Saturday, March 29, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Eden Unger Bowditch

          Inspired by her son's disappointment in the impossibility of the magic found in young adult novels, Eden Unger Bowditch created the Young Inventors Guild series to tell a story about science—the kind of magic that’s all around, and the kind people can actually do. Growing up in Chicago, Eden later lived both in Los Angeles, Paris, Baltimore, and in Egypt with her husband and three children. She is the author of several nonfiction books about her longtime hometown, Baltimore, and has been a journalist, a welder, an editor, and musician. For more information, visit:

Favorite reads?
          For YA books, I love Rick Riordan’s first series of the Olympians. The Lightning Thief is great. The Garth Nix series Keys to the Kingdom; P.B. Kerr’s The Children of the Lamp; Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book. Other book favorites are Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night and Jasper FForde’s Thursday Next books. And, of course, Harry Potter. And the list goes on…

Inspirations for the book?
          My kids and the idea that invention is the magic you can do. I feel like I write books I would love to read myself, stories that would be exciting and fun and mysterious.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
          I don’t think I planned or thought about it but I look back and realize virtually everything I’ve done has been writing. I do think I have always wanted to write. Funny, but when I’m at an event and someone says that they want to hear from the author, I look around excited to see the author. Then I realize it’s me! It’s still a shock and a thrill.

Any Pet Peeves? 
          I love research and getting to be a detective. I have great respect for the intelligence of the reader and for the author that takes the time to make it real. I get irked when I feel an author cheated and didn’t do the research. It’s a little creepy. When something rings false, it takes the reader out of the adventure of the story and makes you feel that you’re putting more into the book than the author did. I must put in hours and hours per page, sometimes just to be sure I have a single fact right. Also, it’s a drag when reviewers don’t take the time to really read what they’re reviewing…when a reviewer clearly didn’t read the book, or didn’t read it carefully. Or when a reviewer makes an assumption without thinking. I had one reviewer complain about the meaninglessness of double titles when they do have a purpose and a reason for being there.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter? 
          You mean you’d separate them from one another?

The weirdest thing you've ever done? 
          Besides having babies come out of my body? There are so many…but I suppose one must be traveling around the country, touring and playing in a band with my husband and our drummer and having a new baby in tow. Oh, yeah, and moving to Cairo, Egypt must be up there with weird choices.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music? 
          Since the book takes place in the Victorian era, I’d certainly want music that goes with the time. That said, Aimee Mann and Michael Penn are amazing at that. I’m sure there are fabulous musicians who could score the film, but if anyone could make it come alive, I am sure they could.

Do you need anything to write?
          When I have an idea, I have been known to write on the back of my kids’ homework, on the inside lining of a paper hanger, on my hands, on my children’s hands, on my dog…it can get embarrassing. Sometimes, when I am actually at the computer and working, sometimes I like music, other times not. Sometimes I like quiet, sometimes the chaos and noise of family around me. I’m not very idiosyncratic…though I’d not say no to chocolate, now that you asked. Or slippers.

How long do you write on any average day? 
          If I am in the middle of an intense moment, I might sit down to jot something down and then notice that the light is gone from the sky and I’ve been there all day. Other times, I might have a few minutes and I’ll fill in a scene that comes to me. I guess I could say somewhere between 2 and 12 hours per day.

Give us the number one reason to read your book. 
          Because reading is awesome and this is an adventure! This book is full of science and invention, the magic you can do. It will take you on a journey to places that will surprise you.

          It has been mere days since the brilliant children of the Young Inventors Guild escaped from the clutches of the horrible Komar Romak.
They've escaped with their lovely and caring schoolteacher, Miss Brett; with their long-absent parents; and with their bizarre captors, protectors, or both--the mysterious men in black. And now they travel by train, destined for parts unknown.
      But a note torn from the hand of a dead man in a New York tunnel guarantees that safety is an illusion. When the children's world is blown apart, life will never be the same again.
     Soon, the children--Jasper and little Lucy Modest, from London, England; Wallace Banneker, from New York, United States; Noah Canto-Sagas, from Toronto, Canada; and Faye Vigyanveta, from Delhi, India--find themselves in the ancient Italian village of Solemano, deep in a mystery that spans centuries. As they inch toward the truth of the men in black and the secrets they keep, one terrible fact remains:
     Komar Romak is still out there. He's still after them, for reasons they can't even begin to imagine.
    And he knows exactly where they are . . .
    From the rolling plains of America to the wide-open waters of the Atlantic, through the Strait of Gibraltar to a remarkable village in the hills of Abruzzo, Italy, The Ravens of Solemano or The Order of the Mysterious Men in Black, the second book of Eden Unger Bowditch'sYoung Inventors Guild trilogy, is an adventure like no other, as the children draw ever closer to the answers to the mysteries that surround them.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

For years, Annie and Fia have been in an endless battle for survival against the Keane Foundation. Now the sisters have found allies who can help them escape. But Annie's visions of the future and Fia's flawless instincts can't always tell them who to trust. The sisters can only rely on each other—and even their extraordinary gifts may not be enough to save them.

