Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

I am a huge fan of author Susan Dennard, huge! I even dropped not so subtle hints to my friends about wanting an autographed copy of Something Strange and Deadly. Plus as a hopeful published writer I admire her as an author. Her series Something Strange and Deadly introduced me to Steampunk and a new level of storytelling that can satisfy many genres. The world of her lead character Eleanor Fitt is frightening yet still authentically beautiful. In A Darkness Strange and Lovely readers will read elegant details of 19th century Paris such as fashion, architecture and creative innovations of that time. Oh and then there are those pesky demons and zombies that the heroic Spirit Hunters have to deal with.

Once again Dennard delivers a great mystery that I promise will captivate readers. There are a lot of events that are packed in this little number that keep the story going at a great pace. I was a bit worried when Eleanor had to take a long boat ride to Paris but a fantastic new character is introduced at the perfect time. The Spirit Hunters are all back but a bit different in a more welcoming Paris environment. What’s interesting is Eleanor must deal with new conflict in each individual relationship. Eleanor and Joseph seem to have trust issues, her and Jie deal with loyalty and Daniel and Eleanor seem to deal with the identity of their relationship. Not the sort of issues you want the team of people who need to protect you dealing with, but what great thought out tension! 





Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

Eleanor seems more alone in this story. After being left alone in Philadelphia she seems to have a lot more to prove in her new journey. She walks a fine line between what she’s been taught by the Spirit Hunters and what she knows is dangerous. But when everything is different when she arrives in Paris she starts to wonder if the Spirit Hunters have it together themselves. Daniel dawns a more sophisticated look and her old friends have taken the interest of well respected society in Paris. I felt so bad for Eleanor who is trying to find more answers about Marcus’ plan and because of her friend’s opinions she has to lie about who she trusts and the things she has done to earn that trust. Plus just when she thought she had Daniel figured out he eludes her with his new behavior. Eleanor hasn’t lost her fire because of him though. He still makes her cat like curiosity more stubborn and determined as ever.

Daniel isn’t in the book as much as the first, but when he is he delivers great moments. I trust readers will be able to see why he has changed a bit. I loved reading about his discoveries with other creative minds like his. Dennard writes his dialogue so well that I could actually see him glowing. His passion for what he loves is represented by one certain invention that is from the heart. I have to say his entrance in the book is AMAZING and perfect just like in the first book. BTW if your interested in reading that first epic entrance from Daniels point of view click here. But even with the new duds and new friends, Daniel still puts himself at a distance from Eleanor. Her new friend and the tactics she has taken to find more information about Marcus has drawn a line between them.  

A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a wickedly yummy book. It’s got zombies, a mystery that needs solving, crafty inventions that you’ll hear ticking in your mind as you read, romantic tension that is Han and Leia worthy. A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a chocolate truffle filled with Sherlock Holmes and Supernatural covered in decadent Pride and Prejudice wrapped in a shiny bronze box. Yeah…I loved it A LOT. The ending of this book is full of possibilities and very ‘Empire Strikes Back’. Eleanor and Daniel still have a story that needs to be tied up and characters that are left with plenty of mystery to them. Spread the word about the Something Strange and Deadly Trilogy because it deserves even more fans than it already has. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Brain Picking (Interview) of Julia Swift and Andrew Landis

AHHHHH! I cannot express how excited I am to interview writing duo Julia Swift and Andrew Landis, who have worked together on television shows like Smallville and The Book of Daniel. Well Swift and Landis have written a fantastic YA book entitled Bold that take two broken characters and have them walk a daringly different path to self-discovery. I enjoyed Bold immensely and am happy to share this interview with you today.

The Brain Picking of Authors Julia Swift and Andrew Landis

When reading Bold I found myself flashing back a lot to when I was a teen and wishing that I had read your book back then. Bold can be read by a variety of ages, when they do, what is the most important lesson you want audiences to get from Bold?

We also wonder if this book was out there when we were teens if we would have felt less alone, less shy.  Our hope is readers will see how many possibilities exist if they don’t hold themselves back because they’re afraid of being judged.  It’s okay to be scared, but by putting yourself out there even one time, you open yourself up to new experiences you might never have thought possible and people who can enrich your life in unexpected ways. 

Characters always seem to live on in the minds of their creators, what are Will and Sasha up to these days?

Will and Sasha stuck around in our brains after we wrote the words “The End” so much so that we decided to write a sequel to continue their journeys.  Sasha and Will learned a lot in Bold, but they are both very private people who will now find themselves trying to figure out how to be a couple.  And Sasha, Will and Ricky will all start the process of deciding who they are apart from their families.  Not who they were raised to be, but who they dream they will be in the future.  They all have different ideas about what’s important -- money, fame, helping people, living up to parents’ and their own expectations.  Once we create characters, they never leave us alone again!  We will go to movies and wonder if Sasha would have liked it.  Would she think the guy was cute?  Would Will laugh at the jokes?  Right now we are finishing a book version of a TV drama pilot we sold to Fox that never got produced.  Those characters have been pulling at us for years to get a voice and an audience.  Then it’s back to Sasha and Will.  We’re not in control.  They are.  And the amazing part is, even though we are a writing team, the characters always tell us the same thing.  We’ve been writing together for so long that even if we don’t see each other or talk for a few days, when we check in again we are always on the same page.

