Friday, November 11, 2016

Collecting the Constellations by Emily Steers - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

 
 Review by Anniek

Charlotte Daly is a well respected researcher at a prestigious museum. She loves her job and is always looking out for new adventures. When her great aunt Tilly dies Charlotte often goes to her ranch. Tilly loved to travel and always took home the most amazing finds. In the basement, hidden in a moldy cardboard box, Charlotte finds a beautiful dagger with a sapphire stone. She is immediately curious about the origin of the piece and wonders why it was hidden in the basement instead of being on display.

The dagger is unusual and beautiful. The sapphire stone shows inconsistencies, but only when it's being held in daylight. These are called constellations. Charlotte convinces her boss to give her a week off, so that she can travel to Kathmandu to see what she can find out about this dagger. She takes Rory with her. They have been friends for a very long time and they also work together at the museum. When they arrive in Nepal, friends of her great aunt pick them up. Charlotte and Rory are staying with them for the week. Now that their quest has begun Charlotte and Rory find out that not everything is what it seems.

Charlotte is a smart archaeologist. She loves what she does and is a confident young woman. I liked it a lot that Emily Steers chose such a strong main character as her heroine. Charlotte is very skilled at following clues and will not back down when she's being challenged. I liked the strong connection she and Rory have. There is amazing chemistry between them. Charlotte is very down to earth and I liked her immediately.

Collecting the Constellations is a great adventure novel. I loved the Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones movies and this book is the same kind of adventure. I find it fascinating to read about artifacts and the path that's being followed to find out where they came from and why they were made. Emily Steers has written an intriguing story with an amazing heroine as her main character. To set the story in Kathmandu is a brilliant choice, the place felt incredibly mysterious. Collecting the Constellations is packed with adventure, mysteries, action and secrets. I loved this story from the start and I can easily see this turning into a Charlotte Daly series.

Advice

If you love to read a great adventure story and you're a fan of Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones I would highly recommend Collecting the Constellations.

About Emily Steers

 
Emily Steers is a writer in Los Angeles who doesn’t write screenplays. With an extensive background in corporate copywriting and editorial, she has written for several national publications and keeps her own lifestyle blog called Yankee Smartass. Emily is a graduate of Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program. She resides in Pasadena with her boyfriend and their two dogs.

Find out more at
 
 
Interview
 
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
 
Raised in Connecticut, I studied writing and publishing at Emerson College in Boston and begrudgingly moved to the least-New England-y city in America right after I graduated– Los Angeles, CA. Since living here, I've worked in basically every industry except the film industry! I always joke that I don't write screenplays, but at this point, you never know. I currently live in Pasadena with my fiancé, who is a film composer, and our two dogs.

2. Collecting the Constellations is an adventure story. What's the biggest adventure you've ever been on?
 
Oh, boy. I'm totally boring. The funniest thing is, I don't even like to travel! But my greatest adventure was probably a few years ago, when my fiancé and I decided it would be a great idea to put our two giant dogs in the back of his teeny-tiny Honda Civic and drive across the country and back– for Christmas. We made it all the way from our house in Los Angeles to my parents' house in Connecticut, drove through a few blizzards, and then made it all the way to Phoenix on the return trip home without incident before a tumbleweed the size of a Christmas tree smashed through our windshield. We drove the remaining six hours home, through desert rainstorms, with a decimated front window, picking tumbleweed from the grill at every gas station stop. That was when we were younger and dumber though, that's for sure.

3. Charlotte is like a female Indiana Jones. Where did you find your inspiration to create Charlotte?
 
Charlotte was created in a fit of retaliation, I'm not going to lie. I noticed a recurring theme in a lot of blockbuster books– the female protagonists are usually young, meek, teenaged girls with long flowing hair, who are also usually very petite. Isn't that strange? So I tried to create a character who was almost the exact opposite– a grown woman, tall, who is educated and has no problem standing up for herself. To me, that lent itself perfectly to an adventurer character. Sort of if Raiders of the Lost Ark was about Marion Ravenwood (one of my favorite movie character ever!) instead of Indiana Jones.

4. You loved Stranger Things and even used it on your blog. What attracted you to this TV sensation?
 
I initially put off watching it because I wasn't sure if I would connect with the main teenage boy protagonists. But as soon as I started, I was absolutely hooked– but mostly on WInona Ryder's character, Joyce. I love how she never, ever stops to explain herself, even as her entire small town starts to think she's completely lost her mind. She is determined to get her son back and is hell-bent on being her own hero in her story, even if, on the outside, she appears incapable. I love that.

