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Win a copy of Nobody and Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (ends 2/20)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Excerpt + Q&A with Julie Kagawa

Stop by Julie's website for more information!

1. Do you try to incorporate what you learned in your kung-fu classes into your novels?
 Lol, actually, I take Kali as well as Kung Fu, which is a Filipino martial art using sticks, swords, and knives.  And yes, it has been tremendously helpful in staging fight scenes.  Totally worth the "badges of courage" I bring home every so often.

2. Your new series is a post-apocalyptic vampire series. That sounds really different from the Iron Fey series! Did you find it harder to write about vampires than feys?
It was very different.  I think the hardest thing to deal with was the fact that the vampire story takes place in the real (though post-apocalyptic) world, and I have to have things make sense.  I can't just explain things with: "they got there through faery magic," lol.

3. Had you already started Blood of Eden series before the Iron Fey series, or did the idea come from nowhere and wouldn't disappear?
I'd been toying with a post-apocalyptic world as I was finishing up The Iron Knight, but the idea to add vampires didn't come until my agent and I were discussing ideas for my next series.  She mentioned that HarlequinTEEN was on the lookout for vampire books, and the idea to mesh the two together just sort of clicked.

4. What are some of your favorite martial arts movies? Classics, animated, or modernized.
Too many to list, lol! But here are a few:  Yojimbo, The Seven Samurai (anything by Kurosawa, actually), Ip Man, The Forbidden Kingdom, Zatto Ichi, Lone Wolf and Cub, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (hush), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero, and the list goes on.  (Don't even get me started with anime, we'd be here all night.)

Alright, you're probably curious so here's a little excerpt from The Iron Knight:

“I see,” said the witch, though her face and voice remained expressionless.

“Well, I admire your tenacity, young prince. Grimalkin is not easy to find in the best of times. You must have come very far to seek him out.” She peered closely at me, narrowing her eyes. “And this is not the first place you have searched. I can see it on your face. Why, I wonder? Why does he come so far? What is it that he desires so badly, to risk the ire of the Bone Witch? What is it you want, Ash of the Winter Court?”

Stop by In My Hammock next for the continuation of the blog tour!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Between the Sea and the Sky

Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

Grade: 2 stars out of 5
"For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship...and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air." [from Amazon]

I had hoped that story would be just like the cover: breathtaking. But it wasn't.

Let me go off tangent a bit and hopefully bring this back to Between the Sea and the Sky. For class I read Free to Choose by Milton Friedman and Utopia by Thomas More and currently reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. On paper it sounds terrific, but idealistic. The world has too many variables for many of their ideas to be true. What they had on paper could not and did not translate into the real world. That was how I felt about Between the Sea and the Sky.

Between the Sea and the Sky had wonderful elements that should have transformed the book from being OK to being WOW. Perhaps Dolamore should have pulled back some elements and just focused on one or two aspect of the novel: saving Dosinia and rekindling the friendship between Alandare and Esmerine.

Instead Dolamore decided to incorporate racial discrimination and the rippling effects of stereotypes into the novel. It might have added an additional layer to the novel, but it took away the character development and story development. I felt disconnected to everything.

I thought the secondary characters (such as the younger sisters, all 5 of them) were empty fillers. They brought nothing substantial to the novel and quite frankly I had to edit to number (5) three times before I managed to count them all. I only enjoyed two secondary characters: the bookstore owner who was once a mermaid and Alandare's father. She, the bookstore owner, was quirky with a fascinating history. The same with the father. He was not the most well likable character, but he was fascinating and interesting with so many nuances.

I didn't care for the relationship development between Alandare and Esmerine. I thought their childhood friendship was the best part to read having a soft affection for their shared of books, but the tension ridden sexual relationship was too quick. The leap from friends to something more to {SPOILER} marriage {END SPOILER} blew my mind. Between the Sea and the Sky clocked in at 240 pages. There was not enough pages for me to believe the transition AND the final decision that changed Esmerine's life forever AND saving Dosinia. The characters themselves were good. They had good history, solid internal conflict, and intriguing personalities.

