Monday, August 31, 2009

Catching Fire Exerpt

I was very excited to find this and thought I would share it with everyone else who hasn't yet read the first chapter of CATCHING FIRE.
Click here.

James Patterson Prize Pack

Celebrating the release of James Patterson's Maximum Ride: Max in paperback,
2 lucky winners will recieve...
  • Maximum Ride: Max (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: The Final Warning (paperback)
  • Maximum Ride: Manga (paperback)
  • The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (paperback)
  • Daniel X: Watch the Skies (hardcover)

ENTER TO WIN A SET OF JAMES PATTERSON PAGETURNERS!
MAXIMUM RIDE – IF SHE LIVES, THE WORLD LIVES, IT’S THAT SIMPLE.
Read “MAX” -- the newest book in the bestselling Maximum Ride series -- On sale in paperback 09/01/09!

Still reeling from their most recent adventure, Maximum Ride and the rest of the flock must head out to sea to uncover the secret behind a brand new series of disasters—fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii, hundreds of ships are being destroyed. As if that weren’t enough, they’re also being tracked by a criminal mastermind with, oh yeah, an army of mercenaries. Can the flock save themselves and the ocean, and the world, from utter destruction?

For more information about the books, visit the AWESOME website HERE.

The Maximum Ride: Max Promotion is open to legal US residents who are at least 13 years of age as of August 24, 2009. There will be two prizes for each Promotion. Each prize consists of the following eight (8) books: Maximum Ride: Max (paperback); Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (paperback); Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever (paperback); Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (paperback); Maximum Ride: The Final Warning (paperback); Maximum Ride: Manga (paperback); The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (paperback); and Daniel X: Watch the Skies (hardcover). The approximate retail value of each prize is $72.00. Winners will be confirmed on or about September 28, 2009 by email. Prizes will only be shipped to confirmed winners with addresses in the US. Prizes will be shipped within 30 days after a selected entrant is confirmed as a winner.

HOW TO WIN:

It is simple: leave a comment or send an email to readingrocks4me@gmail.com stating how many points you have according to this:

+2 for old followers

+1 becoming a new follower

+2 for promoting this on your blog or site, some way or another

CONTEST ENDS SEPTEMBER 11th!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Create a Cover

This is a little game that's been going around and seemed like fun. Here is my cover: (It turned out kinda creepy.)
And here's SM's, also creepy:


CREATE YOUR DEBUT YA COVER
1 – Go to “Fake Name Generator” or click http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/
The name that appears is your author name.

2 – Go to “Random Word Generator” or click http://www.websitestyle.com/parser/randomword.shtml
The word listed under “Random Verb” is your title.

3 – Go to “FlickrCC” or click http://flickrcc.bluemountains.net/index.php
Type your title into the search box. The first photo that contains a person is your cover.

4 – Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Be sure to crop and/or zoom in.

5 – Post it to your site along with this text.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Hollow by Jessica Verday

This book will be available September 1st, 2009.

Synopsis:

When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead...and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey has never felt so desperately alone. Then she meets Caspian, a gorgeous and mysterious stranger who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special.

Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her--one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian as well as her own sanity.

Rating:

Character Development: 9/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 5/10
Voice: 9/10
Setting: 10/10!
Recommendation: 10/10
Total: 62/70

Grade: A+

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Limited, but yes, there is some.
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Only in discussion.
Sexual Content: Only vaguely referenced; no scenes, etc.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Murder/death; not very graphic but worth mentioning.

Review:

The Hollow was a captivating, rich read written with intoxicating care and attention to detail. It brought Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow into life in a stunning yet strange way. Unfortunately, the ending was cruel and disappointing; the only saving grace on that front is the sequel that is currently in the works. However, do not let that deter you from reading this novel; it was, overall, a wonderful way to spend my time.

A remarkably fast read (for a 500 page tome), The Hollow captured the initial pain and confusion of loss, and the ups and downs of recovery. Abbey was a phenomenally relatable character, and made a captivating yet true narrator. Her emotional journey was what made this book so resoundingly believable. The relationships, struggles, reactions, and decisions we see her go through are things that are wholly unique yet universal--just like her.

