Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giveaway & Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with the lovely Sarah Beth Durst, where she discusses a bit about her writing and her most recent novel, THE LOST. 

QUICK! Describe THE LOST in 7 words or less!

Town of lost things and lost people.

Which came first – the main cast of characters or the story’s concept?

Actually, for THE LOST, it was two ideas merging together: the town and Lauren.

I remember sitting at a traffic light and thinking, "What would happen if I just went straight and didn't stop?" In that question, Lauren was born -- a woman who doesn't turn left the way she's supposed to and instead just keeps driving and driving.

The answer to what happens is that she runs out of gas in the town of Lost, a town full of only lost thing and lost people. Once I combined these two separate ideas, the story was able to grow.

THE LOST is your first adult novel. What was it like to make the switch from middle grade / young adult novels to writing for adults? Any challenges?

For me, the key is to not think about who you're writing for and instead think about who you're writing about. If you're writing about a twelve year old and see the world through her eyes, then the novel will come out middle grade. If you're writing about a twenty-eight year old and see the world through her eyes... then you'll have a novel with the right tone, style, and story for adults.

Do you have any favorite teaser lines from THE LOST that you can share?

One of my favorite moments is after a six-year-old girl holding a teddy bear and a knife saves Lauren from a hostile mob:

The girl switches direction, pulling me into the alley between the barber shop and a decrepit triple-decker house. She still doesn't speak.

I don't know why I'm trusting her. "Are you helping me, or dragging me someplace private to cut me to pieces and feed me to your teddy bear? Just curious."

The girl looks at me with her wide eyes. "My name is Claire. And my teddy bear is not hungry today."
SCENARIO: You’re on a mission to find something of yours in Lost. What two fictional characters (yours or someone else’s) would you want to help you succeed?

I'd want Peter from THE LOST, since he knows the town so well. (He's the mysterious wild man who helps Lauren. He's a bit like a grown-up Peter Pan who lives in a rundown, twisted kind of Wonderland.) And I'd also want someone very clever, like Sherlock Holmes. (Have you seen BBC's Sherlock? So, so good.) Or better yet, someone with the psychic ability to find things... Or a bloodhound with a really good sniffer.

Failing that, I'd settle for someone with excellent survival skills, like Katniss.

Yes, I love BBC's Sherlock! Excellent choices....Do you ever write any easter eggs or calling cards (signature characteristics, such as a style of writing, a reoccurring theme / name / joke / location / symbol, etc) into your stories? 

Not intentionally, but I do know things from my life sneak into my writing. Sometimes I don't even realize it until long after the fact!

I can say that the ring that Lauren finds in the void -- the star sapphire ring -- is based on my mom's engagement ring. It's an opaque blue stone, and when you hold it up to the sunlight, a white star appears in the center. I always thought it was magical.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on a middle-grade novel called THE GIRL WHO COULD NOT DREAM, about a girl whose family owns a secret store where they buy, bottle, and sell dreams, but who can't have any of her own, and the adventure that she and her pet monster go on when someone starts kidnapping dreamers. It's coming from Clarion Books in fall 2015.

My next book out will be CHASING POWER, a YA novel about a girl with telekinesis and a boy who can teleport. It's sort of an Indiana-Jones-style adventure, with teens and magic. It's coming on October 14th from Bloomsbury.

Thanks so much for interviewing me!

And thank you so much for the wonderful interview! I loved THE LOST, so it's nice to get some bonus information about it. 

And, because I enjoyed this novel, I want to share it with one of my readers. One winner will receive a finished paperback copy of THE LOST (international, so long as The Book Depository ships to you). Enter using the rafflecopter below. 

THE LOST by Sarah Beth Durst
Published by Harlequin MIRA
Available Now

It was only meant to be a brief detour. But then Lauren finds herself trapped in a town called Lost on the edge of a desert, filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. And when she tries to escape, impassable dust storms and something unexplainable lead her back to Lost again and again. The residents she meets there tell her she's going to have to figure out just what she's missing--and what she's running from--before she can leave. So now Lauren's on a new search for a purpose and a destiny. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be found...

Against the backdrop of this desolate and mystical town, Sarah Beth Durst writes an arresting, fantastical novel of one woman's impossible journey...and her quest to find her fate.

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: THE VAULT OF DREAMERS by Caragh M. O'Brien

Title: The Vault of Dreamers
Author: Caragh M. O'Brien (@CaraghMOBrien)
Published: September 16th, 2014
Series: ?
Genre: YA sci-fi | dystopian | thriller
POV: 1st person
Pages: 432
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publicist (accepted for review)
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf
From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

Peculiar and creative, this is a story unlike any other. Rosie Sinclair is on her way out of the prestigious Forge School – and consequently the Forge Show, a popular reality TV series that follows the students through their day life – unless she can get her rank up. But, she soon finds that there's more to worry about than her ranking, because strange things are happening while everyone is asleep. Secrets, lies, deceptions, and twists, The Vault of Dreamers is a wild maze that concludes with an astounding surprise. 

This is a story best described as intriguing and unnerving. There are elements that give me chills, simply because I see certain aspects of this story becoming true in a more technologically advanced future. Rosie's discoveries are horrifying, unnerving, and each time you feel as though everything is figured out and revealed, a new piece complicates the puzzle. Add in the intriguing futuristic technology and society to the already wonderful mystery, and you've got an incredible story. Thrilling and fascinating, The Vault of Dreamers is a page-turner that will haunt your dreams and stay on your mind long after finishing. 

Highlights: There are many twists and I was constantly debating what was true or false, who can or cannot be trusted. The Forge School was actually quite intriguing, and one of Rosie's assignments was hilariously creative and helpful to unraveling the truth. Rosie's new friends are great characters, and I only wish they had been given more page-time. The creativity of the story was fantastic, and I found it difficult to set this book aside (which is exactly what I want from a novel). 

Lowlights: A few questions are not answered, so that's frustrating. I didn't believe in the romance, and I feel it mostly developed off-page. I wish a few characters had been developed more. I feel like one part of the ending is unrealistic (regarding the guardianship). The ending is torture, I hope there will be a sequel because I need answers!

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf (4 out of 5). The Vault of Dreamers is fantastic, worth owning, and has earned a spot in the royal library. I enjoyed this story very much, despite a few small issues, and would recommend this novel to other readers.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grad School, Earthquakes, & A Short Blogging Break

Hey everyone! 

I began grad school this week, so I'm finding myself a bit swamped as I try to adjust to my schedule  and work load (I have so much reading to do, it's crazy). My classes are so small compared to what I'm normally used to, and the reading assignments are a bit more time consuming. But, I'm excited for the semester! 

In other news, this morning some areas of California were rocked by a 6.1 earthquake. I woke around 3:20ish in the morning to the world shaking wildly, books flying off my bookshelf and book tower, and it was a pretty startling way to start today. It even knocked out the power in my area for about five hours. I honestly can't remember the last time I felt an earthquake shaking my house as strongly as this one did. Luckily, the only damage was hardly worth noticing - some fallen books, a bit of broken glass, and nothing more. My thoughts are with everyone who had a more intense experience this morning, and I hope they are all okay. 

Considering the busy week and this crazy morning, I think I'll take off a week from blogging. I might still hang around Twitter, but otherwise, I won't be back until next week. 

Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe! Have a great week.