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October 9, 2014

My life changes my reading

I've always been fascinated by how each time a different person reads a book they read a different book. I don't mean that the book changes words every time it is closed, but each person has different life experiences and preconceived notions that are put into every book they read.
Middle School Me

This is even the case with the same person reading the same book years later. For example, say you read a book in middle school and adored it. It was your favorite book and you recommended to everyone who would listen. Then you grow up. Be it 5, 10, 30, 40 years, you have changed. Not just physically but emotionally, your preconceived notions might have been proven wrong. You might
have gone through some sort of emotional trauma. Heck you might have just read hundreds of books since you read your former favorite book last. No matter what when you pick up that book again, the book is exactly the same (unless it is a different edition or something) but you have changed. That book might be even better than it was before, you might understand things that went over your head previously that make the story so much richer. But often the book is not as good as you remember, Possibly as an adult you see that the heroine really was a brat like all the adult characters said maybe she should have listened. Anything can happen.

Because of all these thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind I have decided to start a feature where I talk about things in my life and how they impact the books I read. I don't yet know what I am going to call it but if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. This is not going to be a weekly or even monthly feature it is more of whenever I think of something that shapes the way I read I will talk about it. But i will say that i already know what I am going to write about for the first one.

So let me know, what do you think impacts the way you read?

June 11, 2014

The Body in the Woods blog tour: Guest Post and Giveaway!

Click to see the other stops on the tour!



Today I have the pleasure of having April Henry author of The Body in the Woods stop by to talk about the most bizarre thing she ever did in the name of research! Don't forget to read down to the end to have a chance to win a copy of The Body in the Woods as well as a whistle!

What’s the most bizarre thing I ever did for research? That’s an easy one. Last year I heard about a class through my kung fu school about how to fight back in close quarters. I signed up. I’ll admit I did not think about who the class was meant to appeal to, ie, not 54-year-old females who are not cops.

The class was held at a martial arts studio where they practice the Russian marital art called Systema. I walked into a huge space, almost like a hangar. Twelve men were already there.

Twelve men in their 30s. Who all turned out to be cops. Cops on SWAT teams at various agencies. (I’m only exaggerating a little. One guy was a retired cop. And there was one young guy who was the son of a cop.) I felt decidedly out of place. In fact, as soon as I opened the door, I wanted to leave.

Then when I saluted onto the training floor the way we do at my kung fu school, I was informed, “This is America! You don’t have to do that!” Then the same guy barked at us that we should begin by doing knuckle push ups.

I have never done knuckle pushups in my life.
I soldiered on.

But things got better after that. The guys were intrigued that I was taking the class for research. They were taking it to save themselves from injury or possibly to save their lives, but they respected that I wanted to get it right.

Since I’m the only woman at my kung fu school who regularly spars, I’ve come to enjoy being the fly on the wall around guys, hearing how they talk among themselves. During the breaks in this class, the guys talked shop, like why you never want to try to shoot through a BMW headrest, as one of them had learned the hard way (the core is made of stainless steel).

I like cops. They remind me of emergency room physicians (I used to work in health care). The emotional distance, the macabre jokes, the high energy, the lack of hesitation. In both types of jobs, you would do nobody any good if you freaked out, shrieking, “Oh my God, what just happened here, somebody just stabbed that lady and there’s blood all over!” No. You need to be able to do what needs to be done, whether it’s subdue the suspect or stop the bleeding.

At the very end of class, you sat in your own car and someone sat behind you. On the seat beside them were a training gun, a training knife, a length of rope, and a plastic bag. They attacked you with these one by one and you had to fight back using what we had just learned. For example, you might be able to hammer their hand against the steering wheel, or slam the seat back into them. If a plastic bag is ever placed over your head, what you do is suck it in, bite it with your front teeth, and stick your tongue out the hole. You still have a plastic bag over your head, but you can breath.

