Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Book Blitz and Giveaway: To The Bone by J.R. Johnansson

Title: To The Bone
Author: J.R. Johansson
Publication Date: August 25th 2020

Print Length: 276 pages
Genre: Young Adult Thriller

Seventeen-year-old Harley Martin has been obsessed with Paris for years. Between her passion for studying architecture and wanting to spend time with her cousin, Gretchen, there’s nowhere on Earth that she’d rather go. So when Harley’s parents feel guilty enough about their constant fighting to offer to send Harley to visit her cousin, Gretchen, she doesn’t hesitate.

But Gretchen and Harley have both changed in the years they’ve been apart. In an effort to rekindle their friendship, Harley agrees to Gretchen’s suggested activity, even though it’s outside her comfort zone: a tour with Gretchen and her friends through the off-limits section of the Paris Catacombs. Miles and miles of tunnels deep under the city, filled with the remains of more than six million people.

When a cave-in kills their guide and leaves the group injured, terrified, and lost with limited supplies, they must search for a way out from the endless maze beneath the city of light. But surrounded by shadows, it’s hard to tell friends from enemies. Harley doesn’t know if she can trust anyone, including her own cousin. If they ever want to get back to the surface, they’ll have to fight for everything they hold dear–for their sanity, their humanity, their very lives–in a place that only embraces death.

Across the room, I see a slight rain of dust fall from the top of the pillar the others are looking at. Paolo is bent over behind it like he’s examining something. I squint, focusing my flashlight on the falling dust, and I see the dirt around the bottom of that particular pillar is thicker than around the others. It looks different too, like powder . . .

Anders takes a step back from the pillar, shaking his head. “This doesn’t look very stable.”

James shoots Anders a look before saying, “You’re one to talk.” Anders stiffens.

Everything seems to slow down as Paolo pulls a skull from the pillar, holding it out teasingly toward Maud. My heart stops and my limbs go numb as I realize that the thick powder around the pillar is crumbled plaster. “No,” I say softly, but our guide must hear me because he spins around.

M. Lambert reacts much faster than I do. He runs, arms stretched out and body rigid with panic. Maud recoils from Paolo in disgust as he puts down his flashlight and pulls another skull free from the pillar.

“Stop!” M. Lambert shouts. “Don’t touch that!”

“Run!” I scream.

Anders steps back, pressing himself against the wall. Maud and Paolo simply freeze, whipping their heads around to look our way. I hear the rumbling before I feel it. Paolo must too, because he grabs Maud and James and jerks them back hard toward the far wall. Grabbing Gretchen, I drag her over behind the pillar I examined earlier. It’s strong, sturdy, and it might be our only chance of not being buried alive. As we rush past, I shout Henri’s name.

“What in—” Liv says.

“Move!” Henri pulls her toward me so fast she drops her camera and stumbles into Gretchen and me.

Our world vibrates and then a roar of noise fills my ears. Rocks crashing, bones and stone cracking, people screaming. I’m screaming too. I’ve never heard so many people sound so desperately afraid. Flashlight beams spin wildly about before all the light is dimmed by falling dust and debris. Gretchen and I hold tight to each other and I close my eyes against the dust that burns them like fire.

The shaking seems to go on forever until suddenly it stops. Seconds pass in eerie silence. My lungs burn and Gretchen coughs against my shoulder.

Somebody moans. I think it’s Henri. I reach for him, finding his jacket and gripping it.

“Are you okay?” I try to say, but the words aren’t clear. My voice sounds raspy and broken.

I open my eyes a little. The dust is settling, and if I squint I can see a bit without my eyes burning. Not that there is much to see. There are spots of light shining through the dust cloud in a few places, but most of the flashlights have been buried. I’m afraid to sit up straight, terrified that the shaking will begin again and the ceiling will fall in and crush us all. My breathing comes in tight gasps as I fight to push away the panic. The air burns my throat and lungs until I’m coughing again.

Henri digs out his big flashlight and shines it around the room. “Oh no,” he whispers.

Gretchen and I shift our position until we can see where he’s looking. My stomach rolls and I feel like I might be sick. Where the farthest pillar stood, now there is a massive pile of dirt, rocks, and bones. Nearly half of the room is caved in. The pile reaches up to the ceiling. Two of the five tunnels out of the room are blocked.

J.R. JOHANSSON is the author of the Night Walkers Series (INSOMNIA, PARANOIA, and MANIA) as well as standalone novels, CUT ME FREE and THE ROW. Her books have been published in over a dozen languages and more than twenty countries worldwide. She is the creator and host of the Riveting Reads podcast and the AuthorGamerGirl channel on Twitch. She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. She lives in a valley where the sun shines 300+ days per year with her hot tub named Valentino.

What I’ve Learned About Writing From Playing Video Games
by J.R. Johansson

So I’m a gamer. I love video games, board games, card games, role-playing games…you name it. During the pandemic, I started my own twitch channel to play on and interact with people from. I had no idea how it would go but I became a Twitch Affiliate in about 3 weeks and it’s been steadily growing ever since. It’s been a ton of fun, but it has been far more than that. I’m a creator who has always been inspired by other stories/movies/works of art. I’ve been spotlighting many games in the Visual Novel area for the last couple of months and I’ve really enjoyed analyzing the characters/plot development, the story structure, the way they build tension, etc. There is some fantastic writing happening in this genre of gaming and it has really inspired me.

At this point, I’ve decided that I would love to write a Visual Novel game and I’m working toward that. But playing these types of games has also sparked my interest in some of my old story ideas and helped me develop brand new ones. The dialogue in some of these games is phenomenal (Danganronpa, for example has incredible plot development, dialogue and characters) and for others it isn’t great. I’ve taken what I’ve learned there to improve my own dialogue in my stories. Some of them are great at just weaving a story around you and making you work to get to the next revelation. The way the work the tension to keep you reading while you’re waiting for something major to happen can also be something to learn from.

For anyone looking for a good Visual Novel to play, I can’t recommend the Danganronpa series enough. I’m currently playing Stein’s Gate and it has one of the more unlikeable protagonists so far that I’ve ever encountered…but I still want to keep playing because of the side characters and the overall mystery of the plot. I also recommend the Persona series games: specifically 4 Golden and 5 Royal. I also am still blown away by the plot twists in Doki Doki Literature Club, but I will warn you that there is some very disturbing imagery involving suicide in that one so steer clear if you aren’t prepared for that.

Anyway, I’m constantly surprised by where I can draw inspiration from as a writer. The more places that I cultivate my ideas, the more depth my storytelling seems to have. One of my favorite parts about being an author is finding these new sources of inspiration and putting them to use to enhance and develop my craft.
Grand Prize: A signed book from Kasie West, Bree Despain and Renee Collins, a full set of JR's books signed + a swag bundle of bookmarks
(4) Four Winners: A signed copy of your choice of one of JR's other books
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  1. I can’t help it! I have to ask! Who else has my name out there? I’ve been Renee Collins for 47! So I am looking forward to reading the book. The last big thing I wrote was my doctoral It was boring...full or research!

  2. I liked the synopsis and excerpt. It sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I enjoyed the excerpt and synopsis! Sounds like a great read! Thanks for sharing with us!

  4. This book sounds very intense and I wouldn't want to be any of them being stuck like that.