Saturday, February 1, 2014

"The Girl (The Sanctum, Book One)" by Madhuri Blaylock

The Girl
(The Sanctum, Book One)
by Madhuri Blaylock

The Girl is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author and a giveaway. Please make sure you visit the other tour stops as well.

The Sanctum, an all-powerful governing body founded by ten families, entrusted to maintain the peace amongst Magicals and ensure the ignorance of humans, has been corrupted by greed and savagery for generations, but is all Wyatt Clayworth has ever known.
A descendant of one of the Founding Families and Class A Warrior, Wyatt has always believed in the ways of The Sanctum, having grown up in the system and thrived under their leadership. A golden boy, renowned for his prowess and skill in battle, Wyatt has never questioned a mission or kill order until the night he crosses paths with a brutally injured and mysterious girl.
Scouring Central Park with his best friend and fellow Class A Warrior, Ryker Morrison, for the hybrid demon prophesied to bring an end to The Sanctum and destroy the world for Magicals and humans alike, Wyatt instead finds Dev and his whole life turns upside down. Told he was hunting a killing machine, hellbent on wreaking havoc and destruction upon all it encounters, Wyatt instead sees nothing more than a broken girl with haunted eyes and a bit of a death wish.
All Dev wants is for Wyatt to either kill her or leave her alone. When he refuses to do either, she finds herself being pulled into his life while being hunted by warriors everywhere she turns. Drawn to one another for reasons they cannot begin to explain to themselves, much less anyone else, Wyatt is determined to protect Dev and help her realize her mission to avenge the deaths of her family at the hands of The Sanctum. His abdication of his duties and his outright rejection of his responsibilities to The Sanctum create a maelstrom of events beyond anyone’s imagination.

Without making a sound, Wyatt quickly found the exact place he was seeking. Ducking under some low-hanging tree branches, he ventured into the dark, partially-hidden lair only to be met with a less-than-welcoming blade at his throat. Dev had moved slightly from the hiding place Wyatt left her and although the lower half of her body remained immobile, her arms were functioning just fine, as evidenced by the blade drawing a thin trickle of blood from Wyatt’s neck. One wrong move and she would certainly kill him.
Wyatt slowly brought his hands up to Dev’s, wrapped his fingers around hers and painstakingly maneuvered the blade away from his neck. Only then did he dare make eye contact with her.
“You didn’t really think I was just going to leave you here, did you?” Wyatt asked as he moved to retrieve his blade from Dev.
She wasn’t quite ready to give it up and slashed at Wyatt’s outstretched hand, managing to nick his wrist.
“Crap!” Wyatt sat back on his heels, holding his wrist, and laughed, “fair enough. I deserved that. I should have told you I was coming back, but I couldn’t risk Ryker overhearing or suspecting anything. Trust me, if he thought I was coming back for you he would have spent all night watching me like a hawk. So I left you and walked away and it worked. Now get over it and give me back my blade.”
Despite the laughter in his voice, Wyatt wasn’t playing. He wanted his blade. Her name was Odara and she had been handed down the Clayworth line since the witnessing of The Code of Ten. She was sharper than any Raven blade and fit his hand like a glove. Many had fought and died at his hand thanks to Odara. She was his protector and he wanted her back where she belonged, safely strapped to his hip.
"Kill me," Dev offered the blade at a price.
Wyatt stood up tall and glared down at Dev, clenching his jaw in irritation.
"Kill me," Dev challenged him again, taunting him with her smug stare and grim request.
With blinding speed, Wyatt landed on Dev, knocking her to the ground. Before she even realized what was happening, he locked down her arms and liberated his blade from her grasp. Wyatt hovered above Dev, inches from her face, momentarily tempted to slice her throat and end all of this drama. She couldn’t move a muscle.