At first, it's hard to place this book under the heading "paranormal romance". I don't want to elaborate too much for fear of giving things away, but while it fits the title loosely, I wouldn't label it exclusively as such. From the start, Verday's prose has an element of surreality to it; I was just waiting for that mysterious edge to turn into something wild and fantastical. But still, the twist(s) was unexpected. That's all I have to say about that. :-)

The "romance" part was also skewed from the norm. Although the cover claims "A love like no other", I found it to be...not lacking in the least, but surprisingly slow-paced. Very slow-paced. Sluggish, even. But, never fear! I actually genuinely liked this part of the story. It was a welcome reprieve from the unrealistic fantasies that so often pop up in books today. And while this did border on the perfect-yet-mysterious-guy-is-strangely-obsessed-with-girl theme, that's about where the similarities stopped. And it was nice.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Interview with author Maria V. Snyder


Maria V. Snyder
is the author of some of my favorite books of all time: the Study Trilogy and the Glass Trilogy.

Her website here.


click on each book to read our reviews:



Sea Glass released August 25th, 2009!
Click here to enter the SEA GLASS CONTEST!

You took several glassblowing classes as research for your novels. What was that experience like?

Working with molten glass looks easier than it really is – ever see a demo? Our teacher make it look so natural, and then when it was my turn – yikes! It's HOT! Digging into the big vat of molten glass which is kept in a rip roaring hot furnace at a toasty 2100 degree Fahrenheit was an adventure in itself and a little scary. But once I got the hang of it, I wasn't as skittish of the heat and made a few cool-looking paperweights (which is everyone's first project).
Blowing glass was another adventure, and I discovered I'm not very windy :) I had a hard time "thumbing a bubble" which is blowing air through the metal blowpipe and creating a bubble into your glob of glass. It's the first step to make vases and tumblers and bowls.
I learned it takes A LOT of patience, hand-eye coordination and a good partner to make items that don't look like they dropped out of the wrong end of a horse :) It's a good thing I have a day job :)

How has your extensive traveling affected your writing?

Every thing I do and every place I visit is all fodder for my imagination - even if it's to the local grocery store :) Traveling has opened my eyes to the different cultures and customs of various countries. I will learn odd bits of history or some local superstition that will appear in my books in some form or another. For example, after traveling to China, I wrote a short story about a town that was very superstitious, and about a young lady who was terrified of the new weather wizard that had arrived in town. The story was inspired by all the stories of gods and spirits that are part of their history and culture. The story is titled, Cursing the Weather and I sold it to Black Gate Magazine. The story isn't out yet and I hope to see it soon.

What role has your interest in weather and meteorology had in your writing?

The weather didn't have a big role in my Study books. Although I did have a few references throughout the books that only another meteorologist would understand. In fact, I had a college friend and meteorologist email me when he read Poison Study, asking about one of them and I was thrilled he saw it :)
In Storm Glass, my meteorology background obviously has a bigger role :) I’m often asked what sparked the idea for the Stormdancers. It was during the 2005 hurricane season. A record season for hurricanes with four Category 5 hurricanes (Emily, Katrina, Rita and Wilma). The 2005 season caused $180 billion in damage and killed approximately 2,280 people. Hurricanes release a ton of energy in one day. Enough energy to meet the electrical generating needs of the entire world for 200 days.

The 2005 season had me asking, What if? What if we could harvest that storm energy and use it? Turn big and nasty Katrina into a mild soaking rainstorm? The answers lead me to another boatload of potential conflicts. Who decides what the energy is used for? Do they sell the energy? Share it or just use if for their factories?


How do you come up with the awesome names for your characters/places/things?

I'm going to cheat on this one :) I wrote a whole article about how I name characters and places and it's on my website at this link: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice/naming.php

Your idea of magic in Sitia and Ixia is very unique. What inspired you to create this world?

Once Poison Study was written, I realized the world of Ixia is a combination of my 12 years attending Catholic School, where we all wore uniforms, and the business practices of the company my husband works for. In his company, everyone wears a uniform, even upper management, and everyone sits in a large open-spaced room. There's no "good-old boy" network or special treatment to anyone. I really admired their way of treating their employees. Sitia is a more a standard fantasy convention, with the clans making up a council.

What is your writing process?

I'm what's known as a "seat of the pants" writer (a.k.a. pantser). I like to discover the plot and twists as I write. However, I usually have a general idea of where and how the book will end, but I wouldn't write it out until I reach that point, because it can always change.
This method is fun, but very stressful as I usually spend the first half of the book worried I don't have enough story for a full novel and then spend the last half of the book worried I have too much.