Another aspect that I had trouble connecting to was the cause of the entire novel: Dosinia. I did not like Dosinia. I found her actions very selfish. I know that we should do what makes us happy, but we should also consider how our actions affect others. For me, I was not unhappy about her motives, but rather her inconsideration to not tell anyone. She is a daughter, a sister, and a great sister. It affects a lot of people.

All in all, I love the world Dolamore created. I love it to bits. It was imaginative, vivid, and dark at times. I'm trying to figure out if there was a moral to the story because if there were this would be a great fairy tale story. But the fatal flaw was the shortness. I couldn't connect to characters or the general story.

Cover B+/A-
Source: ARC from Bloomsbury for blog tour
Published: October 25, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Andy Marino on Technology + Unison Spark Contest

"Andy Marino was born and raised in upstate New York. He spent his childhood orchestrating Lego pirate battles, drawing detailed maps of imaginary video games, and cheating death in Choose Your Own Adventure books. Profoundly influenced by the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and the movie Bloodsport, he started writing his first novel at the age of eleven. Tragically, THE RUNES OF ILLIARM was never completed."

Unison Spark in his first book. It was just recently released!

You can visit Andy at his website or you can follow him through his twitter account!

social stratification at one point, but
how much of it has changed
"With new technology becoming available every year and changing living conditions, do you foresee a growing gap between lower, middle, and upper classes in society? Or do you believe that the price of technology will continue to decrease until the population majority can afford it such as PCs. Or, in the worse-case scenario, will the lower class will be wiped out because they were unable to adapt?"
I love this question because I’m used to thinking about the ever-widening gap between rich and poor in terms of good old buying power and basic household economics—being able to get the things you need to live without going broke. But the breakneck speed of technological advancements has really shaken things up.

information at your fingertips
...if you have the technology
Your question made me think about what it really means to be information-rich. Right now, a homeless person can walk into a public library in most places and explore the internet for free. It’s theoretically possible for a human being who has no possessions, no source of income, no credit, and no home to have a thriving Facebook account, a lively Twitter feed, an active blog, and an email address. The Facebook login page proudly proclaims: It’s free and always will be.

The democratization of the internet (the idea that everyone can contribute) is really cool and important, but what really counts—and what rich and middle-class Americans almost never have to worry about—is access. If you are a rich American in 2011, with the latest gadgets and digital efficiencies at your fingertips, you are automatically information-rich. Everything floating around in cyberspace is yours for the taking, the viewing, the listening. If you are a middle-class American in 2011 your mileage may vary, but chances are you’d have to make a conscious decision to disconnect if you want to make yourself less information-rich. You probably never even think about access problems, except for those times when you forget to charge your battery.

the ripple effects of libraries closing;
not just an inaccessibility of the internet
But consider what it’s like to have to scrounge for access. Libraries and schools close, internet cafes and copy centers charge by the minute. Public wi-fi is everywhere, but it’s useless without a laptop or mobile device.

UNISON SPARK is set in Eastern Seaboard City, the connected sprawl of several present-day cities divided into upper and lower sections by a vast canopy. Residents of the subcanopy slums where Mistletoe (one of the main characters) lives are literally denied access to the signal that allows people to go online and experience Unison, the fabulous and all-encompassing social network. Pirate signals and hand-me-down technology have allowed some people to adapt, but the technology gap is just as wide as the economic gap. Subcanopy residents are information-poor.

the blue-haired Mistletoe
The city in the book might seem like an extreme reflection of our society, but think about what things are like in 2011. The wealth of online information doesn’t mean much if you can’t keep your power on. And hot new gadgets always seem to become more affordable, but that doesn’t matter if you’re going to bed hungry.

Thank you so much Andy! I wasn't expecting such a well-thought out guest post, but it's given me tons to think about.

Now for the fun(er) part, the giveaway! Again, it's rafflecopter so you need to be viewing this specific post to be able to view the form.

