Thursday, 2 January 2014

Blog Tour & Giveway: Neverwas by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed

I'm excited to be participating in the Blog Tour for Neverwas because I've enjoyed the series! As part of my stop I'll be reviewing Neverwas, the second book in the Amber House Trilogy and the fabulous authors agreed to answer a few of my pressing questions! The authors have generously provided a SIGNED First Edition Hardcopy of Neverwas for the Tour, so be sure and check out the giveaway details below.

Neverwas (The Amberhouse Trilogy #2) by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication date: January 7th 2014
My rating: 4 stars
"I was sixteen the second time I had my first kiss...."           At the end of AMBER HOUSE, Sarah made a choice that transformed everything--and now she must choose it all again.

Things are very different--better--for Sarah and her family: her Aunt Maggie grew up; her parents are happily married; her grandmother died after a long, productive and respected life. But other things are different too, and not for the better.

After growing up in the free country of the Pacific Northwest, Sarah Parsons has settled in at Amber House, the stately Maryland home that's been in her family for generations. But the world surrounding the House feels deeply wrong to Sarah. It's a place where the colonists lost the 1776 Insurrection, where the American Confederation of States still struggles with segregation, and where Sarah is haunted by echoes of a better world that she knows never existed.

Her friend Jackson shares these visions of a different world--and together, they manage both to remember the way things ought to be, and to plan a daring mission that will reset the universe once again. Sarah must figure out what has changed, and why, and how she can fix it--how she can find her way to another otherwhen.

My Thoughts:

The Amber House Trilogy is an exciting, suspenseful series filled with danger and mystery. Whereas the first book in the series was creepy and filled with moments that sent chills down your spine, the second installment had a much more sinister undertone to it.

*******Spoilers if you haven’t read the first book*******

Neverwas picks up with Sarah coming awake into a completely different world than the last book.  She doesn’t realize there’s been a change, only the reader is clued into that fact when the story begins.  Picture a world where the Nazi regime wasn’t conquered and the United States ended up fragmented after the Revolutionary War, a country shaky and divided.  It’s a world none of us would like to live in.

Sarah has no idea of the other reality, but echoes from the other reality leak in, and a life different than what she’s experiencing now keep flashing to her. Parts of her reality are so much better than the last.  Her parents, for one, aren’t at odds and her mother, Anne, isn’t the cold, hardened woman we knew in the last book.  In this reality, Maggie didn’t die, but rather grew up.  Sammy, Maggie, and Jackson seem to retain a lot more memory of the past reality, but Sarah is beginning to clue in.  Amber House and its echoes keep sending warnings and glimpses to aid Sarah into figuring out exactly where things went wrong, but will she figure things out in time to avert all the terrible events looming on the horizon? 

I have to say the reality Sarah finds herself in is truly frightening.  Sure, her family’s relationships are better than ever but if the world on the outside remains the same, tragedy is sure to strike. As I said in the outset, this installment has a sinister undertone, and that is true, but the situation moves from sinister to urgently frightening, and the last 30-35% of the story will have you on the edge of your seat!

This installment came to a head and then left all kinds of questions up in the air: Did the present get fixed?  How did it all turn out?! Well I guess I’ll have to wait and find out in the final installment.  Can’t wait to see how it all works out!

Kelly, Tucker and Larkin graciously agree to answer some of my pressing questions:

Rachel: I read on your blog that the Amber House Trilogy was influenced by many stories. Most notable to me are Jumanji (loved that movie!), The Shining (eeeek!), and Back to the Future.  For those who are new to the series can you describe in a nutshell the Amber House Trilogy?

KELLY:  In a nutshell, the series is about a girl who learns how to change her future through the gift of seeing her past.  It’s about all the ways the past echoes in the present and into the future.  It’s structured to explore the essence of family, how a person is shaped by not just their own experiences, but the experiences of those around them.  It’s a story about all the meanings of the word “legacy,” and how a family is connected from generation to generation.

Rachel: With three authors, how do you coordinate your writing?  How do you solve differences on plot direction?

KELLY:  Plot direction is handled up front.  We spend days and days talking about plot, working it out.  We never seem to have any differences -- when we encounter plot issues, we each supply a solution and pick the best one.  In terms of editing, we all three of us edit and re-edit and re-edit until we’re satisfied that the writing is smooth.

Rachel: Did you plot out all three books when you started or has it developed and changed along the way?

LARKIN:  We always knew where we wanted the story to end up, but the process of getting there has surprised us a few times.

Rachel: There are alternate realities, past family history and characters that have pivotal roles in both Amber House and Neverwas.  How to you keep all of this straight?

KELLY:  Lots and lots of notes.  Charts, trees, maps, floor plans, character histories.

Rachel: If you had to cast Sarah, Jackson, Sammy, Richard, or any of the other characters who would you pick to play them?

TUCKER:  It’s so funny, when we started writing, we found a picture of this random model -- we never knew her name -- and she was Sarah for us.  She had light brown to dark blond hair, bangs, all of it pulled up in a messy pony tail.  She was standing with her hands on a stacked-rail fence -- long, lanky arms, really tall, with this wistful look on her face.