I think Ricky’s introduction in Bold may be unexpected for readers. What do you hope readers will appreciate about him?

We hope our readers will be shocked -- as Will and Sasha are in that moment.  As they learn more about Ricky, we hope they identify with and appreciate his devotion to the one friend who has been there for him his whole life.  And since Ricky doesn’t have a lot of family, his childhood friend is more like family than a friend.  Ricky is in a tough spot.  And as often happens as we grow up, right and wrong are not that clear to him anymore.  What do you do when someone you promised to be loyal to heads down the wrong path and tries to drag you down?  We also hope that some of our readers might go through the same shedding of stereotypes that Sasha and Will experience when they get to know Ricky the person versus Ricky the guy they meet at the game store.   

Experiencing life and the impact of death are both important focal points for Will and Sasha, do you think young adults are seeking out books like this that are unique as Bold?

The readers we are trying to reach want to see real life on the page.  If you recognize the situations, thoughts and emotions, then you feel less alone in the world.  We write because, honestly, we are not that great at talking.  We read to feel a connection with other people, and our dream is that our book can reach someone and make them feel they are known, understood, and if we met in real life, we would be friends.  The amazing thing with e-books now is that our book can reach across the world and touch someone we never could have met in our lives and really make a difference for them.  If we could bottle hope, confidence and love, we would send that along to every reader with our books.  

Okay, let’s get serious. Are there any absolute necessities creators like yourselves need when writing a great story such as a favorite drink, food, lucky charm maybe?

J:  I am completely addicted to Diet Coke.  Like bad.  I’ve stopped a few times, but I always go back.  When we write on TV shows, we sit in a room with other writers all day and it usually takes about two days before someone notices the empty cans I’m hiding under the table and asks if I really drank them all.  Yes, I did.  And I will continue to.  Life is just better with Diet Coke.

A:  It’s not so much about a favorite drink or food item, it’s more about having prepared food readily available so that I don’t have to think about making something.  Nothing makes me happier than eating the same thing for five days in a row because during my lunch, I love to veg and not use any more brain cells than I have to.

I get my best ideas for stories when I drive to work on the freeway, do you two have any places that help inspire you?

A:  When I am looking for inspiration for a story or more likely trying to figure a way out of a corner that I’ve written myself into, I often lace up my sneakers and let my imagination wander the roads of my L.A. neighborhood.  This may sound corny, but jogging past the homes where Dorothy Parker or F. Scott Fitzgerald once lived sometimes makes me feel connected or at least on the right track to finding a real gem of an idea.

J:  I come up with all of my best stuff at night.  There is something about the freedom of saying to myself, ok, you don’t have to worry about it anymore, just sleep, that gets me to the real heart and soul of what I want to write.  Many a morning I’ll wake up and call Andrew, so excited to share an idea, only to spend the next hour trying to decipher my middle-of-the-night, in-the-dark notes scribbled onto a magazine cover.

What is the most challenging thing you’ve encountered when writing for both T.V. and for the YA genre?

One of the reasons we so love writing books, is that when writing TV for young adults, we have to follow what the network wants.  Often their notes are amazing -- except when it comes to trusting what teens can understand.  With TV, we have to keep everything very simple.  But with books, we can write for the audience we know is out there -- smart, thoughtful teens and adults who are still on the search to define who they are and what they want from life and relationships.  

Finally, any projects in the works readers can look out for? 

In the next few months we will release Stung, about a shy girl who grew up in the Mob, but, unlike her family, always followed the rules and worked hard to get into a good college and escape.  When her younger brother and sister need her, she has to decide if she’s going to start the new life she’s always dreamed of or be pulled back into the life she always hated.  And then in the New Year, a follow-up to Bold.  Stay tuned…  

Thank you Julia and Andrew for letting me pick your brains. 

If you guys want more information about this spectacular team visit the at Julia Swift & Andrew If you would like to purchase their book BOLD click the link below to do so. If you own a NOOK HD you can download the Kindle app through google play and purchase BOLD there. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Song of The Week

I found a new favorite band! Lead singer Lauren Mayberry's voice is delicate yet inviting. The Chvrches are a scottish band from Glasgow, which is the home of my other favorite band Glasvegas. I've included two of their songs this week because I simply can't pick a favorite. 'Now is Not the Time' is from therir EP that's available through iTunes and the second song 'Recover' is from there newest album The Bones of What You Believe. I strongly encourage people to take a listen if they like singers like Amy Mann, Skylar Grey, or Lana Del Rey. The Chvrches (Churches) have a good variety of songs with incredible lyrics that tell higher level stories, plus their videos are beautiful eye candy. Listen and enjoy!