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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interview: Carol Snow, author of Bubble World

Years ago, I was happy to welcome author Carol Snow to The Hiding Spot for an interview and to promote her novel, Snap. Today, Carol is back to talk about her newest novel (which released yesterday, July 30th!): Bubble World. I adored this new offering, which has an incredibly interesting premise and, despite the fun cover, touches on some serious themes and subjects!Read on to find out more about Carol, Bubble World, and the jobs that shaped her as a writer.

The Interview

Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
There’s a scene about two-thirds in where Freesia, the main character, sees Ricky, her love interest, in a different dimension from Bubble World. (I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just confuse people instead.) At one level, it was easy to write because I’d envisioned the encounter from the very beginning. But it was a challenge to keep it raw and honest and moving. I hope I succeeded.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
The title came to me right along with the book idea. (Wish that happened more often.) However, the first draft was called Bubbleworld – one word. I switched back and forth between one and two words until I didn’t know which I liked better. We left the final decision up to the art director, who said that Bubble World looked better on the cover.
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
I’ve been asked this question enough times that I should have a really good answer by now. But the truth is, I soak up everything I encounter: literary fiction, genre fiction, news articles, TV, movies . . . you name it. Every novel I read, even the stuff I don’t like, influences the way I approach writing.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
Through high school and college, I had all kinds of random jobs. Among other things, I was a hotel chambermaid, a tour guide at a fire engine museum, and a secretary at an Orthodox Jewish summer camp. (No, I didn’t keep notes. Yes, I will regret that forever.) But my first job out of college probably influenced my writing the most. I was the assistant to the president at a company that made T-shirts with funny sayings. “I’m not opinionated, I’m just always right” -- yeah, that was me. Writing was just a small part of my job, but the business forced me to think about “audience” for the first time. Most writers start off writing for themselves, but at some point, you need to start writing for readers.
 If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Serendipity. (Kidding. That just seemed like the obvious answer.)

Bubble World largely takes place in a kind of alternate reality, I made up an alternate teen lingo to go with it: utterly, fizzy, noxious, scrummy . . . My favorite bubble-word is probably de-vicious, which can be loosely translated to modern teen-speak as “hot.”
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
For almost nineteen years, I had a fluffy black cat named Cecil, who was my security blanket, sleep aid, and writing companion rolled into one. Since he died last year, things haven’t been quite the same. I’ve been spending more time with my other cat, Cookie, but we both understand that it’s really just a rebound relationship.
Find out more about Carol and her books here! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Interview & Giveaway: Tessa Gratton, author of The Lost Sun

I'm thrilled to welcome author Tessa Gratton to The Hiding Spot today to talk about her new novel, The Lost Sun, which released in June. I quickly fell in love with this novel, the first installment in The United States of Asgard series, so I was very excited to learn more about Tessa and her fantastic novel. Be sure to check out my review of The Lost Sun, here
Below, Tessa talks about her difficulty with the middle of The Last Sun (which was saved by what ended up being one of my favorite parts of the novel!), the evolution of the novel's name, and more! 

The Interview

Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
For once in my life, I get to say this book was EASY! It was one of those surprise novels that felt like it wrote itself. The characters were so alive even before I touched them and the world fascinates and excites me so much it was never a chore to work out details of life or politics. That said, I did have a rough time in the middle of the book. For about 3 months I couldn't figure out where the characters were going next. It’s a road trip novel, so the next destination would change everything. (For those of you with the book, it was right before Our Heroes head to the Lokiskin Caravan. That caravan saved the book!)
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
All my titles change except for USAsgard book 2 – but that’s a secret still. 

The Lost Sun had the working title Dream of Apples, Dream of Spears which is a very romantic, dreamy title and suited the feeling of the first draft. When my agent took it out to sell, we wanted something more commercial and meaningful, and titled it The Weight of Stars. That was the official title until last November, when we changed it once again at the publisher’s request. The Weight of Stars is my favorite of the titles, but I do very much like The Lost Sun (I’d never suggest a title I didn’t like!) and it captures the same specificity and emotional resonance as The Weight of Stars, I think. (The series name was originally “Songs of New Asgard” which we changed in order to be clear that it’s an alternate history. Songs sounded too high-fantasy to us.)
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
My writing-template was imprinted by Robin McKinley and Anne Rice. They write about history and magic in such rich, poetic ways. I still love their books and reread them whenever I can. Especially The Vampire Lestat and Beauty and The Hero and the Crown. Robin has been especially wonderful in the past few years by being accessible and funny and encouraging online. 

