Thursday, January 5, 2017

Blog Tour: Freeks

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Amanda Hocking's newest novel, Freeks! Novels and Necklaces is super excited to be able to participate in the tour, and we have a whole lot of goodies for you today: an excerpt, an exciting Q&A with Amanda Hocking herself, and my review of the novel :) Oh, and almost forgot...a giveaway (open to U.S. participants only).  Enjoy! 

Freeks by Amanda Hocking
About the Book:
Title: Freeks
Author: Amanda Hocking
Pub. Date: January 3, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 400
Rating: 3.5/5 stars


Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodies are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

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I'm a big Amanda Hocking fan and have read everything that she has written, and Freeks is another winner that is sure to impress fans. Was it my absolute favorite? No (and I have a couple reasons for this), but overall it was a great standalone story that was unique and different than anything she has written before. This novel still has the classic Amanda Hocking storytelling with easy to love characters and a creepy (but fun) plot that keeps you guessing until the end. There are plenty of twists and turns that you won't see coming! 

My favorite aspect of this novel was the mysterious atmosphere and the plot. Amanda Hocking did an excellent job at making the supernatural elements come alive, and I'm a sucker for anything dealing with a traveling sideshow. It gives this exciting element that not many authors explore, and Amanda Hocking definitely took the idea and came up with something unique and creative. I loved all the different elements she incorporated because it made the story that much better and interesting. It reminded me of an 80's horror movie, and that just added to the fun. 

The characters were good, but I personally liked Gabe the best. However, this was the part where I thought the story fell a little short. I never felt like I connected to any of the characters while I was reading. I don't know if it was because the book is kind of on the short side and a quick read, or if it was something else. But I just kept hoping for more character development. Additionally, the relationship between Mara and Gabe developed way too fast in my opinion. It was the epitome of insta-love, and while it does kind of make sense in the story, I didn't fully believe them as a couple. This was mainly due to the fact that I didn't think they interacted enough (by which I mean talked enough) to develop the feelings they did for each other. I would have actually been fine with their relationship had they gotten to know each other more throughout the story. 

Overall, I really did enjoy this new novel from Amanda Hocking. I think with a couple of tweaks here and there this could have been a truly excellent book and I probably would have given it a 4.5 or a 5 star rating. I truly enjoyed the mystery and the suspense that she brought to the story, and it was a quick fun read that I would recommend to fans of Amanda Hocking!

Happy reading :)

Now for a special Q&A with Amanda Hocking

Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?

If it’s just the characters from FREEKS, and only one could win, I would put my money on Luka or maybe Roxie. Luka because he can heal from injuries, which gives him a crazy advantage, but Roxie is smart and she’s a survivor. Plus, she has the power of pyrokinesis, which I think I would come in handy in a battle to the death.

What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?

I almost always listen to music when I write, unless I’m writing a really difficult scene. Sometimes the silence helps me focus, but most of the time, I prefer music. For FREEKS, I got to make a really fun 80s playlist, so I especially enjoyed working to that.

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?

There are sooo many things. For FREEKS, I had to do fun stuff like, “What does a dead body smell like?” and “How much blood can a human lose?” And then after those macabre questions, I did a bunch of googling on fireflies and tarot cards. My search history when I’m working can be pretty exciting like that.

What was your favorite part of writing FREEKS?

I love Southern Gothics and I love pulpy 80s horror movies, so I was excited to be able incorporate those things in FREEKS. But my favorite part was actually Mara and Gabe. I think they complement each other well, and it was fun writing their banter and flirtations.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from FREEKS?

For Mara, I envisioned Cassie Steele from the start. I used to be a hardcore Degrassi fan, and I loved Cassie Steele on that. For Gabe, I like Ryan Guzman. I saw him in a Jennifer Lopez movie, and I was like, “Yep. That could be Gabe.”

