Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rebecca Lim. MERCY

Mercy is an angel, but she doesn't know it. She has no memory of her life before her current situation. She wakes up in a different person's body every so often and she isn't sure why or how. She does what she can to improve that person's life and then she moves on with little memory of the details.

However, this time it's different. She wakes up as Carmen, a soprano singer on a bus traveling to a neighboring town to rehearse with a group of schools. She's staying with a family who is dealing with life after a tragedy. The daughter was kidnapped two years before. The parents are still deeply sad, but are trying to move past the incident. The brother, Ryan, is still searching for his sister, Lauren. He insists he can still feel her presence. She is not dead; she is calling to him for help.

Mercy believes Ryan. She feels like Lauren is still alive too. Mercy wonders if she was sent there to help Ryan find this missing girl. Then when another girl goes missing, she feels even more certain that she was sent there to help. Another interesting aspect of the story is that Mercy discovers Carmen is a remarkable singer. Everyone is stunned at her angelic quality. Mercy realizes that the other two kidnapped girls were also sopranos with unmatched talent. What is the connection? Is Mercy herself in danger?

This intriguing novel is part mystery, part supernatural, and part romance. I was immediately drawn in to the story. I want to read more about Mercy and the mysterious boy she dreams about. Fortunately, more books are coming. It was released already in Australia as a trilogy, and the second book should be coming out here in the U.S. soon. For more on the series, go to the Facebook page here.
Also, check out the trailer:




Don't be confused if you go looking for the book and see several different covers!


The Australian cover is on the left. There is another US cover that looks like the one on the right!

Fortunately, they are all beautiful.





Friday, July 22, 2011

Author Interview: Cat Patick

I was able to snag an interview with debut author, Cat Patrick! I was excited to interview her because FORGOTTEN was such an unforgettable book. The concept of waking up everyday with a wiped clean memory is fascinating. And if you haven't read the book yet, get right on that! So without further delay, the interview:

We'll begin with a little biographical information. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Wyoming, and have lived in Boston, San Francisco, and now outside Seattle. My husband and I have twin preschoolers. I love to write, travel, do crafts with my girls, go to movies and drink good wine; I’m afraid of flying and zombies…and flying zombies.

I'm totally with you on the zombies. 
Have you always wanted to be a writer when you grew up?

YES! I wrote my first “book” when I was about seven. It was about a dolphin and was self-illustrated (drawing is not my forte). My mom had it laminated and bound; I was so proud.

That's awesome! I hope you still have it. It would be great to show kids at school visits. 
Did you hold other less glamorous jobs while waiting to be published?

I worked in public relations for 13 years, so I spent a lot of time promoting other people’s successes while waiting for my own.

I hear many times that the first book published by an author isn’t the first book they wrote. Tell us about your first book.

The first book I wrote was an awful fiction novel that will never see the light of day. That said, it was a necessary experience for me. When I got the idea for FORGOTTEN, I never questioned that I could do it. I just wrote.

People always want to know about the writer lifestyle. How much do you write each day?

It really depends. As my girls have gotten older, my writing time has diminished. I usually have about two hours before Hubby goes to work and another two at naptime. Usually, I work Saturdays when he’s home and can hang out with the girls. I also have help one or two mornings a week. I never write in the evening. I’m worthless after about 4 p.m.

Now let’s jump into the book:
How did you come up with the idea for London’s memory issue? Is it a real condition or fictional?

It’s completely fictional. My daughters were five months old when I came up with the idea: I was incredibly sleep deprived. I was doing something in the kitchen and forgot what I was doing in the middle of the activity. My brain wandered to thoughts of amnesia…and thoughts of amnesia in high school. Then the idea of “remembering” forward instead of backward just struck me. FORGOTTEN was born.

It seems like it would be hard to keep up with some of the events London remembered and some that she didn't. Like London, did you have a lot of notes too while writing this?

Definitely. I made timeline after timeline. That said, often when writing a scene that started on a new day, I’d deliberately not read my notes so that I forgot what happened last in an attempt to try to walk in London’s shoes. I think those passages were better for my not knowing.

I get a kick out of those outtakes on DVD releases of movies. Were there some interesting scenes that you liked, but had to take out during the editing process? 

I’m a fairly drastic editor so there are too many deleted scenes to count. Nothing stands out, which I guess is why those scenes were cut. :)

Where did the name London come from? 

I believe it came from my baby name book. Naming characters is such a big deal to me: I obsess over it and can’t start writing until the main characters’ names feel right. I wanted something unique but not over the top, and felt that London fit the bill. More than that, it fit her: the character coming to life in my brain.
Australian Cover - love the tag line
(click to read it)

I agree. It totally fit her. 
I’m so blown away by the concept of this book that I can’t wait to read your next book! Can you give us a little teaser about the plot? 

I wish! I’m dying to share news about my second book because it’s finished, but alas, I can’t…yet. Please stay tuned on Facebook/Twitter and my site as I’ll announce details as soon as my publisher gives the green light. I can say that it’ll be out June 2012, and it’s also about a teen girl in a normal town with an abnormal life.