Lately I've been obsessed with Melina Marchetta – her Lumatere series is so amazing, hard and beautiful, and I adore Jellicoe Road and Saving Francesca

What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
I am lazy, truth be told. I avoided all work that wasn’t writing related and only one of my jobs influenced my writing directly. When I was in graduate school (for gender studies) I worked at the college as an advisor to undergraduates. I worked with so many different students on their problems (mostly academic) but it helped me listen to individual stories. 

I’ve also worked as an office assistant, a phone-bank minion (awful!), a clerk at a movie-rental store, and was a secretary at the University of Kansas for about 5 years while I worked to get published.

 If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Oh! Eviscerate. I love “e” words and words with “v” in them. This one is so sharp and poetic when spoken, and I like the literal and figuratives meanings it carries around.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
TELEVISION! I love watching good TV. Dramas (often police procedural) with fantastic characters are my escape. I love books, of course, but books sometimes remind me too much of work and that I’m not writing. When I need to relax into a great story, I turn to TV. My favorites: Criminal Minds, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Justified, Veronica Mars, The Vampire Diaries, Fullmetal Alchemist, Firefly, Lie to Me, In Plain Sight to name A FEW.  
Find out more about Tessa and her books here! 


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Friday, July 19, 2013

Review: The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard. 

Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.

When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.

Tessa Gratton's The Lost Sun is a beautifully written and imagined introduction to The United States of Asgard series. This tale of two teens with interwoven destinies unfolds with an insistent pull from Gratton's steady hand and, before the reader realizes what's happened, they're completely under the spell of this alternate universe and the characters they've come to love.

The Lost Sun follows Soren, a born with the gift, or curse, of berserking in this blood, and Astrid, a gifted prophetess like her mother before her. The country is thrown in chaos when the Sun God, Baldur, goes missing. When Astrid tells Soren that she's believes she knows where to find Baldur, they set out on a cross-country road trip to save him. However, what begins as a simple recovery mission turns into something much more complex than either anticipated. Along the way, they discover truths about themselves, form bonds and relationships that can never be broken, and, ultimately, embrace destinies that will define the courses if their lives.

The alternate world in Gratton's novel incorporates many of the key players in Norse mythology. Though I know very little about Norse mythology, I recognized all of the borrowed characters and Gratton clearly defined the personalities and dominions of each so I never felt that I was missing any important details. In comparison to Roman and Greek mythology, there is a wildness and obvious danger to Norse mythological figures. I really, really loved what this brought to the otherwise contemporary setting in the novel. Having this mix of contemporary and aged, or, perhaps, ageless in the case of gods and goddesses, created a world that was both nostalgically familiar and entirely new. 

While I have heard complaints of an insta-romance in The Lost Sun, I have to say that I completely disagree with this claim. From the start, Soren has strong feelings toward Astrid, but he never once falls into being some type of lovesick, sappy character. Soren and Astrid's journeys are tied together and they both carry gifts from the gods, as a berserker and a prophetess, so they have a bond forged of unique understanding that adds a deeper layer to the relationship. 

I didn't expect to have the added pull of a roadtrip to contribute to the charm and magic of this novel, but that's exactly what I found. There's just something about a roadtrip that bonds characters (and readers to those characters) that simply can't be forged any by any other method. I am so thankful that The Lost Sun is the first in a series because I am entirely too attached to the four main characters in this novel; I'm just not ready to let them go.

Read The Lost Sun. Whether you loved, liked, disliked, or never read Gratton's first books is irrelevant: The Lost Sun will enchant you and leave you wanting more.

