Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (March 23)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • - Grab your current read
  • - Open to a random page
  • - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • - BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Secret Year
by Jennifer R. Hubbard

"There were times when I wanted to plunge through the whole thing without stopping, wolf down page after page, race to the final entry. I had looked ahead, and I knew that she'd written these letters right up to the day she died."

► I'm really enjoying this so far!

Feel free to leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your 2 ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Interview with author Skyler White!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Skyler White, author of the recently released Dark Fantasy Novel, 'and Falling, Fly'. She was kind enough to answer some questions about her book and share some insight into her life as a writer. Thank you so much Skyler for making the time during your busy schedule!

'and Falling, Fly' was released March 2nd, 2010 by Berkley Books.

(You can read my review: HERE)

Skyler’s contact info:

The Interview:

☠ I absolutely love the cover of 'and Falling, Fly'. What does it tell us about the story written beneath it? Do you feel it's an accurate portrayal of the novels heroine?

SW: Thank you, I love it too! And I wish I knew more of the story behind it than I actually do. My editor at Berkley asked me to put together a list of features – hair and eye color, etc. – for the two lead characters in preparation for the cover conference. So of course I, being a newbie author and nervous, built her a giant twenty-slide PowerPoint deck. She went into the black box that is ‘cover negotiations’ and emerged, several months later, with Olivia and her stone wings. I have no idea where the stone wings came from conceptually. I certainly didn’t think of that representation of Olivia’s state, but I think it captures it brilliantly. The leaf-trimmed, vein-or-branch bodice is a bonus, as is the wonderful filtered, slanting light. I still don’t know who I owe drinks to for any of it though – my editor, Berkley’s art department or Craig White, the artist – for the ‘big idea’ behind it.

☠ What initially drew me to 'and Falling, Fly' was the title. Is it the original title you came up with or did it go through various transitions?

SW: It’s the second title, but the only real one. 'Reborn and Undead' was the working title at first, but I always knew I wasn’t going to use that. I was waiting for the right one. ‘and Falling, Fly’ hit me one day, and it never changed after that. Although I’m superstitious, so the folder on my desktops still says “Reborn.”

But the title was important to me, as much a challenge to myself as a summation of the book. It’s both process and product. This was a difficult book to write, and I had to keep throwing myself off the ledge as I wrote. And that same “can’t learn to dive in the shallow end” the Ace of Cups lesson is one of the driving ideas of the book.

Both Olivia and Dominic have very entrenched world views. They each think they’ve got the world sussed. But to see one another, they have to become willing to walk into unknowing, to become comfortable with uncertainty – or at least tolerant of it – to meet the other in their own terrain. Because, to me anyway, that’s what love is. It’s about being willing to be wrong, to love even what you can’t understand. Because risk is part of love. And part of writing.

☠ With the continuous rise in vampire books and growing popularity, what sets 'and Falling, Fly' apart from the others in this budding genre?

SW: Well, ‘and Falling, Fly’ is a very adult book, for one thing, and many of the new vampire books are YA. In ‘and Falling, Fly’, it’s the female character who’s the powerful supernatural creature, and the male who’s human, which is also a little outside the norm in paranormal right now. But I think the biggest difference is the way I’m using vampirism symbolically, not as a bestial or even predatory thing, but as a co-dependent or commercial transaction.

☠ One of the aspects I loved the most about 'and Falling, Fly' are the many different elements present in the story – Did you do a lot of research to build the characters and mythology?

SW: Thank you! I love mythology! And yeah, there’s a lot of research involved in this book. The mythology, both classical and Biblical, is all stuff I had access to, but was fuzzy on. So, for example, naming the nightclub ‘Pandemonium’ came out of my memory of that being the capital of Hell in Milton, but when I wanted to put his language in Gaehod’s mouth, I had to look it up. Same with most of the specific references. They’re there in my memory, but I have to check things out, make sure I’ve remembered correctly, to fill in the details.

With the neuroscience, there was nothing there for me to draw on. I had to learn everything new. But it was so fascinating that my challenge really was to keep myself from totally geeking out on the science, and giving Dominic these long, discursive paragraphs where he explains why temporal lobe seizures might cause the visions he’s experiencing. This is why writers have editors.

☠ L'Otel Matillide, the subterranean Hotel of the Damned, is such a weird, yet fascinating place. Did the idea arise from Ireland itself, or at random?

SW: The hotel came before the Irish location. In fact, I think there are other hotels in other places, although only in Ireland would they be literally underground. The hotel arouse as the place where the “damned, cursed and misbegotten” would feel at home.

