Saturday, September 29, 2012

Interview: Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is the author of Cinder, a sci-fi twist on the Cinderella story.

Me: Which of your characters do you think you're most like?
Marissa Meyer: Peony because we both daydream a lot.

Me: Where did you get the idea for Cinder?
MM: I entered a writing contest for a Sailor Moon fanfiction. I then took the story I wrote and developed it into a novel.

Me: How is it being a debut author in the YA lit scene, and what's your favorite part?
MM: It's awesome. The other YA authors are really nice, and it's a great community.

Me: Did you plan on making Cinder into a series?
MM: I knew I wanted to write four books, but wanted there to be little crossover between them. As I wrote, they just came together into a series.

Me: Why did you decide on the four fairytale characters the books are about?
MM: I started with a list of about 15 characters, and as I wrote, those four characters' stories just fit together.

Me: What is your favorite genre to read?
MM: I enjoy all young adult books.

Me: What is Scarlet like as a character?
MM: She's feisty, hot-tempered, makes rash decisions, and doesn't think things through.

Interview: Ally Carter

Ally Carter is the author of the Heist Society books and one of my favorite series ever, the Gallagher Girls series.

Me: Did you want to be a writer growing up?
Ally Carter: Yes, but I never thought that it could be a real career.

Me: Which of your characters do you think you are most like?
AC: Cammie, because I spent the most time with her, so more of me is in her.

Me: Would you rather attend The Gallagher Academy or be a part of Kat's family?
AC: I'd want to go to the academy, but I wouldn't want to do field work. I'd rather be in the lab, like Liz.

Me: If the Gallagher series were to become a movie, who would you want to play Cammie?
AC: It changes almost every day, but for now it's Morgan Saylor.

Me: Who has had the greatest impact on your writing?
AC: Jennifer Lynn Barnes. We're best friends and we talk a lot about books together.

Interview: Libba Bray

Libba Bray is the author of The Diviners, Beauty Queens, Going Bovine, and the Gemma Doyle Trilogy.

Me: Did you want to be a writer growing up?
Libba Bray: Not really. I enjoyed art and animals, but didn't think of writing as a career until after my accident.

Me: Do you prefer writing realistic fiction or historical fiction?
LB: I love reading different genres, and I didn't want to be limited to one genre in my writing. When I get caught up in an idea, I try to follow it through. Historical fiction does take longer, because there's a lot of research involved.

Me: How much of an impact did your editor have on your books?
LB: I write in a chaotic fashion, so my editor helps in putting my manuscripts in order.

Me: Which of your characters do you think you are most like?
LB: Some part of me is in every character, so I can't really pick a specific one.

Me: If you were a character in Beauty Queens, what do you think you would do when the plane crashed?
LB:  Cried for a while, try to find a source of water, then lead a sing-a-long.

Me: When will the second Diviners book come out?
LB:  It's supposed to come out spring of 2012, but it will probably come out in the fall of 2014.

Me: What do you have against unicorns?
LB: They are filthy and they cheat at poker. They taste very good in a sandwich, though.

Me: Who has had the greatest impact on your writing?
LB: My mom, who was a high school English teacher. She took me to the library all the time and gave me my love of literature.

Austin Teen Book Festival: We're not in Kansas Anymore Panel

The We're Not in Kansas Anymore panel authors were Libba Bray, Leigh Bardugo, Rae Carson, Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia, and Sarah Rees Brennan.

This was a high-stakes panel. Sarah Rees Brennan was the games master, and whichever author got the least amount of applause would have to be killed. The fantasy-fiction authors talked about how they came up with their settings, and how they developed the magic systems in their books. 

Libba Bray found the 1920s fascinating, and decided to make it the setting of her new novel, The Diviners. She enjoyed all the lingo and events of the time. Her idea for the magic came from there is darkness in us all, and how do we defeat it.

Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone was inspired by Tzar Russia, and how she wanted to leave behind the fantasy-fiction norm of a medieval setting. The magic system came from wanting to know what physically happened to a person when you cast magic spells. The Grisha magic is based on science, it's actually called the simple science. 

Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia wanted to create a small town in the real world where magic still happened. The main character of Beautiful Creatures and her family are cursed to not be able to choose whether to be good or evil. They found many to teens could relate to feeling like they're not in control of their own lives.

Rae Carson found her inspiration in South Africa, a setting to which she added medieval technology for The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Rae wanted to mess with the typical fantasy story. The Godstone, the jewel the chosen one has in their navel, was invented when Rae was getting her navel pierced.

All these authors are amazing and hilarious, and everyone in Austin should stop by to see them and others today until 5 p.m.!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rebel Heart

Title:  Rebel Heart

Author: Moira Young

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: 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?

Review: This second installment of Saba's adventure definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. As with Blood Red Road, the book is written the way the characters talk, which means plenty of misspellings and very little punctuation. The lack of quotation marks became a problem when I wasn't sure what was dialogue and what wasn't, but I was able to adjust to it with minimal difficulty. Most of the book is Saba trying to find Jack, and they have plenty of adventures on the way, so you don't have to worry about getting too bored. 

