Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Character Interview with Chase from Article 5

Hi Zoe,

Thanks for taking the time to ask Chase a few questions today. I…um…well, I’m just going to apologize now. He can be a little curt. He’s under a lot of stress you know, what with the soldiers coming after him and Ember and all. He’s really worried about her. Anyway, he’s agreed to play nice, but if he gets a little short, you’ll know why.

Take care!


Paperback or hardcover? Paperback for sure – easier to carry. When I was in Chicago, after the bombs dropped, they set up this mobile library at one of the Red Cross Camps. That’s where I picked up FRANKENSTEIN. It’s Ember’s favorite.

Hey, don’t tell her I said that, okay? She’s got a lot on her mind…I don’t want her feeling weird about it…I mean, it’s just a book. She probably doesn’t even remember us talking about it anyway. That was a long time ago.

Coffee or tea? Tea? What is this? England? The borders are closed, last I checked. I’d take some coffee if you’re offering. Put it in a to-go cup. I can’t stay all that long. Running for my life here.

Chocolate or vanilla? Hard to say. They both sort of remind me of her. Damn, did I just say that? What’d you put in this coffee?

Walk or run?
When the FBR’s tailing you, you don’t walk, you run. Got it?

Morning or evening? Morning. Better visibility. More people around, easier to blend in. Evening’s are dangerous. That’s all we need – some soldier snagging us on a curfew violation.

Cats or dogs?
What the hell use is a cat? A dog can bite someone, and bark if someone’s coming. Definitely a dog.

Beach or pool?
I’m sorry, does this look like a vacation to you?

Pen or pencil?
Now we’re talking. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. Both of them can be used in self-defense. Remember, quick, deliberate moves. Go for soft spots – the eyes, the mouth, the groin. If you get in trouble, hit fast and hard and then get out.

Hot or cold? What do you…wait, is this about Ember? It’s hard to tell with her. Sometimes I think it’s like before, and everything’s good. Other times…I don’t know. It’s complicated.

Why? Did she say something?

Bath or shower?
Is this about Ember? Because if so…I uh…I’m pretty sure that’s not your business.

Are we almost done? Man, it’s hot in here. Crack a window or something.

Science or art? Art. I was in chemistry when the air sirens hit. Chicago was bombed for three straight days, so no, science class doesn’t exactly hold fond memories for me.

Single or attached? Right. So, I’ll be going now. Thanks for the coffee. What’s that supposed to mean, anyway? Single or attached. Like am I dating or something? Listen, nobody dates. Not anymore. And definitely not with all that’s going on. Single or attached. What kind of interview is this, anyway? More like a monthly inspection. Don’t worry, I’m compliant officer.

Attached. On my part anyway.

We done here?

Thanks so much to Chase (and Kristen!) for stopping by. Click here to follow the rest of the stops on this tour.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Series To Keep Reading

So before I started reading YA, I never really read many series. But it seems to be a popular format in the genre, or maybe I was just reading the wrong kind of adult books, and now I'm in the middle of a billion (+/- a billion) series. Some of these series are complete, many aren't. Still, I figured it would be fun to make a list of the series I love enough to continue reading. A lot of them seem to be around book 2, and I'm terrified of book 2s because they might have endings like Catching Fire, so I may be unintentionally avoiding them until book 3 is out. But they are still awesome and should be noted.

