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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger


Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012
Page Count: 496 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Local Bookstore
Add to Goodreads
Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.

Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.

Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.” There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.

In this page-turning debut, Shannon Messenger creates a riveting story where one girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world, before the wrong person finds the answer first.
I'd been having people tell me to read Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger for awhile now, and I was in need of a quick read so I finally picked it up. Let me just say it was nothing like I expected it to be. Don't get me wrong, I fully understood that that I was reading a Middle Grade novel, which I usually enjoy, and I knew the themes and characters would be less mature than most young adult novels, but Keeper was just too.... dull. Also, there were way too many similarities to Harry Potter for me to chalk it up to mere coincidence. I mean, I honestly felt like I was reading a Harry Potter fanfiction knock off or something. I think Keeper of the Lost Cities was okay, I'd recommend it to a younger reader, maybe 8 or 9, but by the end I just had too many issues with it to enjoy it for myself.

Seriously, Harry Potter is one of the greater works of fiction from most of our childhoods. The series has sparked many of our passions for reading, and it's a hard read to live up to. Keeper of the Lost Cities has too much of a resemblance to Harry Potter for me to ignore that. Let me break it down for you:
Harry Sophie grows up in beautiful Privet Drive San Diego only to find out she's not actually a muggle human and has grown up an orphaned wizard elf. She discovers she has magical abilities and the wise Dumbledore Alden has her enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Foxfire. Harry Sophie then meets Fred and George Weasly Dex who is a total trickster, playing jokes on all the popular kids in school. Dex is also incredibly skilled at potions alchemy in which Sophie is not. Sophie manages to be great at almost everything, except for that and Professor Snape Lady Galvin absolutely hates her for it. Sophie also discovers she's an excellent Quidditch Splotch player and manages to not only win, but pass out during her first game. Sophie also learns that she's destined for greatness and has a vast amount of magical skills that no other wizards elves can master, including having the main role of defeating He Who Shall Not Be Named a rogue elf who is destroying the world. Oh, did I also mention that Sophie can talk to snakes animals?

Was that clear enough? I promise, the comparisons become more and more obvious the longer you read. Also, the writing isn't particularly clever or witty or elegant or poetic or anything that would make this story a more intelligent read. The dialogue is choppy and uncomfortable and the characters are bland and predictable. I'd say it's a fluffier version of Harry Potter and something you would want to give to a younger child who may not be ready for the more mature themes and darker events that occur in the world of witchcraft.

And another thing. The romance is creepy. Like... really unnaturally creepy. On Sophie's part, it's normal. She has a crush on an older boy (she's twelve and he's fifteen,) but there's also the fifteen-year-old's best friend who has an obvious crush on Sophie. WEIRD. Like, in what world is it natural for a boy two years older (he's fourteen because he was held back!?) to have a crush on a girl who's prepubescent?! It's not like Sophie's dressing seductively and enchanting him with her intense beauty. Although, she is described on more than one occasion to be incredible looking. So she's a sixth grader who looks like a high school chick I guess. Barf.

With that said, I read the book all the way through so that has to count for something. I'd give it to younger readers who are fans of light fiction and aren't particularly advanced readers. I definitely wouldn't recommend it to older readers, or those of us who are adoring Harry Potter fans because you will be disappointed and pulling hair after the countless comparisons you'll undoubtedly make. Don't risk this one if you can help it. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - The Ward by Jordana Frankel

****"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.****

The Ward by Jordana Frankel
Expected Publication Date: April 30th, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Page Count: 384 pages
Add to Goodreads
Sixteen-year-old Ren is a daredevil mobile racer who will risk everything to survive in the Ward, what remains of a water-logged Manhattan. To save her sister, who is suffering from a deadly illness thought to be caused by years of pollution, Ren accepts a secret mission from the government: to search for a freshwater source in the Ward, with the hope of it leading to a cure.

However, she never expects that her search will lead to dangerous encounters with a passionate young scientist; a web of deceit and lies; and an earth-shattering mystery that’s lurking deep beneath the water’s rippling surface.

Jordana Frankel’s ambitious debut novel and the first in a two-book series, The Ward is arresting, cinematic, and thrilling—perfect for fans of Scott Westerfeld or Ann Aguirre.
Why I Can't Wait: The cover for this one recently went up on the EpicReads blog and OHMYGOSH it is so awesome!!!! Also, a flooded Manhattan isn't so far-fetched of an idea at this point in time so it might be a terrifically horrifying read..... What are you waiting on this week??

Monday, November 26, 2012

I have been a sucky blogger!