Saba is strong and determined, but also makes some stupid decisions. She's not as strong here as she was in the first book. Despite her flaws, she's a great main character. I a;ways love animal side-kicks, and Nero and Tracker are no exceptions. Nero is Saba's trusty crow who is always by her side, and Tracker is Mercy's wolfdog that somehow found his way to Saba. There was one too many romantic interests, but fortunately there wasn't an excessive amount of time spent focusing on the romance. 

The ending wrapped the book up nicely, but still left it open enough for a third book. While not quite as good as the first book, this was still an excellent continuation of the series.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Best news ever.

Guess what?

Shadow and Bone is going to be a movie!!!!!!!!!!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!

This book is super amazing and I love it so much. (read my review here) (Also, the author, Leigh Bardugo is coming to the Austin Teen Book Festival!) Dreamworks bought the movie rights two days ago, and I don't know how long I can wait for the movie to come out. I am definitely going to its midnight premiere, whenever that may be.

Link to the article:


Monday, September 10, 2012

Sapphire Blue

Title: Sapphire Blue

Author: Kerstin Gier

Rating: 4 stars

Summary: Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.
At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.
Review: AHHHHH! It can't be over yet! 

These books aren't long enough; I need more of the story. There was a cliff-hanger ending and now I have to wait another year for the next book! 

I was torn between wanting Gwen to punch Gideon in the face and find a new love interest, and wanting Gideon to stop being such a jerk so that I didn't want Gwen to punch him in the face and they could be together. I was hoping to get answers to some questions from the first book but now all I have are more questions. I loved Xemerius, and characters like Xemerius in general. They're hilarious and I wish they were real because they're so awesome. This is a great series that readers can't help but fall in love with.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What's Left of Me

Title: What's Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

Rating: 2 stars

Summary: Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

Review: This book was better than many dystopian books out there nowadays, but the ending just didn't work for me.  There were a few flaws in the logic: Why are hybrids considered dangerous? Is it because of society's need for normalcy? Except, all other countries are populated by hybrids so really people who settle are abnormal. When a hybrid man is surrounded by a mob in the streets, Hally/Lissa gets arrested because she was too close to the hybrid guy. This doesn't make sense because how would the police know that Hally/Lissa was a hybrid? They can't tell just by looking at her, and the police wouldn't know that she had taken a long time to settle since they wouldn't know her name or be able to look at her medical files.   Second, how would people live their lives if they're sharing a body with another person, with both of them switching in and out of control of the body? The two souls still have different personalities, so how would you be married if you're not always the person who got married and your spouse is not always the person you married?  What if each soul prefers a different line of work? Does the body have two jobs and some days you go to one job and other days you go the different job? When Ryan/Devon and Hally/Lissa were helping Eva to regain control over her and Addie's body, there were some days where she couldn't even speak. Yet around the time of her entering the hospital, Eva is suddenly able to slip into control of the body, even when Addie isn't sent to sleep by the drug. There was no insta-love, and as the story neared it's end I assumed that there would be no romance at all. But it was right at the end that the author decided to have Eva and Ryan kiss. The fact that Addie is very much against kissing Ryan is mentioned, which is what I was saying about being married when you're two people. Also, many of the characters were very two-dimensional. Eva was narrating so the reader got to know her well, but all I really got of Addie was that she didn't want Eva to be in control of their body and was mean to Eva. We know almost nothing of Ryan/Devon and Hally/Lissa aside from the fact that they're both hybrids. Are their parents hybrids? Do their parents know that their kids are hybrids? Another problem I have with the book is that world-building was sub-par. The story takes place in present-ish time United States, except the U.S. shut itself off from the rest of the world after fighting the Great Wars where the got rid of all hybrids and immigrants in the U.S. I had only the vaguest idea of what the world was like. 

A thought-provoking premise, but it was badly executed. 


Monday, September 3, 2012

False Memory

Title: False Memory

Author: Dan Kroko

Rating: 5 stars

Summary:  Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving.

Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter... when there may not be a future.

Review: This was a fast-paced action/science fiction story that I simply could not put down. Teens who can send out waves of psychic fear? Brilliant. Miranda, Noah, Peter, and Olive were all total ninjas, so the fight scenes were extra awesome. I couldn't stop reading this book because there were so many twists and I had to find out what happened next. I can't wait for next year when the second book comes out!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Lost Girl

Title: The Lost Girl

Author: Sangu Mandanna

Rating: 3 stars

Summary: Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

Review: The concept of echos was pretty interesting, but the book went on for too long and the ending annoyed me. There were plenty of places where the book could have ended and I would have been completely satisfied with it, but it just went on and on and on. Also, the ending made it seem like the romance was a huge deal when really it was just the characters announcing their crushes on each other.