The first time, I panicked when I felt the plastic clinging to my face. I sucked it into my mouth, but then I tried to gnaw it with my molars. Not only did I not succeed, but I started to get pretty low on oxygen, which raised my panic level even further. The second time, though, I remembered my training.

Will I ever write about a character who has a plastic bag put over his or her head? Hell, yes! Plus the principles of Systema are applicable in everyday life (Keep moving, breathe, relax, and maintain your posture.)

Right now I’m considering taking a three-day “Urban Escape and Evasion” course. As part of the course, you are kidnapped, hooded, cuffed and taken somewhere dark and uncomfortable to start your day. You are expected to escape, find your own transportation using “social engineering,” and make your way to a location.. Meanwhile, expert trackers hunt you down, and if they catch you, you have to start again from further away.

The same folks also offer a class called “Surviving Deadly Contact. When I read the description, it talked about how you would learn where the most dangerous spot in the room is and how to handle multiple attackers. I was nodding along, thinking it all sounded interesting, until I came to this: “Open to civilians. You will need an AR type rifle, handgun, and ammo. Camping free.”

I'm pretty game for anything, but I have to admit I am not THAT game.


For every sale made in person or online at Powells.com the first week The Body in the Woods is on sale, I will donate $1.69 to MCSO SAR.


 Author Links/Info
·         Follow April Henry on Twitter!

More about The Body in the Woods:
In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

Pre-order the book: Barnes and Noble, IndieBound



a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 29, 2014

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski Review

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
Title: Don't Even Think About It
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Received From: Netgally

Synopsis: We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper. Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.  So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.

Review:
 Sarah Mlynowski's books are always good, but I think Don't Even Think About It is my favorite of hers by far. It is so different than anything I have ever read.

First of all it is first person plural. How often do you find that in books? It is so different yet fits the story so well. It does take a little of getting used to but if there was ever a book that this POV fit it would definitely be Don't Even Think About It.

I can see how a book like this would be really confusing to some but I found it easy to understand and not bogged down with lots of unnecessary elements. The amount of facts that were given about the vaccine was just enough to make it believable.

I liked getting to see the characters from both their perspective and from everyone else's perspective. There is a lot going on and the book doesn't focus on only person it sort of jumps around to different story lines. Sort of like a TV show does. This book is funny and fun and makes you think how you would react to that situation.

Overall I really liked it and thought it  was a refreshing take on a contemporary romance/friendship book. Also not a fan of the cover, I feel like it could have been more original to fit the original plot.



 Other reviews of Don't Even Think About It:
Alexa Loves Books
Great Imaginations
YA Midnight Reads

May 23, 2014

Looking Forward: June

Looking Forward

I thought I would start doing a round up of some books that I am excited to rad that are coming out in the month ahead. Which ones are you excited for and what did I miss? Click on the titles to pre-order!



The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.


In book three of the Testing series, the United Commonwealth wants to eliminate the rebel alliance fighting to destroy The Testing for good. Cia is ready to lead the charge, but will her lethal classmates follow her into battle?

She wants to put an end to the Testing
In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can't do it alone.
This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for - but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves--and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?
The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope--in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau's epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it's Graduation Day.

The Final Test is the Deadliest!



In the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.

In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food—everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that's what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he—the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food.

H. A. Swain delivers an adventure that is both epic and fast-paced. Get ready to be Hungry.



Being seventeen during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dresses is even tougher.
Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she's working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dresses, life gets complicated.
Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart, Johnny, stuck in the middle of battle, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve



Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation. 

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love...



Rowena Duncan is a thoroughly modern girl with big plans for her summer—until she catches her boyfriend making out with another girl. Heartbroken, she applies to an out-of-town job posting and finds herself somewhere she never expected: the Renaissance Faire.

As a face-painter doubling as a serving wench, Ro is thrown headfirst into a vibrant community of artists and performers. She feels like a fish out of water until Will, a quick-witted whip cracker, takes her under his wing. Then there’s Christian, a blue-eyed stunt jouster who makes Ro weak in the knees. Soon, it’s not just her gown that’s tripping her up.

