Category Archives: Interview

First Comes Love: Interview + Love in Bloom Giveaway!

This week, Making the Grade is taking part in the Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop. As part of the Hop, we are giving away an ARC of First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky. In addition, we have an exclusive interview with Katie Kacvinsky right here on the blog for you to enjoy! To view the interview and to enter for your chance to win the giveaway please continue reading below:

This hop ends on Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at midnight.

First Comes LoveFirst Comes Love
By Katie Kacvinsky
May 8, 2012
Ages 14 and up
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Reviewed: ARC (from publisher)
Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

Read Our Review

Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan, a girl always searching for what’s next, seemingly unable to settle down, is the exact opposite: full of light and life. On the outside, they seem like an unlikely couple. But looks can be deceiving and besides, opposites attract.

What starts as friendship, turns into admiration, respect and caring, until finally these two lone souls find they are truly in love with each other.

But staying in love is not as easy as falling in love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they’re going to have to work at it. And learn that sometimes love means having to say you’re sorry.


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m  a loner, but I’m also a people person. I’ve lived all over the place (my record is moving nine times in two years).  I love people watching. I love doing random things, like wearing a prom dress to go grocery shopping.  I like to keep people guessing.

Wow, sounds a lot like my life! What do you do when you’re not writing? (For fun, that is!)

When I’m not writing or reading or daydreaming, I’m usually outside. I live in Oregon, close to the coast, and close to rainforests and amazing hiking trails.  It’s a great place for loners because there are so many desolate spots to explore.

I also love sports. I’m a diehard NCAA basketball fan and an NFL fan, and in the summers I love going to minor league baseball games. Every morning my husband and I listen to sports talk radio. I was on the crew team in college, and I played sports growing up, so I have a huge respect for athletes and how hard they work to succeed.

What are you currently reading?

I just started Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Regarding First Comes Love: Are there any events in the book that you yourself have experienced?

Not really any specific events, but I have experienced how frustrating it is to fall in love with somebody when you know timing is going to get in the way. Since I’ve moved around so much, most of my relationships ended because of distance (not because I stopped caring). At some point, you need to say, “Okay, this guy is amazing and I’m not going to let him go.”  At some point you need to work to make a relationship last.

Which character do you find that you relate to more, Gray or Dylan or both? And why?

I relate to both of them equally; I can understand where each of them is coming from because I’ve been in both of their shoes.

What was your favorite chapter (or part of the book) to write and why? (Spoiler free, of course!)

I loved writing about Gray and Dylan’s “first time.” I especially loved writing it from the male perspective;  I was cracking myself up the entire time.  A lot of writers skip around the sex or just “infer” that it happens, maybe to avoid criticism, or because it’s simply awkward to write about, but I couldn’t do that in this book. I treated it as honestly and emotionally as I could.

If there is ONE THING you would like readers to know about First Comes Love, what would it be?

It’s a story about a relationship, pure and simple. If you’re looking for post apocalyptic zombie invasions, this is not the book for you.

Can you reveal anything about your next book, Middle Ground (the sequel to Awaken)? *eye wink*

I’m so excited for Middle Ground.  It’s darker than Awaken, but I think it’s more psychologically interesting, and I think the changes Maddie and Justin are forced to work through will make their characters really fun to write in the third (and final) book of the series.

Do you believe in “love at first sight”?

I would have to say no. I believe in “lust at first sight” (I’ve experienced that one many times) and I think you can instantly click with people, but love is trickier. You need to understand a person’s weaknesses as well as their strengths, you need to accept their flaws, you need to go though some hard times together to really love and appreciate them, and that takes time.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Mmm, both please.

Pepsi or Coke?

Neither. I’m a full out coffee girl.

Tom or Jerry?

Tom. He never gives up, even if Jerry plugs his tail into an electric outlet.

Is there anything more you would like to say to fans?

If you’re my fan, then I pretty much love you and I would love to pick you up and spin you around in circles. I once tweeted that writers need readers like fish need water. You keep us floating. So, if you’re my fan, then, THANK YOU.

Oh, one last thing, I am mailing people free autographed bookplates if they buy First Comes Love during the month of May (or if they preordered it before May). To find out how to get one, visit my blog post.

Thank you for visiting Making the Grade, Katie!

Enter to Win an ARC of First Comes Love!

This giveaway is OVER. Congratulations to Ashley Evans, who won the ARC of First Comes Love! You have been emailed. Please respond to the email within 72 hours or a new winner will be selected. Thank you to all who entered and commented below!


