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Saved by the Music Guest Post and Giveaway with Selene Castrovilla

Saved By The Music Blog Tour

I can’t take credit for creating the setting of Saved by the Music. It was real. My aunt built a concert hall out of a disgusting, filthy barge. It’s called Bargemusic, and it’s been successful for over thirty years.

But I wasn’t a teenager – I was younger, about eight or nine. And there was no Axel.

Aunt OlgaI always knew I wanted to write a book about the metamorphosis of the barge, and about my relationship with my aunt. I just thought it would be nonfiction. Actually, I wanted to make it a picture book. But editors kept saying, “I see a novel.” I was scared.

The thing that carried me through the writing process was the water. It meant so much to my aunt, and she passed her love of tide and currents to me. Water represents possibility, and a constant flow. It is a perfect vehicle for a novel, because it is cleansing and it represents change.

So there I was with water, and a boatyard. And a barge, which in itself was a daunting prospect to write about. I knew it in my head – I’d lived on it. But I had to convey it to readers, vividly. I took a breath and started describing the chaos, the filth, the lumber everywhere…All this to take the reader on a journey. With the water supporting, beneath us.

bargeAnd then came Axel. He appeared hazily, this boy with a secret. I knew he was rich, and I wanted him on a sailboat because it looks lonely but yet capable at the same time. I wanted to show a vulnerable boy in a mysterious place, yet capable of setting sail. The boat is also romantic, at least in my mind. I can only hope I passed that feeling to my readers.

The idea of going down into the hold of Axel’s boat is also indicative of his state of mind. The descent is literal, but also metaphorical. Axel is wealthy, so he could live on a yacht. But I wanted him on something modest enough to show that money is not what motivates him, and small enough to mirror how he feels after the abuse he’s been dealt. And the water comes into play again, fluctuating up and down. Willow notes how much more she feels the sensation of floating on Axel’s boat, and that is no accident.

Aunt Olga in early barge daysThe boatyard is a metaphor in that it is a world unto itself, both a safe haven for Willow and Axel against the harsh real world, but also a place that occasionally turns against them. I will leave it to the reader to interpret that. What I mean to do with my setting is set my reader’s mind in motion – just as the water always is.

And the barge itself is a character, is it not? Made of steel, it is imposing and protecting simultaneously. It is dirty and ugly – but perhaps it can be saved. I think a main theme in this book is the consideration of salvation. What – and who – is worth redemption? There is more to things (and people) than what meets the eye. And there is more to this setting than the dreary boatyard it appears to be.

Saved by the Music
Saved by the Music
Selene Castrovilla

The last place fifteen-year-old Willow wants to spend her summer is on a run-down former coffee barge, which her aunt is converting into a floating concert hall. In Saved by the Music, Willow thinks she’s alone until she meets Axel, an older teen who lives isolated from the world on the sailboat docked nearby. An unlikely romance sparks as the two grapple with their darkest secrets and bond through shared pain and laughter. It is a summer where music must do more than just soothe the soul.

Saved By The Music: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

eBook Publication Date: May 13, 2013

Selene CastrovillaSelene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, was released in April. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons. Visit her website www.SeleneCastrovilla.com for book excerpts and more information!

Author links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

Winner’s choice between iPod Nano or Kindle Fire (or Paperwhite) + SAVED BY THE MUSIC ebook (US only), and 10 second prize winners will receive an ebook copy of SAVED BY THE MUSIC (International).
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July 1  – A Book and a Latte (Kick-off interview)
July 2 – The Fake Steph Dot Com (Guest Post)
July 3 – Cuzinlogic (Review)
July 4 – Ja čitam, a ti? (Review)
July 5 – OtherwhereCo (Guest Post)
July 8 – alwaysjoart (Review & Guest Post)
July 9 – Katie’s Books (Review)
July 10 – Judith’s Choice Reads (Review & Character Interview)
July 11 – Ladybug Storytime (Review)
July 12 – Reader Girls (Review & Guest Post)

BY - July 5th, 2013 - Features - 7 comments

The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms #4)

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed--Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.
Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa "ana'"Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells' inner turmoil, Raisa's best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she's falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

From beginning to end, this series has swept me down a river of gorgeous story-telling, court intrigue that only high fantasy can do and remarkable characters.

All the threads of the previous three books come together to weave an ending that is both satisfying and triumphant.

Following Raisa through her arcs, she not only grew tremendously as a character but became someone believable in an unbelievable world. Her total faith in Han was hard won, and I love that she never gave up on him. Han continued to wander through his journey by the seat of his pants, he did finally realize that he isn’t invincible and while he may have succeeded in certain things, the cost changed him irrevocably.