Hello fellow explorers! I know, I've been a totally sucky blogger lately. I haven't even touched my computer in a little less than a week and I haven't finished a book in longer. I'm approaching the last few weeks of my school semester and I'm swamped with papers and exams so I haven't had much time to read or do anything for fun. Plus the holidays consumed all my time this last week, eating lots of food and spending time with friends and family. Sadly, my blog has taken the place of last priority at the moment and I've had to replace fun books for school books. Also, when I do get a bit of free time I tend to spend it watching TV... because let's face it, my brain needs a break.

So, for the next couple weeks I will probably be pretty scarce, posting only a couple times a week and when I do those posts will most likely be memes, or possibly a review or an update on my life. My finals end December 18th, so I'm hoping to be back in the blogging world after that! I'll be working more, but I'll also be reading more and I'm definitely looking forward to that :) I hope you'll all be understanding and cut me some slack! You know I love you, and I'm not trying to suck, life is just getting in the way!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and I hope all of you who are also in school find the time to do everything!! :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stacking the Shelves - The one with ALL THE THINGS!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews as a way to share all the books we've received this week!

Hey guys! I had a ridiculously awesome week of books, as you can see. I only bought one book, but I couldn't pass up the final installment of the Matched trilogy could I?! :D I've also been having an inner argument with myself about going to grad school after I graduate in the Spring. I'm not sure if it would be a better career move to get my MA immediately after graduation or to just get a job and go back later. Meh. I'd love to hear some of your professional and personal opinions if you want to share!


For Review
The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley (Thanks PYR!!!)
The Farm by Emily McKay (Thanks Penguin USA!)
Truancy City by Isamu Fukui (Thanks TorTeen!!!)
Renegade by J.A. Souders (Thanks TorTeen!!!)
The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist (Thanks Dutton!)
The Journey Back by Priscilla Cummings (Thanks Dutton!)

From Work
Black City by Elizabeth Richards

Bought
Reached by Ally Condie

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken


The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Expected Publication Date: December 18th, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Page Count: 488 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher for review
Add to Goodreads
When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her--East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
I feel like I walked into Darkest Minds thinking one thing, and came out of it thinking something completely different. Even days later my mind is consumed with the horrific images depicted throughout the novel. This is my first Alexandra Bracken novel and I'm already preparing myself to order more of them. Not only is her writing hauntingly beautiful, but her use of imagery is undeniably powerful and will stay with me. Even the characters become people you know and people you want to save. I only recently found out about Darkest Minds but everything about it became an amazing story I won't easily forget. Super powers, deadly diseases, corrupt governments, terrorist groups, and Southern boys are just some of the tantalizing subjects this book holds within its pages.

The characters in Darkest Minds are all amazingly well-written. They're people you fall in love with from the very beginning. Ruby's story became my story; her fears became mine; her hopes, dreams, emotions, everything about her became something I could relate to. Her loyalty to Liam, Chubs, and Suzume is admirable and heartbreakingly beautiful. I loved how committed she was to saving them all without asking anything in return. And Liam... oh my God. That boy is one of the most romantic and faithful love interests I've read about in a long time. His Southern charm and caring personality are the best combination for heroic love interest out there. Even Chubs is someone I fell in love with. He's a bit wary of Ruby in the beginning, but like everyone else he grows to love her, and she him.

The writing in Darkest Minds is absolutely breath-taking. Bracken has an elegant and poetic way of molding words into extraordinary pictures. There were many times when I felt like I was walking alongside Ruby, through an abandoned countryside that was once part of her home. The vivid imagery allowed me to immerse myself in the story, barely coming up for air. This story is amazing, filled with super powers and intricate backgrounds for everyone which eventually surface enabling the reader to learn more about each character and their motivations. I loved slowly getting to know everyone, and the way that Bracken unfolded circumstances into a cohesive plot line that had me curled in the corner by the time it was over is just remarkable.

I feel like my review has become a mess of jumbled words and emotions, my thoughts attempting to fill the page with expressions of how deeply this book touched me. The emotional turmoil I was causes by the end had be gasping for air and reaching for the box of Kleenex while screaming, “But WHY?!” at my dog. I can't tell you how much I needed a hug by the time it was over, and how badly I want to get my hands on whatever Bracken has in store for me next. If you haven't already considered reading Darkest Minds you'll definitely want to add this one to your TBR. Fans of dystopian worlds, super powers, and heartbreaking romance will fawn over this one. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher

****"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.****

Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher
Expected Publication Date: July 9th, 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Eleven-year-old Renzo must teach himself to blow glass with the help of a girl who has a mysterious connection to her falcon.
Why I Can't Wait: Okay I know that's not much of a synopsis to go on, but that cover!!!!! OMG! And like, glass blowing? That's cool.. and falcons?! SO COOOL. Want want want want want.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012
Publisher: Aladdin
Add to Goodreads
Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has a secret. She’s a Telepath—someone who hears the thoughts of everyone around her. It’s a talent she’s never known how to explain.

