Interview and Tour: Justin Ordoñez

Today I have Justin Ordoñez visiting The Life and Lies for his book tour for Sykosa.

About the BookMEDIA KIT Book Cover Sykosa600x900

Sykosa (sigh-co-suh) is a junior in high school. She belongs to an exclusive clique of girls called the "Queens." The leader is her best friend Niko. Their friendship has been strained lately because Tom—Sykosa's first boyfriend—has gotten all serious about making her his pretty Prom princess. That is if he ever gets around to asking her. Before Prom, there's a party at Niko's cottage where parental supervision will be nil. He wants to have sex. She doesn't. He sometimes acts like that doesn't matter.

It matters.

Sykosa has a secret she has never told anyone about. Although, some people—Tom included—know anyway. It happened last year and it was big and she'll cry if she talks about it so she's done talking about it, okay? Never mind, it's nobody's business. Except it keeps happening, and it never stops. She doesn't want to deal with it. He does. She sometimes acts like that doesn't matter.

It matters.

ISBN 9780985424312 | Published March 28, 2012 | Amazon | Goodreads | Website

Chat with the Author

What inspired you to write your book?

A mix of things. When I was in high school, I attended a second school called Model High School which allowed for a student to set his/her own curriculum. My English teacher asked me to come with one goal for improvement as a writer. My goal was to write women better. It wasn’t so much that my female characters were bad, it was that I didn’t have the same confidence in their execution as I did my male characters, which I think is understandable. That challenge stuck with me into my adult life and sort of spun off into Sykosa.

How did you come up with the title?

It’s just my character’s name, and that seems appropriate, both for the story and because
contemporarily that is how things have worked. When you look at a lot of contemporary media about young women, often the title is the name of the character. For television, Buffy and Veronica Mars are standing out to me. The identity of the female protagonist becomes as much a draw as the plot itself.

What’s the most exciting part about being a published author? What is the hardest part?

It’s exciting to know people you’ve never met are getting the chance to look at your work. I suppose that’s what it’s all about. The hardest part is also that these people are looking at your work. It’s an up/down experience, and because today’s market requires you to be so involved and hyper-aware of everything that’s going on, you can’t simply shut it out and say, “I won’t let it affect me.”

Do you have any other books planned in the future?

I’m always toying around with a few ideas and I’m always actively writing something. Without a doubt, I’ll finish up Sykosa, and there’s some stuff I’ve stuck away for rainy days. I try not to plan too much, though. I’m someone who really has to feel free and non-attached to my art. I like to know it can take me over if it needs to, and that I can totally destroy needs be.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

My favorite is probably Niko. Sykosa, the main character, and I have this relationship where I kind of think of her like a daughter, but she doesn’t treat me like a father. There’re some formalities and tension there. Niko and I are buds. We have a lot of fun together. Niko’s very outgoing and more than a little vain. She likes it when I write about her, and she likes it when the story becomes about her, so she goes the distance to ensure her scenes are extra special. In that way, she’s extremely cooperative for being so rebellious. I don’t think I dislike any of my characters. Over time, I’m come to empathize and understand them all, though I think a character like Donna Harly needs a lot of help.

What advice can you give to young writers who want to publish their books?

Don’t want to publish your book. Write something that’s totally un-publishable and true to yourself. Write something insane and illogical. It’s hard to understand what I’m going to say, especially when you’re young and inexperienced with adult politics, but the industry is full of self-reaffirming careerists right now. They all operate in tight social circles, they all worship and get close to the same set of agents, who in turn work with the same editors… It’s become incestuous and full of cronyism. In such environments, one usually sees stifled creativity and slow growth.

Just for fun:

What are your ten most favorite things?

Writing, Plants vs. Zombies, Mario Kart, swimming, cycling, karaoke, napping, reading, the NBA, and visiting home.

What are your favorite (and least favorite) foods?