☠ In the Media Angels and Talking Points section of your website, you say "and Falling, Fly is the anti-Twilight" which gave me a good chuckle and provided an interesting question: do you feel that the portrayal of vampires has grown rather soft in recent years?

SW: Or at least rather sparkly. I hadn’t read ‘Twilight’ when I wrote ‘and Falling, Fly’, but when I read it subsequently, it was hard for me to imagine two books, both with the same central monster-as-metaphor, being more utterly different. Not only in what the monster means, but in how sexuality, feminism, language and love are interpreted. Almost anything you can say about ‘Twilight’, the inverse is true of ‘and Falling, Fly’.

☠ Setting the bookish questions aside for a moment, I wanted to delve into what fuels you as a writer. Do you have any writing "must-haves" or inspirations?

SW: I don’t mean it to sound like a cop-out, but my biggest must-haves are my two best friends: my husband and a college friend who (unfortunately) lives halfway across the country. Without those two, I wouldn’t have the courage. On a more pragmatic level, my earphones are pretty damn close to musts. I get distracted by noise easily, so I rely on my in-ear headphones and a track of white noise (thunder and rain, go figure!) to keep me on task. Beyond that, for me the biggest necessities, aside from the obvious stuff like uninterrupted chunks of time and a decent laptop, are other people’s artwork. I need to read other writers, see movies, go to plays, and listen to music rather a lot. It feels like fuel to the fire for me. I can’t create if I don’t consume.

☠ Describe your writing style in 5 words or less:

SW: Oh lord. That’s kinda like asking me what I’m like in bed. I don’t know. My style is an extension of myself. I don’t have enough objectivity to describe it. If you’ve read my book, you’ve slept with me in a sense – so you describe it.

☠ Because I couldn't resist, what are your guilty pleasures?

SW: I don’t have any. If it gives me pleasure, I don’t feel guilty. I have guilty displeasures though. Things I do that aren’t productive but don’t give me enough pleasure to make them worthwhile. I fritter. When I’m resisting diving into The Next Thing, whether it’s the dishes or chapter five, and I’m not quite committed, I leaf through stuff. Catalogs, websites, snack cabinets. I’m not engaged enough to be working or playing, so I don’t get anything out of it. It’s stupid and it makes me feel icky.

'and Falling,Fly' delves deeply in the dark fantasy universe. Is there any particular genre you wish to tackle in the future?

SW: Not really. Fantasy, to me, is all genres collapsed into one, with the added bonus of above-par readers. Fantasy readers are smarter and more open-minded than those of any other genre. Really. Literary fiction readers are smart, self-help readers are introspective, horror readers are tolerant, sci-fi readers engage really deeply, romance readers bring open hearts, but only fantasy readers are all that plus eagerly open-minded. I don’t like to say “never”, but I can’t imagine a reason to write for anyone else. Except little kids. I have a children’s book I’m working on now. But it’s also a fantasy.

☠ On your website, you mention that 'and Falling, Fly' is a part of a series, though it stands on its own. What do we have to look forward to from its successors?

SW: My next book, ‘In Dreams Begin’, comes out December 7. It’s kinda-sorta-but-not-really a series. I think of the books as all belonging to a world I call ‘The Harrowing’, but in publishing-speak, a series follows the same cast of characters, which ‘In Dreams Begin’ doesn’t. It’s linked by story world and by glancing reference, but not by protagonists.

‘In Dreams Begin’ begins with Laura, a contemporary graphic artist, who wakes up on her wedding night channeled into the body of the Victorian Irish revolutionary, famous beauty, and possibly part-faerie Maud Gonne just before she’s introduced to the poet WB Yeats. Laura, the modern cynic falls, rather embarrassingly, immediately in love with the wildly romantic Irish poet whose involvement in the occult is partially responsible for her time-travel and body-hopping.

It’s been a tremendously fun project to work on, because history kept handing me such amazing stuff, allowing me to explore body-image, feminism, fidelity and possession across a hundred years, through several perspectives, and all echoed with lines from Yeats’s published poems and letters.

☠ Lastly, is their anything you'd like to say to the fellow readers and potential readers of your book(s)

SW: ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’. That’s it, really. Writing for readers is really just the first salvo in what I hope will be an on-going and mutually interesting conversation.

More Skyler:
Skyler White is author of dark fantasy novels ‘and Falling, Fly’ (Berkley, March 2010) and ‘In Dreams Begin’ (Berkley, March 2010). She lives in Austin, TX.

