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Blog Tour: The Agency: The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y. S. Lee

Y.S. Lee


  • A Spy in the House
  • The Body at the Tower
  • The Traitor in the Tunnel

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Queen Victoria has a little problem: there’s a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Mary Quinn takes the simple case, going undercover as a domestic servant. But before long, a scandal threatens to tear apart the Royal Family.

One of the Prince of Wales’s irresponsible young friends is killed in disgraceful circumstances. Should the Queen hush things up or allow justice to take its course? Mary’s interest in this private matter soon becomes deeply personal: the killer, a drug-addicted Chinese sailor, shares a name with her long-lost father.

Meanwhile, James Easton’s engineering firm is repairing the sewers beneath Buckingham Palace. Trouble is, there’s a tunnel that’s not on the plans. Its purpose is unclear. But it seems to be very much in use.

These overlapping puzzles offer a perfect opportunity for Mary and James to work together again… if they can still trust one another. This is Mary’s most personal case yet and she has everything to lose.

Victorian Obsession: Death
by Y.S. Lee

The Grim Reaper: he was a busy guy during the Victorian era. (That’s absurd, of course: death is a constant.) But it does seem like that because of how enthusiastically the Victorians celebrated the end of life. They created strict rules and complicated rituals around funerals and mourning; following these rites was compulsory unless you wanted to cause a scandal and disgrace yourself.

The average Victorian was much more familiar with dead bodies than we are today. Each time there was a death in a family (remember, families were larger then, and infant mortality more common), the body would be bathed and dressed (either by the family or its servants) and laid out in a room, awaiting the day of the funeral.

The funeral itself was elaborate. There was a special carriage swathed in black mourning drapery, to transport the body. This funeral carriage was drawn by black horses with black tack (no shiny bits), and black feathered headdresses. A procession of carriages belonging to friends and family would follow the main carriage,

but these would be empty; they were sent as a token of the mourners’ respect. As you can guess, the exact length of this parade of carriages counted a great deal, for some families. The funeral carriage might also be led by a set of men on foot, dressed in black and carrying black banners. These were professional actors, called mutes, whose solemn expressions set the tone for the funeral.

All of this was expensive, of course, and families sometimes bankrupted themselves in order to stage an impressive funeral – one sign of just how important the ceremony was considered to be. Some working men and women formed “funeral clubs” – an early kind of insurance policy. They paid a certain amount of money from their weekly wages, with the understanding that the club would later pay for their funerals.

Middle- and upper-class women typically did not attend funerals, even of close family members; they were considered too delicate (although they could still sleep in a house with a dead body in it!) Their role in mourning was to wear the right clothing. Black, matte materials were key, of course, and these were trimmed with a material called crape. Crape was scratchy and unwashable, which meant that mourning attire was uncomfortable and had to be replaced regularly. After a certain period of time (which varied, depending on how closely the mourner was related to the dead), women could switch to half, or light, mourning colours: grey, lavender and white. The only jewellery allowed during mourning was made of a black stone called jet, and this was often embellished with a lock or braid of hair from the dead person. There was even special mourning stationery: black-edged writing paper that announced your mourning status for you.

What becomes clear is that mourning was also big business, for the Victorians: all those funerals, all those clothes, all those extras that a person in mourning had to have. This is one way in which the Victorians suddenly seem quite a lot like us: passionate consumers. Gear freaks, if you will. Even if they had different obsessions.

Y S Lee was born in Singapore and raised in Vancouver and Toronto. In 2004, she completed her PhD in Victorian literature and culture. This research, combined with her time living in London, triggered an idea for a story about a women’s detective agency. The result was the Agency novels, featuring the intrepid Mary Quinn.

Ying is also the author of Masculinity and the English Working Class (Routledge). She now lives in Kingston, Ontario with her family. (read full bio)

Cover Reveal: Black City by Elizabeth Richards & Giveaway

Today I have the cover for Black City by Elizabeth Richards, a sneak peek of the first chapter to Black City and a FABULOUS giveaway!

First off, here are some links where you can learn more about and stalk the awesome Elizabeth Richards:

Elizabeth Richards lives in Buckinghamshire, England and can be found online at www.theredpenofdoom.wordpress.com

Elizabeth Richards is an award-winning journalist and debut author, who spent her early career writing for videogame publications such as CUBE, P2 and GamesTM,and now works as a website editor. Previously, she ran a successful lifestyle website aimed at teenage girls. She won the Jane Hayward Young Journalist of the Year award for her feature on girls in the games industry, and was named ‘Editor’s Choice’ in the industry trade magazine, MCV.


