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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Color Song by Victoria Strauss {Book Review, Author Interview, & Giveaway}

02_Color Song 
Publication Date: September 16, 2014 | Skyscape (Amazon Children’s Publishing) | Formats: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover
Genre: YA Historical
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By the author of the acclaimed Passion Blue, a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2012 and “a rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion,” comes a fascinating companion novel. Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed – or cursed – with a spirit’s gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors she creates in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilità. It’s here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness, and rekindled her passion to become a painter – an impossible dream for any woman in 15th century Italy. But when a dying Humilità bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession – the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue – Giulia realizes she’s in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color for themselves. Faced with the prospect of lifelong imprisonment in the convent, forever barred from painting as a punishment for keeping Humilita’s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist’s apprentice? Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilità’s precious blue. And Venice, with its graceful gondolas and twisting canals, its gilded palazzi and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way? This compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks the question: what does it mean to risk everything to follow your true passion?

Praise for the Novels of Victoria Strauss

"Fantasy elements and a historical setting rich with sensuous detail are satisfying, but it’s Giulia’s achingly real search for her heart’s desire that resonates most today, when millions of girls still have limited choices. A rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion." - Kirkus Reviews on PASSION BLUE (Starred Review, a Best Teen Book of 2012) "Compelling…absorbing…An intriguing historical novel inspired by accounts of women artists in the Italian Renaissance." - Booklist on PASSION BLUE "Mysterious dreams, suspense-filled legends, the terror that unfolds as the dig ensues, and the fine characterizations weave together beautifully to make this adventure fantasy a winner." - Booklist on GUARDIAN OF THE HILLS (Starred Review) "A rich story about human nature, this fantasy is a thought-provoking page-turner. The characters are deeply etched, and the plot turns are credible yet arresting…A thoroughly enjoyable read." - Kliatt on THE ARM OF THE STONE "The plot is complex yet convincing, and the abundant, well-chosen details of the settings–as well as the carefully developed characters–make this high fantasy a superior and original novel." - Publishers Weekly on THE GARDEN OF THE STONE (Starred Review)

1. Explain your concept for this book and what compelled you to write it. 

I wanted to continue Giulia’s story (begun in Passion Blue), but I also wanted to create a novel that could be read on its own. So I think of Color Song as a companion novel, as much as it is a sequel. Color Song allowed me to write about three things that fascinate me: Renaissance art, the glorious and mysterious city of Venice, and a girl trying to make her way in a man’s world by taking on a man’s identity. 

2. If you weren't writing, what would you be doing? 

I’d probably be working in publishing, either as an editor or a literary agent. 

3. Biggest author influences in your writing?

Wow, too many to count. My favorite authors growing up wrote historical fiction and fantasy, including Frances Hogson Burnett, Joan Aiken, E. Nesbit, Madeline L'Engle, Andre Norton, Lloyd Alexander, Rosemary Sutcliffe, and so many more. When I got older I discovered Thomas Hardy—one of my favorite writers of all time--William Golding, Mary Stewart, and wonderful historical writers like Cecilia Holland and Robert Graves. I also had a guilty addiction to gothic novels—Victoria Holt was a favorite. I don't think I could pick one, or even two or three, that had the most influence on me--all of them have touched my writing, and all have inspired me to try to write as passionately and as well as they do or did.

4. Favorite books? 

Again, too many to name. Books I’ve loved recently include Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, Tad Williams’s Happy Hour in Hell, and Marisha Pessl’s Night Film. I’m an eclectic reader.

5. Quote you live by? 

Wherever you go, there you are (Jon Kabat-Zinn and Buckaroo Banzai).

6. Who do you relate to in your books and why? 

I relate to all my protagonists in one way or another, either because of personality traits (or flaws) or the challenges they have to face. In Color Song, I relate very strongly to Giulia’s creative passion—even though she’s an artist and I can barely draw stick figures--and her fear being prevented from following it.
I think that all authors write pieces of themselves into their characters. However, my characters are not me, and they all have qualities, goals, and failings that I don’t possess and have to really project myself into another frame of mind in order to portray. I doubt, for instance, that I’d have the courage to run away to an unknown city in disguise, the way Giulia does. 

7. What projects are you currently working on? 

I’m working on another YA novel, about a girl who tends a poison garden and the thief who climbs over the walls of her isolated mansion and accidentally unlocks a secret about her past. I’m also in the middle of several short stories (I’ve only once failed to finish a novel, but I have at least a dozen short stories that I can never seem to get to the end of), and I blog regularly, both at Writer Beware and on my own website.

8. What was the hardest thing for you during your writing process?

Discipline! Writing is my job and I treat it as such; I write at least five days a week and try to keep regular hours. However, I’m a terrible procrastinator, and I have a very tough time forcing myself to sit down to work. Once I do, I’m very vulnerable to distraction, especially by the Internet. I use a program called Freedom, which blocks Internet access for whatever period of time you choose. It helps a lot with keeping me focused and on track. 

9. Give us a fun fact about you

I’m very, very distantly related, on my mother’s side, to William Faulkner. 

10. How did you come up with the titles for your books? 

I’m superstitious about titles. The only novel I never finished had a title right from the beginning. So I don’t choose titles until I’m most of the way through a book, and I usually wind up changing the title at least once. 