Trading in the internet and electricity for stars and campfires was supposed to make life simpler, but Ro is finding that love is the ultimate complication. Can she let the past make way for her future?



Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don't always seem to stay that way.



In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.


May 12, 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski Review

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Received From: Publisher  

Synopsis: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Review:
I was hesitant about The Winner's Curse because I had heard so many amazing things about it. I shouldn't have been, it was just as good as everyone said it was.

You guys know I love fantasy. If could only read one genre for the rest of my life it would be fantasy. So finding another awesome fantasy book really made me happy.

The Winner's Curse is different than most fantasy books that are out there because the main character Kestrel is not a bad-ass knife wielding killer. Her father wants her to be but her heart is just not in it. That is not to say that Kestrel is not an amazingly bad-ass character. She is so good at strategy and she can hold her own if she needs to.

Be warned, The Winner's Curse is not the most fast paced book you will read. The last third is quite fast paced but the first two thirds contain quite a bit of information and the slow burn of growing love. Speaking of love the rowing affection between Arin and Kestrel is not in your face, it is subtle and not the whole point of the story which I really appreciated.

This book is a good look at privilege and why we think we deserve what we have. There are a few times where like Kestrel I started to question the dominance of the society in the book.

Overall I really enjoyed The Winner's Curse, there was plenty of intrigue, romance, and action to satisfy almost anyone. I cannot wait for the next book to find out what is going to happen, as well as find out more about these two countries and their backgrounds.

April 22, 2014

Hiatus

Hi guys, sorry its been so long since I've posted but I've been so busy with school that I haven't had the drive to blog. Because of this I am going to take an official hiatus until May 10th. By then I will be done with finals and will have gotten a few days of rest. Thanks for understanding and even though I won't be on the blog I will still be on twitter!


March 18, 2014

Desecration blog tour and Giveaway!


Today I have the pleasure of having Hadly Holt, author of Desecration; The Wizard Queen at Sixteen to talk about some songs that she feels fit with her book! And be sure to stick around for an awesome giveaway! But first some about the book!

In a hidden world of wizards where only men hold the power of magic, one girl arises with the power to change everything, if she isn’t killed first…Adriana Victoriana Evangelista (Addie), daughter to the High Chancellor of the Wizard’s Council, has always been the perfect wizard girl. She never questions why men possess magical powers and women have no power at all, magical or otherwise. Male wizards blend into the modern human world, leading huge corporations while wizard women are sequestered away.  On her sixteenth birthday, Addie discovers she possesses magic. Under wizard law, she is a desecration. An ancient prophecy surrounds the emergence of a girl magic-wielder, the wizard queen, who is destined to bring about the downfall of the wizard-kin.Addie has long had a forbidden crush on a human boy who lives in the wizard stronghold, Rory Devlin. As she delves deeper into the dangerous mysteries surrounding her own destiny, she suspects Rory might be more than just human.Addie’s fate sends her straight into the path of a powerful and evil sorcerer, but the worst danger of all may come from right inside her own home.
 


I love music! In fact, I love it so much that if a favorite song is playing, it pulls me into the song and I can’t write anything. While I write, I have to listen to instrumental music which is often Celtic or soft classical music. My DESECRATION Spotify Playlist is filled with songs that make me think of the characters in the book (mostly my main character, Addie).

Morning – by Beck: “Woke Up This Morning…” This song makes me think of Addie from
a conceptual standpoint of “I woke up this morning…” and things are different than they
used to be. The song is more about a change in a relationship, but it makes me think about
how Addie wakes up to a day that changes her life forever. She can’t ever go back to the
way her life was before.

Dark Horse – Katy Perry: “So you want to play with magic…Boy, you should know
what you’re falling for…coming at you like a dark horse…are you ready for a perfect
storm… once your mine, there’s no going back…” “Play with magic” reminds me of Addie
finding her magic and then, “are you ready for a perfect storm” reminds me of the big
trouble coming at Addie.