5. Can you tell us about your hobbies? (when you're not reading or writing)
 
I fell into writing about wine and spirits as I was leaving college, and I've gotten quite swept up in the world of mixology and bar culture. I also love to cook, so I keep a lifestyle blog in addition to writing fiction. It's another creative outlet that keeps me writing, but doesn't use up all of my creative brainpower that should be put towards writing stories.

6. What was the hardest part of writing your first story?
 
Paring down my ideas! I'm lucky that I've had a lot of training and experience writing for broad audiences– a long career in editorial taught me how to pace stories and to hook a reader. But the hardest part for me has definitely been constraining all the details I have in my head to what's important on paper. I spent an awful lot of time describing people's outfits in the first draft of COLLECTING THE CONSTELLATIONS; so much so that my editor asked me, "Do you write catalog copy for a living?" Turns out, I used to. It was my first job out of college. So, it's extremely hard to figure out what the important details are.

7. In Collecting the Constellations, Charlotte ends up in Kathmandu. Have you ever been there and why did you choose Kathmandu?
 
I haven't ever been there! But thank goodness for Google– it was great for fact-checking things like highway routes, or what certain buildings look like in real life! Kathmandu was chosen long before the terrible earthquake that decimated the country in 2015. I had originally wanted to set the book in Indonesia (another prime location for gemstone mines), so I emailed a friend of mine who grew up there while his mom worked for the United Nations. He told me that Jakarta wasn't a terribly exciting city from his point of view, and that so many people knew it well that if I'd made a mistake describing something, tons of people would pile on me for my goofs. So, he suggested Kathmandu because it was mysterious and it's also not a terribly well-traveled destination, so no one would notice if I got a few details wrong. It turned out to be the absolutely perfect setting– just the right amount of intrigue.

8. If you could have played a part in a classic movie, which part would have been perfect for you and why?
 
Oh! That's sort of hard to choose. I think if I was anyone, I'd be Rosalind Russel's character in HIS GIRL FRIDAY. Fast-talking, snarky, and never at a loss for words. May not be me at the moment, but her character, Hildy, is who I aspire to be!

9. What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm almost finished with the untitled sequel to COLLECTING THE CONSTELLATIONS. Charlotte receives a strange gift from an unknown benefactor and her search for clues leads her to a city so well-documented, she never suspected it could be harboring deep secrets– Boston, where I went to school. For more info on the release date, be sure to follow me on Twitter or Facebook!

Giveaway

One reader of With Love For Books from the USA/Canada will receive a signed copy of Collecting the Constellations and one reader will get a $10 Amazon gift card from Emily Steers. Good Luck!
  
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

29 comments:

  1. The book review sound good. Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed the interview too.

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  2. This book sounds so interesting. Hope to read it soon!

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  3. Hildy Johnson was a wonderful character although originally in the play the character was male. The story goes that during readings of the screenplay, Howard Hawks's secretary read Hildy's lines and Hawks liked the way that it sounded! And that poor chap hidden in the desk! Great movie.

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  4. Great idea for a book... and Kathmandu is an inspired setting!

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  5. Thank you for the review, interview and giveaway.

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  6. This sounds very appealing!

    --Trix

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  7. Yes! I'd love to be Hildy too! That is such a great movie.

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  8. Fab thanks for the chance. Love this!

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  9. I liked the review, sounds like a good read.

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  10. Are you familiar with Kim Stanley Robinson's "Escape from Kathmandu"? That's probably my favorite Kathmandu story until now. Well, that and Bob Seger's.

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  11. Lovely giveaway Emily thank you for giving me the chance x

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  12. I love mysteries. This kind of reminds me of an adult Nancy Drew :) I was addicted to Nancy Drew so perhaps it's time to start reading a new heroine :)

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  13. Thank you for offering this fantastic prize! I have liked and shared, good luck everybody.

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  14. Sounds like a great read, thank you for the interview - I enjoyed that!

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  15. Thanks for the opportunity

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  16. This sounds great. I like that we can follow Charlotte on her adventure. Thanks for the chance.

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  17. The book sounds great, thanks for the giveaway.

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  18. It would be terrific to win
    a signed copy of
    Collecting the Constellations by Emily Steers
    or a $10 Amazon gift card.
    This sounds like a book i would enjoy reading.
    Thank you for having this giveaway.

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  19. Sounds like a great book, i think i'll like to read that. Thank you by the review.

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  20. This sounds like such an interesting book to read thanks for the giveaway.

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  21. This sounds like a great book. Will have to check it out.

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  22. Love the indepth interview. Always a great way to get to know the author! Thank you and Happy Holidays!

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