Specifically, how do you create the intense fight scenes in your novels?

I trained in Isshinryu Karate for a number of years, earning a brown belt before having children :) My teacher always focused on self-defense, because he knew any trouble we would get into out in the "real" world wouldn't be a classic boxing match. It would be quick and dirty and as he liked to say, "hit and git!" (which Janco also likes to say :) I also learned how to fight with a bo staff and sais.
My training is integral to the fight scenes. I will actually get up from my desk and grab my bo or sais and "act out" a fight scene. I want to make them as realistic as possible and not like the unrealistic "movie" fights.

When reading one of your books, I noticed that Opal's parents, Jaymes and Vyncenza, have names similar to your own parents, James and Vincenza. Is there a reason for this? Do any other characters share traits with people from your life?

You're the first person to point that out! When I was writing Fire Study, I needed names for Opal's parents. At that time, I thought Opal and her parents would be minor characters and never been seen again so I used my parents' names. Remember I'm a pantser - I discover as I go, and next thing I know I have two novels about Opal - lol!
I do take traits from various people I know and incorporate them into my characters - sometimes it's a conscious decision and sometimes it isn't. As I said before - everything is fodder, including people :) I also been using names of my readers in my books. I'll have a minor character in a scene and need to give him/her a name and I'll pick a name of a reader who I've been emailing or met at a convention. For example, Tebbs in Sea Glass is the last name of an email friend who offered to design bookmarks for me. Tricky is the nickname of a friend who went to Seton Hill with me - and he is actually funny and nice! Chun was my critique partner at Seton Hill. I think it's fun and I've gotten a couple excited emails about it :)

What are some of your favorite YA books?

When I was growing up, I loved to read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Back then there wasn't a YA section in the bookstore or library. Now, I've been enjoying Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series, Rachel Vincent's My Soul to Take, Pearl North's Libyrinth is an excellent book, and a friend of mine turned me on to Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer.

What do you feel is most unique about your writing?

This is a hard question :) I think I'm very conscientious of keeping everything realistic. Besides the magical element, I endeavor to portray events and characters as accurately as possible. When Yelena learns how to pick locks, it's the way a locksmith would do it and not the "movie" version. I make sure the horses are fed and watered and rested - that they don't turn into super horses that can go all day without a break and then just magically disappear when the character arrives in town. I call them "stow and go" horses. :) And I make sure everything is logical and there are no holes in the plot - well my husband has a lot to do with this, he won't tolerate any unexplained coincidences or vague explanations, if it doesn't add up, he'll tell me :)

How do you develop the relationships in your novels?
As a pantser, the relationships develop themselves. I put my characters through all kinds of horrible situations and see how they react to the situation and to each other.

* SPOILER ALERT! *

I never intended for Valek and Yelena to become a couple, but as I worked on Poison Study, they decided to get together. I had been thinking of the Commander and Yelena, but you know how that work out! He surprised me!

MARIA V. SNYDER was interviewed AUGUST 16th, 2009 by READING ROCKS.

Sea Glass CONTEST!


Win Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder!

One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Maria V. Snyder's latest book, Sea Glass, the second book in the Glass Trilogy, available on August 25th.

All you have to do is comment!

  • US Residents only please!
  • Leave an email or contact information.
  • +1 for being a current/new follower or posting about this contest somewhere.
CONTEST ENDS SEPTEMBER 1st!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder

This book will be available August 25th, 2009.

Synopsis:

Student glass magician Opal Cowen's newfound ability to steal a magician's powers makes her too powerful. Ordered to house arrest by the Council, Opal dares defy them, traveling to the Moon Clan's lands in search of Ulrick, the man she thinks she loves. Thinks because another man--now her prisoner--claims Ulrick's desire for blood magic has eclipsed his passion for her.

In hostile territory, without proof or allies, Opal isn't sure whom to trust. She can't forget Kade, the handsome Stormdancer who doesn't want to let her get close. And now everyone is after Opal's special powers for their own deadly gain...

