Monday, April 18, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia - Scavenger Hunt Interview with Lauren Oliver!

I would like to thank Casey and Dayna for putting this incredible event together!  It was such a blast to participate in, and I hope you all enjoyed the posts!  The last event is an interview with the author of Before I Fall and Delirium, Lauren Oliver.  The interview is going to be spread across 8 different blogs, each blog linking to the next blog and the next interview question.  To see the entire interview, you will need to follow the chain of links! Enjoy!!

Lauren Oliver comes from a family of writers so has always (mistakenly) believed that spending hours in from of the computer every day, mulling over the difference between "chortling" and "chuckling" is normal.  She has always been an avid reader.

She attended the University of Chicago, where she continued to be as impractical as possible by majoring in philosophy and literature.  After college, she attended the MFA program at NYU and worked breifly as the world's worst editorial assistant, and only marginally better assistant editor, at a major publishing house in New York.  Her major career contributions during this time were flouting the corporate dress code at every possible turn and repeatedly breaking the printer.  Before I Fall is her first published novel.

She is deeply grateful for the chance to continue writing, as she has never been particularly good at anything else. (From Goodreads.)

 What has been the greatest challenge in and promoting Before I Fall and Delirium?
Oof.  You know, writing itself - just the act of writing - is so immensely challenging, every other part of the process kind of pales in comparison.  I really do struggle with the actual work, which often surprises people, since I do write every day and I'm known for being very disciplined.  But every day it's a challenge and an internal struggle.

 Ready for the next question!?  Head over to Good Choice Reading!

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Cornucopia of Dystopia - Interview with Katie Kacvinsky

Katie Kacvinsky worked in the entertainment industry and as a high school English teacher before deciding to write full time.  She currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon.


When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing consistently when I took time off of college and moved to Los Angeles.  Every day I lived there was writing material and I needed a place to collect my memories.  After LA, I moved around for many years and writing in my journal was like having a friend with me.  It was always an outlet.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The first time I saw my name in print was when I wrote for my college newspaper.  I think seeing my name in bold letters under my articles and knowing that it was reaching an audience is when I started to call myself a writer. 

What inspired you to write Awaken?
I love dystopian stories and I like to write the types of books/scripts/stories that I would like to read.  I wrote Awaken because it's a book that I would pull off the shelf.  I'm also a little freaked out by how digitally obsessed our culture is becoming, which inspired the themes in my book.

How did you come up with the title?
My main character is controlled by technology.  The book is about her waking up and learning how to use her senses which have been dulled by spending so much time in a digital world.

Is there a message in Awaken that you want your readers to grasp?
If my book makes people consider their own habits/values I think that's great.  I'm not trying to preach technology is bad and we should all throw away our computers.  I'm just saying let's not become too dependent on technology.  Let's turn our phones off once in a while and be in the moment.

What books have influenced your life the most?
The book that changed my life was The World According to Garp, by John Irving.  After I read it, I went out and bought all of his books.  Now I collect them all in hardcover.  John Irving surprises me on every page.  When I have one of his books with me, I feel like I'm travelling with a friend.  His books encouraged me to be a writer.

What is the biggest challenge you faced while writing Awaken?
The toughest part was the rewrites.  Awaken is futuristic;  it also has a ton of back story and many complex characters that have their own back story.  Getting all of these storylines and characters to stay consistent was challenging.

Are Maddie and Justin based on family members or friends?
No, these characters are just part of my imagination  I've tried writing characters similar to my friends and family, but then they become too autobiographical and it limits where the story can go.  It was fun creating Maddie and Justin because they were so fictional;  it let me escape into their story and write it from their perspective.

The cover of Awaken is beautiful, did you have any input in the design?
No, the design completely surprised me and I love it!  That is all Carol Chu's amazing talent!

What is your current read?
I just finished Stolen, by Lucy Christopher.  Money book.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love going to the coast and hiking, I love getting a beer with friends.  Lately I'm obsessed with watching TV shows like "Spaced," and "How I Met Your Mother."  I also love to travel.  I have a loner personality and I get antsy if I'm tied to one place for very long.
Thank you so much for letting me interview you Katie! 

Coming May 23, 2011!
Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer.  Whether it's to go to school or on a date, people don't venture out of their home.  There's really no need.  For the most part, Maddie's okay with the solitary, digital life -- until she meets Justin.  Justin like being with people.  He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions.  People aren't meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her -- a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live.  But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review: Pretty Is What Changes - Jessica Queller

Pretty Is What Changes: Impossible Choices, The Breast Cancer Gene, and How I Defied My DestinyRelease Date: 4/1/08
Publisher: Random House
Format: Hardback
Number of Pages: 242
Source: Purchased
Challenge100 Books in a Year 

"A timely, affecting memoir from the front lines of medical science:  When genetics can predict how we may die, how then do we decide to live?"

Eleven months after her mother succumbs to cancer, Jessica Queller has herself tested for the BRCA "breast cancer" gene mutation.  The results come back positive, putting her at a terrifyingly elevated risk of developing breast cancer before the age of fifty and ovarian cancer in her lifetime.  Thirty-four, unattached, and yearning for marriage and a family of her own, Queller faces an agonizing choice: a lifetime of vigilant screenings and a commitment to fight the disease when caught, or its radical alternative -- a prophylactic double mastectomy that would effectively restore life to her, even as it would challenge her most closely held beliefs about body image, identity, and sexuality.

Superbly informed and armed with surprising wit and style, Queller takes us on an odyssey from the frontiers of science to the private interiors of a woman's life.  Pretty Is What Changes is an absorbing account of how she reaches her courageous decision and its physical, emotional and philosophical consequences.  It is also an incredibly moving story of what we inherit from our parents and how we fashion it into the stuff of our own lives, of mothers and daughters and sisters, and of the sisterhood that forms when we are united in battle against a common enemy.