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I usually write between 11 am and 7 pm. I’ve tried to write earlier in the day and have more of a 8-5 type schedule, but I am not a morning person. My brain just doesn’t want to work much before noon.

How did writing Freeks differ from your writing your previous novels?

FREEKS was the first thing I had written in awhile that was started out just for me. For most of the past ten years, I have been writing my books with the intention of publishing them, with the audience and readers and trends in mind. I think I had gotten a little burnt out on trying to make everyone happy (mostly because it is impossible to please all readers all the time), and I just wanted to write something that for the sake of writing it. And that turned out to be a gothic love story about a teenage girl travelling with a band of misfits in the 1980s. It was a very cathartic writing experience for me, and it reminded me of exactly why I loved writing in the first place – I love getting lost in the world, with the characters.

If Freeks had a theme song what would it be?

Either “Hush” by Limousines or “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears.

Finally, here's a sneak peek of the book :)


1. Premonitions
My feet rested against the dashboard of the Winnebago as we lumbered down the road, the second vehicle in a small caravan of beat-up trailers and motorhomes.The sun hadn’t completely risen yet, but it was light enough thatI could see outside. Not that there was much to see. The bridge stretched onfor miles across Lake Tristeaux, and I could see nothing but the water aroundus, looking gray in the early morning light.The AC had gone out sometime in Texas, and we wouldn’t have themoney to fix it until after this stint in Caudry, if we were lucky. I’d crackedthe window, and despite the chill, the air felt thick with humidity. That’s whyI never liked traveling to the southeastern part of the country—too humid andtoo many bugs.But we took the work that we got, and after a long dry spellwaiting in Oklahoma for something to come up, I was grateful for this. We allwere. If we hadn’t gotten the recommendation to Caudry, I’m not sure what wewould’ve done, but we were spending our last dimes and nickels just to make itdown here.I stared ahead at Gideon’s motorhome in front of us. The wholething had been painted black with brightly colored designs swirling around it,meant to invoke images of mystery and magic. The name “Gideon Davorin’sTraveling Sideshow” was painted across the back and both the sides. Oncesparkles had outlined it, but they’d long since worn off.My eyelids began to feel heavy, but I tried to ward off sleep. The radio in thecar was playing old Pink Floyd songs that my mom hummed along to, and thatwasn’t helping anything.“You can go lay down in the back,” Mom suggested.She did look awake, her dark gray eyes wide and a little frantic,and both her hands gripped the wheel. Rings made of painted gold and cheapstones adorned her fingers, glinting as the sun began to rise over the lake,and black vine tattoos wrapped around her hands and down her arms.For a while, people had mistaken us for sisters since we looked somuch alike. The rich caramel skin we both shared helped keep her looking young,but the strain of recent years had begun to wear on her, causing crow’s feet tosprout around her eyes and worried creases to deepen in her brow.I’d been slouching low in the seat but I sat up straighter. “No,I’m okay.”“We’re almost there. I’ll be fine,” she insisted.“You say we’re almost there, but it feels like we’re driving acrossthe Gulf of Mexico,” I said, and she laughed. “We’ve probably reached theAtlantic by now.”She’d been driving the night shift, which was why I was hesitantto leave her. We normally would’ve switched spots about an hour or two ago,with me driving while she lay down. But since we were so close to ourdestination, she didn’t see the point in it.On the worn padded bench beside the dining table, BlossomMandelbaum snored loudly, as if to remind us we both should be sleeping. Iglanced back at her. Her head lay at a weird angle, propped up on a cushion,and her brown curls fell around her face.Ordinarily, Blossom would be in the Airstream she shared withCarrie Lu, but since Carrie and the Strongman had started dating (and he hadbegun staying over in their trailer), Blossom had taken to crashing in ourtrailer sometimes to give them privacy.It wasn’t much of a bother when she slept here, and in fact, mymom kind of liked it. As one of the oldest members of the carnival—both in ageand the length of time she’d been working here—my mom had become a surrogatemother to many of the runaways and lost souls that found us.Blossomwas two years younger than me, on the run from a group home that didn’tunderstand her or what she could do, and my mom had been more than happy totake her under her wing. The only downside was her snoring.Well, that and the telekinesis.“Mara,” Mom said, her eyes on the rearview mirror. “She’s doing itagain.”“What?” I asked, but I’d already turned around to look back overthe seat.At first, I didn’t know what had caught my mom’s eye, but then Isaw it—the old toaster we’d left out on the counter was now floating in theair, hovering precariously above Blossom’s head.The ability to move things with her mind served Blossom well whenshe worked as the Magician’s Assistant in Gideon’s act, but it could be realproblematic sometimes. She had this awful habit of unintentionally pullingthings toward her when she was dreaming. At least a dozen times, she’d woken upto books and tapes dropping on her. Once my mom’s favorite coffee mug hadsmacked her right in the head.“Got it,” I told my mom, and I unbuckled my seat belt and wentover to get it.The toaster floated in front of me, as if suspended by a string,and when I grabbed it, Blossom made a snorting sound and shifted in her sleep.I turned around with the toaster under my arm, and I looked in front of us justin time to see Gideon’s trailer skid to the side of the road and nearly smashinto the guardrail.“Mom! Look out!” I shouted.Mom slammed on the brakes, causing most of our possessions in thetrailer to go hurtling toward the floor, and I slammed into the seat in frontof me before falling to the ground. The toaster had slipped free from my graspand clattered into the dashboard.Fortunately, there was no oncoming traffic, but I could hear thesound of squealing tires and honking behind us as the rest of the caravan cameto an abrupt stop.“What happened?” Blossom asked, waking up in a daze from whereshe’d landed on the floor beneath the dining table.“Mara!” Mom had already leapt from her seat and crouched in frontof where I still lay on the worn carpet. “Are you okay?”“Yeah, I’m fine,” I assured her.“What about you?” Mom reached out, brushing back Blossom’s frizzycurls from her face. “Are you all right?”Blossomnodded. “I think so.”“Good.” That was all the reassurance my mom needed, and then shewas on her feet and jumping out of the Winnebago. “Gideon!”“What happened?” Blossom asked again, blinking the sleep out ofher dark brown eyes.“I don’t know. Gideon slammed on his brakes for some reason.” Istood up, moving much slower than my mother.We had very narrowly avoided crashing into Gideon. He’dovercorrected and jerked to the other side of the road, so his motorhome wasparked at an angle across both lanes of the highway.“Is everyone okay?” Blossom had sat up, rubbing her head, and adark splotch of a bruise was already forming on her forehead. That explainedwhy she seemed even foggier than normal—she’d hit her head pretty good.“I hope so. I’ll go check it out,” I said. “Stay here.”By the time I’d gotten out, Seth Holden had already gotten out ofthe motorhome behind us. Since he was the Strongman, he was usually the firstto rush into an accident. He wanted to help if he could, and he usually could.“Lyanka, I’m fine,” Gideon was saying to my mother, his Britishaccent sounding firm and annoyed.“You are not fine, albi,” Mom said, using a term of affection despite theirritation in her voice.I rounded the back of his motorhome to find Gideon leaning againstit with my mom hovering at his side. Seth reached them first, his t-shirtpulled taut against his muscular torso.“What’s going on? What happened?” Seth asked.“Nothing. I just dozed off for a second.” Gideon waved it off. “Gotell everyone I’m fine. I just need a second, and we’ll be on our way again.”“Do you want me to drive for you?” Seth asked. “Carrie can handlethe Airstream.”Gideon shook his head and stood up straighter. “I’ve got it. We’realmost there.”