Be on the lookout for my review on Unison Spark, which hopefully will be up before the end of today!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Interview + Contest with Anna Carey, Author of Eve

The producers of The Vampire Diaries find Eve by Anna Carey so compelling that they’re in the process of producing it as a TV show pilot! To celebrate I have an exclusive interview with the author and the chance for you lovely readers to win a copy!

Follow @AnnaCareyBooks on Twitter
Visit Anna Carey’s blog
Like Eve on Facebook

1. Where is the furthest place you have ever traveled? Was it scary?
I went to China for a month when I was eighteen. Even the Chinese food is different there (no sesame chicken, who knew?). It was a little scary to be somewhere so foreign and not speak the language, but that trip was one of the best I've been on.
Yan: Authentic Chinese food is definitely much different from the take-out restaurants. The dishes I typically eat consist of vegetables, fishes, and soup. I've never had sesame chicken until I stopped by a Chinese take-out and it's so good. 

2. If news of a deadly virus starts to spread, what would you do/say to your followers on twitter?
I recently saw Contagion, so I feel I'm adequately prepared (you can believe everything you see in the movies, right?). I'd tweet: NOW IS THE TIME FOR GOOD HYGIENE. HAND SANITIZER AND SOAP ARE UR FRIENDS. AND, FOR THE LOVE: DO NOT TAKE OFF UR FACE MASK. #APOCALYPSE
Yan: I've heard great things about the movie, but never watched it in fear of being extremely paranoid and germaphobic afterwards.

3. Are cockroaches still alive in Eve's world? They can survive almost anything.
There are definitely cockroaches in the New America. Millions of them. Maybe I'll give some a cameo in the third book...

4. I've read something where Eve has been compared to The Handmaid's Tale? Have you read The Handmaid's Tale? If so, did it influence you when you wrote Eve? If not, do you plan to read it?
There's actually a quote from The Handmaid's Tale in the beginning of the book as a I-bow-down-before-you-Margaret-Atwood nod. I hadn't read it originally, but I sought it out after I finished my first draft. I loved it, and understand why someone would link the two books conceptually, but they're very different reads.
Yan: I haven't read The Handmaid's Tale so I'm curious! A friend read the book in high school (while I was reading The red Badge of Courage) and enjoyed it.

5. In general, do you think secrets are good or bad?
This is a tricky riddle! There are good secrets (surprise parties) and very bad secrets (dead bodies under the floorboards). But, in general, I lean towards the "secrets are bad" side. I like to keep everything out in the open, and own everything I've done--even the more cringe-worthy stuff. I'm known for my embarrassing stories.
Yan: Love embarrassing stories (just not ones about me of course).

Thanks to AlloyEntertainment I have 1 SIGNED copy of Eve for one of you lovely readers! Eve is currently out right now!

(Testing about Rafflecopter *crossing fingers*) Spoke too soon. I'm having some issues with rafflecopter so if you can't see, look at this specific post only. If that doesn't work, leave your name and email address and I will automatically enter for you. I will also email you to let you know.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (55)

The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin (August 2nd, 2012--Putnam)
Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister, fleeing a troubled relationship with her alcoholic mom, spends a summer in the plains chasing — of all things — tornados. Somehow the chaos of tornados seems a lot more manageable than her very messy life back home. But, whether Jane returns home to a life of caring for her mother, or whether she strikes out in a different direction becomes the big question. And everyone — her brother, her best friend, and especially the handsome Max — has an opinion on what Jane should do.

But when her mother shows up in Tornado Alley drunk, insisting she come home, Jane fears she may have run out of options. The thought of a new life feels very far away, but not as far away as the last tornado Jane may ever chase, putting not only her life in danger, but the lives of the very people who may care about her most.
I've been following Lara since her debut book, Donut Days. I have her latest book in my TBR pile right now, but school is getting in my way.

Plus that cover is STUNNING. There's a freaking TORNADO IN A JAR!

WoW is hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine!