2014 #TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 11!

2014tbrbuttonHello, TBR Pile Challengers!

Wow! Where has the time gone?! Here we are, in Month 11 of the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge – there’s just one more checkpoint to go!

Question of the Month: Have you started to think about the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge?  Which books do you think might make next year’s cut? (Sign-ups will be opening soon!)

Below, you’re going to find the infamous Mr. Linky widget. If you read and review any challenge books this month, please link-up on the widget below. This Mr. Linky will be open until November 30, so any books that you complete this month (and post thoughts for), can be linked-up in this first checkpoint. Any that you read/write about in November can be linked-up on December 15th, when the new widget opens.

indexGiveaway: This month’s check-in does not come with a giveaway, since the big prize ($50 of books!) is coming soon… but congratulations to last month’s winner, Fanda from Fanda’s Classic Lit, for her entry on Greyfriars Bobby!

Keep up the great work and best of luck to you as we head into the final stretch!

LINK UP YOUR REVIEWS Nov 1 – Nov 30


Review: 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

20493997Andrew Smith is a mad scientist. I imagine him, even now, sitting in his writing laboratory playing with every imaginable ingredient and coming up with another brilliant concoction of literary gold. This might sound like the delusions of a raving fanatic or a particularly creative reviewing mind, but considering Smith’s books continue to win universal praise and, more recently, critical notice and awards, perhaps it’s not so far from the truth after all.

100 Sideways Miles is another example of how brilliantly Andrew Smith can craft a totally readable, totally relatable, completely unique story. The main character, Finn, has been immortalized by his own father, a writer who has created a duplicate “Finn” in his fiction. The science-fictional Finn created by his father, and our fictional Finn (how meta!) are more than a little bit similar. They even share the same scars, the “real” Finn having earned his in a twist-of-fate accident involving a horse that falls from the sky onto Finn and his mother. The accident has lasting impact on Finn’s family, and in the way Finn sees the world (he begins to measure time in distance, for example).

In addition to Finn, who’s still a virgin in his late teens (the horror!), we meet Cade, the ridiculously-obnoxious-but-in-a-totally-loveable-way, Cade. He’s a bit of a big brother to Finn. Every day, he comes up with a new sexually-charged descriptor to attach to the shape of Finn’s scars, which might seem insensitive but is actually his way of helping Finn relax and feel less self-conscious about his body.

Aside from the two high school boys, there is, of course, a girl or two. Including “the girl,” Julia. Finn and Julia become star-crossed lovers; Finn, the epileptic local boy and Julia, the mysterious bombshell from 2,000 miles away (Chicago) who shows up in their small California town, without warning or explanation. The two quickly, and awkwardly, form an intense bond, one which will be tested when Julia returns to Chicago. Fortunately, Finn, Cade, and a road trip to end all road trips will return balance to the universe.

100 Sideways Miles is filled with humor, angst, confusion, sarcasm, and the typical teenagers’ point of view. This means the guys encounter situations involving drugs, alcohol, sex, and “foul” language. There’s also a “damn the man” attitude expected in any coming-of-age story (what are we if we don’t rebel against the last generation, at least a little?). All of this is treated realistically, though, without being gratuitous – it makes sense to the story being told and the lives these boys are living. And when you meet Finn, you’ll understand if he needs to curse once in a while.

Smith without a doubt knows how to spin a yarn. He gets into the minds of young people and shares their experiences, in their vernacular and on their own terms. He’s done this with Stick and Grasshopper Jungle. He’s done this in Winger and with In the Path of Falling Objects. He does it in Ghost Medicine and The Marbury Lens. And yet, he does it, somehow, in a completely innovative way, every time.

So, yes, Smith is a mad scientist. He is the Victor Frankenstein of contemporary young adult fiction, and we readers have become his insatiable monsters. Is the world finally ready for Andrew Smith? No matter. He hasn’t just arrived, he’s become ubiquitous. Ready or not.


If you’re interested in hearing more about 100 Sideways Miles and/or Andrew Smith, check out the book tour hosted by Amy of Lady Reader’s Stuff!

Monthly Review: October! Halloween!

halloweenHello, Everyone!

I realize it has been a while since my last “update” post, and I feel very bad about that. OOPS!  I’m going to make this short & sweet, as today is Halloween and I’m busy with, well, enjoying my favorite holiday! I’m also thinking about the fact that on this day next year, I’ll be getting married! Holy cow!

Anyhow, here are some links to my recent articles, published at About.com. I hope you find something to strike your fancy!

Reviews

Recommendations

Genres

 Other

Roof Beam Reader Updates:

2014 #TBRChallengeRBR Checkpoint 10!