Finally, I won’t ask your favorite book, because I know how tough that can be. But tell us who some of your favorite authors are.
I have so many favorites! Here are just a few: Neil Gaiman, John Green, Suzanne Collins, Jay Asher, Lisa McMann and Carolyn Mackler. I’ve also read nearly every book by Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly. I love crime novels!

Thank you so much. Congratulations on your success! My readers and I look forward to your next book. :)

Thank you for the opportunity. Very best to you and your readers!

For more on Cat Patrick, check out her website.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mike Mullin. ASHFALL

This apocalyptic book brought to mind another one of my absolute favorites, LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. I read it about four years ago, but I will always remember the atmosphere that Pfeffer brought to that book. It was so real. Mullin is equally talented in creating an atmosphere and characters that will stick with me long after today.

Fifteen-year-old Alex was so excited to get to stay home alone while his parents and sister went to visit their uncles farm in Warren, IL. Lately he and his mom had been fighting constantly and the idea of vacationing with them on a farm was to much to bear. He would regret that decision.

The rumbling began three hours later while he played World of Warcraft. It sounded like an earthquake. Then his house fell right on top of him and caught on fire. After climbing his way out, he meets up with some neighbors who take him in for the night. They deal with with strange occurrences all night: noises so loud they have to wear headphones, no electricity, no water. Then the ashfall begins. The sky is dark and the air begins to cool. They are able to figure out what happened from snippets on the battery powered radio. The supervolcano beneath Yellowstone has erupted.

After several incidents of violence and panic, Alex decides to go find his parents in Warren. Traveling is dangerous and difficult. People along the way are distraught and desperate. There is no way to know what's going on in other areas. The sky is dark with ash cover. The roads are thick with ash, making it slow to walk. Alex was creative enough to grab his dad's cross country skis to help him travel.  No vehicles can travel across the ash. After grabbing what food and water he can fit in his backpack, Alex sets out to reach his family. He will do whatever it takes to be able to have the luxury of fighting with his mom once more.

While reading LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, I felt compelled to check our pantry for can foods. While nearing the end of this book, I felt the need to go outside and feel the sunshine and warmth. I looked up at the sun  to revel in the lack of ash in the air. Mullin created such a realistic world that my mind had a hard time leaving it behind. The gripping suspense and action-packed plot kept me reading way past my bedtime. You will be tempted to read it all in one sitting. But then you'll be sad it's over. Fortunately, I found out that there is a sequel due out next year! I'm so glad! I'm anxious to see what's happening with Alex in the next book.

For more on Mike Mullin go here for his website.
This book is due out in October. Put it on your "to read" list. You won't regret it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jessica Martinez. VIRTUOSITY

Carmen Bianchi is a seventeen-year-old violin prodigy. Her life has consisted of practicing, going to lessons and winning competitions. The only "normal" part is her friendship with her tutor, Heidi. This suits Carmen fine, since the biggest competition of her life is coming soon and if she wins it, she'll be set for life. Winning the Guarneri would garner prestige, a world tour, and money, but it would also successfully push her past child-prodigy status to successful career violinist.

A few weeks before the semifinals, Jessica decides to spy on her toughest competitor, Jeremy King. She waits outside of the the symphony hall to get a glimpse of him after rehearsal. When he comes out, she's shocked to see that he no longer resembles his publicity photos in the least. He's grown up. Annoyingly, she finds herself attracted to him. He notices her too.

They begin emailing each other and then go on a date. Carmen is torn. He's her competition. She's supposed to hate him. They're supposed to hate each other. Only one person can win the Guarneri. If they continue to see each other, how would it feel afterwards she wins? But she is drawn to him. They are so much alike and no one understands her like he does. Then her mom tells her that Jeremy doesn't really like her at all. He's trying to mess with her mind. Carmen ends the relationship. But not before Jeremy asks her a difficult question that messes with her desire to win.

The pressure from her mom, the pressure from Jeremy, the expectations she puts on herself all build up until Carmen isn't sure she knows who she is anymore.

I loved this! The moody, longing atmosphere kept me coming back. Whenever I put it down, I couldn't wait to get back to it. I love the connection between Carmen and Jeremy. I loved the insights into the mind of a violinist. I could feel the pressure and expectations on Carmen, as much as if they were on myself.

This is the first novel from Jessica Martinez. What an exciting new YA author! While reading this, I had to wonder if she was a musician, since the knowledge seemed authentic. Lo and behold, she was! You can find out more about her here!

My copy is an advance copy. The book is due out in October. Put it on your "to read" list. You won't regret it!



Monday, July 11, 2011

Cat Patrick. FORGOTTEN

Imagine going to sleep at night and waking up the next morning not remembering the day before. At all. Zero. And imagine this happening to you every day. London Lane has this problem. Although, she does have forward memory. So, she remembers things like where her calculus class is located at school because she goes there in the future too. Plus, she knows events that will happen to her best friends in the coming months. Bizarre, right?