Rating:

Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Voice: 10/10
Setting: 10/10
Recommendation: 10/10
Total: 70/70

Grade: A+

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Some, but not too frequently or offensively.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Some drinking. Some "drug" use (by which I mean addictive substances or activities, though it is a fiction thing) but not by protagonist.
Sexual Content: Several scenes, not very descriptive. Some near-rape.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Some graphic and bloody scenes. Some potentially disturbing narration involving torture and murder, etc.

Review:


You all know that I absolutely adore Maria V. Snyder, but she has really outdone herself this time. I thought Storm Glass was excellent, and it was--but Sea Glass is even better. It was phenomenal! Flawless prose, tortured narration, beautiful plot development! Intrigue, mind games, romance, action. An achingly alluring setting. This continuation of Opal's story has it all.

Like her previous books, Sea Glass is an epic tale. It deals with political, magical, and murderous complications that affect entire nations. Yet unlike the Study Trilogy and the prequel, this installment deals more with the emotional. Friends become traitors. Lovers become enemies. Captors become accomplices. And vice versa. Throughout, the story is laced with misunderstanding, disbelief, and betrayal that is told through Opal's very clear and honest voice.

In almost 400 pages, Opal's attitude and character perceptibly change in a way that is wholly right. She reacts to her situation as I believe a human would, and what she takes away from these events shape her into a more mature, hardened woman that Snyder captures beautifully with her words. We see her develop, we change along with her, in a way that is new and vital to the story.

Snyder writes with a realism and attention to detail that is both surprising and intensely satisfying. She conveys the havoc of Opal's life with ease, weaving it with speculation, growth, and discovery. I was engrossed in her words yet again. She has proven once more that she is worthy of every merit and compliment I have bestowed upon her. And as much as I long for the third and final book, I don't know what I'll do with myself when this story comes to an end.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We're back!



We have returned from a truly epic journey, and boy was it fun! We'll be cranking up the reviews and such as usual again. Coming up soon we have several amazing contests, some cool interviews, and some awesome reviews, so stay tuned. While in the UK I picked up several cool-looking books, so be prepared for an onslaught of British literature!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Darkwood by M. E. Breen


Synopsis:

Darkness falls so quickly in Howland that the people there have no word for evening. One minute the sky is light, the next minute it is black. But darkness comes in other forms, too, and for thirteen-year-old Annie, the misery she endures in her Uncle’s household makes the black of night seem almost soothing. When Annie escapes, her route takes her first to a dangerous mine where a precious stone is being stolen by an enemy of the king, and later to the king’s own halls, where a figure from Annie’s past makes a startling appearance. All the while, reported sightings of kinderstalk— mysterious, wolf-like creatures that prowl Howland’s dark forests—grow more frequent

Rating:

Character Development: 6/10
Originality: 7/10
Overall Enjoyment: 5/10
Ending: 8/10
Voice: 6/10
Setting: 6/10
Recommendation: 5/10
Total: 43/50

Grade: B

(However, for a younger audience I would most likely give it an A or up)

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: None.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: None.
Sexual Content: None.
Disturbing Images/Violence: some child slavery.

Review:

I think this book would appeal a great deal more to younger readers more conditioned to exciting scenes and less geared toward nice writing. It was very difficult for me to get through this book. Though the writing was honest and nice enough, something about the plotting and the sequence was throwing me off. It just didn't draw me in.

A lot of the otherworldly things intrigued me, such as the kinderstalk. I thought they were interesting, but they weren't enough to keep my attention for long. Though a dark story of slavery and danger, it was just all too childish for me. I disliked Annie and pretty much every character. Their voices just fell flat.

While a lot of small things about this book improved it quite a lot, those bits just weren't enough for me. I might give it another chance in a few years, when I have enough time to reread it and determine if in truth it is better than my first impression. A valiant effort, I would say, but just not my type of book.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Snap by Carol Snow

IN STORES: August 25, 2009

Synopsis:
Madison Sabatini thought she knew who she was. Then, in a flash, everything changed.

Now Madison finds herself stuck in a strange, sleepy beach town, and she throws herself into her one passion: photography. But when bizarre figures start appearing in her photos—people who are later reported dead—Madison begins to question everything about who she is...and who she wishes she could be.

Both chilling and relatable, this is the story of a normal girl who finds her life spinning strangely out of control. Carol Snow once again deftly blends teen-angst realism with paranormal suspense.