Everything changes the day she meets Fitz, a mysterious boy who appears out of nowhere and also reads minds. She discovers there’s a place she does belong, and that staying with her family will place her in grave danger. In the blink of an eye, Sophie is forced to leave behind everything and start a new life in a place that is vastly different from anything she has ever known.

Sophie has new rules to learn and new skills to master, and not everyone is thrilled that she has come “home.” There are secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memory—secrets about who she really is and why she was hidden among humans—that other people desperately want. Would even kill for.

In this page-turning debut, Shannon Messenger creates a riveting story where one girl must figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world, before the wrong person finds the answer first.
My Teaser
"Blurry, fractured memories swam through Sophie's mind, but she couldn't piece them together. She tried opening her eyes and found only darkness. Something rough pressed against her wrists and ankles, refusing to let her move. A wave of cold rushed through her as the horrifying realization dawned. She was a hostage." - ARC page 1

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stacking the Shelves - THE ONE WITH DUALED OMG!!!


Hey peeps! I didn't many books this week, but the ones I did get are AWESOME!!!! I managed to borrow some AWESOME books from Elena at Novel Sounds and I got some crazy books for review as well as at work, so I'm definitely super excited for those!


Borrowed from Elena!!
Prophecy by Ellen Oh
Dualed by Elsie Chapman

From Work
Natural Born Angel by Scott Speer

For Review
The Crossing by Mandy Hager (Thank you PYR!)
The Ice Gate of Spyre by Allan Jones and Gary Chalk (Thank you HarperCollins!)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley

The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Publisher: PYR Books
Page Count: 280 pages
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher for Review
Add to Goodreads
An alternate 1895... a world where Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace perfected the Difference engine. Where steam and tesla-powered computers are everywhere. Where automatons powered by human souls venture out into the sprawling London streets. Where the Ministry, a secretive government agency, seeks to control everything in the name of the Queen.

It is in this claustrophobic, paranoid city that seventeen-year-old Sebastian Tweed and his conman father struggle to eke out a living.

But all is not well...

A murderous, masked gang has moved into London, spreading terror through the criminal ranks as they take over the underworld. as the gang carves up more and more of the city, a single name comes to be uttered in fearful whispers.

Professor Moriarty.

When Tweed’s father is kidnapped by Moriarty, he is forced to team up with information broker Octavia Nightingale to track him down. But he soon realizes that his father’s disappearance is just a tiny piece of a political conspiracy that could destroy the British Empire and plunge the world into a horrific war.
When I first saw this one in the PYR catalog I knew I had to get my hands on it! Not only is the cover seriously creepy, but it was pitched as being a great read for fans of Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes which immediately sold me. I'm definitely not a Sherlock fan, but after reading this one I think I should be. The characters are fantastic, the writing is descriptive, and the story is captivating and exciting! If you haven't considered reading The Lazarus Machine yet, you should definitely change that decision because this book is awesome!

The characters are all really well crafted, and I easily fell in love with them. Tweed is hilariously smart, almost to a fault and his inability to understand people's feelings can definitely get him in trouble sometimes. Thankfully, he has Nightingale to give him some helpful pointers time after time. Their relationship is just so... Doctor Who and his companion? Holmes and Watson? Very appropriately hysterical while still managing to get things done. They work well together and after such a short time they know each other well enough to accomplish any task.

The story is incredibly fast, but the descriptive language keeps everything well-paced. It's not overly descriptive, either. I didn't find myself flipping pages or getting bored with illustrative paragraphs like I tend to do when authors give way more description than action, and the plot is so fast-paced I'd find time going by so quickly while I was reading, and I managed to finish the entire book in just a couple sittings, once I finally had time to actually sit down and just READ it. I can definitely see the Sherlockian elements and I loved the historical references and details about Tesla and Babbage.

