Currently Reading

July 29, 2014

Interview: Blind Stitches by JB Chicoine


Blind Stitches bJ. B. Chicoine

ISBN-13: 978-0692214732
ISBN-10: 0692214739
Straw Hill Publishing, July 2014
$15.99
www.jbchicoine.com
www.amazon.com
www.barnesandnoble.com
    
Frequently Asked Questions



1. What was your inspiration for the characters and storyline in this novel?

Have you ever noticed how when a relatively sane person lives with crazy people, they can get drawn into the dysfunction of someone else’s even crazier family drama without realizing how nuts it all actually is? It becomes almost absurd, and I love absurdity! I’m also fascinated with mental quirks if not full-blown mental illnesses, which is probably why I love movies like Lars and the Real Girl, Benny and Joon, and Harold and Maude (generally lighthearted presentations of mental illness—an otherwise dark and depressing subject). I wanted to write about an absurd manifestation of Delusional Disorder, and while I was at it, I threw in a few other disorders, such as NarcissisticDissociative, a mild case of Hording, and a touch of Asperger’s Syndrome. I have known a lot of people with ‘mental quirks’ and I find them interesting and oftenhighly intelligent—great characters. From there, it’s a matter of coming up with plausible reasons for their mental anomalies and building a story around it. That said, having dealt with my own depression and anxiety over the years, and even having to admit a close friend to a facility for treatment of a severe mental illness, I do not mean to trivialize the subject.

2. The story takes place during the Glasnost era, at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why did you choose to set theevents of the novel during this historical time period?

I took the circuitous route to that time period. When I determined that the delusional mother was a Russian expatriate—a former ballerina in the Kirov—and since I rather like symbolism and metaphors in my writing, it just seemed like a perfect time frame. I also like writing stories during times in which there wasn’t a lot of technology, like cell phones and such. And I remember when the Berlin Wall fell. It made me realize how little I knew of the Russian people and how much of my knowledge had been tainted by Cold War propaganda and Hollywood—I mean, Russians were always portrayed as spies! In fact, when I started researching Russian history, it brought me to tears. Not that I shed new light on Russians—and I might have employed a few stereotypes, but I’ve come away with a greater appreciation for a truly noble people.

3Juliet and Rome’s Aunt Anita is a lively character. What was the inspiration for Anita’s hoarding and her chicken farming?

The hording came about because I needed to put the lead female character, Juliet, in a socially unacceptable environment amidst an upper-class, conservative New England town. I know it’s gross, but I had the smell of the place in mind first, and it was pungent like cat spray. But cat ladies are so cliché. And then I got talking to a friend who grew up on a farm with chickens. He shared a few hilariously disturbing stories with me, and I knew I needed to incorporate that into the story. So, instead of a crazy cat lady, I went with crazy chicken lady!



4Nikolai’s blindness and his mother’s delusions about it create the psychological backdrop for the story. How doesthe concept of blindness tie in with the themes explored in the novel?

This is where the story veers away from absurd and strikes a chord of reality. I think we all tend to have blinders on when it comes to some relationships—where we may have difficulty “seeing” an individual for who they truly are. For various reasons, I think we sometimes hold on to the fantasy of who we wish someone was, or we can’t bring ourselves to admit that someone who claims to love us may not have our best interest at heart, or even that we may be alienated from someone due to the way another individual has twisted or manipulated our “view.” Blind Stitches deals with each of these scenarios. Fortunately for Nikolai, his “sight” improves by the end of the story, but some of us never fully come out of that “blindness. And if we do, it can create tremendous upheaval, the kind of conflict we like to read about in novels but don’t want to experience firsthand.

5. Your other four novels also include themes of romance, delusion, and family secrets. Would you say that these are the trademarks of your work as an author?

I guess they are. For better or worse, I am fascinated with how badly the mind can go wrong, and how that manifests itself in a person’s life, especially within the family. I have always been interested in psychology, and interpersonal relationships. I’m especially intrigued by how some people manage to rise above their torments, while others struggle and even wallow in them. And yeah, it’s true, I like a good love story!

6. Do you have plans for a sixth novel and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

To be honest, I don’t have anything on the burner at this time, although, since I’ve had a few requests, I have been considering writing a third story in my Portrait series—but how much more can I put poor Leila through? (dangerous question for a novelist!)