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Random House, June 2013, Hardcover, ISBN:9780307977465, 368 pgs.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Interview and Giveaway with Dayna Lorentz, author of No Easy Way Out

Last year, Dayna Lorentz released No Safety in Numbers, which ended up being one of my favorite books of the year! Of course, that's not surprising for a book that was pitched as a mashup of Life as We Knew It and Lord of the Flies... and then actually lives up to the hype! In case you missed it, you can find my review here.
Today, Dayna visits The Hiding Spot to celebrate No Easy Way Out, the sequel to No Safety in Numbers, which released yesterday, July 16th ! Read on to find out more about Dayna and her novels: the almost B-movie titles, how being a lawyer prepared her for writing, and, of course, her favorite word (which may or may not have sent me in search of a dictionary)!  

And last, but not least, be sure to enter to win a copy of No Easy Way Out, which Dayna has kindly provided for one winner here at The Hiding Spot!

The Interview

Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write?
Marco was disturbingly easy to write. I mean, his voice, every scene, it all just flowed out of me. I say disturbing because, well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but he goes on an interesting journey over the course of the trilogy. I went to some intense places with him. And it was disturbingly easy to go there.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
Titles completely stress me out! The original title for this series, as I pitched it, was Mallrats. Once it was acquired by Dial, that wet noodle of a name was scrapped. My editor and I bandied about a bunch of different titles trying to hit on exactly the right one. We tried innumerable combinations of words with Mall (Dead Mall, Mall of Death, etc.), all of which just sounded like B-movie titles. We gave up on mall and, after many other attempts, finally struck title gold with No Safety in Numbers 
Of course then we faced the problem of having to come up with titles for the other two books in the series that would match. I spent days trying to come up with catchy four-word titles beginning with “No” that were vaguely aphoristic. It’s much harder than you’d think! In the end, I think we found some winners for the second and third books—No Easy Way Out and No Dawn Without Darkness.
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general?
I feel like every time I read a good book it influences me. Heck, every time I read a bad book, I learn something. I can tell you who I want to write like: David Mitchell. I love how weird and wonderfully detailed and intricately plotted his books are, how he can create such distinct voices and write such evocative prose.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing?
Mostly, I was a lawyer. I worked as a litigator in a big corporate law firm in New York, and then was a law clerk in the Federal and Vermont state courts. 
Much of what I learned while lawyering has influenced and enhanced my writerly endeavors. First of all, as a law student and then as a lawyer, I developed a punishing work ethic. When you spend a year having to pull down ten or more billable hours a day, anything less feels like slacking. 
Second, I learned how to write clearly and succinctly, and about the importance of structure. Most court filings have strict page limits, so your goal as a litigator is to make a well-structured argument covering every possible point as clearly as possible in as little space as possible, all this while leaving room for case citations. 
Finally, a lawyer is essentially a vessel for her client: your job is to represent another person’s interests and tell his story in a compelling manner. This is basically the same job I have as a writer—I am the representative for my characters and it’s my job to put their stories down in the clearest, most concise and compelling way possible.
 If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
 Palimpsest. It’s such a lovely word to say, and just thinking about it stirs up the stuff of story.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
Movies. I love movies. I especially love going to the movies with my husband and then getting to sit and talk about the film with him. Maybe it’s less the movies and more the talking with my husband. We have such fun talking and arguing about everything and nothing.  
Find out more about Dayna and her books here! 


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

This week's topic: Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

It was so difficult to choose only 10 authors this week... there are way too many authors that are regularly overlooked that are so, so fantastic! To simplify this week's post, I just chose an author and included an image of a book that I personally love that they've written. Don't miss these authors!

Link your TTT post in the comments and I'll stop by your blog as well!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fabulous blog The Broke and the Bookish!
1. Mindi Scott

2. Courtney Summers

3. Michele Jaffe

4. Natalie Standiford

5. Cath Crowley

6. Carol Lynch Williams

7. Hannah Harrington
8. Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

9. Catherynne M. Valente

10. Emmy Laybourne

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: A Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn

Paris, 1923 

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather's savannah manor house until gossip subsides. 

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.  

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap.  

Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without.

There is almost too much to say about Deanna Raybourn's newest novel, A Spear of Summer Grass. I've enjoyed her writing before, in her Lady Julia Gray mystery novels, but, as much as I loved those novel and recommend them to fellow readers regularly, this novel has stolen my heart.