Overall, I completely adored The Lazarus Machine. It was dark, eerie, twisty, turny, humorous, and just a little bit weird! I totally understand the pitch to Whovians and Sherlockians alike and I'm seriously going to have to pick up some of the original Doyle novels. The plot is super fast paced, and at just shy of 300 pages you could easily finish this one in a sitting. If you're a fan of mysteries, science fiction, and witty dialogue you'll definitely want to pick up a copy of The Lazarus Machine!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Author Interview - Paul Crilley [The Lazarus Machine]

About the Author:
Twitter | Facebook | Website
Paul Crilley was born in Scotland but moved to South Africa when he was eight years old. He writes fantasy, Young Adult, and Middle Grade books and also works in South African television. He spent a year as part of the writing team for the computer game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and also writes comics when he can get a chance.

The Invisible Order Book One: Rise of the Darklings comes out in September 2010 from Egmont USA. The sequel, The Fire King came out in 2011. His new YA series, "The Tweed and Nightingale Adventures", kicks off in November 2012 with "The Lazarus Machine".

Interview

1. Convince us to read Lazarus Machine Twitter style, in 140 words or less!
Aargh! Ok, here goes. "Airships, automatons, action & murder! Cool characters, funny banter. Evil villains & plot twists! Mission-Impossible style rescue attempts!" There you go. 140 characters exactly!

2. Who/what's been your biggest inspiration for writing?
I have quite a varied list of literary inspirations. I started off reading The Hardy Boys when I was about nine. That had a huge influence on my writing. After that I moved on to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. I still re-read their books every couple of years. Other writers who probably had a massive influence on my style, (seeing as I discovered them in my teens when I was first trying to develop my own voice), were Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Tad Williams, Colin Dexter (Inspector Morse books) and R D Wingfield (Inspector Frost books.)

3. What kind of research did you have to do?
Not too much. I'd already done a lot of research into Victorian London for My "Invisible Order" books, so I already had a lot of information absorbed. But I did do a bit more digging to find out more about Nikola Tesla and Charles Babbage. Two very fascinating and misunderstood figures.

4. I've heard this book pitched as being a great read for Doctor Who fans. Are you a Whovian yourself? If so, who's your favorite Doctor?
I'm definitely a Whovian. Before the new series started, my favorite was Tom Baker, as he's the Doctor I grew up with. But I think David Tennant is my new favorite. I love Matt Smith, but I preferred the show under Russell Davies than Stephen Moffat. It's still great, don't get me wrong, and I don't miss an episode, but I worry that it's getting a bit tied up in its own cleverness.

5. In Lazarus Machine, automatons are powered by human souls. Would you want to be “reincarnated” as a robot after you die?
Mmm, I suppose it depends on how advanced a robot. If it was like the automatons in The Lazarus Machine, then no, because they're pretty much mindless slaves. But a synthetic human, like a clone or something? If they could transfer my mind intact? Probably.

6. In a steampunk world, what kind of career would you have in order to survive?
I think Tweed and Nightingale have a pretty good thing going. A detective? A private investigator? Something like that. They have a lot of fun doing what they do.

7. What's been your biggest struggle during your writing career?
Trying to earn enough to support my family. There are no short cuts and it can be really tough sometimes, but you just have to keep going. I definitely wouldn't change anything. I'm doing what I love to do, what I've always wanted to do, so I'm a really lucky guy. You just have to remind yourself of that during the bad times.

8. What's on your nightstand right now?
Er, I have quite a lot. A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin. The Hobbit (Am reading it to my seven year old daughter), Retribution by Val McDermid, The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M Banks, London Lore by Steve Roud, Breverton's Phantasmagoria by Terry Breverton, Restoration London by Liza Picard, How to Write a Damn Good Thriller by James Frey.

9. If you weren't an author, what career would you want to have?
Hmm. Why aim low? A movie director. I've written some scripts and worked in television. I'd love to try my hand at that.

10. What kind of advice can you give to young writers?
Read as widely as you can. All genres, and as much non-fiction as you can get your hands on. Because it all swirls around in your head and fuses together into wonderful story ideas. The more you cram in there, the cooler ideas you'll get. Also, try your best to write every day. Even if it's just a couple of hundred words. Don't wait for inspiration, because if you do, you'll never get anything finished.


The Lazarus Machine by Paul Crilley
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012
Publisher: PYR Books
Page Count: 280 pages
Add to Goodreads
An alternate 1895... a world where Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace perfected the Difference engine. Where steam and tesla-powered computers are everywhere. Where automatons powered by human souls venture out into the sprawling London streets. Where the Ministry, a secretive government agency, seeks to control everything in the name of the Queen.

It is in this claustrophobic, paranoid city that seventeen-year-old Sebastian Tweed and his conman father struggle to eke out a living.