Here’s what Black City is about:

A dark and tender postapocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection, that causes Ash’s long dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong. When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.


And let’s not forget about THE COVER:

In addition to winning an Advance Reader Copy of Black City, you can also win one of 5 exclusive and personalized drawings of the main characters—Ash and Natalie—drawn and autographed by the author. The finished drawing will be more polished and each one will be just a bit different, so each winner will receive an original and unique image! Winners of the drawings will be chosen blindly and randomly by the author. How cool is that! And a HUGE thank you to Penguin Books for Young Readers for generously providing the arcs!

Official Contest information:

  • to enter, please fill out the form below
  • entrants must be 13 years of age or older
  • contest open to EVERYONE
  • the winner will be announced on this blog post at the conclusion of the contest
  • the winner will be notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
  • check out my Contest Policy/Privacy Policy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand & Giveaway

Today I have for you the cover of Claire Legrand’s The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, and a giveaway bundle that includes an ARC of the book! Exciting, no?

First, check out Claire and The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls on

An Interview with Claire:

What are your thoughts on the cover of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls?

I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say how head over heels I am with it. Sarah Watts (the illustrator) and Lucy Ruth Cummins (the designer at Simon & Schuster) both did a fantastic job communicating the tone of the story through this cover image. It’s timeless, classic, and has that slightly gritty, unnerving feeling to it that I associate with fairy tales and books like Matilda and The Phantom Tollbooth. My favorite bits are the text in the gate and the one light on in the Cavendish Home, lurking quietly in the distance. And the final cover will include some awesome special effects! I couldn’t be happier. (I have to give a quick shout-out to illustrator Sarah, whose art I just adore. You can check out her work at her website, wattsalot.com!)

Did you have any input into the creation of the cover?

In fact, I did! The team at S&S have been nothing but welcoming, inclusive, and receptive to all my thoughts during this entire process. I helped in the selection of the illustrator and was able to offer my suggestions and input to both my editor, Zareen Jaffery, and to designer Lucy. Obviously the design team had the final say in everything — they are the pros! — but I always felt welcome to speak up with questions or ideas. When I met Lucy recently, we basically hugged and flailed and gushed at each other about how much fun we’ve had with this project, so I think it’s been a blast for everyone involved!

What inspired you to write The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls?

When I was in college, I lived down the street from an orphanage. Seriously! I’m sure it’s a perfectly respectable place, but there was something a little . . . odd about it. For one, I never saw anyone near the house or on the grounds — no staff, no kids, no visitors. Even though the message on the marquee out front would change to announce field days or open houses or what have you, the place always seemed completely deserted. I drove my friends crazy by driving by it all the time to investigate, especially at night because that is of course the best time to investigate creepy things. One night, a van pulled out of the driveway and followed my friend and I literally all the way around town — we took an insane, circuitous route — before we lost them in a Walmart parking lot. And there was often police tape on one of the building’s side doors. I am not making this up! So, I knew then and there I had to write a story about a creepy orphanage.

Tell us a little about your main character, Victoria. From the summary, she seems very . . . particular.

“Particular” is a nice way to put it. And she would consider that a compliment! Victoria is like a hyper-exaggerated version of 12-year-old me — everything needs to be just so in Victoria’s world, most especially things she could brag about (tastefully, of course), like grades and school awards. (Author’s disclaimer: This is where the “hyper-exaggerated” part comes in; I, unlike Victoria, was not a little bragging snit.) Imagine her horror, then, when she discovers that her picture-perfect town, and therefore her picture-perfect life, is really . . . not so perfect, and is in fact hiding a lot of very bad things. This chaos must be rectified! And then put back into tidy little labeled boxes where it belongs. I imagine Victoria’s idea of paradise would be The Container Store, or perhaps the Library of Congress.

Now, Claire, be honest with me: Is this book going to freak me out? Because it seems a little freaky.

Oh, I hope it does! I hope it scares all your pants off (although I’m not mean enough to hope that this happens to you in a public place where I think we can all agree it is probably a good idea to wear pants).

Tell us a little bit about your giveaway. Yay giveaways!

Giveaways are awesome because 1) for you, it is free and 2) for me, it is a chance to give you hugs while being far away and without seeming creepy. The Cavendish Super Mega Foxy Giveaway Bundle, or CSMFGB (pronounced “kissimfergub”, or “Kiss ‘im, Fergub!”, whoever “Fergub” is) includes music that I listened to while writingCavendish. I’m a little obsessed with movie scores, and these would be wonderful additions to the music library of any writer, artist, or book lover. The bundle also includes art by my incredible cover artist, Sarah Watts, and a signed ARC of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls!

