Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Guest Blog with Maria V. Snyder


author of the Study Trilogy...
(click on pics for our review)

the Glass Trilogy...

and the sci-fi novels Inside Out and Outside In (coming soon)...

She joins us today with a guest post titled...

The Insider’s Guide to the Study/Glass Book Names

Since SPY GLASS has recently arrived in the bookstores, I wanted to take a more in-depth look at all the different character names.  Many of my readers want to know why I chose these names and how to pronounce them (sometimes I get emails from friends who are fighting over the proper pronunciation!).  And thanks to Ariel, I’ve a reason to sit down and go through all 6 books set in Ixia and Sitia. Don’t worry, I’m not going to list them all – we’d all be sitting here for days!

When I picked names for POISON STUDY – I wasn’t as organized as I am now.  I would pick a name when I encountered a new character.  However, searching for a good name when I’m in the middle of writing was time consuming and could derail me for days (yes, I know it’s thinly disguised procrastination). But I did pick the main characters right away.

How, you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  My favorite baby book is From Aaron to Zoe, 15,000 Great Baby Names, by Daniel Avram Richman.  Not only are there a ton of names and their meanings, but they’re from all over the world.  I also get names from the newspapers, magazines, someone I meet, or online.  And sometimes I use reader’s names ;>

Before I start a new story, I decide what theme I want in names.  For example in MAGIC STUDY I wanted the southern characters’ names to have a nature theme.  Now a few don’t, but the majority do.

Okay – so on to the names!

(no theme ‘cause it was my first book and I didn’t know what I was doing ;)

Yelena – I did want a name that was different, but easy to pronounce.  I saw the name listed as one of the most popular names in Russia and when I looked up the meaning, I was sold.  Her names means “bright one” or “shining one.”  I thought since she started out in such a horrible place, she needed some hope.  I pronounce it Yeh-lean-a.

Valek – I made this up from Val Kilmer’s name.  Think of his character in the movie Top Gun – his call name was Ice Man – I don’t even remember his character’s real name.  I pronounce it Val-lick.

Commander Ambrose – for the longest time he was just The Commander. But when I needed another name, I named him for a coffee shop owned by a man I took a writing  class with. He was my partner for a couple exercises, but I can’t remember his name.

Ari & Janco – made up on the fly. I thought I’d change their names later ;)

Margg – named for an ex co-worker of mine who I hat…er…didn’t like. Her name is Margie.

Rand – named for my brother-in-law, Randy who is a butcher.

(nature & gemstone theme)

Leif – Norwegian and means “beloved” – not exactly Leif in this book, but I wanted a short name that started with an L because my son’s name is Luke and I didn’t want to use his name.  Also since I pronounce it Leaf – like a tree leaf – it matched the theme.

Irys – a different spelling of Iris – like the flower.  Her name had been Petal, but my editor didn’t like it – said it was too Disney so I changed it pronto!  Other flower names: Roze, Tula, and Violet.

Cahil – Turkish for “young, inexperienced and na├»ve.”  Need I say more?

Esau – I just liked the sound of his name – it’s Hebrew for “rough, and thick-haired.”

Bain – Gaelic for “fair bridge”  seemed a good name for a wise wizard.

Zitora – a combination of Ziva and Tori – two readers.

Perl – a different spelling of Pearl.  More gemstone names: Topaz, Opal, and in my other books there’s Onyx, Garnet, and Beryl (they’re mostly horse names).

Kiki – a real horse who I learned how to ride on.

Healer Hayes – named after my favorite doctor, Maria Hayes.

Goel – Hebrew for “the redeemer” – doesn’t match him too well, but I liked the sound of his name.

Moon Man – I had a friend called Mr. Moon (you don’t want to know why – trust me) and I thought it was a good name for a mysterious Story Weaver who coalesces from the moonlight.

Tauno – Finnish for “mighty in the world.”

Marrok – a form of Marcus, which is Latin for “war-like one.”

The Glass Books
(power, fire & weather theme)

Opal – she was already named in MAGIC STUDY, but her original names was Gale. My editor said it was too close to Goel so I had to change one.  Opal is not only a semi-precious stone, but the name of the lady in the Pickles comic strip (which I enjoy reading).

Kade – a friend of mine had twin boys she named Kenton and Kade. I liked them both, but when I looked them up, Kade fit with my theme.  His name is from Kadar, which is Arabic for powerful.  Perfect for my Stormdancer. (Kenton is an English place name).

Ulrick – comes from Old German and means ruler of all or wolf ruler.

Devlen  - is Irish/Gaelic and means brave/fierce.

Raiden  - is the name of the Japanese thunder god.  Other weather names: Nodin (Native American for “the wind”), Indra (Hindi god of storms), Varun (Hindi god of the sky and waters).

Aydan  - means little fire.  Perfect for a glassmaker. 

Opal’s parents are the names of my parents with slightly altered spellings – Vincenza and James turned into Vyncenza and Jaymes.  I needed to name them in FIRE STUDY and really didn’t think I see or hear from these characters again – which is why I’m always very careful…now!

