Book Spotlight: Rook by Sharon Cameron

Rook by Sharon Cameron is going to be this month’s Book Spotlight. I wanted to showcase this particular book for several reasons. The first is that it was amazing and has so many valuable lessons in it. The second is that because I consider Sharon a friend I didn’t want you guys to feel as though that would bias an actual review.

First let me give you some more information on Rook

From Goodreads

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

I first heard about Rook in 2013 while I was interning for Sharon. She told me it was partially inspired by the Scarlett Pimpernel where I am sure a blank stare was given because I had never read it before. A brief description was given to me about what she was going to be doing in this book and while it sounded amazing at the time, I couldn’t really have imagined how the book was going to play out until I read it. I also helped do some research for the book while I was interning (although I have no idea how much help I actually was) but even those glimpses of information didn’t give anything away.
When I first saw the cover and read the tagline “What will be has already been…” I basically freaked out. I loved it. The book is set in a future that has basically regressed back into the past. Sharon loves history so there was no other way this book could have been written.
When the book was released in April I was so excited to be able to attend the launch party. Even though I had helped with blog tours for her previous two books, I was unable to attend the launches.

Here are all the things I LOVED about Rook and why you should read it too. There are SLIGHT SPOILERS ahead, but I don’t think anything too major.

1. The Red Rook.
Seems pretty obvious that I would love the main character, but she’s pretty awesome. What I liked about her is that she doesn’t change herself at all in this book. She lives in a social circle where it’s extremely important for her to get married or else some bad things are going to happen, but what does she want to do instead of saying some vows? Save lives and kick ass while doing it. She commands the respect of everyone around her, whether they know her personally or if they just by the red tipped rook feathers she leaves in empty prison cells. This is also the story of a girl (young woman really!) who just wants to save people and then ends up saying an entire country. (Think Katniss Everdeen, but much cooler and more brilliant)
2. The Love Triangle That’s Not Really a Love Triangle

Here is my face whenever I see a love triangle in anything:


So you can imagine my enthusiasm when this book…does not have one. I don’t think that’s a spoiler…maybe if you’re rooting for the wrong guy? Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely multiple guys vying for Sophie’s heart but that does not mean at all that she is torn between two people and I love that! Sophie is basically so busy trying to figure out how to SAVE LIVES that she doesn’t need to worry about men! Can she please just come and be my personal hero because I love her!

3. The Way the Love Happens
I have read so many books and watched so many movies where the romance between two characters isn’t organic. Either it happens way too quickly and unrealistically or it’s just straight up unbelievable. Not so here. Remember what I said about Sophie (or Sophia if someone is unfamiliar with her) not changing herself? It totally rings true here and that is by far one of my favorite things about this book. She doesn’t just fall in love with someone as a plot point or because the audience wants her too. She doesn’t become the person someone else wants to be so that she can fit into their view of the perfect match. She remains the same. The person she falls in love with loves her BECAUSE of who she is. This is someone who will not “allow” or “tolerate” who she is because he loves her, but loves her because of who she is. Do you guys see how important this is? This is someone who not only appreciates every single thing about her, but also encourages her to continue to be herself and even joins forces with her. This is someone who not only supports her dreams but is right there trudging beside her through who knows what to help her do anything she dreams. And at the same time she supports him. It’s basically a perfect relationship that honestly made me fall in love with this guy more than Lane from The Dark Unwinding which was basically an almost impossible task before I read this book.

4. The World
This one is a little harder to talk about without giving too much away. Just know that Sharon creates an amazing world to set this story in. I mentioned before that it’s set in the future in a place like the past, but she still created an entirely unique view of this world. There are multiple new political systems, a brand new society, different economic standards, and different religions. It also brings forward a new way to think about the world we live in now. Are we too reliant on technology? And how valuable are the things we use in everyday life that we take for granted and see as garbage. You all will understand when you get to the world “DIET”.

This book stuck with me after reading it in a way I haven’t experienced in quite a while. I was still thinking about it over an hour after I finished it and actually missed the characters. I read this book over the course of several months and it the characters had been with me for so long that I actually missed them when I was finished.
I hope that you will all take a moment to read this awesome book and let me know your thoughts on it!

The Lies About Truth Launch Party

I had the privilege of attending the launch party for The Lies About Truth at Parnassus Books in Nashville last night. This is Courtney C. Stevens second novel. Her first novel was Faking Normal, which I also reviewed. Here it the description for her newest novel:

From Goodreads

Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she’s unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she’ll always be trapped in the past.

