Monday, February 21, 2011

ARC Tour & Review: Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

Synopsis:

A mysterious outbreak of typhoid fever is sweeping New York. Could the city’s future rest with its most unlikely scientist?

If Prudence Galewski is ever going to get out of Mrs. Browning’s esteemed School for Girls, she must demonstrate her refinement and charm by securing a job appropriate for a young lady. But Prudence isn’t like the other girls. She is fascinated by how the human body works and why it fails.

With a stroke of luck, she lands a position in a laboratory, where she is swept into an investigation of the fever bound to change medical history. Prudence quickly learns that an inquiry of this proportion is not confined to the lab. From ritzy mansions to shady bars and rundown tenements, she explores every potential cause of the disease. But there’s no answer in sight—until the volatile Mary Mallon emerges. Dubbed “Typhoid Mary” by the press, Mary is an Irish immigrant who has worked as a cook in every home the fever has ravaged. Strangely, though, she hasn’t been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in a new scientific discovery?

Prudence is determined to find out. In a time when science is for men, she’ll have to prove to the city, and to herself, that she can help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century.

Details:
  • Pub. Date: February 2011
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
The Elliott Review:

This book really surprised me in that the name somehow led me to believe that it would be about something supernatural. However, when I realized I had a high-quality work of historical fiction on my hands, I was very pleased. It traces the actions of the group of people tasked with tracing the sources of an outbreak as seen through the eyes of a seventeen-year-old girl coming into her own (and writing about it in her diary). The details and language of the 1900s were so well-done that at times I forgot that this was not an actual account.

Prudence's characterization was amazing to me. The phrases she uses are authentic to that time period, and her emotions are realistic yet very unique to her personality. Since she is interested in science and how things work, she stands as a different sort of heroine. Her goal is to become a master of logic and to make decisions free from the influence of her emotions. Due to the fact that she is a young woman, not being able to attain that lofty ideal is a source of major frustrations for her.

One area that she cannot control her emotions is in regards to her employer, Dr. Soper. She wants to be able to have a totally professional working relationship with him, to not notice the attractive and admirable qualities he possesses, but she cannot do this. I love how this serves to make her a real character.

There are many complex elements combined in this story that make it one solidly entertaining read. I was a little disappointed by the ending, but in view of literary merit, I think it actually adds to the story. The story can't help that I'm an adolescent girl at heart.

Source: Thanks to 1 ARC Tours for hosting this tour.

Friday, February 18, 2011

ARC Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth (squee!)

Synopsis:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Details:
  • Pub. Date: May 2011
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
The Elliott Review:

This book struck me so hard that I've been letting my brain percolate about what to even write to review it. How do you comment on a work of perfection?? I guess I will try, but I don't know that I'm really going to do the amazingness any justice whatsoever, especially without spoiling some of the best parts.

First of all, this is a dystopian par excelence! The world that is set up seems, on the outside, not to be too bad for the person living in this society - at least initially. At first, I was thinking it was like the Harry Potter sorting ceremony only with all of society taking part. How cool would that be, right? Even though 16-year-olds have to sometimes choose against being themselves to be in a faction with their family, there's not too much wrong with it. That's just the initial impression, though. As Beatrice discovers her own status - a Divergent who doesn't naturally fit into just one faction - is when I really started to sense a problem.

The adventure of Beatrice choosing Dauntless, renaming herself Tris, and attempting to earn her spot is just a completely wild ride. There was not one second that I ever wanted to stop reading, trying to find out how things would fare for her or about what was going to happen due to a devious plot being hatched among some of the factions. The adventure in this book kept me riveted like it was a tornado about to hit my house - I was fascinated by its beauty and complexity but terrified that the end result would not be something great for Tris (and by extension, me!).

And then there is, of course, Four, who Tris can't help but be attracted to. He is her trainer, strong and brave and ... mysterious. I was almost literally dying as Tris began to discover his identity and to learn more about his painful past, both of which are carefully hidden beneath his hard exterior. I am sooo picky about choosing my ultimate favorite literary boyfriends, so I don't lightly say that Four, over the course of this series, could actually take out my main literary man! His blend of compassion and angst and internal strength all combobulating under his tough exterior is .. um .. hott!

And, mixed in with this carefully crafted world and breathless romance, is perfect character development. I can't even pinpoint exactly what technique is employed that gives such a sense of who each person is, but I can assure you - it is there...!!!

This is a book that you need to get your hands on. Borrow, beg, steal. Whatever. DO IT NOW!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Narrator Interview: Cassandra Morris

Since it feels like I spend forever in my car, you'd think I would've caught on to audiobooks long before now, but I could never finish one! When I saw that Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers Trilogy was in audio form, I decided to try again. I am SO glad I did. What made all the difference to me was the awesome narrator - Cassandra Morris! Her voice brought the characters to life. Since ANYTHING that she has narrated is sure to be worth checking out, I decided to invite her here to the blog for a few questions.


How did you get involved with narrating audiobooks?

I was living in New York and working with Abrams Artists Agency. One of the agents, J.J., asked if I'd like to audition for an audiobook called Dear Zoe by Phillip Beard. I never refuse an audition, so I said yes... even though I barely knew what an audiobook was. I read the audition script an hour before the audition and kind of freaked out. 3 pages long?! I was used to short commercial copy, which was 4-5 lines at most. So, I took a deep breath and talked myself down and just read it. I connected with it instantly. The teenage protagonist, Tess, had just experienced the loss of her 3-year-old sister. I had just gotten broken up with by a guy I thought I was going to marry, so I was depressed and definitely felt a loss in my life. Sept 11 plays a huge role in the book, and I was in downtown NYC on Sept 11, watching the towers fall from 20 blocks away. I was able to draw so many parallels between the book and my life. I wanted the job so badly. I think the director could tell, because I booked it. That first book lead to more and more and here I am today!