Counting Stars – One Republic: “Lately I’ve been losing sleep…dreaming about the things
that we could be…I’ve been praying hard- we’ll be counting stars…Young but not that
bold - Just doing what we’re told…I feel something so wrong doing the right
thing…” Addie has always done what she’s been told to do, but she finds out that it isn’t the
right thing anymore.

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons “Waking up…breaking in and shaking up…this is it – the
apocalypse…welcome to the new age…it’s a revolution…” In the end, Addie is the
coming revolution.

New Soul – Yael Naim: “I’m a new soul – I came to this strange world… find myself
making every possible mistake.” Addie finds herself in a strange world and she makes a
lot of mistakes along the way.

Secrets – One Republic: “I need another story…tell me what you want from
me…I’m telling you all my secrets…” Addie believes she would have been happy with
the status quo, and the changes in her life create a lot of secrets, dangerous secrets…

Hey There Delilah – Plain White T’s: “What’s it like in New York City…don’t you
worry about the distance…I’m not there…oh, it’s what you do to me…I know that times
are getting hard…” Addie has to go off to New York City and she leaves Rory behind and
wonders if he’ll ever care about her again. Things are definitely getting really hard.

Somewhere Only We Know – Keane: “I walked an empty land…I felt the earth beneath
my feet…I need something to rely on…tell me when you’re going to let me in…why don’t
we go - somewhere only we know…” Addie has her own place in the orchard where she
goes to be with Rory and her best friends.

You and Me – Elizabeth & the Catapults: “Just look at me…I’m broken-hearted for
you…I don’t care what anyone else believes- I only care about you and me…”
Sometimes, it comes down to just Addie and Rory.

Time (We All Fall Down) – Elizabeth & the Catapults: “Time will bring you back to
me…safe as one…safe in love…take me to a wishing well…light within…in the end, we
all fall down…” Addie and Rory are both broken-hearted and we hope they come back
together. In the end, there’s a chance that they won’t be strong enough to fight the evil
coming for them, they will…fall down.

Somebody Loved – The Weepies: “Stars turning high up above…you turned me into
somebody loved…we danced together alone…we never said what we were
dreaming…but you turned me into somebody loved…” This is one of my all-time favorite
love songs. Don’t we all want someone to turn us into somebody loved? Addie does.

Mykonos – Fleet Foxes: “footsteps follow, down to the hollow sound, torn
up…shadows of the mess you made…it ain’t often you’ll ever find a friend…” This
song is mournful and bleak and how Addie feels alone in those darkest moments.

What if You – Joshua Radin: “What if you could wish me away…what if you spoke those
words today…I wonder if you’d miss me when I’m gone…For tonight, I’ll stay here
with you…” This is about possibly losing someone, and Addie goes through this with Rory.

Rolling in the Deep – Adele “There’s a fire starting in my heart…finally I can see
you crystal clear…don’t underestimate the things I will do…we almost had it all…we
could have had it all – rolling in the deep…” This feels like a fighting song to me. It makes
me think about Addie getting mad enough to fight back.

Winter Song – Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson: “This is my winter song to
you…the storm is coming soon…is love alive…” This is another dark song that is about
whether or not love can survive the storm – and Addie is absolutely caught in a storm,
literally and figuratively.

Ride – Cary Brothers: “You are everything I wanted…to take my hand tonight…if I told
you the reasons why…would you leave your life and ride…” This song makes me think
of Addie and Rory leaving everything behind to be there for each other and face incredible
danger together.

Dream – Priscilla Ahn: “I was a little girl alone in my little world…I played pretend
between the trees…and laughed in my pretty bed of green…I had a dream that I could
fly…I had a dream…I asked God who I’m supposed to be…” This song has a lot of
meaning for Addie. It reminds me of everything Addie thought her life would be and how
her world came crashing down on top of her, and nothing was like it was supposed to be.