2014tbrbuttonHello, TBR Pile Challengers!

Time has flown by! I know this because I’m somehow nearly 2 weeks late posting this checkpoint! I’m so sorry about that….but, here we are, at Checkpoint #10 for this year’s TBR PILE CHALLENGE!

Question of the Month: Has there been a book (or book) that you have just been unable to finish for this challenge?  What’s the book & why do you think it’s such a challenge? Do you plan to try again?

Below, you’re going to find the infamous Mr. Linky widget. If you read and review any challenge books this month, please link-up on the widget below. This Mr. Linky will be open until October 31st, so any books that you complete this month (and post thoughts for), can be linked-up in this first checkpoint. Any that you read/write about in November can be linked-up on November 15th, when the new widget opens.

indexGiveaway: This month’s check-in comes with a giveaway! Any books read and reviewed for this challenge, and linked-up below by October 31, will earn you an entry. If you haven’t yet finished/reviewed a book for the challenge, a checkpoint post of your own also counts. This giveaway is open only to official, pre-registered participants of the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge. The prize is a book of your choice, $20USD or less, to be shipped from The Book Depository. Good Luck!

Keep up the great work and best of luck to you in the coming months!

LINK UP YOUR REVIEWS October 1 – October 31

Interview with Merlin Author T.A. Barron!

downloadAs a big fan of T.A. Barron’s Merlin Saga series, I’m excited to announce the paperback release of Atlantis Rising, the first book in an exciting fantasy new series!  I’m even more exciting to bring you all this interview with the author.  Enjoy!

From the publisher: “With his trademark magic and adventure, T.A. Barron, international best-selling author of The Merlin Saga, has returned with a whole new mythology – the origin of the legendary isle of Atlantis.  Atlantis Rising is the first book in an exciting new trilogy that explores not how Atlantis was destroyed, but how it was born.”


Q&A with T. A. Barron on Atlantis Rising

What fascinates you most about the legend of Atlantis?

No word evokes more of a feeling of tragedy than the word Atlantis. It stands for almost, what might have been. The tale of Atlantis is such a beautiful story, and for the 2000 years since Plato first wrote about it, people have wondered and dreamed about it. But one thing that has never changed is that the island of Atlantis was utterly destroyed.  I started to wonder, though, about something else—how Atlantis began.  How did a place that rose to such a level of near perfection get destroyed by the flaws and weaknesses of its people? Ultimately, how did that happen? This big unknown question is what got me to write Atlantis Rising. I wanted to add a new thread to the tapestry of myth about Atlantis—how it all began, the secrets of its origins.

Why do you choose to write about origins of stories?

When you write about the origins of a great legend, you experience the best of two worlds. You get to tap into a wondrous emotional and mythical journey that people have celebrated and enjoyed for a long time—which is why stories persist, why people keep telling the tales about Merlin or Atlantis. At the same time though, you get the opportunity to be fresh and original. You can explore and go behind the myth to discover how and where it all began. It just might start with the most inconsequential event—a boy stealing a pie, a girl discovering something strange in the woods, or a young man washing ashore. In those small moments you may discover the beginning of an amazing adventure!

What research was involved in preparing for Atlantis Rising

Before starting this project, I read everything I possibly could about Atlantis. As I got deeper into the research, I realized not only is there an immense story of high ideals and tragic consequences, human aspirations and failures, but a wonderful mystery of how it all began. That powered me even more to want to set forth the beginning, the origins of that magical place.  In addition, I have often thought about Atlantis since visiting Greece 20 years ago—the place where the legend began.  Often, I’ve recalled the sight of that landscape, the sound of waves on those islands, and the smell of the Mediterranean air. All that will, I hope, come through for anyone who reads the Atlantis trilogy.

In the last few scenes of Atlantis Rising, we see Atlantis become an island at last, while Promi returns to the spirit world. Where does the second book start?

The second book picks up immediately after Atlantis Rising finishes.  But time works differently between Earth and the spirit realm. Quite a bit more could have happened up in the spirit realm than has happened on Atlantis.  You see, during that brief interval—which feels just like a few days on Earth—many perils have risen. Some of them are dangers that come from old enemies—enemies who want to control all the magic and power of the Earth. And some of the perils come from romance…and we all know how tricky that can be.

In Atlantis Rising, Promi, the protagonist, risks his life for Smackberry pie. What dessert would you risk everything for?

Fresh Colorado snow-covered in maple syrup.


Thanks, T.A. Barron, for stopping by to share your thoughts – and thanks to the publisher for orchestrating this opportunity.  Whether you’re a fan of Barron or new to him, I hope you’ve enjoyed his thoughts and I invite (encourage!) you to check out his books – they’re great fun!