I like sushi, teriyaki, pho, American, and mint chocolate chip ice cream. I don’t have a type of food I dislike, though my stomach struggles with Italian and Indian food these days, so I’ve curtailed.

If you could go anywhere in the whole world, either for a vacation or to live there, where would you go?

Hawaii. Just looks beautiful, plus I think I’ve got some island in me.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

Both my mother and I have a baby tooth with no adult tooth underneath it, so the baby tooth never fell out. My dentist thinks it’s very cute and she heckles me about it (in a fun way).

Justin Ordoñez wrote a book called Sykosa. It’s about a sixteen year old girl who’s trying to reclaim
her identity after an act of violence destroys her life and the lives of her friends. You can find out more
about Justin at his blog, You can also find Sykosa, on Amazon.


Justin is giving away a $50 gift card to one randomly-chosen commenter on the tour! leave a comment for your chance to win, and check out the tour page for the other tour stops!

Review: Paranorman

Paranorman by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Genre: Middle-school Fiction
ISBN: 9780316209861
Published: June 5th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Rating: 5
Amazon | Goodreads | Movie

In a quaint New England town with a history of witches and pilgrims, misunderstood eleven-year-old Norman Babcock can see and talk to ghosts. No one believes him, of course-everyone just thinks he's weird (including his parents). But when a folktale of a witch who cursed her accusers turns out to be true, it's up to Norman to save the town from pilgrim zombies! In addition to the zombies, he'll have to take on a very angry witch, an annoying sidekick, his boy-crazy teenage sister, and dozens of moronic grown-ups who get in his way. This young ghoul whisperer finds his paranormal talents pushed to their otherworldly limits in this hilarious and spooky adventure!
Featuring gorgeous black-and-white interior illustrations and a story beyond what you'll see in the film, this novel is sure to delight!

I don't generally review middle-school fiction, but I've been on the lookout for books my little brother might like—He's in eight grade—so I jumped at the chance for this one. Honestly, I enjoyed it so much I might just listen to it again.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time pulling it apart or analyzing it, I'll just say this: it was everything I was looking for in a book: good writing, good plot, fast-paced, tension the whole time, no dead moments, fantastic characters, forces me to keep reading (or listening), hilarious moments mixed with tense drama, and makes me really happy when I finally get to the end. Not only that, but the reader who recorded the audiobook was fantastic!

Suffice to say, this book made my 5-star bookshelf for all ages. I'm twenty, guys—I loved this book. Parents will love reading it to their kids, kids will love reading it on their own, and teenagers (if you can get them to read it) will consider it a guilty pleasure.

Tour: Tyler Falls

Today I'm hosting Lori L. Clark for her virtual book tour for Tyler Falls. Check out the tour page here for the other tour stops!

Tyler Falls by Lori L Clark
Gerne: YA
ISBN: B0086F6V6S
Published: Published May 26th 2012
Goodreads | Amazon

Tyler has suffered from manic depression for as long as he can remember. Through medication and therapy, he manages to keep his life together. But when his parents are murdered, he decides he's had enough of living as a broken person with a broken life. So, in thirty days, he plans to stick the barrel of his Ruger SP101 into his mouth and pull the trigger.

Emma Perez's brother, Ethan Giovanni, sits in a mental institution for the murder of Dr. and Mrs. Falls. Deemed mentally incompetent and unfit to stand trial, Ethan has one weekly visitor -- Emma. She doesn't deny his guilt, he's her brother and she loves him spite of the fact he's paranoid schizophrenic.

They say when you cross paths with someone more than once, it's fate -- you're destined to meet. Tyler doesn't know Emma is Ethan's sister, and Emma doesn't know Tyler's story either. When Tyler learns who Emma's brother is, the world he's rebuilt around her begins to crumble all over again and it leaves both of them wondering why fate has such a cruel sense of humor.

Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman, Audio review
Genre: YA
Published: June 5th 2012 by Poppy (first published January 1st 2012)
Rating: 3

You know what I love? Creatively re-told fairy-tales. You know what I hate? Terribly re-told fairy-tales made into crappy movies and then made into a book, written with poor prose. That pretty much summarizes how I feel about this (audio)book.

Let's start with the good:

1. The narrator was excellent. She also read for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Why We Broke Up, the Iron King, and many other audiobooks. She made even the dullest most pointless sentences, pieces of dialogue, and descriptions sound interesting, and managed to hold my attention most of they way through the audiobook (until I stopped for dinner, and then realized I really didn't want to start listening again.)

2. It was fast-paced. The plot never slowed… but there were parts where the unneeded descriptions seemed to slow down and break the tension, or unnecessary interior monologue broke the mood.

3. The bad guys were very bad, and the good guys were very good. It made it a classic hero-vilan fairy-tale.


Now for the not-so-good:

1. Poor writing. It wasn't Stephenie-Meyer Terrible, but every sentence started with "he…" "she…" "He said," "She felt…" and it felt repetitive and boring. There was no sentence structure besides basic subject-verb-direct object. Also, the adjectives, adverbs, and overall descriptions and vocabulary was boring, expected, and unfeeling.

2. Who names a princess "Snow White?" Really? I can see naming her "Snow" or something, but if you're going to re-tell a fairy-tale, at least give your heroine a name that doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. I realize that this is a complaint about the movie screenplay, not the book adaption… but still. It felt awkward to have all these names like William, Eric, Gus, Anna, Lilly, and… Snow White.

3. The bad guys were soul-less, and the good guys were perfect. Even bad characters have some redeeming value as to why you kind of wish they didn't have to die, but they're bad so you have to kill them. The bad guys in this story were just so bad, there was no way you could not hate them. The good guys were flawless: children obeyed their parents, men saved their women, women sacrificed for their families, and Snow White was a sweet innocent little angel. I'm sorry, but even good guys have a bad side. And if you're perfect, I couldn't care less what happens to you, because I can't relate to you.

So that is, essentially, why I stopped listening to the audiobook halfway through.

The life, or the lies?

I have been a terrible blogger.

Hopefully I can repent from my terrible habits and start going strong over here at TLAL. My internship residency is over and my dance teaching job has ended for the summer, so it's smooth sailing until August (because then I go back to school for my Senior year.)

…And who knows what happens after that.

Anyway. Here's a pretty quote and a lovely photo (that I took).


This quote is by Mary Hambidge, the founder of the residency program where I did my internship. The photo is of the area surrounding the Foxfire museum. Here's the blog where I write about her and about the people who come to the program.

Sometimes I hate the internet.

Saw this on my facebook today.


Some days I hate the internet. Sometimes I wish people would get it through their heads that what they do negatively affects other people. If I had my book pirated, I'd be so torn up and frustrated I would probably cry for days. I mean, what would be the point of selling it, if people were stealing it anyway?

I post this just so any book pirates out there get it through their brains that it is actually a big deal.

Here's the direct link to her post.

Interview and Tour: Susan Noble

Today I have Susan Noble, author of Summoned, visiting The Life and Lies!

1) Why and when did you begin writing?

I have always had a love for the written word, whether it is reading it or writing it. I have been doing both for as long as I can remember. I began writing this book just after I graduated college though it took many, many years before I would publish it as an e-book.

2) What inspired you to write your book? VBT_Summoned_CoverBanner

I love fantasy novels and thought I could write one. When I came up for the premise for Summoned, I decided to give it a try. Of course, the book has changed and grown a lot from that early work.

3) How did you come up with the title?

When I began writing Summoned, I had planned on calling it “The Elemental” because that is who the main character, Lina, is. And in the beginning, I envisioned that story would only be one book. But when I reached the end, I realized I hadn’t really finished telling the story. In Summoned, Lina finds out she is “The Elemental” and is destined to save the Land. Books two and three are about that part of her story. I then realized that “The Elemental” was a better name for the trilogy and had to rename the first book. The title Summoned just made sense as Lina is being drawn (or summoned) by a mysterious force throughout the book.