But all is not well...

A murderous, masked gang has moved into London, spreading terror through the criminal ranks as they take over the underworld. as the gang carves up more and more of the city, a single name comes to be uttered in fearful whispers.

Professor Moriarty.

When Tweed’s father is kidnapped by Moriarty, he is forced to team up with information broker Octavia Nightingale to track him down. But he soon realizes that his father’s disappearance is just a tiny piece of a political conspiracy that could destroy the British Empire and plunge the world into a horrific war.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Expected Publication Date: December 18th, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Page Count: 488 pages
Add to Goodreads
When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control. Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her--East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
My Teaser
"When the White Noise went off, we were in the Garden, pulling weeds.
I always reacted badly to it. It didn't matter if I was outside, eating in the Mess Hall, or locked in my cabin. When it came, the shrieking tones blew up like a pipe bomb between my ears. Other girls at Thurmond could pick themselves up after a minutes, shaking off the nausea and disorientation like the looks grass clinging to their camp uniforms. But me? Hours would pass before I Was able to piece myself back together.
This time should have been no different.
But it was." - ARC page 1
 Meeeeeeep, you guys this book is CRAZY!!! If you haven't already added it to your wishlist, DO SO NOW! It's insane :D And awesome!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stacking the Shelves - The one with DARKEST MINDS!!!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews as a way to share all the books we've received this week!

So this week I went to an amazing signing with Becca Fitzpatrick, Siobhan Vivian, and Jenny Han. It was so much fun, and I managed to snag some copies of their books to get signed :) I also received a few books for review, so all in all I had a great week!



For Review
Quantum Coin by E.C. Myers (Thanks PYR!)
Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (Big thanks HyperionTeen!!!)
Tempest by Julie Cross (For blog tour!)

Signed
The List by Siobhan Vivian
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

What kind of awesomeness did you get this week? Be sure to leave your links!

Friday, November 2, 2012

NYMBC Interview: Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Page Count: 291 pages
Add to Goodreads
And girl created boy…

In the beginning, there was an apple—

And then there was a car crash, a horrible injury, and a hospital. But before Evening Spiker’s head clears a strange boy named Solo is rushing her to her mother’s research facility. There, under the best care available, Eve is left alone to heal.

Just when Eve thinks she will die—not from her injuries, but from boredom—her mother gives her a special project: Create the perfect boy.

Using an amazingly detailed simulation, Eve starts building a boy from the ground up. Eve is creating Adam. And he will be just perfect... won’t he?
At the beginning of the month I went to the book launch for Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate, hosted by Not Your Mother's Book Club. I had the awesome experience of interviewing the amazing married couple/author team and oh my God they were amazing. So, I've finally managed to transcribe the interview, mostly word for word, and here's the fantastic outcome!