LARKIN:  As far as known actresses go, I’d say someone who looks closest to that original model is Soarse Ronan.  Although, if a movie were made, she’d be on the older side for portraying a fifteen-year-old.

TUCKER:  Kiernan Shipka, maybe.

LARKIN:  We were watching one of the later Harry Potter films and saw the actor who plays Dean Thomas -- Alfie Enoch -- and we both shouted, “That’s Jackson!”  Exactly what Jackson looks like.

TUCKER:  But he’s older now, too.  Jaden Smith is Shipka’s age, and he’s got the same sweet shape to his face.

KELLY:  I want Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to play Joseph Foster.

TUCKER:  That’s the guy who plays Jaimie Lannister.  My mother just discovered Game of Thrones.

Rachel: Are any of the characters inspired by real life people? Which character do you personally relate to the most?

TUCKER:  Because this project started while I was in the midst of researching our family history, a lot of that research influenced characters.  We share a sea captain ancestor from England, and Fiona is based on my maternal grandfather’s mother, an heiress from Chicago who was the founder of a motion picture company in the 1910s.

KELLY:  Sammy is based on Tucker and Larkin’s little brother, when he was young.  But I really think that, in some sense, every character is autobiographical.  A writer is like an actor, imagining how she herself would behave if she were placed in that situation -- what would she say?  what would she do? -- and so each character is reflective of the three of us.

Rachel: American history is a big factor in your story, is there a particular event you’d love to see in person?

KELLY:  I’d like to see the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Those were all men who had everything to lose and really nothing to gain from that situation.

TUCKER:  The Industrial Revolution would be fascinating.  I’m very big on steampunk right now.

LARKIN:  And I’m the one who’d want to explore New York during the Jazz Age.

Rachel: There is a high spook factor in Amber House *shivers*! Are you fans of horror?  If so what is your favorite scary movie or book?

LARKIN:  Tucker is the Poe fan, the Bierce fan.  She’s the one crazy for Stephen King.

TUCKER:  I think my favorite is The Cabin by Ambrose Bierce.  I read that after midnight during a lightning storm, and I was so freaked out by the punchline I actually hurled the book across the room.

LARKIN:  And I’ve always loved scary movies.  Most recently, Mama left me freaked out for about a month after watching it.  Tucker and I wrote a good number of the eerie scenes in Amber House.  It’s good to know they were effective!

KELLY:  The Shining remains the only book I’ve ever read where I was afraid to turn the page.  I loved that book, and I love Stephen King.

Rachel: I’m a little obsessed with book covers, and both Amber House and Neverwas have gorgeous ones, but what makes me love them even more is the fact that the scene on each actually happens in the book, and Sarah’s dress is accurately depicted on each.  I’ve spoke to a lot of authors who say the same thing: they have little or no control over their cover design, so how did you manage to work that out? 

TUCKER:  Honestly?  We did what you’re not supposed to do and annoyed our publisher.  They sent us a mock-up of the cover -- you can still find it sometimes in Google image searches -- and it wasn’t quite right.  Our editor, Cheryl Klein, was extremely patient and accommodating -- she wanted us to be happy, and went out of her way to make that happen.  Scholastic asked us to send mock-ups of what we envisioned, so we threw together some stuff on Photoshop and they based the first cover on one of the ideas.  For the second book, we sent a couple mock-ups early on, and even got to design the scarlet cloak used for the photo shoot -- we own it now.

Rachel: Tucker, I’m a huge fan of audio books, so of course I looked up Amber House and discovered you are the narrator!  I listened to a sample and you have a wonderful, rich voice, perfect for narration!  Can you tell us a little about how you ended up the narrator, and your experience recording the book?  Will you be the narrator for Neverwas, or any other books, as well?

TUCKER:  You are so kind, thank you.  That was a fun experience.  Our agent mentioned to Audible that I was a trained actress and had experience in-studio as a recording artist.  So I auditioned for them over the phone and they had me in a studio in Los Angeles within a week.  Claire Bloom was my director for that one, and she taught me so much in just a few days.
I just finished recording Neverwas over the holidays, actually.  I was sick the whole time, and my voice kept going raspy, so I had this stockpile of cough drops and throat spray.  But I had the nicest sound engineer, and he was so patient with me!  And he taught me this amazing trick -- the juice in green apples helps keep your mouth from drying out and getting spitty-sounding.
Reading the books out loud helped me get closer to the characters.  Both experiences, I walked away going, “I feel like I know why he said this instead of that, and not just because I liked the way it sounded in my head when writing it.  He said it because this thing happened to him or that thing happened.”  I literally had all these new takes on the backstories of supporting characters, and that definitely shaded some things in for certain characters in Neverwas.

Rachel: What kind of books do you read for pleasure?

LARKIN:  I like tweaks on established stories -- re-imaginings of fairy tales or myths.