Prior to the event I picked up my friend Marla (we actually met while I was organizing my first ever blog tour for Ruta Sepetys) and headed over to Nashville to have dessert with Sharon Cameron and Ruta Sepetys. It’s always a wonderful time when you get to hang out with people in the writing community, especially the amazing community that Nashville has. We were all having such a good time we didn’t realize time had gotten away from us and by the when we realized what time it was the event had already started. We all rushed over to Parnassus Books and was met with this sight:

There are a few things that I love about Courtney and each of them came through in her speech. 1) She is so thankful for her writing community and credits them in helping to get her where she is. 2) She is so humble. 3) She constantly encourages other people and really wants every single person to find their voice.
So basically I want her as my best friend.

One of the really cool things about this event was that Marla and I knew so many people there! It really truly felt like a family reunion. Everyone is so busy and some of us (like me) live a few hours away and can’t make it out to every event. I am so happy that I was able to make it to this launch and be able to support Courtney and get to see everyone.

Sharon Cameron, Me (Hannah), Marla, and Ruta Sepetys

I so look forward to reading this book and letting you all know what I think about it!

Event Alternatives: Conferences and Festivals

Writing conferences are a super fun way to get to hang out with your favorite authors. If you find out that an author whose books you love is going to be at a writing conference near you it is definitely worth checking to see if there will be a signing open to the public. I’ve been to two conferences and both times there was an event open to the public on the opening night.
It’s really cool to go to these events because there are usually tons of other authors there. Why do you care about other authors when you’re only there for yours? Well more than likely you are going to love the books that are also being presented. They are all there for a reason and more than likely you will love their book just as much as the one you went for.
If you have the chance to attend a book festival I highly recommend it. I usually attend the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, Tenn. The event is three days of jam-packed fun. There are TONS of authors there, tons of panels and tons of signings. If you’re lucky like me you can meet up with others in the blogging community. We live so far away from each other normally that special events like this let us all catch up.
The key to large events like this is planning everything beforehand. They release a list of authors and their panel and signing times prior to the event. Get a copy of it and highlight the ones that you are interested in. If you do not plan then you are probably going to miss out on things you wanted to see. One year Margaret Peterson Haddix was there and I hadn’t checked so I got to meet her but I got none of my books signed (and I own all of her books).
I’ve also been to Yallfest twice. It’s in Charleston, South Carolina. The first time I went everything was pretty much the same as SFB. The second time however, there were WAY more people there and all I did was stand in lines for 6 hours straight. It was extremely disappointing and since this happened I have no been back there. Unless there is significant change in the process I probably won’t ever return. There were four people in the group that I was in and for six hours all we did was standing either inside a tiny space or outside in the sun. It was not fun at all.
Do some research on wherever you chose to go. Chances are there will probably be a blog post just like this one talking about the experience. Remember to have fun wherever you chose to go! If you guys have other favorite festivals or conferences you like to attend let me know!

MadCap Retreats

I’ve got something really cool to talk to you all about today. It has to do with writing, something you guys know I also love.
Sometimes writing can feel like an isolating and daunting task. Every day you can sit down and put a ton of work into what you’re writing, but when you look back you think it’s terrible! Sometimes it even makes you doubt your love for writing. It can make you hate building a world or crafting a story about characters you love and hate.
Whenever this happens to me I always feel alone. Then I remember that once you are part of the writing community you are never alone.

This August, Courtney C Stevens, author of Faking Normal and The Lies about Truth will be hosting a retreat weekend, The Anatomy of Publishing, as part of MadCap Retreats.
From Courtney:

I spent 200+ hours studying and translating his work for young adult culture. I built a personal workbook for individual manuscripts. I built stopgaps for others, and then I led a retreat. It helped other writers. Now, I want to do that again in August.

So, this incredible long post is an invitation to join me for a weekend retreat. Please click this link and check it out:

I won’t promise you the earth will tilt on its axis if you attend, but I can promise you’ll leave more confident in your own abilities as an artist. (Not to mention, you’ll leave with a personal marketing plan. See the retreat description for more information.) If you need a pick-me-up, this might be it for you. Take a risk with me. Find your stopgap.

This is such a great opportunity for anyone who loves writing to attend a really great retreat! Courtney is also offering some really cool prizes, all available here