After I'm done playing review catch-up I will be picking this book up. The synopsis is fantastic. 

TTFN,
Ashley  

July 26, 2014

XY Blog Tour Interview

Interview with Shanta Everington, Author of XY


“A highly original and thought-provoking dystopian novel.
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it!”

Luisa Plaja, Chicklish, the UK’s Teen Fiction Site

About Shanta Everington


Shanta Everington is the author of seven books, including three young adult novels – Give Me a Sign, Boy Red and latest release XY (joint winner of the Red Telephone Books YA Novel Competition). She has had all sorts of jobs in the past, from baking vegan muffins and working as a private tutor to appearing as a guest agony aunt and running a teen sexual health helpline. With an MA in Creative Writing with distinction, Shanta currently teaches Creative Writing with The Open University. She lives in London, UK, with her husband and two children. Visit www.shantaeverington.co.uk

1) Do you plan first or just write and learn where your characters go?

I am definitely a character-led rather than plot-led writer. For me, a story always starts with a character in crisis and evolves from there. Having said that, I do appreciate the importance of a strong plot in YA fiction. Sometimes, if characters lead me astray, I have to step back and rework the story. With XY, I had a rough idea of where the story might go before I started. But the characters still had me jumping through hoops!

2) What inspires you most to write?

Voices in my head… Characters build up inside my mind, at first whispering, then chatting, and finally shouting!

3) Growing up what were your favorite authors/books?

The first books I remember owning are traditional fairy stories - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast.  It amazes me how certain stories endure. As a teenager, I loved reading Judy Blume - her characters spoke to me as a girl going through adolescence.

4) Do you have any advice to aspiring writers?

Read a lot and write the type of stories you like to read but don’t copy others or try too hard to follow trends. Find your own voice.

5) If you could be reborn in a different era when would you choose?

I don’t think I’d like to go backwards in time because, by and large, I think life has improved for women as time has gone by. Maybe I could be reborn in the future. I kind of like the idea of reincarnation actually. Maybe I’ll come back as a lizard or something!

6) What is your favorite line from the book?

‘If half of you dies, is there half a soul left floating somewhere?’
Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions.


About XY

Would it possible to live without gender?

Fifteen-year-old Jesse lives in a world where babies are born neither male nor female - Compulsory Gender Assignment is carried out at birth. Will the secret she closely guards be found out? Boyfriend Zeus, mother Ana's Natural Souls, and new friend Ork, leader of We Are One, pull Jesse in different directions, forcing her to make her own mind up about who she really is.  

XY by Shanta Everington is out now in paperback or on Kindle


Links



Hope you guys go and check this out. I shall be soon and will let you know what I think.

TTFN,
Ashley

July 17, 2014

Reading Update


Sorry to not have posted on here in awhile. Been on Facebook with updates. 
This week has been BookTubeAThon so I've gotten some fun reading done. So glad because this is just what I needed to get out of a book slump. 

Here is what I have read so far. 
Challenge: Have someone else pick a book for you. DONE
Challenge: Read a book outside normal genre.DONE (adult)

Challenge: Start and Finish a Series. IN PROGRESS (Book1 done,Book2 started)
Challenge: Read a book with pictures. 
I went and bought a cheap comic to complete this. One problem though.... It has 4 more parts to it and I want to know what happens. 

Other challenges:
Read 7books
Read a book with red on it
Read book and watch movie/tv adaptation 

I'm reading Stardust by Neil Gaiman for book to movie challenge. 

Scortch Trials will be book with red as well as Book2 I'm series

I'm at 3 books so far out of 7 so I'm hoping I can crank out 4 more books by Sunday. 

Scortch Trials,Book 3 of the Maze Runner trilogy,Stardust, and one more book will make it to 7 books read. 

Wish me luck. 

TTFN,
Ashley






July 06, 2014

Helpful Apps

I downloaded this amazing app on my Iphone called Book Buddy. It is a great way to have your book list on the go. Has a section for wishlist books as well as categories such as Read, Reading, Need to Read, Reviewed. The best feature is that you can add multiple books at once using the multiple bar-code scan. 


The free app hold up to 50 books and 5 categories. The paid app is unlimited as is only $4.99. I did go buy the app because I have a lot of books and I like to be organized.