Author Interview: Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

ME: If you could create the perfect human, what characteristics and personality types would he/she have?
Michael Grant: She would be exactly like my wife, in every single detail and nothing would be changed.
ME: Exactly?
MG: Of course, 'cause I've been married for 33 years and I know better
ME: You're very well trained!
MG: What am I gonna screw that up? No.
Katherine Applegate: laughs hystericallyNow I will tell you, he would have a lot of Michael's traits.
MG: But only some.
KA: He would have a great sense of humor, broad shoulders, and resiliant. Dog friendly which is definitely not on Michael's list.
KA: And broad shoulders.
MG: Not a big pet person.
ME: What cat about friendly?
KA: And cat friendly.
MG: I don't hate cats as much.
KA: But she hates him.
MG: She fears me for some reason, and I'll tell you why. Because every time we go on a trip and we have to take her to the kennel, and she's very clever about knowing when she's going to the kennel, so I'm the guy who has to chase her out from underneath the bed with a broom. Like, I'm the guy who every three months comes in and tries to kill her with a broom. Hence the resentment.
ME: So he would be an animal lover?
KA: You know, I don't know, it makes it more of a challenge this way. Because I forced menageries on Michael, our whole long existence together. And he's tolerated it, and I like a challenge. No, he's perfect in every way.
MG: Perfect in every way, I think that's the quote you're going with.
KA: Okay go with perfect in every way.
ME: Okay, well it's all on record here so...
KA: I know, that's what scares me!
MG: Then don't say what we want you to say and it'll be great!
ME: But really it only matters that you say she is perfect in every way.
MG: Exactly, she is perfect in every way.
ME: She has freedom to say whatever she wants.
KA: Exactly.
MG: Honest to God, it was love at first sight. At least on my part.
KA: It was love almost at first sight. I was wary. Because I sensed trouble and I was right.
MG: We'll probably tell this out there because it's inappropriate,
KA: Oh I hate this story.
MG: We moved in together after knowing each other for 24 hours.
ME: Oh wow!
KA: Yeah exactly, what a slut right?
MG: Like the next day. Like, we have two apartments we're paying two rents,
KA: We lived in the same apartment complex.
MG: Like right next to each other.
KA: And he was right next door.
ME: So it just made sense.
KA: So it was... yeah.. it made a perfect bunch of sense.
ME: Save on rent..?
KA: Yeaah. And air conditioning in Texas is expensive.
MG: We were poor.
KA: Yeah, we were very poor. We had to ration the air conditioning.
ME: But at least you had air conditioning.
MG: True, we'd use to to occasionally stun the cockroaches.
KA: Which were like 3 inches long.
MG: We would turn on the AC and see if we could slow the cockroaches down enough to kill them.
ME: Alright... well...
MG: Good times.
ME: Sounds like a lot of fun!
Laughter
ME: Also, I love how science-y Eve is, and how intelligent she is, what was your experience with science in high school like?
KA: giggles
MG: Uh.. you took physics didn't you?
KA: I did! I did, and I somehow managed to get an A. Um, but, I just could not tell you a thing I learned. But um, I think we managed to bullshit pretty well. Can you say that?
ME: Hey, it's my blog I can say whatever I want!
MG: Wikipedia. And Google.
KA: Yeah, thank God for the internet. When we did Animorphs we didn't have that access and we were doing a book a month.
MG: We had like, thousands of books, like boxes and boxes of animal books. It was insane, I just got rid of a bunch of stuff when we moved out of North Carolina overseas to Italy.
KA: Yeah, major nonfiction library.
MG: Like dozens of boxes of stuff. Like those field guides of animals? That's how we'd done all the research because you didn't have the internet.
ME: Oh yeah, it's really interesting to think aboout that.
MG: And now it's just like BOOM right there, what I need to know.
KA: It was so hard.
MG: You need to know how DNA works? Okay here's an article, go to wikipedia.
ME: Did you have to do similar research with Eve and Adam?
KA: Yeah, a bit.
MG: It was all kinda stuff we already knew. To be serious, I'm very interested in the ethics of genetic science in the question of whether or not once we discover that some behaviors are genetically based, are we going to have the same ideas about good and evil, and right and wrong? Are we going to be able to maintain those same paradigms or are the going to fall apart in light of more understanding of it? So I've always been interested in that. But I will say this, if anybody is writing a school paper on genetics based on Eve and Adam that would be a really big mistake.
KA: busts into laughter
MG: There gonna wanna do some more research. Don't come to us looking for hard science.
ME: Good thing I'm not a science major. One thing that I thought was really interesting is the fact that you're married and writing together. How did your personal relationship affect your writing process? Do you think that it made writing easier? Or more difficult?
KA: You know the first round, when we did Animorphs, it was hard. Because we had a new born baby, and we were doing a book a month, and we had never done it before. We had collaborated as ghost writers, but something about Animorphs felt different. We took it more seriously. We did a lot of YA romances, we even did a couple Harlequin romances, that's how we started out. Our dirty little secret, and they were so bad. And they look so easy to write and they're so not easy. This time we resisted collaborating again and did it kind of under pressure from an editor who encouraged us to do it. And I thought it was a lot easier.
MG: I think it went really well, I was surprised. We thought we'd be like fighting each other like we used to do in the old days, but now we have kids and we're more mature. We don't do that kind of thing anymore.
KA: We told the editor that we should insert a claus in the contract covering marriage counseling. Did not come to that fortunately.
