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THE VEIL by Cory P. Oakes: Perfect Combination of Magic, Suspense, and Imagination for Young Adult Readers

I recently read the book THE VEIL, by Cory Putman Oakes, which is her first fiction literature novel for young adults. It’s original and creatively crafted, as well as well-written with wonderful character development. It’s a must-read for young adults (and for any adults who love YA lit)!! The book is a great mixture of magic, the supernatural, and science fiction fantasy coupled with normal teen issues, real life scenarios, and teen romance. Cory captures it all with THE VEIL!

Continue reading my review of THE VEIL here, then grab a cup of coffee and check out my exclusive interview with Cory P. Oakes below the review and book description. You won’t want to miss learning about what inspired her book, her decision to write full-time, and her tasty writer’s block brownie recipe!! We love to hear comments, so leave them below the post!!

I loved how Cory conceived a fairly new way of looking at a type of parallel or one-dimensional existence in THE VEIL, without much of the proverbial time travel or space travel involved.  She seems to have accomplished this by having the existence of another race unseen, but yet in our own time and place.  More simply, the Annorasi world is invisible….to most.  Addison Russell, a seventeen year old quiet and average girl, can suddenly see bits and pieces of the invisible world of the Annorasi.  As you can guess, she becomes quite confused and when she learns to lift the “Veil” (and why she can when others can’t)…..well, you’ll just have to read the book to get in on that suprise.

The book is penned so gracefully, it’s almost as if it could happen to any one of us at any time.  THE VEIL was not far-fetched, but extremely believable and the characters totally endearing.  I believe young adult readers would connect with her characters.  My favorite character was her Gran, with her crazy cooking and disdain for decorating for holidays. 

Though I found myself wanting to know more about the lifestyle of the Annorasi and how they exist, the author did a wonderful job of telling the story through the eyes of the main characters, especially Addison and Luc.  Addison is a bright teenager whose world is suddenly turned upside down by the existence of this invisible world. Luc, the handsome boy she has a crush on, turns out to be more than just someone she thinks she’d never have a chance with. In fact, he’s pretty intertwined in her life too and swears to protect her.  She’s been accused of a crime she didn’t commit and has to answer for it while learning to discern if the people around her are truly who they say they are, or who she thought they were. Even her beloved pet cats aren’t so simple!!!

As a reader, I liked traveling along the action with Addison and seeing her grow and achieve more than she might have thought she could before everything started to change. I loved how the character is a great role model for young girls, as she becomes so brave and fearless. 

Cory’s real-life time spent as an attorney was richly evident in her book during the height of the novel, as well as her knowledge of the real-life hang-outs her characters frequented. I also enjoyed how Cory put in classic tale allegories such as the tale of King Arthur in regards to love and loyalty in the book.  She loves literature and travel herself and seems to draw on that as she writes her books.  This lends a richness to her writing.

This would be a wonderful book for any young adult reader to enjoy.  They would certainly want to finish it within a few days, because they wouldn’t want to put it down!!  There is just enough drama, suspense, and romance for a middle to high school reader to want to keep flipping the pages. I can’t wait to read the sequel myself, which Cory is currently working on and is untitled as of press time of this blog.

Book Jacket Preview

Seventeen-year-old Addison Russell is in for a shock when she discovers that she can see the invisible world of the Annorasi. Suddenly, nothing is as it appears to be—the house she lives in, the woman who raised her, even the most beautiful boy in town all turn out to be more than what they seem. And when this strange new world forces Addy to answer for a crime that was committed long ago, by parents she has never known, she has no choice but to trust Luc, the mysterious Annorasi who has been sent to protect her.

Or so he says . . .

Interview with Cory Putman Oakes

Erin: Hi Cory, I am so happy to have met you via Twitter and Facebook! As fellow mommies and writers, we sure have lots to talk about. I can’t wait for readers to get to know you a little better. Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview!

Cory:  Thanks so much for having me, Erin!

Q: You’re first book, THE VEIL, is just coming out in November and is your first book. Many people compare the launch of their first book much like birthing a baby! Do you agree, and why or why not?

A:  Ha ha, yes, actually – the book launch feels like I am giving birth all over again and, at the same time, sending the baby straight off to college. I have a very parental feeling of pride and helplessness that the book is going to be “out there” on its own, facing the big-bad world. I just have to hope I brought it up right!

Q: What inspired you to write the story of THE VEIL?

A: THE VEIL was a writing exercise that got totally out of control. I started writing it as a break from another project I was working on. I had this idea about a “guardian-angel-but-not” rolling around in my head – I had no clue where I was going to go with it at all, but I gave myself exactly one week to get it out on paper. I started with the very beginning (the Prologue) and then I just kept going . . . and going . . . way past my one week deadline. I kept thinking that at some point I would write myself into a corner and have to stop – normally I am a big “outliner” and I know exactly where I am headed in a story. But THE VEIL was different. At the end of a very intense month, I had a first draft and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Obviously there have been edits and changes since then, but the bones of the story have stayed pretty much as-is.