STARTERS: Author Interview + Giveaway

By Lissa Price
March13, 2012
Random House / Delacorte Books
Author’s Website
Order from Amazon

Read Our Five Star Review

In the future, teens rent their bodies to seniors who want to be young again. One girl discovers her renter plans to do more than party–her body will commit murder, if her mind can’t stop it. Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first–the very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they go on the run, living as squatters, and fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as Enders, who get to be young again. Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. It’s a fairy-tale new life . . . until she uncovers the Body Bank’s horrible plan…


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a big believer in dreaming big because whatever it is you want to do, someone has to do it. But of course hard work is part of it. But if you love what you’re doing, then you’re on the right path. I love that I get to write books now and transport readers to this place in my head that combines with their vision to make an entirely new experience.

What do you do when you’re not writing? (For fun, that is!)

I’m not sure I can picture a time when I won’t be writing 24/7 as so much going on now. But back before the book sale, I used to love kayaking, snorkeling, swimming (seeing a theme here?), travel that involves wildlife, films, going out to eat with my friends, and NBA basketball (watching, not playing).

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you either growing up or as an adult?

I was influenced by so many books, but most recently by THE HUNGER GAMES and the UGLIES series. I read many YA  science fiction and fantasy books before I started writing my own.

What are you currently reading?

Ha, you think I have time to read now? I have a huge TBR stack and at the top is CINDER, WHAT’S LEFT OF ME, and many more. But with ENDERS at the first stage of revisions, two e-shorts to write, and other projects in the future, my reading time has been limited.

Regarding STARTERS, what inspired you to write a book that essentially pits the world’s youth against the elderly? How did you come up with this idea?

I was trying to get a flu shot and found out there wasn’t enough. So the government set up a triage system and only the very young, the very old and the infirm could get it. I went away thinking what would happen if this were a killer flu, how there would only be the weakest members of our society left. What would that landscape look like?

And there were the beginnings of STARTERS.

What was your favorite chapter (or part of the book) to write and why?

Probably the confrontation between Callie and The Old Man at the end. Because when it came to me, it felt so deliciously creepy.

Can you reveal anything about the next installment? *eye wink*

Just that you will have more big surprises!

Tease… Well then, if there is ONE THING you would like readers to know about the STARTERS, what would it be?

I was happy to learn from my national tour that STARTERS has broad appeal. Of course I wrote it with teen girls in mind, but it is also appealing to boys from middle grade to teens, to adults.

If you could live to be 200 years old, what would you do to pass the time?

I’m living life at warp speed right now, with little time to do normal things like exercise. So I’d have no trouble filling up time – I’d write more books!

This is your debut novel. How has the road to publishing been for you? Is there any memory that stands out?

I have been so lucky, I’m very grateful to all the wonderful people – agents, my editor, everyone at my publisher, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and newspaper reviewers. And to Kami Garcia for giving me that wonderful quote. I have also just received another quote from Dean Koontz.

The highlight might be getting the call from my agent that the 10-publisher auction had been called off because Random House made a pre-emptive bid at 8:30 at night.

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Life’s too short for vanilla.

Pepsi or Coke? Diet Coke with extra lemon.

Tom or Jerry? Peeta.

Is there anything more you would like to say to fans?

Yes, we hope to announce some film news in the next couple of weeks! (Free Game & Cover Apps) |
Facebook (Contests & News) | Twitter

Enter to win an ARC of STARTERS!

One winner will receive an ARC of STARTERS.
Open to US residents aged 13 and older only.
Giveaway ends at midnight on Tuesday, May 15, 2012.

Grave Mercy: Guest Reviews + Author Interview + Giveaway

Grave MercyGrave Mercy
By Robin LaFevers
April 3, 2012
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Author’s Website
Hardcover | Kindle

Read Our 5 Star Review of Grave Mercy

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

See what various bloggers have to say about Grave Mercy!

“This is not a read for the faint of heart. Grave Mercy offers non-stop action with a kick-butt heroine out to serve justice to those who deserve it. I believe fans of The Hunger Games will really enjoy this series…”
Booking It With Hayley  | 
Read more of Hayley’s Review

“Ismae’s story is as engrossing and action-packed as it is intelligent and emotionally driven…”
Inklings Read  | 
Read more of Sarah’s Review

“I immediately liked Ismae. She’s a great example of a non-victim character. Even though she’s really dangerous, and you definitely wouldn’t want to be around if you bore “the mark”…”
Emily’s Reading Room |
Read more of Emily’s Review

“Richly written, full of action, intrigue, political power struggles and betrayals, Grave Mercy makes you wonder why LaFevers hasn’t strayed from juvenile fiction sooner…”
Unwasted Words |
Read more of Anne-Marie’s Review

“To say this book was addicting is an understatement – the fast paced plot added to the fabulous writing kept me hooked…”
Beneath the Moon & Stars |
Read more of Marissa’s Review

Making the Grade is pleased to welcome Robin LaFevers, author of Grave Mercy, for an exclusive interview here on the blog. In addition, Robin is allowing us to host a giveaway for a SIGNED copy of Grave Mercy as well as various book swag! You can enter to win right after the interview!