Little Wing – Christopher Young: This is a very pensive instrumental piece of
music. It reminds me of dawn breaking slowly after a long dark night which feels right after
the final climactic clash at the end of DESECRATION.

If you want to listen to this whole playlist be sure to check it out on Spotify! https://play.spotify.com/user/12132761025/playlist/5YmjPJ7Eq2KDVNKBGjiPAR 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour at http://www.inkslingerpr.com/2014/03/15/desecration-the-wizard-queen-at-sixteen-blog-tour/

February 25, 2014

Tin Star guest post!


Today I have the pleasure of hosting Cecil Catellucci as part of the Tin Star blog tour. But first a little more about Tin Star!
Title: Tin Star
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Synopsis: On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.
When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind. 


The thing about writing about deep space Science Fiction is that we don’t yet have faster than light travel to get anywhere.  Even the planets in our own solar system have only been begun to be explored.  We’ve got a few rovers on Mars.  We’ve got humans orbiting us.  But space is very large and even objects close to home are slow to get to and still sort of out of reach.  Voyager One still hasn’t even left our solar system and it’s been traveling for over 30 years and while in the past few years we’ve discovered thousands of planets orbiting distant suns, some with water, some within the goldilocks zone, we still have no evidence of extraterrestrial life.  No one has contacted us.  We have received no signals.  We are still alone and very far way from being able to go explore any alien planet for ourselves. So when you are writing science fiction, while we have so much to swing our science on, there is a lot of room for making things up.  That is what is exciting and fun about it.  You are trying to make things make sense when we’re telling stories that we cannot even live right now. 
But there are a few things that we can look to give us inspiration and ideas for making the science in our sci fi feel plausible. And here are some that I’ve done to kickstart the creative juices in order to help me build the world of Tin Star, create the aliens and let the story unfold while Tula Bane is forced to survive on the Yertina Fera  space station.  It helps that I’m a big space buff and will gladly listen to anyone wax poetic about our space program and what we’re studying out there. 
First I’ll talk about travel.  Right now, as I said, we don’t really have a way to go to any other sun in any quick manner.  I was not interested in writing a story about an intergenerational space ship, so I had to come up with a device that allows the characters to travel quickly in space.  In my book, they lightskip, which to me means some kind of faster than light travel point so that voyages are cut down and the story can take place in one time period rather than over generations.   I had read something about solar sails and using a sling shot around a planet, the Juno spacecraft just swung around Earth to give it speed http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-360 and NASA is currently experimenting with solar sail technology. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/tdm/solarsail/solarsail_overview.html#.UvQSYva587U
I used these things as the basis for my imagined way of travel.  The solar sail is why I imagine Tula Bane, thinks that the ship that is leaving her behind looks like a Tin Star.  If you google solar sail, you’ll see why.
Another thing that I had to consider was how to create aliens.  Astrobiology is the study of the origin and evolution of life both here on Earth and elsewhere.  So I actually took a class on from the University of Edinburgh on astrobiology through Coursera, which is a place where you can take massive open online courses, It was fascinating to study the building blocks of life on Earth and how we might look for it elsewhere.  This class sparked my imagination and got me thinking about the different kinds of environments where life could be.  Of course the main takeaway is that life not on Earth will be very different than life on Earth.  So the aliens that I created had to be very different than human or else it would just feel like Tula wasn’t really in such a bad situation.  And trust me, Tula is in a bad situation being abandoned on that space station and being the only one of her kind.   I really wanted the aliens to be comingling and creating a society together like an old west town.  But when you consider aliens living together, you have to think that their planets would be different, they would breathe different mixtures of gases, their gravity would be different, their sun would be different.  All of these things are overwhelming.  How can you make such a variety of beings come together and be in the same place and easily interact?  When I was at the Launchpad workshop, which is a crash course in space science developed by Dr. Michael Brotherton from the University of Wyoming, I started thinking about all these kinds of questions.  The solution I came up with was nanites that regulate how a species breathes the base atmosphere on space stations and space ships and amplifies translation in the brain to facilitate language and communication.  It’s not a perfect solution, but it was a way for me to get all of my aliens in the same place and interacting in a way that we humans are familiar with. 