Q: You’ve used a lot of reference from your own life in THE VEIL. Can you explain how and why?

A: Because THE VEIL was just supposed to be an exercise – something nobody else was ever going to see – I put a lot of personal things into it. I set the book in my hometown of Novato, California (and the surrounding area of San Francisco) and a lot of places where the characters go are places that my friends and I used to hang out in high school; the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop, the Marin Headlands, Jest Jewels, even “Sully’s Café” on Grant Avenue is based on a real coffee shop which, unfortunately, is no longer there. But they really did make the best “morning buns” in the entire world – just like in the book. My mom and I still crave them!

Q: When did you start writing? How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

A: I was always a big reader and I liked to write stories when I was a kid, but I didn’t start thinking about it as a profession until sixth grade when I read Alanna: The First Adventure (by Tamora Pierce) and The Blue Sword (by Robin McKinley) in the same year – I was very inspired by these two books and that is when I started thinking about how cool it would be to make up things for a living.

Q:  Do you have a day job?

A: I knew that getting published was a long shot, so I actually went to law school so I would have a “Plan B.” I worked at a law firm called Sullivan & Cromwell and it wasn’t long before I realized that Plan B was becoming The Plan – I started getting really emotionally invested in the legal world and it just wasn’t possible to be the kind of lawyer I wanted to be and also have time to write. I had to make a decision: was I a lawyer or was I a writer? I picked writer – I left the firm and started writing full-time. That was about six years ago, and it was a really key decision in my life. I don’t regret it for one minute. (Nothing against S&C – they were very good to me, I just couldn’t give them 100% when my heart really belonged to writing).

Q: How do you feel you might inspire someone else to live their dream and get “out of the rat race?”

A: I think it’s all about doing what you really want to do and feeling satisfied about it. For some people, that is the “rat race” – and that is not a bad thing. But I do think that people can sometimes feel “trapped” when they work hard to achieve something and then realize that maybe they made the wrong decision. It’s important to realize that things can be different. Life is short. Why not go for what you really want? Even if it’s something crazy, at least you can say you tried.

Erin’s Comment: Absolutely, life is too short and you have to go for your dreams! It’s hard to be rich as a writer, but you’ll be rich in your soul. That’s what I say!

Q: What is the thing you love the most about being a full-time writer?

A: I love those days when everything comes together, the words flow, and I’m excited about what I am writing. It doesn’t happen every day – just often enough to remind me of why I love to do this.

Q: Why did you choose to write YA novels?

A: The books that made me really fall in love with reading were YA novels, so I think that’s naturally the place I go to when I start thinking up my own stories.

Q: What are the authors you’ve adored over the years and who has influenced you?

A: I already mentioned Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley – those are the biggies for me. I also have a soft spot for Madeleine L’Engle, J.K. Rowling, Stefanie Meyer, and Eoin Colfer.

Erin’s Comment: Some of my very favorites as well. And I love YA literature.

Q: How would you inspire other authors to not give up their dream of writing and being published?

A: I think the key is to write for the love of writing and not because you expect to become the next J.K. Rowling. Let’s be honest – that’s only happened once. Although I did quit my day job in order to be a full-time writer, I did so with the full support of my husband (well, he was my fiancé at the time) and I honestly could not have done it without him. Like, seriously I couldn’t have – I would have been eating Ramen noodles and living in a cardboard box. It’s hard to make enough money to support yourself as a writer – so do it because you love it and if an opportunity does come along to get published, that’s just gravy.

Q: What is your favorite TV show right now?

A: I’m a big Survivor fan, even though I think I would be the absolute worst Survivor contestant ever. I’m too gullible and I’m not good at reading people – but when I watch the show I like to pretend that I’d rock it.

Q: Do you travel? If so, where? What travel destination are you dying to go to?

A: I love to travel! My husband and I recently went to London for our fifth anniversary (we got engaged there, so it’s always been a very special place for us). We missed our daughter so much (she was at home getting spoiled by her grandparents) that we bought her a teddy bear on the first day and took pictures of the bear everywhere we went (we now have a great collection of pictures of the bear beside Big Ben, at the British Museum, in Bath, at the Globe Theater, etc – I think I’m going to put them all in an iBook for my daughter).

Erin’s Comment: That is the sweetest thing to do for your little girl. You should make a book, that’s such a good idea. Print it out for her to look at!

Q: Your favorite dessert?

A: Anything chocolate! 🙂

Q: We’ve talked about baking together recently and shared our love for it. Does it help with stress relief? What is you fave recipe, can you share?