"You are in no position to bargain with me," Wyatt angrily whispered, never taking his eyes off of hers. "I am faster and stronger than you. So don’t even think about toying with me like that again.”
Wyatt pushed himself off of her, replaced Odara at his hip and grinned mischievously. “For the record, my blade isn’t worth your life. I just want it back. And I asked nicely the first time.”
Dev remained in her prone position, staring up at Wyatt, uncertain of her next move. She didn’t have the strength necessary to pull herself into a seated position and she definitely was not going to ask for help.
“What?” Wyatt stared down at Dev, knowing she needed help to get up but determined to make her ask for it.
Even in the darkness, Dev could see Wyatt’s eyes sparkling with amusement. He was thoroughly enjoying this little moment between the two of them. His pleasure made her wish she had slit his throat when she had the chance. Rather than requesting his assistance, Dev focused every ounce of her energy on rolling over onto her stomach. If she could do that, she could easily pull herself into a sitting position, Wyatt be damned. She closed her eyes and focused every fiber of her being on the task at hand but nothing happened. Her body failed to react. It didn't even twitch. The body that had so beautifully saved her from certain death at the hands of those Sanctum fools just hours earlier now couldn't even roll over. She shook with frustration, wanting to scream to the heavens in rage, knowing such action was futile and beneath her. So she took a calming breath, opened her eyes and glared at Wyatt.
"Ahhhh, you're back. I was starting to miss your charming scowl," Wyatt bent low and absentmindedly pushed some of Dev’s hair out of her eyes, “was getting worried there for a second."
Dev grabbed his hand in her vice-like grip. She hated him and his snarky comments.
"I realize you don’t like me," Wyatt pulled his hand out of her grasp and gently placed his arms around Dev, helping her to sit, unable to look at her lying helplessly on the ground for another second, "but I'm all you've got so by all means, continue simmering in your hatred for me but do so with the understanding that I'm on your side.
"All this stabbing and cutting nonsense has got to end. If you want to hurt me, just imagine it, okay? Pretend. Don't actually do it. I heal quickly but it still hurts like hell."
"Now we've got to get out of here fast," Wyatt checked his watch, alarmed at how much time had passed since he jumped out of his window, "and you still can’t walk, which means I’m going to have to pick you up again. Whether you’re okay with it or not.”
He leaned back on his heels and waited, for some reason hoping Dev would respond, all the while knowing she would not. Dev listened with keen interest to every word coming out of Wyatt’s mouth. She most certainly didn’t like him, but she had to respect his determination. He fully intended to get her out of this park and to somewhere safe and against her better judgment, a tiny part of her was relieved. It was the same, small part of her that was fiercely drawn to him, like a sickness almost. And it was the part of her she most wanted to destroy.
Dev hardened her resolve, focused on her intense hatred for all things Sanctum and shut down.
For an instant, Wyatt thought he saw a spark in Dev’s eyes and just as quickly, it was gone. At that moment, for reasons unknown to himself, Wyatt resigned himself to a one-sided relationship with her, one completely based upon his will to help her. He stood up and reached for her, praying she didn’t have a blade hidden somewhere, knowing that if she did, this time she would definitely kill him. To his surprise, Dev wrapped her arms around his neck and allowed Wyatt to scoop her up and into his arms, but he thought nothing more of it, knowing full well she was merely using him to further her agenda.
And that was all right.