Also, I really like lists. This is no particular order.
  1. Requiem by Lauren Oliver (Delirium #3, release date: February 2013)
  2. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Divergent #2, release date: May 1st 2012)
  3. Fever by Lauren DeStefano (The Chemical Garden #2, Released)
  4. A Million Suns by Beth Revis (Across the Universe #2, Released)
  5. The Calling by Kelley Armstrong (Darkness Rises #2, release date: April 10th 2012)
  6. Rebel Heart by Moira Young (Dust Lands #2, release date: October 30th 2012)
  7. Just For Fins by Tera Lynn Childs (Fins #3, release date: July 3rd 2012)
  8. Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien (Birthmarked #3, release date: October 2nd 2012)
  9. Fallout by Ellen Hopkins (Crank #3, Released)
  10. Flock by Wendy Delsol (Stork #3, release date: September 11 2012)
  11. Waking Storms by Sarah Porter (Lost Voices #2, release date: July 3rd 2012)
  12. The Blood Keeper by Tessa Gratton (The Blood Journals #2, release date: August 28th 2012)
  13. Underworld by Meg Cabot (Abandon Trilogy #2, release date: May 8th 2012)
Are there any series you are in the middle of and want to finish? Any book 3s you're anxiously awaiting? There are so many other series I want to start, but part of me feels like I should wait until I finish, or at least catch up on, a few of these. Do you have the same dilemma?

Guest Review: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Prior to reading Graveminder, I’d already read Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series, which I really enjoyed. She has a beautiful writing style, one that’s straightforward, yet compelling. Graveminder is set in a completely different world from Wicked Lovely. Where instead of faeries, they have to worry about the dead being put properly to rest....and you don’t really want to see what happens when they aren’t, but hey, without that...there wouldn’t be a story, would there? :P

I don’t read many books that could be categorized as horror, but with Graveminder, while it was a darker story, I never once categorized it as being “horrific.” It isn’t over-the-top or gratuitous, which “horror” often is in mind, although maybe that’s just the movies. :P Anyway, I think that even people who aren’t big fans of horror would still like this one. Personally, I prefer to watch my horror movies rather than read about them, but with Graveminder, I really didn’t mind reading about it. Not only is Graveminder full of action and darker aspects that intrigue the reader, it’s also got a complicated romance which keeps it from getting too dark.

I liked getting to read Bek’s story. She was a fantastic narrator, and I really liked her. She was strong, independent, and while she may have protested too much at times, I loved how dedicated she was to Maylene, especially since they weren’t actual blood relatives. I also loved Byron, the undertaker. ;) They had some amazing chemistry, and the way their past was revealed was convoluted and given to the reader in parts, which I actually really enjoyed. I liked that there was some mystery in their past, and it kept me compelled with the romance aspect. There was also an element of mystery surrounding the graveminding aspect. It took a while for the truth of it to be revealed, for Bek to figure out what she doing...and also to figure out how Maylene, her grandmother, was killed, and the most convoluted and mysterious part of it all...who was the one responsible for it.

The most fascinating aspect of the story for me, aside from the romance (which I’m always a sucker for), was the history of the Graveminders and Undertakers. I liked learning about them, Mr.D, and the tradition behind why they did their duties, and the intricacies that were involved between the Graveminders and Undertakers. I’d definitely read another book about Graveminders and Undertakers just so that I could learn some more. :P

Overall, Graveminder is a fabulous story that will keep you on your toes, and while it differs from Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series, I think that fans that enjoyed the series will also enjoy this one. If you’re a fan of original supernatural and paranormal stories, you’ll love this one, and it will definitely pique your interest if you like reading about reinventions of the afterlife.

This book was reviewed by Ambur from Burning Impossibly Bright- you can check out more of her awesome book reviews here. Thanks Ambur, this sounds like a creepy and exciting story, and I'm always a sucker for a good romance too :)

2 Memoir Giveaway

Enter to win The Source of All Things by Tracy Ross (1 paperback copy)
Agorfabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom by Sarah Benincasa (1 SIGNED copy)

There will be 2 separate winners. Open to the US only. Good luckk!