London's dad left her and her mother when she was six. Her and her dad had been in a terrible car crash where London died and was brought back to life at 4:33 am. This is the reason they assume her memory resets itself every morning at that time. London has never been able to remember her past. As a coping mechanism, she writes down all the important details of each day, so when she wakes up she can read her notes and function like a normal person.

Then she begins dating Luke. She's surprised each morning by how handsome he is, since she doesn't remember meeting him. Even with having her notes to remind her, it still feels like meeting him all over again. Even stranger, she doesn't remember him in her future. This makes her curious. If he's not in her future then what happens to them. Around the same time she met Luke, she begins having a memory of a funeral. Someone will die, but who?

Here is a section that really brings home what it feels like to remember forward, rather than backward.

    "I remember forward.
     I remember forward, and forget backward.
     My memories, bad, boring, or good, haven't happened yet.
     So like it or not - and like it I don't - I will remember standing in the fresh-cut grass with the black-clad figures durrounded by stone until I do it for real. I will remember the funeral until it happens - until someone dies.
     And after that, it will be forgotten."

The concept is fascinating and the reason I picked up the book. But the writing kept me reading. It's mysterious, psychologically fascinating and suspenseful! You'll love it! It really made me think! I wonder if this type of memory problem really exists or did the author make it up? Also, I love the selective-ness of it. If London decides she doesn't want to remember something, she just doesn't write it in her notes. How powerful is that? You can choose only the good stuff. And what do you do with knowledge of the future? It's all so fascinating.

This is a stunning debut by Cat Patrick. For more about her click here for her website. I cannot wait to see what she writes next!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Louise Rennison. WITHERING TIGHTS

The best way to describe this is what a HOOT!! (No pun intended with the owl on the cover!) You've probably heard of Louise Rennison and her Georgia Nicholson books, with ANGUS, THONGS AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING being the first one, and a Printz Honor Book!
 
This new character created by Rennison is hysterical! Although, she's really not trying to be. The story is set in Yorkshire, England where Tallulah Casey is attending summer drama school to avoid camping with her brother. She  is hoping to discover her artistic abilities, meet some new friends and maybe even have a go at romance (or at the very least, experience her first kiss.)


This is a witty, laugh out loud story about Tallulah and a quirky cast of characters that you won't soon forget! The setting is completely new to me. The school is located in the English countryside. I mean - country! There is a funny scene on Tallulah's first day when she tells the local girl, Ruby, that she's going to check out the shops. Well, she returns in about five minutes, because there are no shops. It's literally a one-horse town! But Ruby didn't say anything, she just sent her off on her way.

Another thing new for me was the Yorkshire dialect that the local people used. I could hear the British accent and inflection the entire time, but sometimes the dialect of the locals confused me. But normally, I was fine. I love the airy, breezy inflection in most of the speech. For example, doesn't "I'll pop around after school"  sound so much more fun than "I'll meet you after school." And doesn't "Oh, just give it a go" make anything sound way easier than it probably is? Finally, my favorite has to be, "Do you fancy a ride in my car?"

Overall, the dialogue and story is hysterically funny! I ask you - where else would a character break into Irish Dancing when she's nervous?? Nowhere else but in a Louise Rennison novel.

You will enjoy this, but be warned. Don't be in a quiet place, because you will giggle loudly!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Deb Caletti. STAY

This is only the second book I've read by Deb Caletti, and I already love her! I just looked over my review of THE FORTUNES OF INDIGO SKYE and I wasn't surprised to see that I had used quotes from the book, because I'm going to do that again here. Deb Caletti's writing is so spectacular that it's difficult to write the review without sharing some gems with you.

 "I realized that fear and guilt were both cheap and easy emotions, ready and always available, the salt and pepper to the more exotic herbs that took more effort to gather, like courage or determination or regret."

The funny thing is - that quote sums up the book better than I could. After reading the book, go back and read it. You'll see.

Clara knew when she met Christian that it was going to be a turning point in her life. He was "the one." They instantly had a powerful attraction to each other. The fact that he was so impressed with her gave Clara a powerful feeling. So, when things start going downhill, she begins to feel responsible. He begins getting jealous at the drop of a hat, possessive and controlling about where she goes and how she spends her time. Clara rationalizes his behavior and even begins to start believing some things she says about her. She finally decides to break up with him. But Christian will have none of that. He refuses to let her go. Clara and her father move out of town for the summer to get away from him. Will he finally leave her alone? Will she be able to find herself again and heal?

"Empathy took the edge off, and the truth is, we need our edge. Our edge is trying to speak to us, and we are too, too good at shutting it up."

The novel is told in two time periods that meet up together near the end. If that sounds strange, it is. And not too many authors could've pulled it off so smoothly. As we live through Clara meeting Christian and developing their relationship, we are also living through Clara's new life and wondering how the relationship ended. To make the plot even more layered, Clara's father is hiding something from her. Interestingly enough, they are able to help each other in the end.

You will love this! It's deep, moving, complex, suspenseful and brilliantly written! I can't wait to read more from her! For more about Deb Caletti, check her out here

By the way, this is one of those books that I think all teenage girls should read, so they know the difference between someone who is good for you and someone who is BAD for you.