Category Archives: Young Adult Fantasy

Interview with Vessel Author Sarah Beth Durst

I am so incredibly excited to have author Sarah Beth Durst here with me today to answer some questions. Her latest novel Vessel (review here) was amazing, just like all her book are. So let’s get onto the questions and learn more about her and the worlds she creates.

A Bookworm’s Haven (ABWH): Can you tell us a little bit about Vessel for those who might have read it yet?

Sarah Beth Durst (SBD): VESSEL is a sweeping epic adventure set in a harsh desert land where serpents made of unbreakable glass fly through the sky and wolves made of only sand hunt within storms. Liyana is destined to be a vessel, to sacrifice herself so her clan’s goddess can inhabit her body… but her goddess never comes.

ABWH: The mythology in Vessel was absolutely amazing! All of those stories telling the about tribes traditions and history gave the story a very distinctive touch and really helped us get to know the characters in a unique way. Did you draw on stories you already knew to create those or were those stories your own creation?

SBD: I drew on the essence of myths — the universal themes, the archetypes, the feel of an ancient storytelling tradition — but the stories themselves are mine. So happy you liked them!

ABWH: Do you have a favorite scene from Vessel? I loved Liyana’s strong will and determination, especially when she finally meets the Emperor.

SBD: I loved writing that scene:

“You do realize that you are addressing the emperor of the Crescent Empire.”

“And you are addressing a free woman of the desert. You are not my emperor. Therefore I am your equal.”

(She says this while in the heart of a massive encampment of enemy soldiers.)

I also really loved writing the scene when Liyana first meets Korbyn, the trickster god. He walks out of a sandstorm to save her, and she threatens to skewer him with a knife.

ABWH: If you could describe Liyana, Korbyn and the Emperor in just three words each, what would they be?

SBD: Liyana: brave, determined, practical. Korbyn: clever, passionate, fun. The Emperor: serious, responsible, compassionate.

ABWH: If you could choose to belong to one of the clans in Vessel which one would you chose and why?

SBD: Liyana’s clan, the goat clan. Her family truly loves one another. Plus I really like goat cheese.

ABWH: The world you created in Vessel was brilliant and had vibrant characters that lived within it. Which comes first for you? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?

SBD: I knew I wanted to write about a desert. A couple years ago, I wrote about the Arctic in my polar bear novel, ICE, and I lived inside a frozen world. This time, I wanted to immerse myself in sand and sun. So I researched the Gobi, the Sahara, and other deserts, and I meshed them together and added magic: sand wolves, sky serpents, monstrous worms, gods and goddesses that inhabit human bodies… Liyana danced her way into this magic desert in a dream. One night, I dreamed about a barefoot girl dancing on the sand in the moonlight. She was dancing joyfully, yet she knew that at the end of the dance, she’d die. And that was it to the dream, but it was enough to fuel the entire novel.

ABWH: Have you ever read or seen yourself as a character in a book or a movie?

SBD: I picture myself inside virtually every fantasy world that I read or see. As a kid, I used to routinely check my closet for a gateway to Narnia. As an adult, I know that the gateway is through a book.

ABWH: What types of books do you like to read in your free time? Are there any authors/series that you must have when they come out?

SBD: I read exactly the same kinds of books that I write. Really, I believe the old adage “write what you know” should be “write what you love.” I love fantasy. I love stories that sweep you away on an adventure and leave you feeling that the world is a bit more wonderful than it was before. My one must-have author is (and has been for years) Tamora Pierce.

ABWH: What things do you have to have with you when writing?

SBD: I write best if I have my computer. (I type a lot faster than I can write long hand.) Also, I like to have a glass of water on hand. And a bathroom nearby. Other than that, I don’t need much. Except maybe chocolate. Chocolate is my muse.

ABWH: Is there anything you are working on now that you are really excited about?

SBD: Yes, I have two new projects that I’m really excited about: SWEET NOTHINGS (coming fall 2013 from Bloomsbury/Walker) is a YA thriller about a girl in the paranormal witness protection program, and THE LOST (coming fall 2013 from Harlequin/Luna) is the first in a trilogy for adults about a woman who is trapped in a town full of only lost things and lost people.

ABWH: Do you have anything you would like to add?

SBD: Thanks so much for interviewing me!

Book Review of Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Title: Vessel

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Release Date: September 11th, 2012

In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love.

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own
Summary from

My Review: If I had to sum up this book in one word it would be: breathtaking! I was absolutely absorbed in every aspect of this book. It felt more like an experience than just simply reading a book. The descriptions were so vivid and the characters were so interesting, it became easy to get swept up in this world and let everything around me just slip away.

In Vessel, we follow Liyana who was supposed to become the vessel for her goddess to inhabit and help her people, but her goddess never came. Her clan is forced to leave her to seek out help elsewhere and she is left to pick up the broken pieces of her life. Liyana went through an extreme journey both physically and emotionally. She had to grow up very quickly and went from being a trusted vessel, to being abandoned, to being an extremely strong girl that fought in the face of adversity instead of hiding from it. I admired her strength of heart and her determination to see her task through to the end to try and save her people.

Liyana’s hope comes in the form of Korbyn, the trickster god who claims to know where the missing gods and goddess are and with Liyana’s help claims he can save them. Korbyn remained a mystery for most of the book which is fitting since he is the trickster god. You are never quite sure what he is up to since he never really answers questions with a straight answer and does not reveal his true purpose for the journey he starts Liyana on. However, I found that he grew on me as the story progressed and I came to care for what happened to him by the end of the novel.

While the characters were fascinating and I highly enjoyed watching their journey, the stories laced throughout really stole the show. Sarah gives us the history of the gods and goddess and more information about each of the clans through stories and legends that they pass down through the generations. They were told in such detail and many resembled fables with lessons to be learned from them. They were a clever way for us to get to know our characters better and really become invested in the outcome of their lives.

While the book is a little over four hundred pages, I never became bored or found the story dragging. There was always something happening to move the plot forward and the mystery of the location of the missing gods and goddesses was an enigma I was eager to see solved. Liyana also brought forth interesting questions along the way to locating her gods and goddess. Is blind devotion the right choice? Why can you not questions the gods you serve? She began to stand on her own two feet and question her traditions and what was really the right path for her people. It was interesting watching her choose her own path in life, not the one that was initially chosen for her. Liyana faced adversity at every turn, but she persevered and accompanying her on her quest was magical.

Overall, I cannot say enough good things about Vessel. It is an epic fantasy that reminds me of why I adore this genre and Sarah. She has created a stunning world filled with an intriguing mythology, vibrant characters and a story that will grab hold of you immediately and not let go. Sarah continues to amaze me with ability write books that keep me fully engrossed and stay with me long after I have read the final page. Vessel is a superior addition to the young adult community and I highly recommend checking it out if you have not already done so.

FTC: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Conjure by Lea Nolan

Thanks to Entangled Publishing I am able to share a pretty sweet cover with you today. The book is Conjure by Lea Nolan! Check it out:

So what do you think of the cover? I personally think it looks amazing! I love the eerie feeling that the trees send out and the sparks that float across the give it a magical feel. I also have the summary of the book to share with you.

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry–hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

When a strange girl appears, bent on revenge; demon dogs become a threat; and Jack turns into a walking skeleton; Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends–are lost forever.

Summary provided by publisher

So what do you think? I am pretty excited about it! The book releases September 24th, 2012 and you can find out more about the book and the author at the links below.

CONJURE on Goodreads:

Lea’s website:

Lea on Twitter:

Lea also has a giveaway going on in conjunction with the cover reveal. You can find out more about that by following the link below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway