THE KATY’S BEST OF 2015

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday season and New Years! I took off of one of my jobs so that I could spend more time with my little family. It was awesome.

Now that I’m back to the grind, I thought I’d share some of my favorite books, posts, and other highlights from 2015!

This may get long…2015 was a great year!

Let’s get the longest category out of the way: BOOKS.

2015 Fave books

I’m not really sure if I had a completely #1 favorite book of 2015. There were so many to choose from that I could talk about for hours, so in no particular order here are my top ten! …They are pretty much all Sci-fi/dystopian lit!

  • Killshot by Aria Michaelsbookcover
    • Aria was my first author interview EVER. She wrote such an awesome book, I knew I needed to hear more about it. I’m so happy she agreed to answer a few questions!
    • Killshot is about a girl named Liv and how she goes from being a normal high school girl (with legit problems) to fighting for her life and the lives of those around her. Read more in my review.
    • Buy link
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
    • I’m sure this book is on everyone’s “best of 2015” lists, but I had to add it. It’s awesome! (See review) I added it to my “read yearly” list on Goodreads, which only has two other books on it right now. I received “Ready Player One” from a LootCrate! Best month ever!
    • Buy link (At time of post, the paperback was cheaper than the kindle edition!)
  • UPDATED EBOOK COVER WITH TAGLINESThe Treemakers by Christina L Rozelle
    • This one is classified as YA, but definitely has some scarier parts. I loved it. It was definitely dark, yet remained hopeful through all of the horribleness. Read my reviews and interview with Christina here.
    • Christina is a great author, but also a kind and generous person. She agreed to an interview and I look forward to getting to know her more over the years!
    • Buy link
  • Prep for Doom anthology by Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans
    • This anthology was unique because all the stories intertwined even though multiple authors wrote them! (I was lucky enough to be asked to join the Band of Dystopian team as an assistant in 2015 too. I love BOD!)
    • See my review here.
    • Buy link
  • Tails of the Apocalypse by various authorstsils
    • One of my favorite anthologies I’ve read by far! Not sure if it’s because it followed animals or what, but I loved each story in a different way. Review here.
    • Buy link
  • Anything written by Sarah Noffke in 2015
  • Between Life and Death series by Ann Christy
  • halfwaydeadHalfway Dead by Terry Maggert
    • A story about a witch. I’m usually not “into” witch books, but this one is awesome! It gave me an “Odd Thomas” vibe, which is one of my all time favorite books!
    • Read more HERE and see Terry’s interview here.
    • Buy link
  • Dark Bishop by Casey L Bond and Rachael Brownell
    • This is a suspense-type romance released as a serial series. It is NOT YA. But I love it. Check out Casey’s other books as well. She writes in all different genres and I loved each world she’s created.
    • Interview with Casey here.
    • Buy link
  • Sand by Hugh Howey
    • This one was SO good. I think I liked it even more than Wool. Hugh has a way with words. I felt like I was buried in the sand, in a good way…if that’s possible.
    • Buy link

AGH! That’s ten already? How about some honorable mentions? I really could go on and on. Last year was a great year for books and I cannot wait to read more in 2016!

MORE GOOD BOOKS

Author Spotlight with Aria Michaels!

Aria Michaels Bio/About the Author:

Photo Aria MichaelsAria Michaels is the author of the Best-Selling young adult dystopian novel Killshot (Icarus Series, Book One) as well as its companion novella, Before the Sky Fell. In addition to her career as an author, Aria Michaels is an avid reader, die-hard zombie fan and enthusiastic lover of bonfires and red wine. When she is not glued to her computer pouring out the voices in her head, Aria can be found playing in the dirt with her boys, painting, or binge-watching The Walking Dead with her husband. Don’t let her mild-mannered smile fool you…this woman has lofty ambitions that include complete global domination. She is determined to live in a world where every pair of yoga pants comes with a free book, an iced caramel macchiatto and a magic force-field that repels the sound of screaming children (of which she has six). In the meantime, Aria is hard at work on the next installment of the Icarus Series, reveling in her role as instigator of literary mayhem and stealth assassin of fictional characters. 

For more information about Aria Michaels and the Icarus Series, be sure to check out her website at http://www.ariamichaels.com 

“You are never more than one choice away from a different future.” –Aria Michaels

Interview with Aria Michaels here!

Links for social media and such:

My site: www.ariamichaels.com

My blog: Aria Ever After http://ariamichaels.com/blog.html

My Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Aria-Michaels/e/B00OBJVDSY

Facebook (profile): https://www.facebook.com/aria.michaels.73   

Facebook (Author/Like page): https://www.facebook.com/AriaMichaels.Fiction

Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ariaeverafter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AriaMichaelsYA  @ariamichaelsya

Tsu: http://www.tsu.co/AriaMichaelsYA & @ariamichaelsya (linked)

Instagram: https://instagram.com/ariamichaels/  &  ariamichaels

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8573796.Aria_Michaels

Etsy Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/thealternateending

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/AriaMichaelsYA

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Killshot by author Aria Michaels

When 17 year old Liv Larson and her brother are sent to separate foster homes, she dedicates her every breath to getting him back. After months of solitude and anti-social behavior, her best friend Riley ropes her into a Rooftop Solar Flare Party. Despite the fascinating lights in the sky, Liv finds herself drawn, instead, to Zander- the boy with the crooked smile.