I could go on and on about names as I have a million of them (or so it seems) in six books.  If anyone is curious about a name I didn’t mention, leave a comment and I’ll explain why I chose it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Grade: A+


After siphoning her own blood magic in the showdown at Hubal, Opal Cowan has lost her powers. She can no longer create glass magic. More, she's immune to the effects of magic. Opal is now an outsider looking in, spying through the glass on those with the powers she once had, powers that make a difference in the world.

Until spying through the glass becomes her new power. Suddenly, the beautiful pieces she makes flash in the presence of magic. And then she discovers that someone has stolen some of her blood--and that finding it might let her regain her powers. or learn if they're lost forever...


Character Development: 10/10
Originality: 9/10
Overall Enjoyment: 9/10
Ending: 10/10
Voice: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Setting: 10/10!
Total Score: 66/70

Obtained: Free ARC provided by author

Age Appropriate? PG-13

Strong Language: Some, but limited.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Some drinking, a little drunkenness maybe? Mentions of drugs and addiction.
Sexual Content: Some implied scenes and discussion, discussion of rape of young girls, some disturbing rape images.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Forced marriage (ick), graphic violence, prison images, discussions of torture...


Like all of Maria V. Snyder's books, Spy Glass was fast-paced, immediately gripping, and immensely satisfying. Opal faces a lot of complicated problems that require attention and focus, but are, of course, entirely fascinating. I would recommend re-reading the first two in the series (or at least the second) before picking this one up if you haven't read it in a while, because you will be immediately confronted with all the details of Opal's past adventures.

In typical Maria V. Snyder fashion, the romance, while a forefront part of the book, simmers in the background for the majority of the story, only to explode later on in an emotional whirlwind. Storm Glass and Sea Glass readers will be surprised by the outcome, but, I hope, as satisfied as I was by it.  

Opal has matured a lot since the days of the Study trilogy. As she searches for a way to heal from the many ordeals she has faced, she emerges as an ass-kicking heroine (our favorite kind) and embarks on fraught-with-danger missions alongside our favorite characters. Threads of the past two books come together and intertwine, and eventually lead to an enthralling (if shocking) climax.

Exclusive guest blog with Maria V. Snyder titled "The Insider's Guide to the Study/Glass Book Names"!


Maria V. Snyder
Short Stories (some of which are related to the Study/Glass world--sign up for the newsletter to get exclusive content!)
Interview with Maria

Storm Glass Review (Glass Trilogy, book 1)
Sea Glass Review (Glass Trilogy, book 2)

Poison Study Review
Magic Study Review
Fire Study Review

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman

Grade: A


After a terrorist attack kills Dani's aunt and unborn cousin, life in Argentina--private school, a boyfriend, a loving family--crumbles quickly. In order to escape a country that is sinking under their feet, Dani and her family move to the United States. It's supposed to be a fresh start, but when you're living in a cramped apartment and going to a high school where all the classes are in another language--and not everyone is friendly--life in America is not all it's cracked up to be. Dani misses he old friends, her life, Before.

But then Dani meets a boy named Jon, who isn't like all the other students. Through him, she becomes friends with Jessica, one of the popular girls, who is harboring secrets of her own. And then there's Brian, the boy who makes Dani's pulse race. in her new life, the one After, Dani learns how to heal and forgive. She finds the courage to say good-bye and allows herself to love and be loved again.


Character Development: 8/10
Originality: 9/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Ending: 7/10
Voice: 7/10
Plot: 7/10
Setting: 9/10
Total Score: 54/70

: Free ARC provided by author.

Age Appropriate? PG

Bad Language: Very little if any
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Some mentions of drinking.
Sexual Content: None.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Graphic images of the 9/11 tragedy and other terrorist attacks. Depression.


If you are going to read this book, do not read the synopsis. Sorry it's there up top where you can't really avoid it, but I went into this read completely uninfluenced, and I think that enriched my experience a great deal. While slightly slow-paced and not flashy or colorful, Life, After, I think, is a very realistic look at the lives of impoverished but normal immigrants to America.

Dani is a typical Argentinian teenager, and her foreign-ness is portrayed perfectly--emphasized just enough to give it meaning but not forced into the story. She is a good, strong character that is outstandingly normal--a trait that many books seem to lack. Her struggles with language, family, identity, friendship, and especially relationship seem to be very real and identifiable. The natural, everyday narrative made it an easy book to read, not requiring too much attention or emotion but staying interesting throughout.

This book was remarkable in its point of view. It was not centered around one single adventure; instead, it was about one girl and her life for a period of time. There was something unique about that, and I definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a light but meaningful read.


Sarah Darer Littman

Monday, August 23, 2010

Some Bookish News

Happy 90th Birthday to Ray Bradbury, the brilliant author of the popular Fahrenheit 451.

UCLA posted an online tribute to Bradbury here:

See a post we did last year for banned book month about Fahrenheit 451 here.

Also, an awesome new site has been launched in this past month: The Contemps!