This is the story of The Sanctum, ten founding families chosen by the gods to uphold moral authority for all magicals, vampires, witches, fairies, and trolls. Peacekeepers, if you will, as well as protectors of all humanity.
I usually don't frequent this genre much but every now and again an excellent novel will come forth dealing with fantasy and magic that will just grab and hold my attention from beginning to end. That is exactly what this novel did. The author weaved an excellent novel dealing with good versus evil and even managed to bring forth a love story in the midst of battle. This novel had me reading well into the night because it was just that spellbinding that I could not put it down! Readers will be pulled into a world of fantasy and the emotions they will encounter are real and heartfelt. The storyline flowed very well and I found myself yelling at the main characters, wishing death on some and rooting for Wyatt, Ryder, Jools and Dev.
Madhuri Blaylock is a very talented writer and I look forward to the next novel in this series as I know Dev and Wyatt's story is not done. Great job, Madhuri!

Interview With the Author
Hi Madhuri, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, The Girl.
Which writers have influenced you the most? I’ve been a reader my entire life, devouring books by numerous authors, but I would say my idols are Judy Blume, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Zora Neale Hurston, J. K. Rowling, and Laini Taylor. In fact, Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone inspired me to write The Girl. I found her novel to be so unique and beautiful and wanted to see if I could write something similarly captivating.
What age group do you recommend your book for? I’m really bad with this, mostly because I was that kid, sneaking around reading books I probably shouldn’t have been reading. I would say maybe 12 and up. If you’ve read The Hunger Games, you can handle The Girl.
What sparked the idea for this book? I’d been reading lots of fantasy and paranormal fiction and knew I wanted to write something in the genre, so had been taking notes for a while about the world I would create and my characters, but like I explained earlier, what sparked me to actually start writing was Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. She created such a beautiful novel, that was so interesting and full of characters you love, and I wanted to see if I could do the same.
Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel? For me, it tends to be the idea for the novel and then the characters and their stories get fleshed out, sometimes not fully until the end of the novel.
What was the hardest part to write in this book? The end. I didn’t want to end it the way I did, but a friend convinced me to change my original ending and I’m so, so happy I listened to her. Now I cannot imagine The Girl ending any other way.
How do you hope this book affects its readers? I hope they love it. I want them to enjoy the adventure, have favorite characters and become fully engrossed in the details. I want them to have ideas about what should happen next or who should live and who should die. I want The Girl to stick with them and I want them to feel passionate about it.
How long did it take you to write this book? It took me about a year and a half of taking notes, jotting down ideas and putting together storylines and six months to actually write The Girl.
What is your writing routine? Since I practice law for my day job, I tend to do most of my writing at night, after I’ve put my son to bed. If I have time, I write a little in the morning and then, interestingly enough, I’ve done a lot of writing on my commute in and out of Manhattan. It’s only about 17 minutes, but for some reason, I manage to get quite a bit done during those short minutes.
How did you get your book published? The Girl is self-published.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer? Never stop. Write, write, write.
What do you like to do when you're not writing? Spend time outdoors, go to the beach, hang out with my family, play sports, travel, spend time with friends, cook, throw parties and just generally enjoy life.
What does your family think of your writing? I think they like it. My husband is incredibly supportive of my efforts, my son thinks I’m the coolest and my step-daughter doesn’t know how I do it. I think now they probably consider me more a writer than an attorney, which is a good thing.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood. I grew up in Snellville, Georgia, a small town outside of Atlanta. I grew up with a gang of kids on my block, we ran wild, played in the creeks, built forts and rode bikes. I feel like we were outdoors all the time and it was a blast. I was that kid that took every class possible, from jazz dance to gymnastics to art, but became a bit more focused as I got older, playing soccer and horseback riding. We had two dogs, Porky and Dudley, and I had every kind of small rodent you can imagine, from gerbils and hamsters to guinea pigs and rabbits. It was really pretty damn sweet.
Did you enjoy school? I did. I was always a good student and getting good grades came easy. I think if I had applied myself a bit more, I could have done better than I did, but I turned out all right nonetheless.
Did you like reading when you were a child? Yes, but not initially. I credit my mom with instilling a love of books and reading in me. Every summer vacation, when all the other kids were off at camp or spending their days at the pool, she would make me read twenty books. We would go to the library every week and I would check out books, spend the week reading them, then return them to get more. At first, I hated it; the reading list infringed on my time to be outside, running wild somewhere in the woods. Looking back, I know it was those summers and my mom’s reading requirements that turned me into the voracious reader and writer that I am today. Thanks Mom!!
That's great! What was your favorite book as a child? Serendipity, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Who were your favorite authors as a child? Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Gerald Durrell, and Stephen Cosgrove.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? In high school, but I never really thought I could write a novel or have it published until sometime after law school. Once I passed the New York bar exam, I realized I could pretty much do anything I set my mind to.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing? I think they are definitely relevant to my earlier work in Ayesha’s Teenage Survival Files, as there you’re dealing with a group of young adults in high school, facing all of the issues we all faced in high school, trying to maintain their sanity and sense of humor just like we all tried to do in high school. Contrastingly, since I wasn’t a warrior with god-given capabilities, nor did I know any such warriors growing up, or any werewolves, vampires or demons for that matter, I don’t think my childhood experiences played as large a role when I was writing The Girl.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? A few of them have emailed me or contacted me on Facebook to let me know how much they enjoyed The Girl, but I would love to hear from more of them. I think interacting with your fan base is one of the most important aspects of being an Indie author and I look forward to and hope for more interaction with mine.
What can we look forward to from you in the future? Currently, my life is all about The Sanctum trilogy. I’m working on Book Two: The Boy and hope to have it ready by this Spring. I’ve finished about half of it and am pretty pleased with how it’s coming along so far. The tone is quite different from The Girl, but I think that cannot be helped because of the arc of the story. It’s still a great romp and I can’t wait to hear what fans of The Girl think.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Madhuri. Best of luck with the rest of your trilogy.

About the Author
Madhuri Blaylock is a lawyer by day, writer and avid shoe and dress buyer at all other times. She lives in Jersey City, but her heart remains firmly planted in Brooklyn via Snellville, Georgia. Her husband, Henry, is also a lawyer, and only a lawyer because he actually likes being a lawyer (go figure), probably always wanted to be a lawyer and is really, really good at all things lawyerly. He's also pretty hot.
She’s got a big kid, Miss Sydney, and a little kid, the one and only Dash. They're awesome and fierce and supremely cool and able to make her laugh at the strangest things. She would love to add a dog, some chickens, a goat and a burro to this crew. Everyone needs a burro.
Some of her favorites, in no particular order: ice cream, Kill Bill, four-inch heels, Matt Damon, tattoos, Laini Taylor, scotch on the rocks, The Sanctum trilogy, random office supplies, Martha's Vineyard, "The Girl" aka her Mini, Rihanna, Doc Martens, tulips, photo booths and dancing like a fool.
One day she plans to grow up. Right now, she’s enjoying the adventure.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $40 Amazon gift card.