What it really boils down to is that writing science fiction is fun and having a healthy appreciation, respect and understanding of science is essential.  As for me, I like to springboard from a real place in science and stretch it out to the plausible imagined.  Because until we actually go there and meet up with aliens, how we get there and interact is all up to you!   
Tin Star Blog Tour Schedule

Monday February 17

Tuesday February 18

Wednesday February 19

Thursday February 20

Friday February 21

Monday February 24

Tuesday February 25

Wednesday February 26

Thursday February 27

Friday February 28

January 30, 2014

Rumors that Ruined a Lady by Marguerite Kaye

Title: Rumors that Ruined a Lady
Author: Marguerite Kaye
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Received From: Netgalley
Synopsis: SPOTTED: LONDON'S FAVORITE FALLEN HEIRESS, TAKING UP WITH THE ROGUE MARQUIS!
Amongst the gossip-hungry ton, no name has become more synonymous with sin than that of Lady Caroline Rider, cast out by her husband and disowned by her family. Rumour has it that the infamous Caro is now seeking oblivion in the opium dens of London!
There's only one man who can save her: notorious rake Sebastian Conway, Marquis of Ardhallow. Soon Caro is installed in his country home, warming his bed, but their passion may not be enough to protect them once news of their scandalous arrangement breaks out.
Review:
I love historical romance novels. They are so different from my typical YA reads so they add some variety to my reading schedule. I have read a couple lately that are composed of flashbacks to when the man and woman first met and I really like that style. It shows that these fictional characters go through rough patches even after they get together. Rumors that Ruined a Lady is one such novel.

 Caroline and Sebastian knew each other before the start of the novel and so the book is littered with flashbacks of when they met previous times. Each flashback brings more clarity to their situation and there are just enough to explain everything but not too many that reading it become laborious.

Caroline has been married for about five years when her loser of a husband kicks her out and her dick of a father disowns her (I hate them both). The whole book is basically her getting up the guts to stand up to them and find a way out of her horrible arrangement. And it doesn't hurt that she has a handsome friend in Sebastian. Unlike many other romances I have read there are a lot more painful consequences and at the end of the book we get a resolved ending but there is still some trepidation on what will happen. I kind of liked that semi-open ending though I would not like if all the books I read had them.

I think Rumors that Ruined A Lady is a different look at a historical romance which brings up some thoughts about the marital laws of that time period and how unfair they were.

January 28, 2014

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion  
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Received From: Bought  

Synopsis: When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.
When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.
When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.
 Review:
I loved this book. I had heard so many good things about it and I thought it sounded interesting but now I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I read Alexandra Bracken's first book Brightly Woven and loved it so I was excited to try this new series!

One thing that is different about this book is the fact that the government/leaders are not the only bad guys. EVERYONE is a bad guy. From the bounty hunters to a secret group that wants use the kids to even other kids. Everywhere you look there is a new threat to be discovered and to hide from.

When Ruby was a child she was able to trick the camp into thinking she was a green. Which basically means she is harmless. But once they discover that she isn't a green she has to run for her life. She meets up with the greatest people you will ever meet (:P) Liam, Chubbs, and Zu are amazing characters and I would totally read a prequel with just their adventures.

They are all running to a mystical camp that is supposed to be a safe haven for kids. But of course nothing is as it seems. I loved getting to know this world and all the amazing characters. Liam, Chubbs, and Zu all have their different personalities and various traits that will endear you to each one in turn. There is even a little bit of a romance.

As I mentioned before this book is harrowing and it continues to get more and more intense until the final pages which will have you yearning for the next book. (Which lucky for you is already out.)

I really enjoyed The Darkest Minds and am excited to read the next installment Never Fade.