The following authors are working together on this project:

Brent Crawford
Michael Nothrop
Hannah Harrington
Sarah Ockler
April Henry
Micol Ostow
Kirsten Hubbard
Lisa Schroeder
Denise Jaden
Elizabeth Scott
Kody Keplinger
Mindi Scott
Jo Knowles
Emily Wing Smith
Lindsey Leavitt
Courtney Summers
Sarah Darer Littman
Kristen Tracy
Melissa Walker
Sarah Benett Wealer
Daisy Whitney

Sarah Ockler states that their mission is to "to help teens, booksellers, librarians and publishers connect with books that feature true-to-life settings, characters, and situations."

Visit the site here.
Follow The Contemps on Twitter here!

That's all for today. Happy reading!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

CLOCKWORK ANGEL swag contest winner!



for winning the Clockwork Angel swag contest! Check your inbox!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An Update

Wondering why we haven't been posting lately...

Three reasons: Summer Reading, Vacations (that happen to be at the same time), and Thespian Office duties. So we apologize for that.

I have a question that I am desperately seeking an answer to, but still haven't gotten one that satisfies me. What is the point of summer reading? Can anyone give me an acceptable reason? I would greatly appreciate it if you did. I want to enjoy my summer, and work on things not related to school that are equally important. Summer work is such a burden on my life!

Here's a lovely story: My brother, a high school freshman who despises reading, had an assignment this summer... to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. And for the first time in my memory, he has gotten excited about a book. He quickly finished it and asked me for the sequel. This is what summer reading should be about. Getting kids pumped up about reading that weren't before, providing people who enjoy reading with a great book.

Unfortunately, I have never had a similar experience with my summer assignments. But I feel like I should have.

Some News:
Twenty-two authors of contemporary YA fiction are getting together to launch a site on August 17, that sounds really cool, but I can't tell you anymore about it... Start getting excited though!

If you haven't yet heard, the Hunger Games facebook page is now active: http://www.facebook.com/TheHungerGames. August 24th is the release of Mockingjay, so start celebrating early by *liking* the page! "May the odds be ever in our favor!"

Also, one of my brother's have started a movie journey site: www.fitforscreen.com. Just giving him a shout out!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Interview with Cassandra Clare and CONTEST!

is the author of the YA series 
including the following titles:

Book Four, City of Fallen Angels, will be available April 5, 2011. 
She is also the author of the upcoming companion series

which will be available on August31, 2010!

Book Two, Clockwork Prince, will be published in 2011.
Book Three, Clockwork Princess, will be published in 2012.
See our review of City of Bones here!
See our review of The Mortal Instruments Trilogy here!

Why did you decide to revisit the world of The Mortal Instruments in a new series, Infernal Devices

Well, one of the things I enjoy about writing in the Mortal Instruments universe is that it's so flexible. I can write stories from the viewpoints of werewolves, vampires, warlocks, demons, faeries, or ordinary humans and have them all be in the same universe. And one of the cornerstones of the mythology is that the Shadowhunters have been around for a long time, a thousand years. In TMi they use computers, they use cel phones and devices they call Trackers and Sensors. I wanted to see what Shadowhunting was like for them if I took all that technology away, how would they cope, what would they use instead? I also wanted to go back to an earlier time when the Accords had just happened and relationships between Downworlders and Shadowhunters were more raw and dangerous.
Who are your favorite characters to write?

Like Tessa, I'm torn between Jem and Will! They were both just so much fun to write. And everyone likes a hot, tormented bad boy with a secret (or in jem's case, nice boy with a secret.)

How do you think moving around and traveling so much as a child has affected your writing?

I think it made me aware that when I created a fantasy universe, I wanted it to include aspects of myth and folklore taken from all over the world. One thing that always bothered me about things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer — though I love BTVS and won't hear a bad word about it — is there's just this one girl, slaying vampires in one town, when there are clearly vampires all over the world. Who's helping everyone else out? I know I wanted an organization of demon hunters that would cover the globe.

What is your writing process like?

I tend to outline broadly, then break that outline down into chapters and outline more narrowly, and then work outward from that outline. I'm not a seat-of-the-pants writer.

How do you choose names for your characters/things/places?

I just toss things around until something sounds or feels right. Some names I just love. I love the name Will; Jace was originally Will, but it didn't fit his character. It fits Will's character.

What are some of your favorite YA books and authors?

I try to keep a pretty updated list here: http://www.cassandraclare.com/cms/faqs/reading-list

Do you prefer writing for anthologies or novel-writing?

Novel writing. Short stories make me miserable. I have to quit agreeing to write them but they always sound like fun at the outset!

CASSANDRA CLARE was interviewed by READING ROCKS on JULY 10, 2010.

And now for an 

One lucky winner will receive:

A Clockwork Angel poster signed by Cassandra Clare

A City of Bones mini-graphic novel/comic book

A signed Clockwork Angel Chapter Sampler (excerpt from Ch 4)

A Clockwork Angel journal

A signed City of Glass book plate

Shadow Hunter tattoos


US Residents only, please (Sorry...)

Old followers +2
New followers +1
Posting about this contest elsewhere +2

Please click HERE to fill out a form to enter.
(The form is a new thing we're trying to help make keeping track of entries easier. It's powered by GoogleDocs. Let us know what you think!)