I also use the Blogger App, not as a way of updating but to make sure posts are up on the fly. This is a free app and it has very few glitches. I am also able to flip back and forth between my book blog and my road trip blog. 












InstaCollage is another App I use when prepping book photos. I want to start doing the Meme that Icey Books hosts called What`s Next. I would post 3 books and their synopsis and then you guys would vote for what I read. InstaCollage is great for taking individual books and combining them together,





Those are the Apps that I find most helpful when working on Bookish things.



TTFN,
Ashley

July 05, 2014

Interview and Review: Doppelganger by Shawn Stern

Doppelganger
Author: Shawn Stern
Published On: Jan 31st,2014
Page Count: 234

Synopsis (Found on GoodReads):
WHAT WOULD YOU DO... IF A DUPLICATE STOLE YOUR LIFE? 
The day Shane Fisher is mistaken for one of the thieves of a bank robbery, his ordinary life is turned upside down. Propelled into a dark dangerous world, he must race to discover the truth about himself and a reality he never knew existed. With the help of a mysterious stranger, Shane discovers that he possesses powers and abilities far beyond his wildest imagination. 
DOPPELGÄNGER is an adventure of murder, betrayal and chaos; one man's loss - and discovery of personal identity. This novel blends scientific realism with technological fantasy, blurring the lines between fact & fiction. After the first few pages the reader will find themselves in a world at once both familiar yet bizarre and thrilling.


Cover: ^ Really enjoyed the jacket for the hardcover. 
Review:
Doppelganger  is well written for a debut novel and was fun to read. Its entertaining and keeps you flipping pages. Although this is a novel outside of my normal genre I was willing to review it because of the concept. It is a shorter read but I feel like everything is told and nothing more needs to be said. I am however looking forward to the second book. Shawn makes you question events going on around you and that was something that stood out to me. For a debut novel I think the book is great. The book is set current day but you can tell the differences quickly. I saw this more as a mystery type book instead of sci-fi but can see where those aspects came in. 

Overall Rating: 3/5
Overall I would suggest this to readers looking for a suspense type book that makes you think.

Thank you Shawn for taking the time to send me a review book as well as answer some questions.

Interview Questions

Q) How long did it take you to write your book?
A) It took me one month to write Doppelgänger and a year and a half of re-writes and edits. It was probably finished sooner, but because it was my first novel, I had a lot of insecurities about my writing. In the end, as an author, you have to accept that you'll always be able to work on something more and make it better. Every word you put down improves your writing craft, but sometimes it's more important to get the story out there and move forward. I am currently working on the sequel, entitled Cabal, and the whole process of writing this second time is different. Much less anxiety this time around. LOL

2. 
Q) Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
A) The message of this book is about how we define ourselves through our choices and actions. 
It is an action Sci-fi thriller but at it's heart it is a story and lesson of personal identity. There are entire generations out there from ages 25 to 40 that don't have the same kind of life that their parents had. These "Lost Generations" (in which I'm a part of) traded college educations (with their exorbitant expenses) for what our parents put down as down payments on their first houses. Many people regret some of the choices they might have made and as a result there is a global melancholy that has crippled many people. I wanted to write a story that would get the reader to start thinking about what if you could have taken that other path? Where would you be now? Would you be the same person?

3. 
Q) Growing up what were your favorite authors/books?
A) The first book I ever read was White Fang by Jack London. The second book I read was the Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection. After that it has pretty much become a blur of amazing stories. Adventures about people and places that have been my constant companions ever since. Some of my favorite authors include the following: John Gardener's Grendel, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Robert A. Heinlen, Richard Matheson, Etgar Keret, Hunter S. Thompson, Philip K. Dick, Michael Crichton, Neal Stephenson, Brett Easton Ellis, Hope Mirrlees, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Clavell, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Ann Rice, Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust, Alfred Bester, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, Larry McMurtry just to name a few...

4. 
Q) Which phrase in the book I’m most proud of?
A) My favorite phrase from the book would probably be, 
“When performed correctly, there is little difference between science and magic.”

5. 
Q) If you could be reborn in a different era when would you choose?
A) I think it would have been amazing to live at the turn of the 20th century. In 1905, Einstein published his first paper on relativity, and the entire scientific community was under an enormous paradigm shift.
But really, I think this era we are currently in is the most exciting time to be alive. We are on the threshold of humans merging with our own creations with technology. The Synchronicity is coming and this era will see technologies develop faster than they ever have before. We are living in the age of intelligent machines and only the future will reveal our final destination. :)


Also just wanted to share this quote that was on Goodreads by Shawn.