4) What books or people influenced your writing? Was it positive influence, or negative?

I don’t know that I can name which books or people actually inspired me to write. It is more the feeling I get when I read a book that I really like. I like when you are wrapped up in the story and characters and are totally absorbed in the book. Those stories are what inspired me to decide to write my own.

5) How do you go about researching for your books?

Since Summoned is a work of fantasy and set in another world that I created, I haven’t had to do too much research. But occasionally I will need to learn more about a topic to keep the story believable. In those cases, I usually do my research on the internet.

6) Did you base any of your characters on real people?

I take bits of people and put those small parts into some of my characters, but none of them are truly based on anyone I know. And the few bits I do include would not be recognizable to anyone else.

7) What’s the most exciting part about being a published author? What is the hardest part?

The most exciting thing is actually seeing your book on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Reading reviews is pretty exciting too (assuming they are positive :)). The hardest part for me would be marketing. As an unknown author, you have more of a challenge getting people to even look at your book, let alone purchase it.

8) Do you have any other books planned in the future?

After I complete “The Elemental” trilogy (book 2 is out and book 3 is in the works), I have the idea for another stand-alone fantasy novel, tentatively called “Alexandria."

9) Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

It is hard to pick a favorite…I really like my main character Lina as well as her telepathic cat, Tosh. There is a young thief in the story named Coy, and his scenes are always fun to write. And then there is a large black sarcastic dragon named Zoot which I enjoy writing about. I really don’t dislike any of my characters.

Just for fun:

1) What do you do when you’re not writing?

I love to read but finding time between writing and taking care of the kids has been hard lately.

2) Do you have any pets?

Yes, I currently have three cats - Nikki, Tails (my son named her when he was 3), and Spooky.

3) What are your favorite (and least favorite) foods?

Favorite foods would be strawberries and ice cream. I’m having trouble coming up with a least favorite food. I must be blocking those foods from my mind.

4) Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

Especially when I am having trouble writing in front of the computer, I like to take a pad of paper and sit on the couch in the living room and write.

5) Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I don’t usually snack while writing, but if I do pick something, it is usual a trail mix called Texas Heat.

6) What was your favorite and least favorite subject in school?

My favorite subject - again so hard to choose just one - would probably be English class or journalism. My least favorite subject would be math but science would be a close second.

7) Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

Well, I am a petite 5’2” and also a black belt in Aikido.



About the Book

Lina wants an ordinary life in the Grasslands of Zena. But she isn’t ordinCover_SummonedFINALary at all. At the age of four, she discovered she could start fires with a mere thought - an ability believed to have died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she keeps this Elemental power a secret in fear of how the outside world would react. There is something else different about Lina - she feels a strange force compelling her to go north.

Before she can decide whether to give into this mysterious urge, she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. When a strange raging fire prevents her return home, Lina realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

On her journey, she befriends an odd assortment of allies including the son of a High Council member, a thief, a former guardsman and a large sarcastic black dragon. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces, although such magic had ceased to exist over 800 years ago. During each battle, Lina must use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.


About the Authorsusannoble

Susan Leigh Noble has always loved dragons and magic so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. As a cat lover, she also threw a telepathic cat into the mix for her The Elemental Series. The first two books, Summoned and Quietus, have already been released in e-book format. She is currently working on the third and final chapter of the trilogy.

When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s schools. She lives with her husband, two children and three cats in Texas.

She loves to hear from readers:
Check out her Facebook page at
Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLeighNoble

Author website:


Susan will award a $15 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and a $10 Amazon GC to the host with the most comments!


Copyright 2016 Haley Mathiot. All reviews are 100% honest and unbiased. One or more items featured in the blog post may have been free or discounted. Receiving free or discounted product does not affect review. For more please see my disclaimer page.