Without flinching, Jessica Queller answers a question we may one day face for ourselves: If genes can map our fates and their dark knowledge is offered to us, will we willingly trade innocence for the information that could save our lives?

From Goodreads

First Sentences
"Glorious California light poured through the sunroof as I made the left turn, pulled up to the gate, smiled, and flashed my badge.  Joe the security guard winked and bellowed 'Morning Jess'.  The gate rose, and off I drove, the whole of the Warner Bros. lot spread before me.  This routine never failed to give me a thrill."

My Thoughts
This was an extremely moving and inspirational memoir, and I haven't stopped talking about it since I finished reading it.  I'm sure we've all thought about it at one point or another -- if you could know when and how you were going to die, would you want to know?  There is a part of me that says that I would like to have this knowledge, while the other side just keeps telling me that the old saying is true...ignorance is bliss.  I know that I only have one life to live, and I want to live it to the fullest.  That is how I've always felt, and while I know that it is inevitable that I will die, I don't think that the knowledge of the hows and whens would really help me at all.  I think I would wake up everyday in fear knowing that I only had x number of days left and that's just no way to live.  However, that being said, reading this book has really got me thinking.  While Jessica did not find out that she was going to die on a specific day in a specific way, she did find out that she carried a genetic mutation that had a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer.  She watched her mother suffer through a long battle with cancer, and she didn't want to have to go through that herself.  I can understand from her experiences that she would want to know so that she can prevent the same fate for herself, but I also  don't know that it is the choice I would want to make.  I think that Jessica is a brave and courageous woman, and I applaud her for all of it.  
In a way though, I look at it in the sense that because Jessica was able to find out about the mutation, she was able to prevent herself from developing breast cancer (well not prevent, but greatly lessen the chances).  I know that it is very likely that each and every one of us has been impacted by someone with cancer.  I know that it is no easy feat going through the ups and downs of the disease, and I would never wish that upon anyone.  I can see how it is beneficial to find out and be able to prevent the pain and suffering.  As you can tell, I'm completely torn.  I was adopted and only know my biological father's side of my medical history.  I've often wondered what kind of medical history my biological mother's side has, and I guess it is a good thing to know that there are all types of genetic tests available to me.
Would you want to know?

Favorite Quotes
"Pretty isn't beautiful, Mother,
Pretty is what changes.
What the eye arranges
Is what is beautiful."
- Stephen Sondheim

"The central questions the article posed -- was knowledge power or ignorance bliss?  Biotechnology now offered us the ability to know what diseases were in store for us, but was this helpful information?"

Likes: I really liked that while this was a memoir, I was still able to learn a great deal about BRCA testing, while reading an incredible story at the same time.
Dislikes:  I still can't decide what I would do. 
Cover: 5/5 
Characters: 5/5
Writing Style: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Ending: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5

Happy Reading! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (2)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature over at The Broke and The Bookish, they love lists...and so do I!  So, each week they will feature a new Top Ten List from a reader and we get to make our own lists!  

Top Ten Book Covers I Wish I Could Redesign

1.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
While I have to admit, the cover does intrigue me, it is almost too simplistically boring.  It doesn't even begin to show how incredible this book really is.  The picture in the top right corner is awesome, and it does show "wallflower tendencies"...but it is so small...and the meaning and whatnot in this book is so big!

2.  For One More Day - Mitch Albom
For One More Day
Again, I am completely turned off by the boring cover.  This is another story that is so incredible that I feel as though the cover should be equally as amazing.  I guess the thought behind a lot of this is just that the story will tell itself...and while that is true...I need something visual to grab me at first.  I know you shouldn't judge a book by the cover --- but honestly...who doesn't?

3.  Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult
Nineteen Minutes
I know, I know, you all are aware of my intense obsession with Jodi, so I'm sure you are surprised to see one of her books on this list.  All of her other books have covers that are perfect tie-in's to the books...this one just never connected with me.  I understand that holding hands is symbolic of compassion and caring, but this cover glazes over the real issue at hand. 

4.  Suite Scarlett - Maureen Johnson
 Suite Scarlett
Really key...please tell me where you would work....

5.  The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
The Lovely Bones
I know the story behind the charm bracelet, and that is all well and good...but really -- who has only one charm on a charm bracelet???  This cover makes me feel warm and happy and calm....not at all what it actually felt like to read this book.

6.  The Secret Between Us - Barbara Delinksy
The Secret Between Us
Really Barbara...doesn't your cover look kind of familiar...???
My Sister's Keeper

7.  Delirium - Lauren Oliver
Delirium (Delirium, #1)
SUCH an ugly cover -- I saw the cover of the ARC books that were sent out and they were SO pretty...what happened?

8.  The Help - Kathryn Stockett
The Help
I don't even know where this came from....what in the heck are the birds doing?  What is the meaning behind this....because, correct me if I'm wrong...but I don't see it.

9.  All of the Sookie Stackhouse books.
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)[LIVING DEAD IN DALLAS]Living Dead in Dallas By Harris, Charlaine(Author)Mass Market paperback On 26 Mar 2002)Club Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Bk. 3)Dead to the World (Original MM Art): A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)Dead as a Doornail (Original MM Art): A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 6)All Together Dead (Original MM Art): A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)From Dead to Worse (Original MM Art) (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)Charlaine Harris's Dead and Gone: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood) (Mass Market Paperback)(2010)Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 10)Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11)
There are no words for my hatred of these awfully drawn book covers...

What book covers do you love to hate?  

Happy Reading!


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