Rating:
Character Development: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice: 7/10
Setting: 9/10
Recommendation: 8/10
Total Score: 55/70
Grade: A
Age Appropriate?
Cussing: Some
Drugs, Alcohol, etc: Not that I recall.
Sexual Content: None.
Disturbing Images/ Violence: Creepy people showing up in pictures is about it.

Review:
Carol Snow has created a story that is impossible to put down and will keep your pages turning faster than you can say SNAP. The characters are easily lovable, the setting is vivid, and the plot is fast paced and always interesting.

Snap is not the sequel to Switch, but it shares like qualities. The two books have the same setting, but it is seen in a different way from a different person's perspective. None of the main characters are the same, but Carol Snow masterly slipped in some of Switch's characters through conversations and stories into Snap. Both books also have a paranormal edge to normal life that is believable and plays a huge part in the plot line.

The plot was wonderfully refreshing to read. The events are balanced in the perfect places so that you never cease to be entertained. There was romance, mystery, suspense, realization-- all distributed just right. It was flawlessly constructed and the effect was obvious on the reader. This was a great beach read for me, and very enjoyable. It wasn't phenomonal, but it was definitely good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Interview with Carol Snow

Carol Snow is the author of SWITCH, and her newest book which will be out next week, August 25, SNAP! She is visiting us today with a wonderful interview. Enjoy!

What was your inspiration for SWITCH?

SWITCH was an “Aha!” kind of book. In the summer of 2006, my family spent a week in Carpinteria, California, a tiny, laid-back beach town about ten miles south of Santa Barbara. For the past couple of months, I’d been trying to come up with an idea for a teen book. One day, I was walking along the beach and thinking about the kinds of situations that I’d found compelling as a kid. Body switching came to mind. But who, I wondered, might a protagonist switch with? To my right was a rock wall; above the rocks were multi-million dollar houses. I wished I could go inside those houses. Why not let my character? Also, since every teenage girl wants to be beautiful, I decided to let my character see the world through the eyes of a knockout.
The first chapter poured out of me (if only writing were always that easy). During the week, I thought constantly about the plot and characters. I wrote a few chapters and made lots of notes. By the end of the week, I had the entire plot arc in my head (it took me about six months to write the first draft). I needed a name for my mythical beach town. I looked out the window of our rented condo and saw a street sign that said, “Sandyland Drive.” And so, I named the town Sandyland.

Is there a specific reason for the choice of a beach setting for SWITCH and SNAP?

For me, the beach has always been a magical kind of place. Time slows down, and the real world seems to disappear. Growing up, I spent all of my summers on Cape Cod. My family would drive up from New Jersey on the last day of school, and we wouldn’t return until Labor Day.
Sandyland, the setting for Switch and Snap, looks and feels a lot like Carpinteria, CA, but it is not meant to be that or any other real town. I wanted to create a place that was slightly mystical and unreal, where dead grandmothers raid the freezer, girls swap bodies, and strange figures appear in photographs. Also, I hoped to capture the universal aspect of sleepy beach towns, which share a similar spirit whether they’re in California, Massachusetts, or South Carolina.

In SWITCH, Claire’s spirit involuntarily switches into a different body. If you had a choice to switch into anyone’s body for a couple of days who would you choose?

I would never choose to switch into anyone’s body. I mean, come on: that’s creepy! But if I had to switch, I’d pick someone incredibly athletic and strong. I’ve always been small, slow, and weak – the exact opposite of Claire.

What is the most important message you want to convey to your readers through your books and writing?

Honestly, I never set out to convey any kind of message; I just want to tell a good story.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I can write anywhere that’s quiet and where I won’t be interrupted. Mostly, I write in my house while my children are in school. I despise the telephone because every time it rings it takes me at least twenty minutes to regain my concentration.

You write both adult and teen novels. Do you have a preference to which you enjoy more?

I like switching between the two; it keeps things interesting and lets me explore a broader range of characters and situations.

What do you think is the most important component of a story?

Plot! You can have fascinating characters and beautiful prose, but without a good story, why would you want to spend any time with them?

What are your hobbies?

For years, my main hobby was writing. Now that it’s my job, I need to find something new!

How do your hobbies and the things you love influence your writing?

Aside from writing, my longtime hobby is photography, which is the centerpiece of Snap. I also love the beach, food and cats. They all show up in my work.

What are some things your readers probably don’t know about you?