The narrative did a good job of wrapping things up, however I felt at times it was a tad predictable and a little too clean for the build up it was given. Ultimately Raisa doesn’t experience much sacrifice and while she certainly has her own fights, much of what she wins is done behind her back thanks to Han and other players. An interesting take, and one that I am not sure played well. Still pondering.

Audiobook: Fantasy plays so well in this format, and the Seven Realms series is no exception. Its length and amount of characters doesn’t get lost in translation and the narrator did a great job of keeping the story moving and entertaining.

An overall great read for the genre and demographic, while not Game of Thrones or Name of the Wind fans of the Graceling series and others will find plenty of great stuff here.

BY - March 5th, 2013 - Books - Leave a comment

Deity (Covenant #3)

Alexandria isn't sure she's going to make it to her eighteenth birthday--to her Awakening. A long-forgotten, fanatical order is out to kill her, and if the Council ever discovers what she did in the Catskills, she's a goner... and so is Aiden.

If that's not freaky enough, whenever Alex and Seth spend time "training"--which really is just Seth's code word for some up-close and personal one-on-one time--she ends up with another mark of the Apollyon, which brings her one step closer to Awakening ahead of schedule. Awesome.

But as her birthday draws near, her entire world shatters with a startling revelation and she's caught between love and Fate. One will do anything to protect her. One has been lying to her since the beginning. Once the gods have revealed themselves, unleashing their wrath, lives will be irrevocably changed... and destroyed.

Those left standing will discover if love is truly greater than Fate...

Last book, I loved Seth and felt pretty ‘meh’ towards Aiden. Not any more! Major love and respect for Aiden.

Seth has turned up the creep factor to ten, sneaking around, ambush cuddle sessions, and his weirdly close relationship with Lucien. Aiden on the other hand, has turned hero. Taking a huge risk following the council session in Pure. Alex of course is stuck in the middle. She realized that Seth’s connection to here may not be exactly real but her devotion to him is still uber annoying. Drop him already!

On the flip side there is nothing but good on the Alex and Aiden front, and some long waited revelations come to light. There is a lot of fun, adventure and relationships which should be enjoyed and soaked up as by the end, the shit-th has hitteth the fan.

I can’t wait for Apollyon in April!

BY - February 14th, 2013 - Books - 1 comment

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2)

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed "Daughter of Smoke and Bone," Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.

Reading this book makes me want to throw everything I have ever written into the trash. Laini has such a way with words that makes her worlds so visceral you swear you can feel the heat of the sand. Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of the most unique books I have ever read. I immediately fell in love with the characters and the amazing world tucked in its pages. Days of Blood and Starlight blew the first book out of the water.

Karou is now working with the Chimera as Brimstone’s replacement. The rest of the world thinks she is dead, much to Akiva’s torment. On two sides of a vicious war, these two end up working towards the same end, though very much on their own journeys.

There is an undeniable chemistry between Akiva and Karou that you know will eventually win out, but for now, they are each coming to terms with who they are and what they’ve done. In the center of it all is the dream they had together a lifetime ago of a world without war. They are like a more rational Romeo and Juliet. I love it.

The first third of the story took a bit to get going for me, but it didn’t take long to get sucked in. I loved the newish cast of characters as well as getting to know the races in depth. A great sense of culture was built for the angels and the chimeras that each have their faults and perks. Brilliant writing.

Just like the end of the first book, there is a lot of answers given and a great sense of closure for this chapter of Akiva and Karou’s life. What happens next will be a totally new venture and… well, I’m not going to give anything away. Days of Blood and Starlight is gorgeously written, with characters that belong in paintings and a world that is completely alive.

The Audiobook: Read in third person, and covering a gamut of accents, weird names, creatures and magical entities, Khristine Hvam did a great job bringing this story to life. There is a flow almost lyrical that reads well in the audiobook.

Narrator: Khristine Hvam          Length: 15 hours and 25 minutes

BY - February 12th, 2013 - Books - 5 comments

Pure (Covenant #2)


There is need. And then there is Fate
Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn't exactly awesome--especially when Alexandria's "other half" is everywhere she goes. Seth's in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom--so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do--and sacrifice--for her.

When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies--lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn't blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude or killing her.

When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

I’m kicking myself for not continuing with this series sooner. While Half Blood was certainly intriguing it wasn’t Obsidian. After blowing through Onyx, I needed some more Armentrout so I jumped back into Covenant. Yeah, better late than never.

Within days I read through the rest of the series and realized (to my slight shock) that in some ways it was better than the Lux series. And that’s saying something.