For a few hours, Liv’s troubles finally feel a bit less overwhelming—that is until what should have been a small flare erupts into a massive solar storm forcing them all to seek shelter in the school’s basement. Cut off from the rest of the world and with no signs of rescue, fear and paranoia set in and battle lines are drawn, dividing their ranks. What is left the group must embark on a perilous journey to save one of their own and find their families…but, something sinister awaits them in the shadows and it’s undeniably connected to Liv.

Can Liv keep her promise to reunite with her brother? What are she and her friends willing to do to survive? Will their bravery and determination be enough to save them all from a rogue government, a terrifying virus, and the things that go bump in the night…Or was Icarus, indeed, The Killshot?

getBook.at/Killshot

myBook.to/KillshotAudible

Barnes & Noble (paperback only): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/killshot-aria-michaels/1120584241

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Interview with author Aria Michaels

Today is a really awesome day on THE KATY because I have Aria Michaels, author of “Killshot” and “Before the Sky Fell” with me! (I reviewed Killshot the other day)


INTERVIEW WITH ARIA MICHAELS11267704_1582761735335097_345551150_n

Thank you for joining me today, Aria! I thoroughly enjoyed Killshot and Before the Sky Fell. I need more and can’t wait for the sequel.

What made you want to be a writer? Did any certain books, authors, or movies inspire you to pursue writing as a career?

I have always been the creative type. I started drawing, singing, playing music and writing from a very young age. I was torn between being greater than Picasso and being the next Laura Ingalls Wilder. While I hadn’t the means to achieve it yet, that dream stuck with me even when life threw a few hurdles in my path. I lost my way for a while but four sons and two step-sons later, the universe shoved me back onto the right path. A couple years ago, I had a pretty serious health crisis that almost took me away from my family. Sometimes it takes something like that to make you realize there is a difference between existing and living. A year later, I published Killshot. 
 
My biggest inspiration- that one literary voice that hit me and made me believe I could really do this was Author Elle Casey. I have always been a big YA fiction fan but her Apocalypsis series was the first post-apoc dystopian series I had ever read. I gobbled her words up and finished all four books in less than a week and have been an avid fangirl ever since. Her style spoke to me in a way that none before it ever had. 
Where did your love for Apocalyptic/Post-apoc/Zombie lore come from?

Actually, my love for the lore is rooted in film. I have always loved horror movies, even as a young child…there was just something about that hint of danger that fueled my imagination (and my nightmares, as it turned out). Still, I couldn’t stay away from the fear inducing high that was the horror genre. I saw Night of the Living Dead when I was maybe ten years old and I was hooked. Since then, I have seen pretty much every Zombie movie ever made (the good and the bad). It is my sincere hope that one day the Icarus Series will be on the big screen. I wouldn’t even wait for the DVD on that one…I’d pay full ticket price and everything! (laughs)
Do you have any advice on finding time to write while balancing family life?

Honestly, there is no magic answer to that one. Writing is now my full-time career (in addition to my Etsy shop), so I suppose I juggle the same types of things that any other mother of six would. Basketball games, dentist appointments, karate, and homework; it’s all part of the package. The best piece of advice I can offer is to be flexible and be prepared to compromise. My boys understand that from the hours of noon and three, mom is working. In exchange, when my “office hours” are closed, they have my full attention. We play games, catch up on our day, make dinner and hang out. If I get the chance to get back into the writing cave after they go to bed, that is a bonus. My priority will always be taking care of my family. Thankfully, my husband and my boys understand that sometimes that means that mom has to focus on herself in order to make that happen. Whatever schedule or agreement you decide on, commit to it and set the expectations as soon as possible to avoid any confusion or hurt feelings. 
 
I just finished reading “Before the Sky Fell”, the companion novella to “Killshot” and felt such raw emotion in the lives of Liv and Beans. Do you have experience with the foster care system or something else in your life that you pulled the emotions from for their story?

While I have not been in the system myself, I have had some first-hand experience with those who have. Once upon a time, I was a psychology major. As such, I did a brief internship with social services. Needless to say it was eye-opening for me. At that time in my life, I had a tenuous relationship with my own family but seeing the struggles these kids faced each day really put things in perspective for me. Those children left a mark on my heart. 
Is Liv like a daughter to you or is she you in a sense?

I connected with Liv’s character more than you will ever know. Her overall attitude in life, her single-minded determination and even her desire to control the universe…all me. Many of Liv’s experiences are based on my own; the mural she painted, her part-time job at the local diner, and her tendency to fiddle with her hair when she is upset or nervous. I poured so much of myself into this character that I feel as though we are kindred spirits. If anything, I would say that Liv is my sister. 
 
If you were in Liv’s post-apocalyptic situation would you have taken a leadership role?