I not only write for teenagers – I have a teenage daughter (as well as a nine-year-old son). And guess what? She hates to read.

To see my review for SWITCH, click here. And I will be posting the review of SNAP tomorrow!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fantasy Road Trip!

FANTASY ROAD TRIP VIDEO CONTEST
(click to see more information)

YA Authors
Libba Bray
(Gemma Doyle trilogy)
Tamora Pierce (Legend of Beka Cooper)
and Rick Riordan
(Percy Jackson and the Olympians)
in association with Listening Library are holding a Fantasy Road Trip Contest!

The question is:

If you could go on a road trip with Gemma Doyle, Beka Cooper, or Percy Jackson, where would you go and what would you do along the way?


Make a video to explain your answer, and include the following:
  • a reference to Florida
  • a reference to audiobooks
  • an audio-clip (available on the site)
The winners will receive an iPod Touch and signed audiobooks!



For questions, contact: audio@randomhouse.com

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Interview with author Pam Bachorz

Pam Bachorz
is the author of CANDOR, a YA novel that will come out in September 2009.
Read the first chapter here!
Read my review here!


You lived for a time in Celebration, Florida, Disney's planned community. How did this inspire you to write Candor?

Celebration has these mosquito trucks that run once or twice a day, spraying citrus spray through the town in an attempt to fight back to mosquitoes. One night I was walking the dog and the truck drove by. We were coated in the spray and I wondered what was really in it. What if, I wondered, it had Prozac in it? Maybe that's why everybody is so happy and friendly! From there it wasn't a huge jump to brainwashing (at least for somebody as paranoid as me!). And then a few nights later I saw a lone girl skateboarding down the sidewalk, late at night. I had the brainwashing. And I had my main character's love interest, Nia.

What authors/figures in literature do you most look up to?

Like every author, I'm a huge reader. It's tough to narrow it down. My sentimental favorite is L.M. Montgomery, who wrote the Anne of Green Gables series. Some of my current-day favorites are Gail Giles, Jeanne du Prau, Marcus Zusack, and Neal Shusterman.

What are your favorite young adult books?

Oooooo, very hard to pick a few. A few that still stick with my are "Unwind" by Neal Shusterman, "The Adoration of Jenna Fox" by Mary E. Pearson, the "Midnighters" series by Scott Westerfeld, and an "An Abundance of Katherines" by John Green.

Are any of your characters based off of people you know?

No, not really, though I'm sure bits and pieces of every person I know did sneak in here and there. And there's probably more of me in any of my characters than I choose to admit!

Why did you choose the name Candor for the "perfect community"?

I chose the name Candor for a few reasons: first is the play on words. Candor means "truth", essentially, and yet this town is about anything BUT truth! Also, it refers to a m ain crisis of the book, when my main character finally admits a critical truth to his love, Nia. Finally, I just love how the word sounds: hard, simple, to the point.

Have you ever tried to create subliminal Messages with music? Does it work? :-)

Let's see. Just turn up your speakers, listen for five minutes, and let me know... :)

What kind of research did you do while writing Candor, if any?

I researched the legality of brainwashing, actually! I'm no lawyer, but as far as I can figure, Campbell Banks is doing nothing illegal with his particular brand of brainwashing in Candor. He's not broadcasting it, he's feeding it to people via locally-played music. I was so worried that this question would come up when I tried to sell it--but in actuality, nobody has ever asked me whether the brainwashing in Candor would be against the law.

What are you most excited about for the publication of your first book?

I like thinking about the people in my acknowledgements--the people who meant so much to me, growing up, and maybe never realized it. Like, my elementary school librarian is thanked in the acknowledgements, and I am sure she will be very surprised. I wish I could personally hand each of those people a signed copy and thank them. Alas, none of them live near me anymore! (I moved away, not them!)

What are your biggest fears concerning the publication of your first book?

I don't want my readers to be bored. That would be the worst news, to me. I want people to be engaged and react to the book, which I think is the job of any kind of art.

What is your favorite quote (while avoiding spoilers) from Candor?

I had a hard time with this one! So I think I'll go with a quote that sums up some of the weight on Oscar's shoulders, talking about his life and living in Candor:

"Mom's gone. But everyone else wants to live here."