Alex is her own force of nature, her thought processes do not resemble our earth logic, and hot headed is a nice term for her. But I love her anyway, even when she is causing more problems than solving. In Pure, Alex get’s a hard lesson in the true consequences of her actions. It’s such a huge paradigm shift for her, but Jennifer does it perfectly.

Also introduced is the council, a group of some of the most frustrating people I have ever read on the page. Especially Minister Telly, who might as well be Professor Umbridge. That man pissed me off to no end. There is a lot more going against Alex than just a few Daimon’s, really they are the least of her concerns.

The triangle of Alex, Aiden and Seth is all over the place. If I had stopped reading after Pure, I would absolutely be team Seth. He brought his A game and unlike the indecisive and ultimately forbidden Aiden, he was more appropriate for Alex at the time. They have some great scenes together full of that love/hate banter that Jennifer is so damn good at!

Pure does a great job of lining up all the forces that are building against Alex. The council, Minister Telly, Seth, the gods, the Furies, her own guilt and loss, not to mention the Daimons. Such a well weaved, adventurous and original story I was glued to every flipping word.

BY - February 11th, 2013 - Books - Leave a comment



Abby Barnes had a plan. Get into a great college, major in journalism, and land a dream job at a major newspaper. But on the eve of her 18th birthday, she is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. A cosmic collision of parallel universes has left Abby living a new reality every time parallel Abby makes a decision. Now Abby must race against time to take control of her fate without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally in reach.

BY - January 2nd, 2013 - Pending - Leave a comment

Dance of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death #2)


Araby Worth’s city is being torn apart by death, disease, and corrupt forces wanting to claim it for their own. She has lost her home. Her best friend is dying. Her mother has been kidnapped. The boy who made her feel something again has betrayed her. And her father may be a murderer.
But Araby has found herself.
Despite the death and destruction all around her, she will fight for herself, for her friends, for her city. Her rebellion will take her, finally, to the mad prince’s palace, for the decadent –and sinister—masked ball. It could be a trap. It could be the end of them all. Or it could be the moment that Araby becomes the kind of hero she never dreamed she could be.
The tragic, dark, and steamy conclusion to Bethany Griffin’s Masque of the Red Death saga.B

BY - October 31st, 2012 - Pending - Leave a comment

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket—a gifted inventor—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Certain people, were ON me for not giving such stellar ratings for Anna and the French Kiss. I was then warned to wait on Lola and the Boy Next Door, until I was in the mood. Funny story, I actually liked Lola, significantly better than Anna. 

It’s a rare occasion I relate to a character. While Lola has a different take on life, we had a lot in common in how we thought about things. The creative streak through her reminded me very much of my high school theater years. The feeling and tone of the book really brought me back to those times. The relationships especially. I too have been that ‘space’ of in one not-so-good relationship while wanting to be with someone who was better for me anyway. It was like relationship deja vu.

Perkins captured the feelings of that triangle perfectly. You can’t have it all (even if you want it all), your parents always know more than they let on, age does make a difference, sex changes everything, your instincts aren’t always right and in the end, you can’t fight what’s true.

The Audiobook: The narrator did an amazing job with Lola. My only gripe is with the guys voices. They were all to hushed, gravely and too similar. This is a common problem amongst female narrators, so I can’t really hold that against her. There was nothing that took away from the story in her read, making it an easy listen.

Narrator: Shannon McManus   Length: 8 hours and 59 minutes

BY - October 30th, 2012 - Books - Leave a comment

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1)

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

There was really only one reason why I didn’t pick up this book earlier. They’re in high school. No bueno. The tone of this very much reminds me of the Perfect Chemistry series. Noah’s background lent itself to that as well as crossing the lines of the high school caste system.

The character arcs laid out in this story were phenomenal. At the core is man vs. man, as Echo and Noah deal with their personal demons as the come to terms with getting on with the next stage of their lives. Echo of course, has to come to terms with her past as well as her future. Having connected over therapy, there is a vast amount of drama. Trust issues run rampant, hormones go crazy, it’s the usual mix bag of high school splooge.

The relationship between Noah and Echo, was beautifully played. Organic in it’s growth with all the inherit pitfalls of young people in love. There were a few things said (and asked) that were far too out there for the teen world. I’m not that far removed from my teen years, and I can’t imagine relating to some of their choices.

I can appreciate the story structure, character writing and execution, however, there was no spark for me. I have read this story before, there is merit there but not enough to keep me going with the series.

BY - October 16th, 2012 - Books - Leave a comment

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)


Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

BY - October 9th, 2012 - Pending - Leave a comment