MG: Back in the old days when we were doing YA romances I remember one like epic fight where you [Katherine Applegate] were like crying in the shower about something about whether or not we were gonna do a sex scene, and some editor said yeah they should just go ahead and have sex and you didn't want to and I did.
KA: I know, it just was like how do you define where the lines are drawn in what we're writing, but this one was easy.
**Michael Grant then proceeded to pitch The One and Only Ivan at me because Katherine wrote it and apparently it's “her at the top of her game”**
MG: She is a much better writer than I am.
KA: That's not true, I write small and I think a lot about word choice. Michael is plot. He is amazing, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of plot.
MG: You know why? Star Trek. It's all Star Trek plots.
KA: When I'm stuck I go straight to Michael and I go, “Okay why is this plot not working?”
ME: So then it must have made writing together move smoothly, because of that.
MG: It's like any good relationship, a lot like our married life. We both share all the housework, we both share the kids, but sometimes you get resentful, like, “Why did you leave me here?” or “Why would you give me that chapter and I have no idea where the hell you're going?” All those same kind of domestic issues carried over.
KA: And this time I think we were a lot more comfortable editing each other. When we were younger it was very defensive, and now it's like, “Oh whatever.”
MG: We were under such time pressure too. Even back when we were doing YA romance it was always a gun to our heads, get this done.
KA: And we've been edited a lot. We've been through a lot of books now so you kind of go, “Yeah you know what, it isn't very good.” I just threw away a book that I'd been working on for three years and I had real doubts about it and I showed it to Michael and I said “Is this working?” and he said, “Nope.” And my editor had said the same thing. And I kept trying to make it work, and that's painful, but it's nice to have somebody in house that can help you through that.
ME: Did you choose to each write a different POV for the book, like one of you wrote Eve and the other wrote Solo?
MG: We thought about that early on, but it didn't end up working and I'll tell you the real reason why, we could give you a lot of bullshit answers, but the real reason is there's a lot more Eve and that would have been her, and she didn't wanna have to do extra work. So. It was like, no you have to do half.
KA: Well and also she was a lot more of a straight man. She was the reader ID character and the reader ID character is never as interesting as say, Aislin or Adam, they were more fun.
MG: Yeah, so what I'm gonna write all the fun stuff and she's gonna write the straight man. No, not so good.
KA: I would liken it to making sausage or legislation, it was very messy. And there's no clear line of demarkation between who did what.
MG: And honestly, now we could not go back through that thing and go, “I wrote this and you wrote this.” You never can. It's funny we've written like a hundred books together, like we claim credit for the same stuff.
KA: If it's good I wrote it.
ME: Are there any epic fights that you got into while you were writing? Like any moments where one of you wanted to keep it and the other wanted to eliminate it?
KA: No there were no fights over content, once we had it. I think we were very flexible about input. But before we started we fought about whether we could do it. We didn't think we could collaborate again.
MG: She always like to take a lot of time to prep for stuff and I don't, I just wanna charge in. This is like an ongoing conflict. She has to have the first part of the book like perfect in her head, and I don't care because I'm gonna go ahead and charge it anyways. So I'm more of a charge ahead and she's more of a planner. But we went into it so nervous that we were gonna have problems that we didn't.
KA: Also, I'm a procrastinator, and Michael is really efficient, so I thought that was going to be a problem. But in this one we found a balance, maybe because there were two of us.
MG: That'll fall apart in the next one.
KA: Yeah, cuz we're doing another one.
ME: Yeah, you'll be doing Adam and Eve next?
MG: Looks like we're doing a sequel.
KA: Is it called Adam and Eve?
ME: That's what it says in the back of the book laughs
KA: Okay, then it is. Thank you for letting us know that. I guess we should know that shouldn't we?
MG: I hadn't really thought about it much, but okay.
KA: Yeah, come to think of it that rings a bell. It actually started out as Adam and Eve.
MG: We're rewriting the bible one chapter at a time.
KA: It morphed into Eve and Adam, the editor had the idea.
MG: So we went from there and kind of got into it and I think it was probably you [Katherine] that started it.
KA: I was signing our letters as Eve and Adam as a good feminist and our editor said “Hey that's a good idea let's just call it that.” She's very good at concepts, she's the godmother to Babysitter's Club, Goosebumps, and Animorphs and Cinder and lots of books.
ME: Are you planning on working on anything else together, separately from this series?
KA: Probably not, because we wanna stay married.
MG: And we have so much work, I'm already committed to 7 other books.
KA: We have a lot of other projects, and I think we don't want to push the envelope, it's worked so far.
MG: It's not as efficient as working by ourselves, you don't get as much covered, you don't get as much done. And I've got a lot of stuff I have to do.
KA: And apparently we have a sequel. Since you've informed us.
MG: It's called Eve and Adam.
ME: It's called Adam and Eve. Your current book is called Eve and Adam.
MG: I get confused. Or some biblical reference. We don't know.
KA: What are we calling it? Biblical sci fi?
MG: Biblical-sci-fi-rom-com-thriller. That's a thing.
KA: It is now.
MG: We just invented it.
MG: And read The One and Only Ivan.
KA: My favorite book of Michael's is Magnificent 12!
MG: Which nobody buys.
KA: It's so funny!!! I think it'll have an adult cult following.


