Friday, August 24, 2012

Questions for Readers

A awesome young man named Max who works for me sent me a list of 30 questions about books he found on Facebook. It was designed as a "one question a day" thing but I decided to save them and use them when I felt like it!

Here is the first of them. I look forward to reading your answers to these as we go!

Tell me about a book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving...

For me, it was a recent read. I wasn't sure about reading Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher. It is geared toward boys and has a sports theme, neither of which appeal to me. I love sports but have never enjoyed reading about them, and I am not a boy. 

Wow was I surprised! Mr. Crutcher is an amazing writer. He uses male characters and sports as a way to appeal to boys as readers. As a group, boys are less likely to pick up a book and read it for fun. Mr. Crutcher makes books more accessible and more interesting to boys. My favorite thing about his books, he deals with tough subjects and doesn't sugar-coat or shy away from them. 

You can read my review of this book here.

Now it's your turn:

Tell me about a book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Insurgent by Veronica Roth
"One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful.
Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.
"New York Times" bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian "Divergent" series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature."

In this sequel to the extremely popular first book of the trilogy, Divergent, Ms. Roth continues the story of Tris (aka Beatrice Prior) and Four (aka Tobias Eaton) and their struggle to understand why the leader of the Erudite faction, Jeanine Matthews, is trying to take over all of the factions. Tris struggles to decide whether to follow her instinct or her heart.

In Divergent we learned about the factions, how they function and how they fit together. In Insurgent, we learn how they differ and how they may have to learn to fit together differently. 

I really like the character of Tris and how she is growing. Tris, it is easy to forget, is only 16. She is one of the divergent, a person who doesn’t fit easily into only one faction but rather shows aptitude for multiple factions. The divergent seem to be immune to the simulations created by Jeanine Matthews to control all of the factions. Tris learns how not alone she really is when she travels to meet the factionless, a large percentage of whom are divergent. Tris makes some mistakes which are clearly mistakes of youth but she learns from them and moves on.

The character of Four becomes a bit more well-rounded in this book. We learn more about his growing up in the Abnegation faction, his divergence and learn more about who he is and why he reacts the way he does.

Tris and Four work together and apart to bring down Jeanine Matthews and her desire to rule over all of the factions. They will work with friends and enemies alike to bring about a peace.

I can’t wait to read the last book of the trilogy. Ms. Roth’s writing is compelling and exciting. I am hoping to find out what is outside of the city walls... and why those walls exist!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Author Interview - Ted Mendelssohn, The Wrong Sword

I was lucky enough to get an interview with Ted Mendelssohn, author of The Wrong Sword, book one of a series. Ted is also offering a digital copy of his book to one lucky winner. Enter below to win.

"Ever since he arrived in Paris, Henry the Rat has made a pretty good living selling "magic" swords to gullible knights. But when Henry sells one to Geoffrey Plantagenet, brother to King Richard, his happy days are over for good. Geoffrey forces Henry into a dangerous, uncomfortable quest for the most famous magic sword of all time, Excalibur, even though Henry is certain that it's just a myth.
Then Henry actually finds Excalibur - and his troubles really start: For Excalibur is not just the sword of’s also the sword that won’t SHUT UP. It communicates with its owner, it knows what kind of owner it deserves, and Henry doesn’t even come close.
To keep Excalibur and the world safe from the appalling Geoffrey, Henry will have to masquerade as a knight, crash a royal wedding, rescue a princess, break a siege, penetrate the secrets of the Perilous Brotherhood, and find Excalibur’s rightful bearer, all while trying to reach an accommodation with a snotty, aristocratic hunk of steel that mocks him, takes over his body, and keeps trying to turn him into the one thing he hates most...a hero."

And now, an interview with Ted: 

What is your favorite sentence from your book and why?
Well, like my children, they're ALL my favorites. Just kidding. Of course I have favorite sentences. And children. Let's see…here's a good one, I think: Sometimes it sucked to be the king.

What has been your most rewarding experience since becoming published?
Surprisingly, being published wasn't in itself a big moment. When you start writing, you see being published as a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. But writing a first novel is such a long process that the real reward is the knowledge that you've finished, and that it's fairly close to what you imagined it would be. Everything else is gravy.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Sure, in some ways. For instance, I grew up in a gritty neighborhood (what they call "gentrifying" these days) and saw enough to know that violence isn't glamorous or cool; so I can certainly understand Henry's attitude toward it. I can also identify with Mattie's intellectualism, and Brother Wiglaf's crazy enthusiasm – you know, embracing my inner geek.

What authors have influenced you?
I'd say the writers who influenced me most with The Wrong Sword are Robert Heinlein and Lois McMaster Bujold, who both taught me a lot about narrative voice.

Who are your favorite authors and why?
So many writers.
I love reading Roger Zelazny. The man was a genius poet in science fiction, on a par  with Ray Bradbury. If you're a writer, you have to be careful about reading something like his Lord of Light – it's so good, it will mess up your prose style for days.
Jack Vance is a fun author who never got his due. In a way, he's science fiction's dark, dark Jane Austen: so much of his work is an arch, sardonic dissection of human mores.
Tim Powers, George McDonald Fraser, Carl Hiaasen, Harper Lee, PG Wodehouse, George Orwell, and the list goes on. There aren't many classics on it. I've read the classics, and I respect them; but I'm suspicious of anyone who claims Ulysses is his favorite novel.

What are you currently reading?
The Eight Skilled Gentlemen, by Barry Hughart. Re-reading, actually. Hughart wrote a series of charming novels set in a mythical, medieval China: The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox. This is the third.

The Wrong Sword is Book One, when can we expect to see Book Two or others from you?
In about a year.

How long did it take you to write The Wrong Sword?
A lot longer than a year. But it was my first novel, so I was teaching myself to write in that form while I was doing it.

What inspired you to write The Wrong Sword?
I've always been fascinated by tests. If you think about it, Excalibur is the ultimate test – only the king can draw it from the stone. And then I thought But what if somebody cheats?

If you could live during any time period in history, what would it be and why?
I'm a huge fan of indoor plumbing, so I'd go with the Roaring '20s. Lots of money, short skirts and jazz you can understand. On the other hand, if it's a question of visiting, I'd go with Renaissance Florence or Persia under Cyrus the Great. Florence for the art, the food, and the crazy politics; Persia for the pomp and circumstance.

If you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be and why? What would you ask him/her?
Abraham Lincoln. I wouldn't ask him anything. I'd just say "thanks." Maybe we'd get a sandwich.

Thanks Ted for taking the time to give readers a chance to get to know you!

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