“Once upon a time there was a boy who met a girl, because the universe conspired to help him find her. Her smile was a question he wanted to spend the rest of his life answering.” 
― Shawn Stern

TTFN,
Ashley

July 04, 2014

Happy 4th of July

So tomorrow a review goes up but today I have been celebrating with my Aunt and boyfriend. Did a trail ride and swam today. Now we are relaxing in the back yard with Pepsi and some pool. 

Happy Independance Day here in the good US of A

June 21, 2014

Review: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods

By Neil Gaiman
Page Count: 588 (mass market)


Cover: 3/5
I really liked the newest addition of the book but after finishing it I'm glad I got the copy I have. Roads play a huge part in the story both physically and metaphorically. I don't like that Harper Torch keeps changing the covers though.
 
Characters: 4/5
Shadow is the main character and one of the first male leads I have read in awhile. He get released from prison only to find out that his wife (the one who had got him though the system) has committed an atrocious act. Shadow breaks parole and gets a job with Wednesday. He grows to be this incredible man walking a thin line between pure and evil. He wants to do good but is there really such thing as good and bad. 
Wednesday is Shadows boss and boy is he a piece of work. Wednesday is known as many things primarily he is the All-Father. He tried to gather the gods for the upcoming war between the old gods of earth and the new gods of technology and new age. I didn't like him at first which I think was the point but, there was a time in the middle that I finally understood why he was so insistent on making people do his bidding. 


Plot: 5/5
America with a touch of backstory of ancestors traveling with gods in their mind over to the New World. Shadow agrees to work for a creepy man who goes by Wednesday. The job is to serve,drive and protect no matter what,not to ask questions. Although long in parts and slightly vulgar American Gods is a book that I will be putting on my shelf for good. This isn't a YA book but the idea of Gods and Myth made me pick it up and Gaiman's style kept me flipping pages. 


Overall: 3.5/5
I really did enjoy this massive book. With it's unique take on what happens to the gods we bring with us. Really glad I picked up this book by Neil. Can't wait to grab another one of his...maybe Anasazi Boys. 

TTFN,
Ashley

June 05, 2014

I`m an Adult (19) and I read YA

So I made a mistake. People that I follow on twitter were talking about this Slate article regarding Adults reading YA. That was all I caught on my phone before twitter reloaded. I searched the article thinking "Cool another post saying its great to be an adult and read YA books." Well sadly it was the exact opposite. Not only did they saw it wasnt right they went on to say that Adults should feel ashamed for reading YA in public. On twitter trending right now is #PromoteYAInstead, start tweeting out your favorite YA authors and spread the Love of YA everywhere. I am going to hunt down my old blog post of “Why I Read YA” and revamp it a little to add to the discussion.

In case anyone feels the need to read the Slate Article here is the link. Can I just warn you rage will occur. I tried so hard to keep an open mind when I reread it a few minutes ago but I just cant.


Now although this was written to discourage from reading YA the writers plan has backfired and turned into a full out YA promoting scene.



Here is the link for twitter to #PromoteYAInstead  https://twitter.com/hashtag/PromoteaYAInstead?src=tren

TTFN,
Ashley


June 02, 2014

Review: Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini
Page Count: 352
Published On: October, 2012

Synopsis (Found on GoodReads):
Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.
When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn't remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right. Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she'd rather keep buried. Memories of people she's hurt, people she's betrayed and people she's killed.
As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she's hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves, even if it means losing them both forever

Review: Overall Rating 4.5/5

Cover: 5/5When I received the book in the mail there were goodies as well. Some of those goodies were paper origami swans. When I saw the cover I knew exactly that these were going to play a huge part in the story line. The cover is gorgeous just not a fan of human models in covers.







Characters: 4/5Elliot: She is the main character and at first she was confusing but then she grew on me. Elliot has a lot to learn and her reactions are too quick and they bite her in the ass sometimes. Having a best fried shove her away is hard but she needed that push to see what her attitude was causing.
Oliver:
Can I just say never have I wanted to hit the nice guy in a story before. Oliver is great but to me he is just way to peppy and nice for being "dead". He helps Elliot see the light but he never pushes her enough.