Katherine Applegate
Author Website | Twitter | Facebook
Applegate was born in Michigan in 1956. Since then she has lived in Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, and after living in Pelago, Italy for a year, she has moved back to Southern California. She has an eleven year old son named Jake Mates, although she says the Animorph leader is not named after him. In 2003 she and her husband, Michael Grant, her co-author on many projects including Animorphs, adopted their daughter, Julia, in China.[citation needed] Following the end of Animorphs, Applegate took three years off. She is back at work and has written a picture book called "The Buffalo Storm," a middle reader novel called "Home of the Brave," and an early chapters series "Roscoe Riley Rules" with Harper Collins. Her book "Home of the Brave" has won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the Bank Street 2008 Josette Frank Award, and is a Judy Lopez Memorial Award honor book.


Michael Grant
Author Website | Twitter | Facebook
I was born in a manger and grew up in a log cabin where I read law books by firelight. . . Oh, wait, that wasn't me, that was someones else.

I had a hard childhood. Hard for my parents. Not that bad for me. I was an Army brat, moved around a lot. Then I didn't settle down. I just kept moving. Why? What inner turmoil drove me? Mmmm, I gotta say none. I just have a short attention span. Easily bored.

I'm living in Tiburon, CA right now. How much longer? Don't know.

I've written 150 books. That's right, I said 150. In your face, Stephen King. Granted, mine are shorter than his. And less popular. And less likely to be made into a major motion picture. And I guess i don't play in a band with Dave Barry, either, do I?

Sorry: Salieri complex acting up.

Most of those books -- and by "most" I mean 149 out of 150 -- I wrote with my wife, the lovely, the talented, the eternally hot, Katherine (K.A.) Applegate. We've been together for 29 years. Which is a long time. Looooong time. Sweet lord what a long . . . No babe, I'm not implying anything.

Damn internets: you never know who's reading things.

Anyway, GONE. My goal in writing GONE? To creep you out. To make you stay up all night reading, then roll into school tired the next day so that you totally blow the big test and end up dropping out of school.

GONE. Imagine a world where every adult vanishes in an instant.

Coming soon, a whole other series: BZRK

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: Rebel Heart by Moira Young


Rebel Heart (Dust Lands #2) by Moira Young
Publication Date: October 30th, 2012
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Page Count: 432 pages
Format: Finished Copy - Hardcover
Source: Publisher for review
Add to Goodreads
Nothing is certain and no one is safe in the second book in the highly praised Dust Lands trilogy, which MTV’s Hollywood Crush blog called “better than The Hunger Games.”

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.
I have been waiting for the sequel to Blood Red Road for what seems like an eternity. I absolutely adored the first book due to its originality and unique writing style, but Rebel Heart really did a number on my heart. Now that Saba has Lugh back, it's time to head home - without Jack. The emotional turmoil that Saba's going through is just heartbreaking, I couldn't help but feel so deeply for her. She's haunted by the memories of her recent past and only the prospect of finally settling down with Jack keeps her going. While I hated Lugh, Rebel Heart had my heart aching for Saba and I loved every emotional minute of it.

Saba is definitely a different character from Blood Red Road. The traumatic experiences she faced during her journey to rescue Lugh have changed her from fierce fighter to emotional wreck and I can't blame her. Don't get me wrong, she's still fierce, but she's got a lot more emotional baggage to carry around than she did before. And we finally get to see Lugh, who is just the worst person ever. I had to knock off a star because of him, he's so ungrateful and just a terrible person. I hated him. On more than one occasion he just says the worst kinds of things to Saba (who risked her life for him!!!!) and it made me wish she had just left him behind. Like, he is THE WORST. I definitely missed Jack *swoon* and I'm really hoping there will be more of him in the next book!!!

The writing style is the same as before, unique but difficult to get into. I think that's one of the qualities that people either love or hate about these books. There are no quotation marks, and it's written in an intense Southern dialect. I, personally, love it. Young is such a great story-teller you really feel like you're trekking through this desolate and wasted land with Saba and her crew. I was repeatedly immersed in the story, unable to put the book down for long periods of time. The plot moves so quickly and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes.

Overall, I absolutely loved Rebel Heart. My one qualm would have to be Lugh's attitude throughout the book. He's such a sour puss and a jerk that I just couldn't get over anything he said or did. Perhaps that's a good thing though, to feel so intensely about a character that days after you're still thinking about it. The writing style is magnificent and the concept is original and entertaining, as always. I just can't wait to see what's in store next! Fans of The Hunger Games and True Grit will devour this one.

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According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from Goodreads.com unless otherwise stated.
 
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