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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blog Tour: Scan by Sarah Fine
& Walter Jury

Release Date: May 1, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Children's
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush his school, killing his father and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans. 

All Tate knows—like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid—may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret interspecies conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it.

Walter Jury on his collaboration 
with co-author Sarah Fine  

Sarah and I work seamlessly together. After I came up with the idea and wrote a very extensive outline, our agents introduced us.  We hit it off immediately, and it was clear from her writing and her response to my idea that she would be the perfect partner. It was fun to collaborate on writing this series, specifically working through macro world building and long-range character arcs/journeys.  One of the elements that was difficult is the distance of our home locales.  Sarah lives in New England and I live in the New York City area, so we started working together long distance—but were able to effectively work out a communication style that assisted each of our needs. 

I think I am incredibly deferential to Sarah when it comes to details and minute world-building, whereas I feel like she has great respect for my overarching theme analysis and character arc breakdowns.  It's really a fantastic combination and we really were able to take the bull by the horns in every instance where it was necessary to tackle an imminent challenge.  

One of the more unforeseen challenges was post-sale to Putnam/Penguin.  Our fantastic editor, Stacey Barney, really wanted to work closely to make sure every single mythological question had an answer that was seamlessly integrated.  She wanted the story and mythology to be beyond reproach.  I think she did a great job in that regard, but the challenge was how do two co-authors who live a large physical distance from one another, work with an editor who wants to take a hands-on approach? That took some logistical planning, but it turned out beautifully and it was a very successful partnership!

About the Authors

Sarah Fine was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is the author of several young adult books, and when she's not writing, she’s working as a child psychologist.

Walter Jury was born in London and has a background in the film industry. He is a big enthusiast of Jamba Juice’s Protein Berry Workout smoothie, only with soy, never whey.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Age Group: Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 308
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

In her online bio, Rainbow Rowell states that sometimes she writes about teenagers and sometimes she writes about adults.  I found 2011’s Attachments to have a crossover appeal for a teenager looking to branch out or even a YA-reading adult looking to, well, also branch out.  I’ve been quite grabby-hands about Rainbow’s next adult book, this summer’s Landline, since the moment I knew it existed.  As I dove into Georgie’s story, as I rabidly and rapidly turned pages, I found myself wondering how an honest-to-blog teenager would relate to this.  This is not because I think teenagers aren’t complex people with deep-seated emotions and complicated hearts—they clearly are—but Landline is very much a grown-up romance. 

And that is the exact reason I loved it so.

Normally, I’m all about the swoon of YA—the butterflies from the first glances, the first kisses that take your breath away,  the description of that seemingly impassable inch between two hands before they beat the odds and reach one another.  I basically live for that.  And those moments do exist in Landline in Georgie’s flashbacks to college when she first meets Neal (Neal, Neal, Neal), the man who would become her husband.  They are typical Rainbow (what a beautiful phrase!) which means they are vivid and gorgeous and real and aching.  They are so much of all of those things that I kept gazing at my husband as I read, recalling our own college courtship and seeing the guy he was then within the man he is.  Needless to say, it freaked him out a little bit.

This is the exact thing I adore so much about Landline.  It’s not about first love; it’s about last love.  It’s about the one you choose, the love that evolves and matures into something you could have never expected at age 20.  It’s also about marriage—the good and the bad and the ugly—and whether that evolved love is enough.  Enough for what?  Well, that’s for you to find out.

Honestly, I could talk about this for hours and days and the only person who would listen to that is my husband and even then he’d be looking for a magic phone to talk to Past Jessica and ask her to kindly shut her yapper many years in the future, so I’ll move on.

What else do I love?  Georgie and Seth’s TV show.  If I ever become a sitcom writer, I may try to recreate that show because I WOULD WATCH THAT SO HARD my eyeballs would fall out.  Also, Georgie’s kids.   Hi Alice.  Meow, Noomi.  And my most favorite bit?  An Easter Egg for readers of Rainbow’s previous books near the end that I will not ruin for you but OMG. OMG. OH. MY. GOD.

So, let’s sum up: I love this book in a mature and evolved way, I feel every married person should read this, and I would follow Rainbow Rowell into the dark.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (57)

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

Why can't I wait?
Road trip books are basically one of my favorite things to read, especially in the summer time.  Crank up the tunes, roll down the windows, and let's get lost.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate Rorick

Release Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Touchstone
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 400
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
Based on the Emmy Award-winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Twenty-four-year-old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and still living at home along with her two sisters-beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no idea The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight.

When rich and handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck-up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets--and for Lizzie;s viewers. But not everything happens on-screen. Lucky for us, Lizzie has a secret diary.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet takes readers deep inside Lizzie's world and well beyond the confines of her camera--from the wedding where she first meets William Darcy to the local hangout of Carter's bar, and much more. Lizzie's private musings are filled with revealing details about the Bennet household, including her growing suspicions about her parents'; unstable financial situation, her sister's budding relationship with Bing Lee, the perils of her unexpected fame, and her uncertainty over her future--and whom she wants to share it with.

Featuring plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new readers alike, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet expands on the web series phenomenon that captivated a generation and reimagines the Pride and Prejudice story like never before.

So here’s the thing about my review of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet aka the book version of the internet series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: you already know what I’m going to say.  I adored LBD in an intense and real way—for example, when the very last Q&A video appeared, I wasn’t home, and I watched the video on my phone on a street corner in northwest DC because I literally couldn’t take another step until I saw what happened next.  I’ve been looking forward to the book “adaptation” for a while now, just to get some more information on my beloved characters and delve even deeper into the world of the Bennet sisters.  While I flew through this book like Darcy flew to Lydia’s rescue (hee) and while I would recommend this book to any fan of the LBD such as me, I have one glaring issue with it.

This is not a diary.

There are portions of this secret “diary” that read as though it is what the title proclaims.  Lizzie shares some secrets that she wouldn’t say aloud on her videos, and we do get a respectable amount of backstory and, shall we say, closure.  However, far too often, the narrative switches from epistolary (which it should be) to a first person narrative.  

It starts in the very first entry, when Lizzie mentions her bestie Charlotte and writes this: “‘Hostile laundry takeover?’ she asked knowingly.”  I actually looked up from the book and said aloud, “Who writes like that in their own diary?”  It took me right out of the story, because it didn’t feel authentic.  I was able to ignore this quirk after a few entries (though some instances of format flip-flopping were more blatant than others) by making the mental decision to read this as Lizzie’s story in book form rather than Lizzie’s personal diary.  I made a good choice.

Once I could overlook the narration issue, I enjoyed this a lot more.  The book answers basically every lingering question I still had about the webseries while enhancing moments that I never gave much thought to before.  (I’ll never watch that Netherfield arc in the same way.)  My personal favorite was the actual story of the Lizzie and the Darcys’ “epic tour” of San Francisco.  Followers of the award-winning transmedia event of the SF tour remember the photos well, but having the words makes it sweeter than a sundae at Ghirardelli Square.

Even with my narrative hang-up, I would still recommend The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet to any fan of the webseries from which it spawned.  If you haven’t seen the series yet, I would doubly recommend getting your own copy of the book—specifically, the enhanced e-book, which includes links to all of Lizzie’s videos (though, none of the spin-offs like THE Lydia Bennet or the Domino launch).  Now, it’s back to the fanfiction until we get more bonus videos.