“All right.” Seth looked uncertainly at my mom, and she nodded athim. “I’ll leave you in Lyanka’s care and get everyone settled down.”As soon as Seth disappeared back around the motorhome, loudlyannouncing that everything was fine to everyone else, Gideon slumped againstthe trailer. His black hair had fallen over his forehead. The sleeves of hisshirt were rolled up, revealing the thick black tattoos that covered both hisarms.“Gideon, what’s really going on?” Mom demanded with a worriedtremor.He swallowed and rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know.”Even though the sun was up now, the air seemed to have gottenchillier. I pulled my sweater tighter around me and walked closer to them.Gideon leaned forward, his head bowed down, and Mom rubbed his back.“You didn’t fall asleep, did you?” I asked.Gideon lifted his eyes, looking as though he didn’t know I wasthere. And guessing by how pained he was allowing himself to look, he probablyhadn’t. Gideon was only in his early thirties, but right now, he appeared mucholder than that.That wasn’t what scared me, though. It was how dark his blue eyeswere. Normally, they were light, almost like the sky. But whenever he’d had avision or some kind of premonition, his eyes turned so dark they were nearlyblack.“It was a headache,” Gideon said finally.“There’s something off here,” Mom said. “I felt it as soon as wegot on the bridge. I knew we should turn back, but I hoped that maybe I wasimagining things. Now that I look at you, I know.”That explained that frantic look in her eyes I’d seen earlier inthe Winnebago, and how alert she’d been even though she’d been awake anddriving for nearly twenty hours straight. Mom didn’t see things in the wayGideon did, but she had her own senses.“It’s fine, Lyanka,” Gideon insisted. He straightened up again,and his eyes had begun to lighten. “It was only a migraine, but it passed. I amcapable of having pain without supernatural reasons, too.”Mom crossed her arms over her chest, and her lips were pressedinto a thin line. “We should go back.”“We’re almost there.” Gideon gestured to the end of the road, andI looked ahead for the first time and realized that we could see land. The townwas nestled right up to the lake, and we couldn’t be more than ten minutesoutside the city limits.“We could still turn around,” Mom suggested.“We can’t.” He put his hands on her arms to ease her worries. “Wedon’t have any money, love. The only way we can go is forward.”“Gideon.” She sighed and stared up at the sky, the violet fabricof her dress billowing out around her as the wind blew over us, then she lookedback at him. “Are you sure you’re okay to drive?”“Yes, I’m sure. Whatever pain I had, it’s passed.” He smiled toreassure her. “We should go before the others get restless.”She lowered her eyes, but when he leaned in to kiss her, she lethim. She turned to go back to our motorhome, and as she walked past me, shemuttered, “I knew we should never travel on Friday the thirteenth. No good evercomes of it.”I’d waited until she’d gone around the corner to turn back toGideon, who attempted to give me the same reassuring smile he’d given my mom.“We could go back,” I said. “There’s always a way. We’ve made iton less before.”“Not this time, darling.” He shook his head. “And there’s noreason to. Leonid assured me there’d be a big payday here, and I’ve got noreason to doubt him. We can make a go of it here.”“As long as you’re sure we’ll be okay.”“I haven’t steered you all wrong yet.” Gideon winked at me then,but he was telling the truth. In the ten years that my mom and I had beenfollowing him around the country, he’d always done the best he could by us.I went back and got into the Winnebago with my mom and Blossom.Within a couple minutes, Gideon had straightened his motorhome out, and thecaravan was heading back down the road. At the end of the bridge was a largesign that read WELCOME TO CAUDRY, POPULATION 13,665.As soon as we crossed the line into town, the air seemed evencolder than before. That’s when I realized the chill wasn’t coming fromoutside—it was coming from within me.

Copyright © 2016 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

Giveaway Time!

We're going to do something a little different this time than the standard enter to win 1 finished hardcover copy of Freeks comment with what act you would be if you were part of a traveling sideshow

We'll pick a winner at random and notify you within 24 hours.  The giveaway is open until January 10th, and again only open to U.S. participants.  Good luck :)


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