Sunday, May 24, 2015

{Tour Stop} RACHEL'S DECEPTION by Karen Ann Hopkins—Author Interview + Giveaway

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Rachel's Deception
by Karen Ann Hopkins


TEMPTATION BOOK FOUR

Growing up Amish is difficult…but leaving it behind is even harder.

Noah was Amish...Rose wasn't. Being together should have been impossible. But somehow they found a way to make it work. They are finally a family, but their happily-ever-after is still a long off. Will Rose and her friends be able to force real change in the community? 

 Karen Ann Hopkins returns with a gripping new book in the YA Temptation series. The powerful family saga continues with Rachel's Deception, as events spiral out of control in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview. And Rachel Miller has her own secrets to hide. Noah’s younger sister has been living a double life. That is, until Justin Cameron, Rose's little brother, catches her in the act. Rachel is not the obedient Amish girl that her sister was, and her rebelliousness takes her to a very dangerous world. A world that only her true friends can help her escape from. 

As Rachel questions all she has been taught about love, family, and commitment, Rose discovers what it really means to be shunned. And an evil shadow looms on the horizon, threatening not only Rose, but everyone she holds dear.

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Age Group/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Purchase: Amazon • B&N • Books-A-Million

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with Karen Ann Hopkins


LM: Thank you for being a guest on my blog today! Can you begin by telling us a little behind-the-scenes story about Rachel's Deception?

Karen: It’s wonderful to be here. Thank you for having me! The central plot in Rachel’s Deception is that Rachel Miller, Noah’s little sister, is living a double life. She sneaks out at night while her family sleeps, dresses up ‘English’ (non-Amish), and parties with her English friends. This might shock some readers, but it really does happen occasionally. I personally knew of several young people from the Amish community I lived in who did the exact same thing. One boy in particular, who I took to the mall with my own teenage sons one day, purchased an entire outfit of jeans, a t-shirt, and a ball cap. He met me at the food court an hour later dressed in the street clothes. I was at a loss for words.

LM: Will Rachel's Deception be told from multiple points of view, such as with the previous books in the series? If so, does Rachel herself take on the role of protagonist?

Karen: Rachel’s Deception is told from alternating POV’s between Rose, Rachel, and Justin. They all are major players and protagonists in the book. And all of their stories intertwine to tell a much bigger story.

LM: Did you draw from your real-life experiences when writing this book/series?

Karen: Very much so. As I talked about in the first question, I’ve personally witnessed Amish teens behaving in ways that most people wouldn’t expect. The boys say curse words sometimes and the girls sneak listening to music. Both boys and girls may have secret cell phones, and many of them have an English friend who shows them a movie or plays a radio for them to listen to. I’m very careful to write about things that I’ve either personally observed, talked about with an Amish or ex-Amish person, or experienced myself. This brings a realism to my books that a lot of other Amish fiction doesn’t really have.

LM: If you had to describe Rachel's Deception in just one sentence, what would you say?

Karen: It’s a story about the trials of growing up.

LM: Can readers expect a good bit of romance from this installment in the series?

Karen: Yes of course! There’s a lot of romance in this one, but it’s a different kind of romance than Rose and Noah experienced in the first books. They’re married now and their own relationship has deepened and matured. But Rachel, Justin, and Micah are much more reserved, cautious characters. Perhaps they’ve learned a lesson from witnessing all the troubles that Rose and Noah experienced with their fast and furious, whirlwind romance.

LM: Will you share with us one of your favorite quotes/scenes from Rachel's Deception?

Karen: Rose, Rachel, and Justin are all very colorful characters and it’s difficult to pick one quote or scene. This one is very short, but it definitely sets the stage for the very menacing and suspenseful aspect of this particular book.

Levi’s one eye sparked with madness, and he grinned. “I’m coming for you, Rose.”

LM: What was the most challenging part of writing Rachel's Deception?

Karen: These characters all have a life of their own and revisiting the Meadowview Amish community was like coming home for me. But I must say that for all that, I did have a lot of research to do from my earlier books to refresh my memory. There are so many family members, siblings, and community members in the Amish world to keep track of. I had to make sure that I advanced everyone’s ages properly and didn’t leave anyone out altogether.

LM: Before we wrap-up, is there anything you'd like to add; anything you'd like to say to your readers?

Karen: When I finished Forever, I already had Justin and Rachel’s story in my head. These characters wanted their own story, and even though I so desperately wanted to tell that story, I needed encouragement from fans of the series to put me into action. I’m so very thankful and grateful to have such wonderful fans who’ve inspired me to keep writing in this particularly beautiful world!

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Karen Ann Hopkins resides in northern Kentucky with her family on a farm that boasts a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats. Karen’s main job is home schooling the kids, but she finds time to give riding lessons, coach a youth equestrian drill team, and of course, write. She was inspired to create her first book, Temptation, by the Amish community she lived in. The experiential knowledge she gained through her interactions with her neighbors drove her to create the story of the star-crossed lovers, Rose and Noah.