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver


Lauren Oliver is an author of many talents, she began her career by publishing a contemporary YA novel (Before I Fall), followed up with the first novel in a dystopia trilogy (Delirium) and her most recent novel, Liesl & Po, is a middle-grade story that takes place in a world with similarities to our own only filled with all kinds of magic. Liesl is a young girl whose father has just died, leaving her in the care of a stepmother who locks Liesl in the attic where her only escape is to draw. Then one night Po, a ghost from the Other Side, appears and the two form an unexpected friendship. At the same time, Will, an equally lonely alchemist’s apprentice a botches an important delivery which will have important consequences for Liesl and Po, ultimately drawing the three of them together on a remarkable journey.

Liesl & Po is the magical kind of book that even if it is intended for a younger audience, is filled with a warmth that will enchant the reader regardless of age. This is the kind of timeless story, like Roald Dahl, which will be just as powerful in fifty years as it today. Also like Dahl, this is a story about children, in which the adults are rather one-dimensional villains but that works within the context of the book, as it is reminiscent of a traditional fairy tale.

Oliver’s writing is amazing, lyrical with poetry in just the right places, and complimented by beautiful black and white sketches done by Kei Acedera. It is Oliver’s amazing ability with words that makes Liesl & Po into such an incredibly whimsical story, one that flows smoothly and is filled with pure, young, emotion.

This is a novel that confronts the difficult issue of death and grief in a way that neither minimizes nor sensationalizes it, but rather takes an honest and simple look at one little girl and the astonishing journey she takes.

Ultimately, Lauren Oliver has completely won me over as a reader- she could write a restaurant menu or instructions for installing a television and I would rush to the store to buy it. As a writer, Oliver has a unique and powerful perspective, which she is able to share with astonishing clarity because of the eloquence of her writing, on full display in her timeless and magical novel, Liesl & Po.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

At first it may seem that, like its main character– a teenage girl named Saba on a search to find her twin brother Lugh in the lawless desert– Blood Red Road by Moira Young has a lot going against it: it's written in dialect, lacks quotation marks, and is over 450 pages long. Also like Saba, it takes a little while to find its footing, but once it gets accustomed to the odds stacked against it, itís unstoppable. Blood Red Road is an epic adventure, and once the reader gets used to the unfamiliar language and intentional misspelling, they become immersed in an incredibly powerful story.

It begins with a kidnapping and two murders. Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake with Lugh, her dad, and the little sister Emmi whose birth killed their mother. Saba doesn't ever expect to leave the wasteland she calls home, but when cloaked horsemen make off with Lugh, leaving two dead in their wake, she has no choice but to follow them into a world where corruption is the norm and power is maintained in horrific ways. On her journey, Saba meets an eclectic cast of people and each of them are memorable and unique in their own ways. However, one of the most notable characters is with Saba from day one and throughout the novel doesn't say a single world– her pet crow, Nero. Young turns an often-repulsive animal into a symbol of hope and friendship. Nero has a distinct personality that compliments Saba perfectly and left a lasting impact on me as a reader.

Although Blood Red Road falls more into the post-apocalyptic genre than dystopia, it is certain to be appreciated by fans of The Hunger Games for its strong (yet imperfect) heroine, quietly growing romance, and adventure-like feel. The writing style is unusual, but once the reader becomes immersed in the story the book is impossible to put down. Blood Red Road has a raw and searing feel to it, a fervent violence and just as fervent love. Saba may be the heroine of the story, but oftentimes she is not very nice, resenting her little sister for taking their mother away and continually wanting to leave Emmi behind when she travels to find Lugh. Saba is real and human and in an incredibly difficult situation in a world that, despite taking place in the future, is in some ways quite medieval.

Young doesn't go into much detail about how the world Saba inhabits came to be that way, but there is reference to leftover things from Wrecker times, a description which seems to say quite a bit on its own. That said, this is the first book in a trilogy and I am hopeful that the next two books will contain more backstory. Fortunately, this story works perfectly as a standalone as well, with the ending wrapping things up nicely but leaving room for further adventures.

The story of Blood Red Road by Moira Young is as blazing and intense as the desert heat. Its characters are passionate, unique and human, and although the language takes some getting used to, it's an effort you'll be glad you made.