Website | Twitter

Purchase 'and Falling, Fly':
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Friday, March 19, 2010

Award: Let's Be Friends

Terra @ Terra On The Bookshelf has given me the "Let's Be Friends Award"!

"Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to 8 bloggers."

And the award goes to...

Jenn @ Book Crazy
Becky @ The Bookette
Kari @ A Good Addiction
Juju @ Tales of a Whimsy
Eleni @ La Femme Readers
Natalie @ Mindful Musings
Melissa @ I Swim For Oceans
Lori @ Escape Between The Pages

There are so many lovely bloggers out there that it's really hard to narrow it down. But these gals are as friendly as can be and make such a tremendous effort to connect with other bloggers/followers and I wanted to recognize their awesomeness. Congrats girls!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review Archive


and Falling, Fly by Skyler White


Blue Moon (The Immortals #2) by Alyson Noel
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters


Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder


Evermore (The Immortals #1) by Alyson Noel


Fat Cat by Robin Brande
Fire (Seven Kingdoms Trilogy #2) by Kristin Cashore
Fluke, Or I Know Why The Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore


Girl In The Arena by Lise Haines


Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Hearts at Stake (Drake Chronicles #1) by Alyxandra Harvey
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger


Impossible by Nancy Werlin
In Too Deep (39 Clues #6) by Jude Watson


Life As We Knew It (Moon #1) by Susan Beth Pfeffer


Max (Maximum Ride #5) by James Patterson


School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari
Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Struts & Frets by Jon Skovron


The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner
The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma (The Benedict Society #3) by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks
Thirst (No. 1) by Christopher Pike
Truly, Madly (Lucy Valentine #1) by Heather Webber


Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell (Traveling ARC Tour)

Rise of Renegade X

Genre: Young Adult, Speculative Fiction - Superheroes
Edition: ARC ; Provided by Traveling ARC Tours
Page Count: 346
Pub & Date: EgmontUSA ; May 11, 2010
Series: Yes (?)

Reading Challenge: Debut Author, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult

My Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Amazon.com: N/A (Available for Pre-Order)
Goodreads: 4.64 (Average)

Recommended For: Fans of YA (age 16+), superheroes, mad scientists, devious plots, and exciting adventures.

Book Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she’s been hiding all these years, that the one night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father’s too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he only has six weeks to prove he’s not a hero in any way, or else he’s stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.

To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad’s “flying lessons” that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city—despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights—thwart the eccentric teen scientist who insists she’s his sidekick, and keep his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.

My Thoughts:

The Rise of Renegade X is an unconventional tale that explores an avenue of both superheroes and supervillains in a whole new YA adventure. And it plays out to be a super fun ride!

First and foremost, what really makes this book so enjoyable is the voice of our leading protagonist, Damien Locke. He's got a well mixed blend of snark, sarcasm, and teenage kid idiocy. Like any teen his age, he can't help but get himself into trouble. Only his kind of trouble involves the lives of both family and friends.

But not only is Damien Locke the shining star of the novel, he is followed by some very enjoyable secondary characters. Whether it's his mad-scientist mom, or his safety first father, or the two smart (yet very different) girls who have both taken a romantic interest in Damien - each one has a unique voice and provides a certain vivaciousness that keeps the story at a constant entertaining level.

Through the rest of the journey of caped heroes, evil villains, nagging siblings, and budding love interests, we see Damien in a constant battle with the unforeseen force of his heritage. Being that he is one of the few people in history to have the infamous "X" mark on his thumb, proving that he is product of both superhero and supervillain - he actually has a chance to choose his destiny. After being raised by his supervillain mom for the last 16-years, the boy has a flair for mischief. But little by little we see the good side start to come into focus. But which side will he choose?

Overall Consensus: The Rise of Renegade X isn't your average superhero tale. Sure it's got the capes and a devious plan to take over the world, but it also explores the avenue of the superheroes and villains as regular people underneath the tight garb and special powers. It's not all about fighting good versus evil, but shows the love between family that gives the book a believable feel. The characters themselves are wild and vivid, always providing interesting dialogue and I loved them all. It's an exciting ride from start to finish; displaying a few super powers of its own. Fantastic debut from Chelsea Campbell!

Find the Author: Website | Twitter

► (This ARC copy was provided by Traveling ARC Tours. Thanks guys!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In My Mailbox (March 14)

"In My Mailbox" is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi The Story Siren!

Won: (received a few weeks ago)

  • The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
    (Part of Traveling ARC Tours)

  • ► Apparently this an "X" themed IMM, haha. Unintentionally, of course. Happy Sunday all!