Karen grew up about a mile from Lake Ontario in Upstate New York. She was bitten by the horse bug at the age of five, and after diligently taking riding lessons for several years, was rewarded with her first horse when she turned eleven. The feisty horse’s name was Lady, a Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, who became Karen’s steadfast companion. Through the years, the constant force in her life was horses. Eventually, she found her place as a riding instructor herself. Before accepting her fate in the barnyard, she worked a short stint as a paralegal, traveled abroad, and guided tourists on horseback riding tours in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Karen is currently working on her Amish mystery series, Serenity’s Plain Secrets, along with the YA paranormal/fantasy series, The Wings of War. Karen is also excited to announce the Temptation series has been optioned for TV by Pilgrim Studios and is available on Audible. More books in the Temptation series are in the works.




WEBSITE • GOODREADS • FACEBOOK • TWITTER

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Thank you so much to Karen Ann Hopkins for being a guest here today! :)

Readers, please continue on giveaway details! ~

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spotlight: THEY CALL ME ALEXANDRA GASTONE by T.A. Maclagan + Interview & Giveaway

+ INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
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They Call me
Alexandra Gastone
by T.A. Maclagan

When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real?

Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation.

She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash.

Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.

For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing.

But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now. Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur.

Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?

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Age Group/Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Full Fathom Five Digital
Purchase: Amazon • B&NKoboBooks-A-Million

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with T.A. Maclagan


LM: What inspired you to write They Call Me Alexandra Gastone?

T.A.: The first spark came when I was watching the movie SALT with Angelina Jolie. In it, she’s a sleeper agent from Russia living in the US. There’s a really short segment in the film in which we see her spy training as a child and then her insertion into the US at a young age. It was that segment that got me thinking about what her life as a teenage sleeper agent might have been like. What kind of relationships would she have? What if she was activated? From there, Alexandra Gastone was born!

LM: What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

T.A.: I’d say getting the relationship between Alexandra and Grant just right was probably the toughest part for me. My agent and editors kept kicking it back to me saying “give us more”. I’m glad they pushed so hard because Alexandra and Grant’s relationship is now one of my favorite parts of the book! 

LM: Tell us a little bit about Alexandra/Milena; who is she?

T.A.: Alexandra/Milena is a strong girl, in an impossible situation. Asked to serve her nation at the expense of important people in her life, she’s in a no win situation. She’s someone who is struggling to find her own identity after years of living someone else’s life. She’s kept an emotional distance from those in her life but the walls she’s put up to protect herself are beginning to crack.

LM: How do you go about choosing names for your characters?

T.A.: I’m lucky in that I’ve never struggled with naming characters, at least as far as first names. They just pop into my head as if they’ve always been lurking there in the background waiting to come out. For last names, I often do a search on google for surnames appropriate to an ethnic and geographical region.

LM: If this book had a theme song, what would it be?

T.A.: It’s not a song, but Code Name Vivaldi by the Piano Guys really fits the book. It’s from the Bourne Soundtrack and has a very driving, spy edge to it. It’s a piece of music that speaks of intrigue when you hear it! A link to the music video: https://youtu.be/09RUuTAM2H0

LM: Entice us into reading They Call Me Alexandra Gastone in ten words or less!

T.A.: Twists galore. A kick butt heroine with heart and smarts.

LM: Can you share with us one of your favorite quotes or scenes from the book?

T.A.: The opening prologue is a favorite of mine. In it, the reader meets Alexandra as a young girl, right before her insertion. She’s studying videos of the girl whose life she’s about to infiltrate. This prologue wasn’t originally what I’d written and was the idea of my wonderful agent, Lucy Carson. It’s the perfect intro to the novel and pairs nicely with the opening chapter when the reader meets Alexandra as a teenager. Within the space of twenty pages or so, you see who Milena was as a child and then meet her again once she’s become Alexandra. 

LM: Tell us what you enjoy doing when you aren't writing!

T.A.: I love both yoga and photography! I’m a bit high strung so yoga keeps me relaxed and as a very visual person, photography has appealed to me since I was a kid. Living in New Zealand is a dream as far as the photography goes. Everything is so majestic and gorgeous over here, you don’t have to go very far to get a great landscape shot.

LM: What is the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?

T.A.: Don’t be afraid of failure…great risks can lead to great rewards. For many years I shied away from more creative pursuits because the opportunity for failure was so much greater. Writing a book was a big leap for me but in the end it was a risk worth taking, no matter what happens.

LM: Tell us an odd or little-known fact about yourself!

T.A.: For some strange reason, I always read magazines from back to front. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. I think it must come from the feel of the magazine as it’s opened, I like the weight of it to be in my left hand as opposed to my right.

LM: Thank you so much for answering my questions! Is there anything you'd like to add; anything you'd like to say to your readers?

T.A.: Thank you for having me visit your blog, Sarah! Your questions were a lot of fun to answer! To potential readers out there…I hope you enjoy ALEXANDRA as much as I enjoyed writing it and I love hearing from readers, so don’t hesitate to contact me for a chat if you liked the book!

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T.A. Maclagan is a Kansas girl by birth but now lives in the bush-clad hills of Wellington, New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, son and four pampered cats. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer. It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is her first novel.


WEBSITE • GOODREADS • FACEBOOK • TWITTER
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Huge thanks to T.A. Maclagan for being a guest on my blog today! :)

Readers, please continue on giveaway details! ~