Without a doubt. Call it Type A personality or maybe I’m a just a control freak, but I somehow always seem to fall into that role- even if I am not consciously trying to. 
While reading Killshot, I was blown away by the scientific knowledge the characters possessed. And it was written in away that I could understand, which I appreciated. Do you have any background in science or tech fields or are you just really good at research?

That is a huge compliment Katy, mostly because I absolutely DESPISE research. Thing was, it was absolutely vital to the foundation of the story. All together, I would say I probably did at least 100 hours of basic research for Killshot. The difficulty was that a lot of what I wrote about was theoretical science, at best.The last major solar flare occurred in the 1800’s and none of today’s tech existed back then so I had a lot of balf-baked theories to sift through in order to figure out how it would all go down. Once I had the science of it hammered out, I actually enlisted the help of my 12 and 14 year olds. I tweaked it and edited, simplified and smoothed it out until even they understood what was happening. The last thing I wanted was for the story to be drowned out by overwhelming factoids and over-complicated science. Glad to hear I hit the mark!
Anything else you want to tell readers or aspiring writers out there?

Aspiring Writers…You CAN do this, you just have to decide to do it. Sit down, put pencil to paper (or fingers to keys) and make it happen. It doesn’t have to be perfect or amazing the first time around. That is what beta readers and editors are for. Once you have your word-baby, KEEP WRITING. It’s so easy to get swallowed up in the numbers, marketing and muck of social media in an effort to be the next big thing. The best thing you can do to ensure your longevity is to keep writing. Your best marketing tool for your book is to write the next book. Just keep writing and when you are done writing, write some more. For the love of God, don’t stop.
 
Readers…Ironically there are no words that can accurately express how much your support means to me. Writing has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl but I honestly never imagined that I would make it this far. It’s one thing to put your words out there into the universe but it’s quite another to have those words embraced with such enthusiasm. I have never been so proud, or so humbled in my life. I know, as do so many of us who put our words and our hearts into your hands ever day, that without all of you I would not exist. I will forever be grateful for that…for each and every one my readers. 
 
“There is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” –Hemingway (…and he pretty much nailed it)

Thank you for joining me on THE KATY today, Aria!

Find Aria on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and other awesome places.


EVENT ALERT!!!
Please join Aria and many other authors celebrating her novella, Before the Sky Fell, this Saturday on Facebook. I will be adding the amazing giveaway pot with a $5 Amazon giftcard and some signed Aria Michaels swag.
Join the event on Facebook! The party is from 10am-10pm on Saturday, May 30th.

Review: Killshot by Aria Michaels

bookcoverSYNOPSIS: When 17 year old Liv Larson and her brother are sent to separate foster homes, she becomes content with her isolation and dedicates her every breath to getting him back. After months of solitude and anti-social behavior, Liv’s best friend Riley drags her to a Rooftop Party to view Icarus (the once in a lifetime solar flare) where Liv finds herself inexplicably drawn to Zander James, the mysterious boy with the crooked smile. For a few hours, Liv’s troubles finally feel a bit less overwhelming—that is until what should have been a small flare erupts into a massive solar storm forcing them all to seek shelter in the school’s basement. Cut off from the rest of the world and with no signs of rescue, fear and paranoia set in and battle lines are drawn, dividing their ranks. What is left the group must embark on a perilous journey to save one of their own and find their families…but, something sinister awaits them in the shadows and it’s undeniably connected to Liv.

Can Liv keep her promise to reunite with her brother? What are she and her friends willing to do to survive? Will their bravery and determination be enough to save them all from a rogue government, a terrifying virus, and the things that go bump in the night…Or was Icarus, indeed, The Killshot?

REVIEW:

I snagged Killshot during an awesome free book promotion on Amazon (that has now ended, sorry). After hearing a lot of excited readers raving about the book, I dove right into the high-schooler, Liv’s, life. She doesn’t have a great life, but hopes for better things when she finally can keep the promise to her brother to reunite them forever. I can’t imagine being separated from my siblings growing up. We don’t have as much of an age difference as Liv and her little brother, but now that I have kids I can (tearfully) imagine the situation Liv finds herself in after her parents’ deaths. If life isn’t hard enough….BAM! Apocalypse. That sucks. I will not be providing spoilers today, but just know that you won’t see the twists and turns in Killshot until they hit you in the face.

Characters: Like most avid readers, I enjoy a bit of character development. Killshot delivers this as people discover how strong (or weak) they are when apocalyptic situations arise. I love the chemistry between Liv and Zander and everyone else for that matter. High School provides enough drama on a regular day, but toss a bunch of kids in the “end of the world”…yea, it gets heated (HA, puns).

Cover: I really like the title font chosen for the cover and the effects applied to it. As I have stated many time, I am not a fan of seeing character’s faces head on when looking at covers because I like to imagine them however my brain feels like it. I am digging her glowing blue eyes though.

You can find Aria Michaels on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon and her website. I will be having a an interview with Aria later this week, including an awesome signed swag giveaway! Please buy Killshot here! I will be snagging the companion novella, Before the Sky Fell, here.

Aria also featured me on her blog here! But I just want to clarify that I am not giving her book a good review because she is super nice to me and THE KATY. Her book is awesome! So go read it. ; )