A: I do love to bake! It’s what I do to overcome writer’s block (because even when it doesn’t work, writer’s block is easier to endure when you have a tasty snack). My favorite recipe is the one for Writer’s Block Brownies on my website: http://www.corypoakes.com/writers-block-brownies/. It came into being a few years ago when I was completely obsessed with brownies and tried every recipe I could find. I eventually started experimenting on my own and this is what I came up with. It’s still evolving – I recently added a ½ cup of flour to it so if anybody tries it, be sure to let me know what you think!

Erin’s Comments: I have a good brownie recipe too, I’ll try yours and pass mine along to you~!

Q: What is the best part(s) about your life? What brings you JOY?

A: My family. My husband and my daughter are the two lights of my life. Knowing that they are happy makes me happy in a way that I never could have imagined before they came along.

Q: What else do you have in the works? Please share!

A:  I am writing a sequel to THE VEIL, and I am also revising a middle grade fantasy series I have working on for some time. You can see previews of both on my website: “The Sequel” preview is at: http://www.corypoakes.com/the-veil/the-sequel/ and the “Avannia Prophecies” preview is at: http://www.corypoakes.com/the-avannia-books/.

Erin’s Comments: I honestly can’t wait to read the Avannia Prophecies…write, Cory, write!! 🙂

Q: How can readers and other writers connect with you?

A: My website is a good place to start: http://www.corypoakes.com. I am also on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/CoryPutmanOakes) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/CPOAuthor).

Q: Where can readers purchase THE VEIL?

A: THE VEIL comes out on Nov 1! Until then, you can preorder the paperback on Amazon at http://amzn.to/TheVeil and at Barnes and Noble.com at http://bit.ly/nkEDRN. Starting Nov 1, THE VEIL will be available for purchase at the same locations, but it will also be available in Kindle, iBook and Nook formats.

Erin:  Thanks so much Cory for stopping by to shine the light on YOU, as an author and as a person. We look forward to reading many more novels by you!!

Cory also graciously did a guest post for me a week or so ago on writing AND being a mom! Lots of scheduling and drama comes with that combination.  You can see that post here and learn how she does it:  https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/on-being-a-mom…p-oakes-author/. It’s part of a series and I’m looking for more mommy writers, so give me a shout if you are interested.

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“Immortal Obsession” by Denise K. Rago: a Vampire Read Filled with History and Romance!

I was thrilled when Denise K. Rago sent me her recent, and first, novel titled “Immortal Obsession.” I love a good vampire read. I teased her when writing her to say I received the book, because when I opened the package in the mail, the package sliced my finger and I bled. Can’t get more ironic than that!  I wondered what I was in for!

As far as the book, I didn’t know what to expect at first, since it was her debut attempt; however, I was more than willing to give it a try. Now, I know you all might say that the time is ripe for vampire thrillers with the onset of the Twilight series and there are a million to choose from. Let me tell you that this is one you WANT to choose!  Some of us have always loved historical paranormal romances in the vein of Anne Rice and it is nice to see someone penning a novel along that line again. My love of historical fiction and art, coupled with a desire of the paranormal, led me to delve into this book with high expectations. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed! This was a superb read! Intrigue, mystery, love, history, art all rolled-up into a page-turning delight of words.

Immortal Obsession is so drenched in the romance of forbidden and forlorn love that anyone who enjoys drama of the heart will be anxious to read this. However, I loved the strong plot and historical elements as well her characters.  Christian DuMaure lives during the revolutionary time of 18th century France where he and his best friend Michel are involved in the civil unrest among several Parisian vampire groups. After an affair with a mortal aristocrat, he must leave her and their love as she is consumed by a fire, but not before she makes him promise to look after her daughter.

As the book moves to present day Manhattan, two descendants of the union between Josette and Christian remain, Amanda and Ryan. Ryan struggles with drug use and becomes blood donor of current underground vampires roaming in New York.  Trying to save him, Amanda witnesses a murder in Central Park and is only saved herself by an eerie stranger who she then becomes determined to find. Little does she know the centuries-old power tug-of-war that she is about to become an integral piece of and how much she will fall in love with the man trying to save her.

This book was amazing. I didn’t want to go to sleep until I read it all and then I wanted to read it again. I’m a few months late writing this review and as I’m writing of it, I’m thinking about reading it again! I certainly can’t wait for a second book which I hope is coming soon! I hear that she will be continuing to give us a glimpse into the lives of Christian and Michel.

Denise K. Rago is a longtime blogger, avid reader and art history buff who earned her Masters’ Degree in Museum Professions in her home state of New Jersey. She also interned at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, one of several settings for Immortal Obsession. She resides in New Jersey with her family. For more information on the author, or about Immortal Obsession, go to www.denisekrago.com. Denise seems like a very cultured woman and an interesting new author. I hope to have her interviewed on here soon! 



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