11. Ever had a really bad review? How did you handle it? 

Yes, I’ve had bad reviews, both from trade venues and from readers. I won’t pretend they don’t upset me sometimes--but if you put yourself out there for readers and reviewers to judge, you have to accept that bad reviews go with the territory. Sometimes you can learn from bad reviews, and sometimes they are just stupid or misguided—but either way, you have to discipline yourself to suck it up and move on.
Unfortunately, the Internet makes it easy for people to harass or punish writers with revenge reviews or fake reviews. I was recently the victim of a review attack on Amazon—luckily, the fakery was really obvious (more than a dozen one-star reviews posted over the course of just a few days, all of them attacking me personally and saying nothing about the book), so I was able to appeal to Amazon, which removed them.
One thing you should never do: respond directly to a bad review, either by contacting the reviewer or posting a response. It’s unprofessional, and it makes you look like a jerk. Bad reviews are part and parcel of publishing. Writers need to be grownups about them.

12. Fave food?


13. Fave movie? 

Apocalypse Now.

14. Fave tv show? 

True Detective
15. Fave color? 

Blue, of course!


Color Song is a historical fiction about 15th century Italy and an orphan named Giulia who wants to paint. Women are not painters in the 1400s, and the only way Giulia learns is because she lives in an exceptional convent of painting nuns. But when her beloved teacher dies and the convent enters the hands of a woman who hates her, Giulia realizes she may never paint again. Not only that, she was given the secret of her master's most famous paint--Passion Blue--and now the convent and her master's old family will stop at nothing to steal it from her.

When I first read the premise of this book, I wasn't that intrigued. I honestly didn't think this book would be my cup of tea but after giving Passion Blue (the companion novel) a chance, I realized just how great this storyline was and how original too. This is both historical fiction and fantasy genre in my opinion. I loved the main character of this novel Giulia. She was so creative and vibrant. She didn't let others hold her back from her dreams. 

Many of the things that Guilia goes through in order to be accepted in this 15th century Italian society was very congruent with the times she lived in.  Giulia is forced to hide who she is and live among the society without questioning their thoughts or opinions, much like many woman of her time period. The way that Guilia learns to grow, despite these troubles is truly inspiring. 

This book is so much bigger than the main synopsis found on the cover which is about a girl who wants to paint. It's about a girl that shows through her struggles, that women are just as capable as men in a sexist world. A lesson that's always relevant and always needed. She creates drama with what she's doing, but she's also starting to make people change their ways and understand that every one is truly equal regardless of gender. 
Color Song ends up being a perfect mix of passion and romance, with a dash of history as well. It teaches us all how even when it is difficult, the journey is ALWAYS worth it! 

Buy the Book

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03_Victoria StraussAbout the Author

Victoria Strauss is the author of nine novels for adults and young adults, including the STONE duology (THE ARM OF THE STONE and THE GARDEN OF THE STONE), and a historical novel for teens, PASSION BLUE. She has written hundreds of book reviews for magazines and ezines, including SF Site, and her articles on writing have appeared in Writer's Digest and elsewhere. In 2006, she served as a judge for the World Fantasy Awards. An active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), she's co-founder, with Ann Crispin, of Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group that tracks and warns about literary fraud. She maintains the popular Writer Beware website, Facebook page, and blog, for which she was a 2012 winner of an Independent Book Blogger Award. She was honored with the SFWA Service Award in 2009. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. For more information please visit Victoria's Strauss's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

Color Song Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, September 16 Book Blast at Passages to the Past Book Blast at The True Book Addict Tuesday, September 17 Review at Oh the Books Book Blast at The Maiden's Court Wednesday, September 18 Review at Casual Readers Review at (Passion Blue) Thursday, September 19 Review at Monday, September 22 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews Feature at Oh the Books Tuesday, September 23 Book Blast at Flashlight Commentary Wednesday, September 24 Review at History from a Woman's Perspective Interview at Bibliophilia, Please Book Blast at Reading Lark Thursday, September 25 Book Blast at A Book Geek Friday, September 26 Review at Reading Room Book Reviews Book Blast at Just One More Chapter Monday, September 29 Review at Tribute Books Mama Interview at Math, Science & Social Studies...Oh My! Tuesday, September 30 Review at Book Babe Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection Wednesday, October 1 Review & Interview at Bookish Book Blast at Historical Tapestry Thursday, October 2 Review at Brooke Blogs Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book Friday, October 3 Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews Book Blast at The Lit Bitch Saturday, October 4 Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing Monday, October 6 Review at WTF Are You Reading? Book Blast at Let Them Read Books Tuesday, October 7 Review at A Leisure Moment Wednesday, October 8 Review at Peeking Between the Pages Friday, October 10 Review at A Bookish Affair


To enter to win any of the following prizes please complete the form below:
2 Grand Prizes Winners: One Kindle Paperwhite with custom Color Song cover with Color Song and Passion Blue ebooks pre-loaded, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks), and signed paperback editions of Strauss's Stone duology (The Arm of the Stone and The Garden of the Stone) (US only) 2 winners: Signed hardcovers of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada) 5 winners: Signed paperbacks of Color Song and Passion Blue, plus swag (postcards, bookmarks) (US and Canada)
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on October 10th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on October 11th and notified via email. Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. a Rafflecopter giveaway


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