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve led a happy, stable, rather mundane life as an adult, but my early years were tumultuous and full of upheaval, which is no doubt why I write for those ages–that is where my most fertile material comes from. My parents divorced when I was young and I had a series of stepfathers and quite a lot of stepbrothers. When I was twelve, my mom packed me and my two brothers and all our dogs up in the station wagon and we ran away in the middle of the night to a new town and a new life. It was absolutely the right thing to do, but it made for quite an adjustment! I still live in that small town. It is also where I met my husband and raised our two sons.

What do you do when you’re not writing? (For fun, that is!)

Writing is my full time job, my hobby, and my obsession. I am really trying to add some other hobbies and activities into the mix for balance!

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you either growing up or as an adult?

There were two. I read the Chronicles of Narnia when I was eight years old and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer. It was my first experience with fantasy (that wasn’t fairy tales or myth) and I was stunned that writers were allowed to make things up. The second huge influence was Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave. It was the first time I’d read historical fantasy, where fantasy elements were woven so seamlessly into an historical backdrop, and it immediately became my favorite genre. It remains one of my favorite books to this day.

What are you currently reading?

Christianity: The Origins of a Pagan Religion by Phillipe Walter, Tender Morsels by Margo Lannagan, and Going on Being by Mark Epstein (because I need a little Zen in my life right now!)

Regarding Grave Mercy: What ever gave you the idea to turn nuns into assassins? Can you give us some insight into your ideas?

Well, I went to Catholic school for the first few years of my live, and the nuns absolutely fascinated me with all their mystery and suppressed passion and enigmatic rituals. It seemed like surely they must be up to something much more intriguing than simply praying and living quietly behind those cloistered walls! So I let my imagination begin to fill in the blanks.

Also, I really wanted to write a story that explored a big sweeping canvas with life and death issues. Somehow those things came together in the stewpot that is my subconscious and Grave Mercy was born.

What was your favorite chapter (or part of the book) to write and why?

Oh there were so many favorite parts! Really loved stepping into the mind and skin of a medieval nun who served Death. What shape would her devotion take? How would she demonstrate her faith? But I must also confess that the scenes between Ismae and Duval were some of my very favorites. I loved writing about a relationship where two strong people were able to love and be loved and still be independent. While Ismae might be occasionally flustered by Duval, she doesn’t have to give up vital parts of herself or act less than she is to win his love. That was a core part of the book for me.

If there is ONE THING you would like readers to know about the book, what would it be?

That I believe love can be a transformative experience, whether it is love of duty, friends, country, spiritual devotion, or romantic love between two people. I wrote this book to explore that transformative journey as a young girl steps away from the thoughts and beliefs of those who raised her and begins making her own choices and decisions about life and love.

Can you reveal anything about the next installment? *eye wink*

Book Two will focus on poor embattled Sybella. When the convent sends her an order to free a wounded knight, it sets her on a journey to face her dark past and find a way back to hope and forgiveness and redemption. Book Three will tell Annith’s story.They are sequels in that they continue the drama of the duchess trying to hold onto her kingdom, but the different stages of that struggle are seen through the eyes of the three different girls.

In stark contrast to Grave Mercy, your prior books are written for a middle grade audience. (But we all know that older readers can also appreciate middle grade stories!) Can you tell us about them?

The Theodosia books tell the story of an eleven year old girl in Edwardian London whose parents run a museum. The only problem is that she is the only one who can see all the dark magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts and so it falls upon her to have to research ancient Egyptian magic in order to keep her family and herself safe.

Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist is a young chapter book series that centers on a boy who discovers that mythological creatures are real and it is his job to look after them.

The only thing they have in common with Grave Mercy is that they are also historical fantasy. And that they all sprang out of my life long wish that mythical elements were real.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Ooh! Hard! It depends on what is being consumed. I prefer rich vanilla ice cream, but love chocolate (as in candy.) Cake is a toss up.

Pepsi or Coke?

Coke Zero

Tom or Jerry?

Hmm. Which of the two is more like a wolf rather than a sheep? 🙂

Is there anything more you would like to say to fans?

Thank you for inviting Ismae and Duval into your lives and letting me  share their world with you! The magic of the writer/reader connection never ceases to amaze me–or fill me with deep gratitude!

Thank you for taking the time to talk to Making the Grade! I know I speak for all of us when I say that I am already impatiently waiting for Book Two!

Thank you so much for having me!

To learn more about Robin LaFevers visit her web site!

Enter to win a SIGNED copy
of Grave Mercy + book swag!

You must fill out this form to enter.

ONE entry per person.
Giveaway is open US ONLY.
ONE winner will receive the signed book & swag.
Giveaway ends at midnight on Tuesday, April 17, 2012.