          Annie and Fia are two desperately loyal sisters who would do anything to keep the other safe, even if it means they themselves get ripped apart. In this stunning sequel to Mind Games the coin is flipped -- Annie seemingly free but Fia trapped back at the school. However thick the web of intrigue binding Fia with the Keane's, the stronger prison is the one that she builds in her own mind as her choices gradually kill her. Keirsten White portrays this dance along the edge of madness masterfully, and the frenetic, terrified tone of her sections are haunting in first person. I could feel the fragile threads of her mind and was tied to my chair as they unraveled. Calm, caring, centered Annie creates a nice juxtaposition to her sister as she grows stronger and more self-assured. Before now, mostly in Fia's mind, she was portrayed as weaker somehow. After all, she is blind. Of course that doesn't stop her, and she takes the world head on. Both sisters were fascinating.
Characters: 5 Stars

          The twisting plot from Mind Games deepens with Perfect Lies, though I felt like the focus was more on the characters, and understandably so. Mr. Keane, Jason, and Lerner are in it to win and they will do so unscrupulously, not caring for the lives they shred. And Fia's life has been shredded. She has been shredded and faces self-destruction as she struggles to make choices with no morals to guide her. Kill this person. Trap this person. It will all be worth it in the end if she can bring down the leader, right? She will protect Annie. I loved the closure the ending provided, almost bittersweet. And was great to read a book with a focus on sibling loyalty. Filled with shifting timelines, more thriller and edge than Mind Games, Perfect Lies is dramatic, concise, and sharp.
Plot: 5 Stars

          Kiersten White uses language beautifully to convey the stirring tale of two sisters who just want the madness to end. This tale is wrenching and darkly intense. Kiersten White continues to set the bar higher, and I look forward to what she gives us next.
Style: 5 Stars

Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Library
Genre: Thriller
YA Fiction

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: J. Bean Palmer and Chris Palmer

          J Bean Palmer calls upon her family’s long history in New England including a Revolutionary “Green Mountain Boy,” Cape Cod cranberry farmers and artists, and an oft-told family legend that as her grandmother’s ancestors stepped off the Mayflower, her grandfather’s relatives were there to greet them. With a degree in Environmental Science (summa cum laude, University of Maine), the author’s ElsBeth stories reflect a passion and respect for the natural world and its magical kinship.

          Co-author Chris Palmer makes some use of his education in philosophy at a small New England college (and subsequent practical application as a short-order cook on Cape Cod, a Boston cab driver, and a computer software and Internet services executive in California) in contributing the poems that are sung or spoken by several characters in the stories. A 14thgeneration Cape Codder, he and J Bean currently reside in a converted barn on the banks of a western Maine river.

Favorite Reads?
I love writings that can be understood on many levels, but find my favorites reflect the humor in life -- Tom Sawyer, anything written by Shakespeare, Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series, Eion Colfer’s Artemis Fowl stories.

Inspirations for the book?
Young people inspire me tremendously. And I have a desire to create adventures to help them connect with the adventure of their own lives.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
Maybe. I liked writing, and loved creation, but never put the package together until I became a grandmother. I’m a late bloomer.

Any Pet Peeves?
The grammar police knocking on my door.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Definitely chocolate. But they are great together, aren’t they?

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
I flew a plane solo. I almost didn’t complete my landing before the end of the runway. But it was spectacular to hold the plane in my hands, you could say, and the plane holding me in the sky. This was kind of weird to do as I’m not generally the most coordinated person.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
There's no soundtrack … yet! But the young people in the stories love music. They're particularly fond of Beatles songs. And a current favorite I'm enjoying, though not new music, is Lyle Lovett. 

Do you need anything to write? 
Basking in the heat of our wood stove works well recently. An interesting and active coffee house is another favorite location. And I'd love a writing retreat on a cross-country train!

How long do you write on any average day?
I generally write about three hours at a stretch. After that it gets hard.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.

It will make you laugh. Really. 

Authors' Info: 

           When their wild and free ancestral lands are threatened, three ancient ghosts need one of their clan from the living world. They call the Thistle heir from across the sea to the old country. 

Almost-ten-year-old ElsBeth Amelia Thistle, the youngest witch on Cape Cod, has her own need to unearth the family mysteries and to begin in earnest her chosen calling to protect the natural world. 

ElsBeth uses the best she knows of science and magic (not so very different from each other, after all). But even with help from a curious cast of magical creatures she befriends, and her spirited classmates who've been swept along (including the beautiful but feisty fashionista Veronica, a Wampanoag chief-to-be Johnny, and Frankie, who wants to follow in the footsteps of his prize-fighting Uncle Vittorio), ElsBeth is in way over her magic level -- and into older, odder mysteries than she could ever dream -- in an adventure just above the surface of reality.