TUCKER:  Horror, period mysteries.

KELLY:  I will read anything.  Any genre, anything I can get my hands on.  Reading is my favorite thing to do.

Rachel: Favorite author?

LARKIN:  Fitzgerald or Hemingway.

TUCKER:  Stephen King.

KELLY:  I’d have to go with Austen.

Rachel: Last book you read?

KELLY:  Game of Thrones.

TUCKER:  I’ve been rereading Sherlock Holmes stories in anticipation of the new season.

LARKIN:  I’m going through a Shakespeare phase right now.  Just finished Richard III.

Rachel: Neverwas, book two in the trilogy releases January 7th.  Do you have a release date for the last book?

KELLY:  Right now it’s tentatively scheduled for spring 2015.  But we anticipate it being longer, divided into parts, to bring all the stories, all the women who have been touched upon in the two books -- to finally explain their roles in the larger mystery, their contributions.  We’re also tooling with the idea right now of having two time changes in the final book.  So it may take a while to weave it all together.

Thank you so much, ladies, for answering my questions!  I've enjoyed this exciting series so far and can't wait to see how it all works out!

As part of this post the authors are provided a SIGNED first edition hardcover copy of Neverwas.  Here are the rules for the giveaway:

In NEVERWAS, Sarah must piece together the mystery of her forgotten past with the help of clues left behind by her great-grandmother, Fiona Warren.  For readers interested in the chance to win a signed first-edition hardback of NEVERWAS -- with an exclusive hint for what's in story for Sarah in the final book, OTHERWHEN, hidden inside -- visit each blog on the tour for the month of December, collect the various lines from the poem, arrange them in the proper order, and submit the final sonnet by New Year's Day (first giveaway deadline) for a chance to win the special copy of NEVERWAS! Previous blog stops for clues will be listed below.

Submit entries to: by January 10th for a chance to win. Here is The Readers Den Puzzle Piece:

Next stop on the tour:

16. Heather's BookChatter

The Amber House Books:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

Amber House (Amber House, #1)  Neverwas  (Amber House, #2)

About the Authors:

KELLY MOORE is a New York Times best-selling author, former litigator, and single mother of three. Her latest project, the young adult fiction series THE AMBER HOUSE TRILOGY, co-written with her two daughters and based loosely upon her own family history, examines fourteen generations of Maryland women and their ties to the past, present, and future. The first book in the series was nominated for the 2014 Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award for its realistic portrayal of characters with autism; Moore is outspoken about her inclusion in the autism spectrum, and is dedicated to autism awareness.

TUCKER REED is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer. She has been recognized on the national level for her short stories, essays and poetry. She is also a notable political blogger and has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC and HuffPost Live, as well as featured in articles published by TIME magazine, Marie Claire magazine, Ms. magazine, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Guardian, among numerous others.

LARKIN REED is a professional photographer, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in filmmaking. In 2013, Reed established her own multimedia production company, and has subsequently produced and directed several short films.

Amber House Trilogy links:


  1. This isn't a series I have heard of before, and the thought of it having three authors is an interesting one. Glad you enjoyed it Rachel and Thanks for the giveaway :)

  2. I've yet to hear of this series, but it sounds really fun! I think the idea of having multiple authors can be incredibly unique - and it could be an awesome thing, if they pull it off well! Wonderful feature, Rachel!

  3. I can't even imagine trying to write a cohesive story with two other people! That's amazing that they're able to coordinate their thoughts like that. Definitely sounds like an intriguing storyline, too.

  4. I skimmed your review Rachel since I haven't read book one, but I so loved reading the interview! I think writing a book with two other people would definitely be tricky, but it sounds like they're a fairly well oiled machine! So cool that they got to have a lot of input into the design of the cover and were able to make sure it's exactly what they wanted. So many times the cover of a book doesn't seem to have all that much to do with the story itself, so I love that this cover depicts one of the scenes straight out of the book:)

  5. I only skimmed your review because I haven't started this series yet, but I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it, Rachel. I hadn't heard of the series before but it sounds perfect for me. It's interesting how 3 authors penned it. They must really well together.
    Thanks for sharing, Rachel.

  6. The combination of Jumanji, The Shining and Back to the Future is incredibly intriguing! I don't see how these three things could possibly influnce one book, but I'm eager to find out.
    I have yet to read Amber House so I skipped the spoilers, but thanks for reminding me and for sharing the interview, Rachel.

  7. Wow, I can't believe I haven't read this series yet!! All three authors sound so wonderfully talented, and I love how a lot of their characters are based off of people in their history. So interesting! Also, Jumanjii?! Sign me up! ;)

    I'll have to read your review of this one, Rachel, after I read the first one. But I do plan on doing that soon! <3 Thanks for sharing!

  8. I wanted to read the first book last year, but didn't get the chance. This sounds fantastic. I love the idea of an alternate reality, even if it does sound like a frightening world. I am adding this to my list for sure. Thanks for the recommendation. Welcome back, Rachel. Hope you had a wonderful holiday!


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