets bored easily,” he said. “He’s always looking for a rush.” Logan and Caroline both popped out of the water, crisscrossing each other as they leapt and dived over the wake. “So they just break up for fun?”

“Yeah, I think it runs in his blood. Everybody says his dad was the same, back in the day. He stole boats and stuff, just for the hell of it.” He shrugged and continued, “Which is weird, since he’s the sheriff now.” The sheriff. Evan said it like it was nothing, like he was describing the color of Logan’s dad’s car, or his height—not like he knew this man had the power to throw people in jail and keep them there.

Evan gestured toward Logan and Caroline and winced. “That’s gotta hurt.”

Caroline was spinning in rapid circles as Logan did strange contortions with his arm.

Maybe, Alma thought, they were all so used to being around powerful people that they didn’t even notice it anymore. Maybe they never had.

“Come back here, Alma!” Mary Catherine called from the back of the boat. “I can’t hear what y’all are saying and I’m lonely.”

Alma glanced at Evan and shrugged. She made her way back and settled into a bucket seat next to Mary Catherine.

Alma wasn’t sure how to make conversation with Mary Catherine. She seemed so unapproachable—this girl who wore a bikini confidently, like she was hanging in comfy sweats. But within moments, it became clear that Mary
Catherine—or M.C., as Evan called her—was not your typical Southern belle.

“So, when did you and Evan start hooking up?” she asked. For starters, she was excruciatingly blunt.

“Uh, we’re just sort of friends,” Alma replied, shrugging.

“Alma, honey,” she said, “I’ve known that boy forever, and the way he looks at you, he doesn’t wanna be your friend.”

M.C. let out a deep, bellowing howl that sounded like it should come from a balding white guy with a beer gut. Alma was so surprised by M.C.’s laugh that she forgot to be embarrassed.

“OK.” Alma shrugged. “Maybe we’re not exactly friends. But we’re not hooking up.”

“Makes sense,” Mary Catherine responded, sort of talking to herself. “Evan doesn’t really hook up. Plus, I would have known.”

Confused and desperate to change the subject, Alma asked, “So how did you two meet?”

“Meet?” M.C. asked. “We’ve been neighbors for as long as either of us can remember. I mean, we used to play doctor together! I was the doctor. I always made Evan be the nurse.”
Mary Catherine bellowed again.

“So when you and Evan do hook up,” she said, “you can thank me for his gentle, nurturing touch.”

Now Alma was blushing.

“You mean, you and Evan were, uh . . .”

“Together? Lord, no. He’s like a baby brother to me, Alma. I think I went through puberty something like four years before he did.”

Alma and Mary Catherine turned to look at Evan, his perfectly toned arms casually gripping the steering wheel, his broad shoulders gleaming in the sun.

“My baby’s all grown up,” Mary Catherine continued. “Now, he’s what my grandmomma calls a ‘tall drink of water.’ ”

They both laughed, catching Evan’s attention.

“What are you ladies talking about back there?” he asked.

“Nothing that concerns you, Ev, sweetheart,” Mary Catherine re- plied. “You just drive the boat.”

“Not unless Alma gets back up here to finish her driving lesson,” Evan said, reaching his arm out toward her.

Mary Catherine laughed and nudged her out of the seat.

“You heard him,” she called out. “You better get on up there, darlin’, because I’m sure as hell not driving.”

Alma closed her eyes and stood up slowly, her head spinning and her legs quivering.

He took her hand and pulled her body back toward the wheel, and she realized, finally, the meaning of the word “swoon.”



Giveaway: Thanks to the amazing team at St. Martin's Griffin, I am giving away one copy of DREAM THINGS TRUE. This giveaway is only open to US participants and ends September 30th. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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