Monday, February 20, 2012

TruthBeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art, 1845-1945

TruthBeauty: Pictorialism and the Photograph as Art, 1845-1945 edited by Alison Nordström

Release Date
: November 2011
Pages: 160
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
Source: Publisher
Buy It: Book Depository
This book contains reproductions of 121 photographs, tracing the evolution of Pictorialism over the three decades in which it predominated. It includes photographs by artists from North America, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Japan and Australia, and includes scholarly essays on Pictorialism as well as a selection of historic texts by Pictorialist artists.
First of all, for anyone with interest in the beginnings of photography, and especially the unique approach of Pictorialism, TruthBeauty is a must have. It's filled with absolutely breathtaking photographs complimented by interesting essays on the Pictorialism and photography. There's enough background information on the movement and style that it's easy to understand, and the gorgeous of the photos includes are all the more incredible considering the technology used to produce them. It would also make a fantastic coffee table type book because the text, although interesting, isn't necessary to appreciate the photos.

Wapping by Alvin Langdon Coburn
appears on cover of TruthBeauty
The internet does not do justice to the beauty of the photos contained within TruthBeauty, and though I have never seen the originals in person, the thick glossy prints included in the book come at least a little bit closer. I loved how many of the photos took up an entire page, to be honest when I'm reading an art book, I may be interested in the text, but when it comes to the art I want to be able to fully appreciate it and the large image size was much-appreciated.

Overall, an excellent book, I was left with only one lingering disappointment from TruthBeauty, and that is despite being put out by the Vancouver gallery, and printed by a Canadian publisher, there were sections in the books detected to other small countries like Australia and Czech, but nothing on Canada. But even though I hoped for some more national pride, I could not have hoped for more out of what TruthBeauty did include, and I think it would be a great addition to any photography lover's collection.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Release Date
: September 13th 2011
Pages: 387
Format: Hardcover / Audiobook
Source: Publisher / Personal
Publisher: Random House Canada
Narrator: Jim Dale
Buy It: Book Depository
Behind the scenes of the night-time circus, Le Cirque des Rêves, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their instructors. Despite themselves, Celia and Marco fall in love, but this is a game in which only one can be left standing.
To be honest, I finished reading The Night Circus months ago, and although my blog has been taking a hiatus lately, the tardiness of this review is not really a result of anything other than my difficulty in attempting to sum up this book with anything other than wow.

I listened to this book on audio, read by Jim Dale, who is an incredibly well-recognized narrator, but who I hadn't actually heard of before. And honestly, after this I'd pick up even a book I didn't find interesting just to hear it described in his voice. But in this case, Dale had incredibly source material, as Morgenstern's writing is beautiful, articulate, dark and magical. When I see a lot of rave reviews about a book, often I think, "it can't really be that good". Well consider me corrected.

While reading The Night Circus, my mind flashed occasionally to Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, a classic novel with another magical circus. Both books had a slower than expected pace, but it didn't bother me in this case, probably because Dale's reading voice was so much more enjoyable to listen to. In the end, every sentence paid off in a thrilling and unexpected conclusion.

What makes Morgenstern's debut so amazing is the atmosphere she creates, vivid and detailed, it truly transports the reader. The story is complex, beautifully told, and I honestly can't point out a single thing I would change. Morgenstern is also a painter, and she seems to mingle the two arts perfectly, as her debut novel is so rich on the page it feels like a painting in verse.

Overall, I'm incredibly pleased that The Night Circus has gotten so much, well-deserved, recognition and I'm also impatient for whatever Morgenstern writes next.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review Elsewhere: Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

"As a reader, you probably won’t like Parker. She’s rude and mean, and lashes out at everyone that tries to help her, but she’s also unforgettable. And even if you don’t like Parker, you’ll probably still love Cracked Up To Be – and that’s proof of the incredible novelist Courtney Summers is."