PAM BACHORZ was interviewed on July 27th, 2009 by READING ROCKS.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Lost Summer by Kathryn Williams

Synopsis:

For seventeen-year-old Helena Waite, summer means more than just a break from school--it means Southpoint. Each July, Helena returns to the summer camp with its familiar routines, landmarks, and faces. This year, however, she is returning not as a camper but as a counselor. The only downside? Her best friend, Katie Bell, is still a camper.

As the days begin to heat up, Helena discovers that the innocent world of bonfires and field days has been pushed aside for late-night pranks on the boys' camp and skinny-dipping in the lake. To fit into this new life, Helena finds herself turning her back on Katie Bell, and when a longtime crush becomes a romantic possibility, life gets even more confusing. With the carefree summers of her past slipping through her fingers, Helena begins to wonder why growing up means having to change.

Told with honesty and heart, Kathryn Williams's second novel tackles the timeless themes of coming-of-age, summer romance, and, of course, the power of friendship.

Rating:

Character Development: 8/10
Originality: 7/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Ending: 5/10
Voice: 9/10
Setting: 10/10
Recommendation: 7/10
Total Score: 53/70

Grade: A

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: Pretty frequently, but mostly just in conversation.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: There is much underage drinking, smoking, and use of chewing tobacco.
Sexual Content: One actual scene, but often discussed and some not-quite-but-almost PG-13 stuff.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Nothing.

Review:
This steady-paced tale of summertime, independence, and growing up is the perfect camp novel. It was fun, witty, and entertaining with a heavy helping of reality. If you love summer camp, you should definitely pick up The Lost Summer.

Helena, the protagonist, is very, very, very average--and I loved it. Her speculations and worries about her body and her life and everything were so entirely normal, I felt like I was actually reading about a real person, not a figment of someone's imagination. Though the story is as sad and confused as any teenager's world, it is also hopeful, uplifting, and cathartic.

Through wonderful imagery, Kathryn Williams creates a beautiful disconnected world in Camp Southpoint. She turns one girl's (nearly) ordinary summer camp experience into an adventure, a roller coaster of emotions, chronicling the most important transition in a girl's life: from child to adult. The only difference is that, at Southpoint, that change is visible and solid.

The Lost Summer is a quick read that is worthy of a few lazy summer hours out by the pool, and essential for anyone whose home-away-from-home is at a cabin at a summer camp.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Vacation Time!


For the next two weeks, Elise and I will be traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland with our theatre troupe to participate in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, one of the largest celebrations of theater in the world. There will be some posts scheduled, but not as many as there usually are. (Yet haven't been lately... so sorry about that. We have been very busy with show rehearsals and preparing.) If the posts come a little slow until we return on August 24th, that's why. :-)

I hope everyone's having an excellent summer!
See you on the 24th!

--Shakespeare's Muse

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Winner of the Kizer Contest!

Congratulations to SHAWNA LEWIS for winning One Butt Cheek at a Time and Meridian by Amber Kizer.
(Sorry this contest didn't last very long. We are leaving for Scotland tomorrow and wanted to let announce a winner before we left.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

A GREAT and TERRIBLE contest!


Two lucky winners will receive a paperback copy of
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
in celebration of Libba Bray's new book, GOING BOVINE!

(because you should read both, you see.)

Synopsis:


Gemma Doyle isn't like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, and who will lie back and think of England when it's required of them.

No, sixteen-year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to the Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds a chilly reception. But she's not completely alone...she's been followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against the visions.

For it's at Spence that Femma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy group called the Order. It's there that her destiny waits...if only she can believe in it.

On September 22nd, GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray will be available in stores. You can find more info about the book here (click on the cow!) and more info about Libba here.


CONTEST RULES:
  • Leave a comment or email me (shakespearesmuse.tbc@gmail.com)
  • US Residents Only (sorry, I love all the rest of you, too, don't worry!)
  • Please leave contact info
  • Scoring:
+ 2 for being a follower
+ 2 for becoming a new follower
+ 2 for posting about this somehow (blog, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, whatever)

CONTEST ENDS SEPTEMBER 22nd!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Say WHAT?

I just read on Donna's blog that a movie of Aprilynne Pike's WINGS in the making. And playing the main role of Laurel is... Miley Cyrus. Read an article about it HERE. Read what Aprilynne's husband says HERE.

Thoughts? Opinions? Comment.



Read our review of Wings HERE.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Oathbreaker Part 1: Assassin's Apprentice

On the flap:

A murderer shoves a prince to his “death.”

An assassin legally kidnaps a terrified boy.

A ruling lord orders an atrocity so devastating it will change the course of history.

So begins this highly original and engaging epic fantasy, a story of love, family trust, sworn promises and hard-earned friendships, in which two boys must put aside their childhood understanding of the world and accept their own incredible power to do right.

Rating:

Character Development: 9/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 7/10
Voice: 8/10
Setting: 9/10
Recommendation: 7/10
Total: 59/70

Grade: A

Age Appropriate?

Cussing: None
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: None
Sexual Content: None.
Disturbing Images/Violence: frequent murder/death


Review:

S R Vaught and J B Redmond have done an amazing job at worldmaking in the first part of Assassin's Apprentice. Wow. It entirely epic! If you like such books as Christopher Paolini's Eragon, Hilari Bell's Farsala Trilogy, or Trudi Canavan's Black Magician Trilogy, you're sure to love this new and involved story.

The creativity and dedication which Redmond and Vaught have put into the world of Eyrie is extremely impressive. It has an extensive history, geography, government, and feel to it that is entirely unique and dynamic. It takes a while to sort yourself out in this world, but once you do, it's completely worth it.

Aron, the protagonist, was very likeable and realistic. His voice was young and confused, yet mature. Occasionally this caused confusion for me, but most of the time it seemed true and believable. As you set out to read this book, keep in mind that it isn't about the action, it's about the journey. There is a lot of killing and such, but in truth, most of it is narration and conversation. However, this suits the story's feel. And... and... gah! I can't wait for the second half!!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Twitter Party TONIGHT

Want to have fun and win some awesome prizes while chatting with Prophecy of the Sisters author Michelle Zink?
Come to the Total Chaos Twitter Party on tonight from 8pm-11pm EST/5pm-8pm PST!!!
Prizes include gift cards and other items of awesomeness to be awarded for answers to Prophecy trivia and other random things that come to mind at the time.
You must be following Michelle Zink on Twitter and must use the hashtag #ProphecyoftheSisters to win.
***


Can't make it to the twitter party, but still want the chance to win some Prophecy goodies?
Check out the Fairies and Demons Battle!

Click here to learn more about your chance to win lots of treasures from both the Demon and the Fairie Realms.

Kizer Contest

Do you want to win 2 AMAZING books? Now's your chance! Here's what's up for grabs:

Meridian by Amber Kizer

Sixteen-year-old Meridian has always been surrounded by death. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders burrowed into her bedclothes to die. As she grew, the animals got bigger, and soon they were finding her at school to die in her presence. Meridian became an outcast, labeled by her classmates as Reaper, Gravedigger, and Witch. Each death she witnesses weakens her body, and loneliness weakens her spirit.
On her sixteenth birthday, she witnesses a deadly car crash. Though she’s untouched, Meridian's body explodes with the victims’ pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she's a danger to her family and rushed to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. It's there that she learns the secret her mother has been hiding her entire life: that she is a Fenestra, the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. It's crucial that she learn how to transition human souls to the afterlife and preserve the balance between good and evil on earth. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos. Dark, lovely, and lushly romantic, MERIDIAN introduces a powerful heroine who will entrance readers.

One Butt Cheek at a Time by Amber Kizer
Gert Garibaldi isn't one of those people who believe high school is the best part of life. She has a whole notebook full of rants about high school, and she's fully aware of how ridiculous the experience is, thank you very much. Gert just wants to survive the next three years, one butt cheek at a time, with her best friend, Adam, by her side - and maybe Luscious Luke attached to her lips. With a stapler. Or something. But muddling through isn't even as easy as it seems - there are geriatric parents to deal with, Homecoming festivities (admit it- those words just sent a little chill down your spine), crushes, and potential new boyfriends - for both Gert and Adam. Frank, funny, and totally unique, Gert's ready to pull on the Pants of Life and start dancing.

HOW TO ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN:
It's simple-- leave a comment or send an email to readingrocks4me@gmail.com. Tell us why you want the books, and your name will be thrown into the drawing. Be sure to include contact information. Good luck!

* US Residents only please.
CONTEST ENDS AUGUST 8... So hurry up and enter!