Book Tour — Broken by CJ Lyons

blogtour

Today I’m VERY excited to have CJ Lyons stop by to promote her new release, Broken.  Broken is a young adult mystery/thriller that was released November 5, 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire.

About the Book

BrokenNCR

The Deets

Author: CJ Lyons
Pub Date: 11/5/13
Format: e-book, hardcover
Pages: 325 pages
Pub: Sourcebooks Fire
Read: November 16, 2013
Acquired: Netgalley
Book Pages: Amazon.com • Goodreads.com  •  Author’s Website  
Book Type: YA, mystery, thriller

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now… or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does. (From Goodreads.com)

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My Thoughts

There was so much to like about this book! It has an interesting cover and catchy premise — but beyond that we’ve got a best-selling author who is also a medical doctor. I knew going in I was going to be in the medical realm, but I was SO impressed with how Lyons incorporated the medical information. Not only do we learn about our main protagonist, but we see lots of different medical issues throughout the story.

We begin the book with a fifteen year old girl named Scarlett on her first day of high school (ever). She has to carry a defibrillator everywhere she goes, because of her rare heart condition. At this point, I think it is important to note that while this book is a thriller, it is also very slow going in. I counted and I was 30% into the book before the first day ever ended. So roughly the first third of the book revolves around ONE day of this girl’s life. Obviously it picks up speed, but that did make it slow going for awhile. And the writing is good, so that isn’t the issue, it was just a really slow pace and I kept wanting it to jump from the gate.

There’s a couple of confusing issues with the beginning — like the encounter with the bully (she happens to know his name even though it is her first day, ever), but overall we really get to see into the dynamics and back story of Scarlett.

Scarlett has been sick since a very young age. Her mother died in child birth, but her father remarried. Honestly, if the author wouldn’t have told me she was a step mom, I would have never guessed. She is obsessed with Scarlett’s health (as you would expect any mother to be), and is worried about Scarlett trying to make it in HS. We get to see the dynamics of her working as the school nurse (and embarrassing Scarlett in the process).

Scarlett not only faces a severe medical issue, that has tried to kill her several times, but she is a very sheltered girl. I think had she been out in the world, she would have seen a lot of the signs. I also commend her on being able to find a great group of friends very quickly. The meeting was obviously a strategic move on the author, but they were all interesting characters.

One of her friends had a sister with autism. Scarlett’s mother says that even though the girl had autism, it was no excuse to have the behavior she did. That was hard to read, because so many people feel that way. I really commend Lyons in bringing this social issue of misunderstanding people with disabilities and bullying to light. The kids in this group are tormented because 1. a sick parent and sister with autism, 2. a sister committed suicide, and 3. a girlfriend committed suicide. It’s so asinine, but it is reality. And Scarlett is mocked furiously for being sick. It’s incredibly ridiculous when you read it in black and white, but people do it every day. I really think Lyons did a great job making that not only a part of the story, but leaving that idea rolling around in the readers’ heads.

There are a lot of things that I can’t talk about from here on out. There are several plot twists in the book – some I expected, but others I didn’t. Even though I expected the results, the way Lyons presented the information was not at all how I was expecting. It also is a little open-ended on what exactly happened with other people (besides Scarlett). Vague, yes, but you will understand when you read it!

The ending was great, because it wasn’t happily ever after, but very realistic. I hope that Scarlett has a long, full life. I know she sure does deserve it!

It was definitely a unique read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes crime tv, medical shows, etc.

Rating

3_5stars

Inside the Author’s Head

Jess: Welcome to the blog!  This story takes what could be a contemporary, ‘tough issues’ type book and turns it on its head – it adds a thrilling, mysterious component.  Can you first tell readers where the idea came from for Broken

CJ: Scarlet’s character is loosely based on my own experiences as a pediatrician. I diagnosed my niece, Abby, with the same congenital heart condition, Long QT, when Abby was only twenty minutes old and BROKEN is dedicated to her.

Watching my niece refuse to allow her disease to define her was such a contrast to some other patients’ parents who would insist on making their child’s disease (most not life-threatening) the center of the child’s world that I couldn’t help but wonder what would it be like to grow up being treated as a “patient” all your life, or worse as the “dying girl,” rather than ever having the chance to figure out who you really were, dying or not.

What better disease to give a character like that than something rare and hard to diagnose and treat like Long QT? Of course, Scarlet is nothing at all like my niece (the best adjective to describe my niece would be “fierce” whereas Scarlet is very naïve and used to being controlled by the adults in her life) but by having Scarlet start the story as someone unsure of who she really is as a person, it makes her struggle and transformation as she faces the truth behind her illness all the more powerful.

After all, it’s easy for someone strong to stand up to bullies or uncertainty or injustice…but how does a kid who has lived all her life in a hospital, basically just waiting to die, learn how to be a hero and find her destiny?

Jess: What kind of research did you have to do to prepare yourself to write Broken?

CJ: Not much! Given my seventeen years of practicing pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine, this was one book that I’d already lived.

Jess: How did your studies and experiences in life help shape who you are as a writer?

CJ: There’s a touch of medicine and my real life experiences in all my books (although none of my real life patients, of course!) but one of the reasons I call my books Thrillers with Heart is that they’re more about the people and the challenges they face and less about the medical science or technology or adrenaline-rush action.

Working as a pediatric ER doctor and community pediatrician gave me the chance to experience first-hand highly charged emotional situations that I can translate to any of my characters, whether they’re physicians or not. For instance, I’ve been in two hard landings while flying in helicopters, I’ve talked down agitated gang-bangers and violent adults, I’ve helped families say good-bye to their children as they died, I’ve gotten confessions from child abusers, and even come face to face with a serial killer.

Jess: Okay, so I always like to see what authors read.  What are your top five favorite books and why?

CJ: Only five? Yikes! Guess I’ll start with the classics. One that I’ve read so many times that I’ve gone through several copies is Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. I love the lyricism and the honest portrayal of adults and kids who are very fallible, yet also find the courage to make a stand. Also Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale simply transported me with the poetry of his language and his evocative characters. I also am constantly re-reading Perrault’s Fairy Tales (much grimmer than Grimm’s, pun intended!). As a pediatrician, I adored Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak and recommended it to many of my patients. I’ll read anything by Ellen Hopkins (YA or her adult books—she could write a shopping list and I’d read it!) or Sarah Addison Allen (hey, we all could use a little magic in our lives, especially when you’re a thriller writer like me!). I could go on all day, but I think that’s five…or six…

Jess: Night owl or early bird?  How does it help with your writing process?

CJ: Early bird. I love waking up first thing in the morning with my characters already talking to me, urging me to get to the keyboard to write down what’s going on with them.

Jess: Did you always know you wanted to be an author?

CJ: I’ve always used stories to makes sense of the world around me—it’s my coping mechanism for dealing with chaos. But I never really thought of writing as a career until after I sold my second novel–that’s second novel sold. I’d written my first novel in high school followed by two SF/F novels in medical school. I think I had five or six full novels and several half-started ones finished by the time I sold my first book.

Jess: If you could live in one ‘book world’ which one would it be and why?

CJ: Wow! Tough question. The worlds of most of my favorite books are too dangerous (like Hunger Games, Neil Gaiman, or Harry Potter)—maybe I need to be reading lighter books, lol! I guess I’d have to choose the world of Dr. Who, as long as I could be in the TARDIS with all of space and time to choose from…and if you could include the David Tennant version of the Doctor, well, I’d never leave! (Ahh, yes! Let’s go!)

Jess: What projects do you think you’ll work on next now that Broken has been published?

CJ: I just turned in my second YA Thriller and this one was so hard to write! It deals with two kids, Jesse and Miranda, being black mailed by a cyber-predator using capping (screen capture images) and how they find the courage to stand up to him (with the help of their parents). They go through hell and some of the things that happen to them were so painful to write that I was weeping as I typed—but then I was crying again when I wrote the ending as they rose above it all and triumphed.

I thought it would be a stand alone, but after I finished it (the working title is DAMAGED, but I’m not sure if we’ll be keeping it) I realized there aren’t many books out there that tell you the rest of the story, the price to be paid for defeating the bad guys, so I’d love to tackle another book with Jesse and Miranda and show how their courage, strength, and relationship continue to evolve.

About the Author

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of seventeen novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

Learn more about CJ’s Thrillers with Heart at www.CJLyons.net and everything she knows about being a bestseller at www.NoRulesJustWRITE.com

Connect with CJ

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Book Tour — Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards

blogtour

Today I’m VERY excited to have Natalie D. Richards stop by to promote her new release, Six Months Later.  Six Month Later is a young adult mystery/thriller (that will leave you on the edge of your seat!) that was released October 1, 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire.

About the Book

sixmonths

The Deets

Author: Natalie D. Richards
Pub Date: 10/1/13
Format: e-book, hardcover
Pages: 336 pages
Pub: Sourcebooks Fire
Read: August 16, 2013
Acquired: Netgalley
Book Pages: Amazon.com • Goodreads.com  •  Author’s Website  
Book Type: YA, mystery, thriller

Synopsis

Chloe didn’t think about it much when she nodded off in study hall on that sleepy summer day. But when she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can’t remember the last six months of her life. Before, she’d been a mediocre student. Now, she’s on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he’s her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won’t speak to her.

What happened to her?
And why can’t she remember? (From Goodreads.com)

My Thoughts

Why You Should Buy It

This creeptastic mystery will grab you by the lapels from the first word and won’t let go until the very end.  Six Months Later is everything to love in a great mystery thriller book.

*I received this e-book in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley.*

There are some books that you have to get into to.  You have to push through the first few chapters before the rewards pay off.  And then there are those books that grab you from the first word.  Six Months Later happened to fall in the later category.  From the first moment I opened it, I was hooked.  I spent the entire book confused, stomach in knots, wondering what was going on.  This book was downright creepy!

The writing was great, but beyond that the story was so captivating.  I mean, pages into the story she is waking up six months in the future, so you spend most of the book wondering what happened to this poor girl.  The confusion, twists and turns were just enough to propel the story through to the end.

There is one other thing I want to mention about the book.  I LOVE how Chloe realizes that all the changes in her life that everyone seems to love are just not her.  She is a strong enough individual to understand that being things you aren’t just to please others is not what life is about.  And especially when she comes to the conclusion that the things she has to be to date a boy she liked aren’t who she is, we really get to see what a mature and intelligent character we are dealing with.

As a person who normally figures the plot out early in a book, I was pleasantly surprised to NOT know what was going on for most of the book.  I had all kinds of wild theories going on: pod people, aliens, mind control, comas, etc.  Trying to figure out what was going on was just as fun as reading the book.

And even when you find out what is going on, there still isn’t relief.  I was so nervous, so invested in Chloe that I couldn’t slow down until I knew she was safe.  And that, my friends, is why I enjoyed this book so much.  It was everything to love in a mystery thriller.

Rating

4_5stars

Inside the Author’s Head

Welcome to the blog!  Can you first tell readers where the idea came from for Six Months Later? 

Thank you so much, Jessica!  It’s lovely to be here — thank you for having me!

Six Months Later was actually born from a work nightmare I had. LOL!  In the dream, I’d dozed off at my desk and when I opened my eyes, it felt like only a few moments had passed, but outside it was a totally different season.  The dream was like a nanosecond long, but it left me so chilled.  And that question, “What if you fell asleep and woke up missing a huge chunk of time?” stayed with me, slowly unfolding into something much bigger.

This story was completely fascinating and terrifying.  What kind of research did you have to do to prepare yourself to write it?

Jessica, I’m going to cut this question out and keep it in my pocket for yucky days — how sweet of you!! I’ll be honest, creepy is right in my wheelhouse.  My friends don’t tend to ask me if I’m going to write something dark.  They ask “How Dark This Time?”  It’s actually sort of weird because I’m a total class clown who loves to laugh, so who knows why I’ve got this eerie streak running through me, but I obviously do!

It’s not really just about the fear for me, it’s more about what a character is going to do with that fear.  When things in life go horribly wrong, we all find out what we’re really made of.  So for my books, and especially Six Months Later, the most important research I did was on my characters.  I needed to really understand them. A lot of it happens in edits, to be honest.  I learn so much as I write characters that I have to go back and fix things in the beginning that don’t feel right now that I know them better.

How did your studies and experiences in life help shape who you are as a writer?

I’ve studied writing and literature since I was very young and in my career path, I’ve practiced technical, legal, and business writing.  I’ve also pursued several fiction writing classes and joined writing groups, which is enormously helpful.  That said, I’m still a firm believer that the best way to become a good writer is to read.  A Lot.  I think it’s a critical part of the job.  There are loads of classes and books that are helpful.  If asked for recommendations, I’d have to say Stephen King’s “On Writing” is at the top of the stack for me.

Okay, so I always like to see what authors read.  What are your top five favorite books and why?

Oh, man.  There’s just no way I can pick my top five.  And that’s really because I probably have a top 100.  I love books.  I mean, I love them so much I might have attachment issues I should discuss with a therapist!  But here’s five that have been in that top list for a long while.

1.  Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere (because the setting and concept are beyond words)
2.  Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible (killed my soul and gave me hope at the same time)
3.  Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (her voice is magical and this book is simply amazing)
4.  Laurie Halse Anderson – Wintergirls (because her honesty is necessary and still beautiful)
5.  JK Rowling – Harry Potter (I think Harry Potter is bigger than any explanation I can offer – it’s brilliant from beginning to end in a thousand ways.)

Night owl or early bird?  How does it help with your writing process?

NIGHT OWL!  This would help much more with my writing process if my productive time actually peaked in the evening.  But mostly, I find myself on YouTube watching random trailers or on eBay trying to justify the purchase of a cotton candy maker (or something equally ridiculous.)

Did you always know you wanted to be an author?

Yes.  I think I wanted to be an author before I knew what they were called.

If you could live in one ‘book world’ which one would it be and why?

Wow, great question!  Love this! Hmm, off the top of my head I’d go with Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings because everything about it sounds gorgeous, serene, and magical.

What projects do you think you’ll work on next now that Six Months Later has been published?

I’ve already finished my next YA thriller, One Name a Week, which I’m super excited about.  I’m still in the edit/rewrites phase, so I can’t say too much, but I can tell you it’s about a girl who discovers some very dark things going on in her high school.  When she discovers a way to make things right, she goes for it, but it will cost her more than she’s willing to pay.  😉

I also have a few other things in the works including a middle grade adventure and a couple of other dark YA books, one with a little edge of sci-fi.

I hope those answers don’t scare anyone off!! J  Thanks again so much for having me — it’s been a blast to be here!!

About the Author

nataliedrichards

Natalie D. Richards won her first writing competition in the second grade with her short story about Barbara Frances Bizzlefishes (who wouldn’t dare do the dishes.)

Now she writes about awesome girls, broody boys, and all things dark and creepy. When she’s not writing or shopping her manuscripts, you can probably find her wading through the towers of dog-eared paperbacks that have taken over her bedroom.

Natalie lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her techno-wiz husband, three amazing kids, and a seventy pound dust-mop who swears he’s the family dog.

Connect with Natalie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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