Bio: Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she could no longer ignore the voices having adventures in her head. Now, she is a writer and librarian living in New York City. Also, she has a pet unicorn named UNICORN who has purple hair and loves you very much.

Summary for The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls (from the ARC):

Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster–lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that Mrs. Cavendish’s children’s home is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out . . . different, or they don’t come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria, even if it means getting a little messy.

The Cover:

Fill out the form below for a chance to win the Cavendish Super Mega Foxy Giveaway Bundle, which includes the following:

  • four movie scores that Claire used in her Cavendish playlist while writing the book
    • Signs by James Newton Howard
    • The Corpse Bride by Danny Elfman
    • Edward Scissorhands by Danny Elfman
    • The Brothers Grimm by Dario Marianelli
  • four original art prints by cover artist Sarah Watts
  • AND a SIGNED ARC of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
Contest Details:
  • to enter, please fill out the form below
  • entrants must be 13 years of age or older
  • contest open to US Only
  • the winner will be announced on this blog post at the conclusion of the contest
  • the winner will be notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
  • check out my Contest Policy/Privacy Policy

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

Another cover reveal! I just LOVE cover reveals! This one is a little last minute, but it’s already making it’s way out into the world, so I gotta be quick! I am revealing Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson, which will be hitting shelves this fall, October 9, from HarperTeen. This one is a 2012 debut novel too, so be sure to add it to your DAC lists! Also be sure to add it to your Goodreads Lists! And don’t forget to stop by Ingrid’s Website too!

About Valkyrie Rising:

When Ellie and her brother Graham are shipped off for a summer in Norway, she has no idea she’s in for the adventure of her life. Her biggest worries are getting out from her perfect older brother’s shadow and concealing her crush
 on Graham’s best friend, Tucker—who’s suddenly tagging along for the trip.

The moment Ellie sets foot in the small town of Skavapol, she stumbles into a mystery that will change her forever. Boys are disappearing under impossible circumstances, and kids in town blame her. When Graham is the next to be kidnapped by ferocious yet beautiful girls, something powerful and ancient awakens within her. Strange and terrifying forces are at work in their tiny corner of Norway and Ellie and Tucker are the only ones who stop them and rescue Graham.

The Cover:

What do you think!?!  


Book Review

Perception by Kim Harrington

Release Date: March 1, 2012
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Publisher: Point
Age Group: Young Adult
Shelfability: Acquire
Pages: 288
Format: Advance Reader Copy
Source: Publisher/Blog Tour
Interest: Series
Other Titles in the Series: Clarity
Challenge: Sophomore Reading Challenge
Buy the Book: Amazon

This is such a fun series! And yes, it’s a series, but I’m going to try to keep this review spoiler free for those of you who still need to read the first book. I would definitely recommend reading the first book, Clarity, before you read Perception.

Perception begins soon after Clarity ends. The summer is over and life is going back to normal for Clare and her family. Clare and her family all have these special gifts, though most people are sceptics. Even though Clare helped solve a murder during the summer. (That is what Clarity is all about!) Clare’s mom can read minds, her brother can talk to the dead, and Clare can hold an item and see and feel what the people in contact of that item see and feel. Which is how she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her in book one. Don’t worry that wasn’t really a spoiler.

Soon after Clare starts school she hears that a girl has gone missing, and she’s eager to help. Even though her mom is totally against the idea. However the police aren’t so sure the girl is actually missing. They think that she ran away since several of her personal items were taken with her, and she’s over the age of 18. After a session with the missing girls mom, Clare isn’t so sure that the girl ran away.

On top of it all, Clare is still struggling with her feelings for Gabriel (who you meet in book one, so I won’t go into to much there) and Justin. And did I mention that she has a creepy secret admirer. She has her plate full for sure!

I loved this story! Harrington managed to keep me guessing till the end yet again and she always grabs my attention with those prologues! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. All of my favorite characters returned for this installment and we even met a few new ones! Like Clare’s new friend Mallory. Although I never met guys like Gabriel and Justin in high school… I sure hope there are boys like them out there. It just seemed that some of the things they do for Clare seem a little far fetched.

Fans of Clarity will definitely enjoy this one! Can’t wait to see what Clare gets herself into next!

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