Trevor: Now he is the guy that pushes Elliot to her fullest potential. Although the “bad-boy” of the book he has problems of his own that he needs to solve. When he delves with Elliot he discovers their lives are more entwined then he really thought possible. Trevor also needs to open a T-Shirt business (Read the book to find out)

Plot: 4.5/5
Touching the Surface is a unique and outstanding read based around the afterlife as people being reincarnated until they learn what they must to move on in life. There was just the right amount of funny to help with the serious scenes. Elliot is a third timer meaning she has died three times and still hasn't learned a thing. When she wakes up this time things are different, she is able to Delve without being in the swing at group sessions, she also is discovering more about her personality by watching her past life then what she was able to do before. The plot touches on some sensitive subjects seeing as it is placed in the afterlife. How each character gets there is by dying so we learn their back story as they delve.

Extras:
I sent Kimberly some interview questions to kind of kick-start this idea that has been rolling around in my head. I want to get to know the authors that I read and thought that for each review I could maybe do a short Q&A with them. Thank you Kimberly for being my first personal interview :)

Interview Questions

1) How long did it take you to write your book?

    It took about five years to get from first draft to the shelves of bookstores. Part of my process was a learning process. I’d never written a novel before, so I was learning in a variety of ways as I went along. I utilized my tribe of writers at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), went to conferences, read and studied books on writing and even obtained a professional critique with a local author. I often took five steps forward and three steps back, but I was passionate and resilient. That will get to where you want to go—eventually.

  1. What inspires you most to write?
    I have always loved the written word. It’s my favorite form of communication, but I lacked a lot of confidence. I didn’t believe I could be a writer. I didn’t think I was god enough—it felt like something talented people would do. But when my died died of cancer at the age of fifty-seven, my perspective on fear changed quite a bit. My dad inspires me to be brave and make the most of the life that I have. Since his passing, almost ten years ago, I’ve pushed myself outside of my comfort zone over and over again. Never have I regretted what I’ve found on the other side. My only regrets are the things that still trap me with their fear. It was a fabulous lesson to learn and it’s the kind of inspiration that only gets stronger over time.

  1. Growing up what were your favorite authors/books?
    I read like a fiend. Pretty much whatever caught my interest, that I could get my hands on. I usually left the library with a large paper grocery bag full of books. I loved so many. But my all time favorite book is and was THE GIVER by Lois Lowry. It stopped me in my tracks. I recognized myself in the kinds of questions she was asking about the world we live in. Until that moment, I’d always felt strange and protective of the thoughts in my head. Like an ugly ducking—all alone. But then a light bulb went off—SWAN! Maybe I’d been hanging out in the wrong pond. :o)

  1. Do you have any advice to aspiring writers?
    Read and write. Read in your desired genre, but read outside of it as well. It allows you to know your craft and to broaden it at the same time. Write as much as you can about whatever you can. It is your practice. No one wants to fly with a pilot that’s never been in the air before. No one wants a surgeon who has never studied and modeled the procedure. You have to train for your craft and take it seriously. And love what you do outside of the world of publishing. Publishing is a goal for a writer—not a reason to write. If you are going to make it in this business, you must always have intrinsic reasons for putting your words on paper. I call it my inner compass and I often need to use it to get back on course—to find the important stuff again.

  1. If you could be reborn in a different era when would you choose?
    The future. I’m not sure I could ever go back. For everything that would be amazing, I’d know of things I simply wouldn’t want to visit. At least the future is a blank slate. I’ll take my chances there. <3 font="">
Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions.
Thank you for having me—it’s been a blast!

TTFN,

Ashley

May 27, 2014

Top Ten Books: I am Taking on Road Trip in June


Top Ten Books: I am Taking on Road Trip in June



This week I am packing for my month long road trip and needed to decide what books to bring. 6/10 books are ebooks maybe if not I will have a few paperbacks to hold me over for 4 weeks. Enjoy :)


  1. Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini
  2. To Live Forever by Rowena Copeland



  1. Snooze by Sol Luckman
  2. Pulse by Patrick Carmen

  1. Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
  2. Sweep Vol.2 by Cate Tiernan
  3. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  4. Freak of Nature by Julia Crane

  1. Article 5 by Kerstin Simmons
  2. So You Want to be A Wizard by Diane Duane


TTFN,

Ashley

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