About how many audiobooks have you recorded?

Over 100. Some were under the name Lauren Davis,

What are your favorites out of the books you have recorded?

Dear Zoe, all of the Ivy & Bean series, all of The Clique books and Elegance of the Hedgehog.

What are your future career plans?

To continue doing voiceovers, work on a major network cartoon, and explore all of my artistic inclinations.

Are you currently working on any projects?

I am recording the anime series K-On! I play Ritsu, the drummer in an all-girl band. I also just started the audiobook series Marty McGuire.

Do you like to read? What authors/books are your favorites?

I have always loved to read. I read so much when I was in elementary school that my parents thought it was overkill and actually started to discourage me from it & join the real world. I love Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling series. The books I can read over & over again are Fierce People by Dirk Wittenborn, Josie & Jack by Kelly Braffet and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I'm currently reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guest Post: Laura Kreitzer Speaks Out About Human Trafficking

Hello Literary-Folk!

My name is Laura Kreitzer, and I’m the author of the Timeless Series and the Summer Chronicles. This week I would like to alert everyone on a colossal crisis that’s gone unnoticed in the world: human trafficking. That’s why I’ve asked hundreds of blogs to be involved with spreading the word on this issue that’s become close to my heart.

As an author, and someone whose life is put in the spotlight, I keep most people at a distance. Only a handful of my friends know the whole me and the events from my past. But this week I’d like to share with you a part of myself that the outside world doesn’t see (and a part of me I don’t like to share). I was emotionally abused for five years by someone I thought loved me, my mind beaten into submission. Though the turmoil I went through doesn’t penetrate as deep as someone forced into slavery on the worldwide market for human trafficking, I can sadly relate in some ways: imprisoned, my life dictated down to what I wore, ate, where I went, whom I spoke to, where I worked, when I slept, bending to his every whim. He did not sway, even when I cried through some of the more traumatic things he had me do. I was a slave in my own home. In my desperation for freedom, I held out a gun and asked him to just end my suffering. I was desperate.

I can’t even imagine how many women (and men) in the world are in a similar situation. What’s even worse, I had it mild compared to the children that are sold for labor or sex. Surprisingly, the good ol’ U.S.A. is reported to be the host to two million slaves. Did you know this? Because I certainly did not; not until I was preparing to write my newest novel: Phantom Universe. The main character, Summer Waverly, was stolen as a child and sold as a slave to the captain of a modern-day pirate ship. From a loved child who only knew “time-out” as punishment, to being whipped into silence was something I knew nothing about. So I researched deeply into human trafficking and the psychological effects of torture of various types that one would endure in these circumstances. I felt shaken at my findings and knew I had to tell Summer’s story. (Read a sneak peek here.)

A storm began to brew in my mind; transforming, morphing, twisting, and expanding into this massive, black cloud. I had to bring this tragic atrocity to the forefront. My own emotional experiences, mixed with the research I did on human trafficking, made me feel an intense connection with Summer, and to all women who’ve been through this kind of brutality. The cloud ruptured and rained all over my computer one day. It took one month to write Phantom Universe, the first in the Summer Chronicles. I was so consumed by the story that I wrote nearly nonstop, only breaking for necessary tasks like eating, showering, and occasionally—very occasionally—sleeping.

Though the book I’ve written would be classified as Science Fiction, or as I’d like to call it, Dystopian, the emotions and psychological aspects are not Science Fiction—they're real. Reviewers have said many amazing things about Summer, this character who is so real in my mind and who I cried along with as the words poured from my soul onto my screen.
“I admired Summer's strength and ability to adapt,” says CiCi’s Theories. “I felt tied to her emotions,” Jennifer Murgia, author or Angel Star admits. And Tahlia Newland, author of Lethal Inheritance, remarks, “Summer is strong and smart in mind [. . .]”
Through her overwhelmingly horrendous past, Summer goes on more than just a physical journey in Phantom Universe, she goes on a psychological one as well; growing beyond her mute state to persevere and survive in a new world beyond the whip she’s so frightened of.

Now that the release date is here, I’m excited and terrified to share this story with everyone. I’m emotionally tied in every way to the words I’ve written, because they’re more than words. More than just a story on a page. Beyond the fictional aspects, there’s a real issue that needs to be addressed: human trafficking must be stopped. We shouldn’t sit idly by while this continues to plague us. Our world’s children—our nation’s children—are being affected. It’s time we take action!

Earlier this month Phantom Universe hit Barnes and Noble’s top 100 Best Selling list. I’ve decided to donate 10% of my sales from Phantom Universe, until the end of February, to the DNA Foundation.
“DNA hopes to help abolish modern day slavery, deter perpetrators, and free the many innocent and exploited victims. We are committed to forcing sex slavery out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Freedom is a basic human right and slavery is one of the greatest threats to that freedom. No one has the right to enslave another person.”

—From DNA Foundation’s Website
I ask that you spread the word to everyone you know. Look around on the DNA Foundation website and find a way to get involved in ending human trafficking. Take action today. Everyone has a voice—you have a voice. Will you have the courage to use it?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winner: Signed Copy of Number the Stars


The winner of a signed copy of Number the Stars is:

Vivien!!!

Congrats to the winner! She has 48 hours to claim the prize!

All winners chosen by Random.org.

Don't forget to check out my current giveaways.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Winners: Daughter of Xanadu and Arctic Thunder

The winner of Daughter of Xanadu is:

Khadija!!!


The winner of Arctic Thunder is:

Jennifer (momvstheboys)

Thanks so much to everyone who entered both contests for these wonderful books! :)

Don't forget to check out my current giveaways.