The novel, set in the 1920s, begins in Paris, but quickly relocates to Africa. Delilah Drummond is no stranger to scandal: her mother has married many times, Delilah herself has been married three, and her latest marriage has once again exposed her to gossip and speculation. In an attempt to avoid the negative effects of this most recent scandal, Delilah leaves Paris for a season in Africa. Africa is not the place Delilah dreamed of as a child, but in many ways it's more... and it has a drama all it's own. In the middle of this foreign landscape, Delilah discovers beauty, danger, love, and, most of important of all, her place in the world.

For many, Delilah may, at least at first, be one of those unlikeable characters. For me, I loved her from the start. She's quite frank and unapologetic about her life and actions. Her peers often find her loose of morals and standards, but that's not at all the reality of the situation. In many ways, I suppose Delilah could be considered a woman before her time. To be truthful, I'm unsure of exactly how female independence and sexuality was viewed in 1920s Europe, but the novel left me with the distinct impression that Delilah was not the norm. She takes lovers (but is never unfaithful during her marriages), stands up for what she believes, and is entirely capable (and willing) to do "a man's work." 

I especially loved her character's history. She, like all the characters in the novel, are complex and layered. All of her actions and beliefs are rooted in something in her history, which one can assume is true of all characters, but Raybourn  is especially skilled at weaving a character's tale in a believable, elegant fashion. Little by little, I felt that I came to know and understand Delilah, and, while I feel that A Spear of Summer Grass had a satisfying conclusion, I loathed leaving her behind.

I can't say I've ever read a novel that was set in Africa, but, after the descriptions of the landscapes, wildlife, and culture, I've come to love it a bit. Setting the novel here, in the 1900s, also opened up the perfect opportunity for Raybourn to incorporate themes and questions regarding colonialism and women's rights. These are two themes that I have a particular interest in when it comes to literature and I felt that Raybourn did a fantastic job of considering these subjects without being at all overbearing, instead settling for thought provoking and engaging.

Of course, I must touch on the romance within A Spear of Summer Grass. I've always admired Raybourn's deft hand when it comes to romance and the relationship in this novel is no exception. Raybourn takes two extremely flawed characters and fits their broken edges together in a beautiful, redeeming sort of way. The romance between Ryder and Delilah is, without at doubt, one of my all-time favorite romances. 

I cannot recommend A Spear of Summer Grass enough. You'll not be able to leave these characters behind, nor the gorgeous African setting.

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Harlequin MIRA, April 2013, Paperback, ISBN:9780778314394, 370 pgs.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown


A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage shows and seances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians and mentalists in 1920s New York. For Anna, the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini - or so Marguerite claims - handcuffs and sleight-of-hand illusions have never been much of a challenge. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her mother: because while Marguerite's power may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people's feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna's powers intensify, she experiences frightening visions of her mother in peril, which lead her to explore the abilities she's tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a society that studies people with gifts like hers, she begins to wonder if there's more to life than keeping secrets.

As her visions become darker and her powers spin out of her control, Anna is forced to rethink all she's ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna's visions merely illusions? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite's tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, with the temptations of Jazz Age New York --- and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

Teri Brown's Born of Illusion transports readers to 1920s New York into a world of magic, lies, secrets, and the paranormal. 

The novel follows Anna, the daughter of a renowned medium and the rumored illegitimate daughter of the great Harry Houdini. Anna and her mother have spent their lives living show to show and evading the law, which they've been on the wrong side of a time or two. Finally, Anna's life has taken a turn for the better and she and her mother seem to be standing on solid ground as their new show gains success and popularity. Together, they transfix their audience; Anna performing magical illusion and her mother showcasing her psychic abilities. Of course, the audience doesn't know that, in truth, Anna's mother is no more psychic than they are, though she is  gifted actress. In fact, it's Anna that possesses psychic abilities. She can sense feelings, foretell the future, and talk to the dead. However, the stable existence Anna yearns for is still just out of reach as she begins having horrifying visions of her mother in peril and her own safety is threatened.

For me, one of the most compelling aspects of Born of Illusion was Anna's relationship with her mother. Their relationship is a complicated one... Sometimes it feels as if their roles of mother and daughter have reversed, other times they appear to be nothing more than competitors. It was interesting to see how Anna reacted to her mother's often immature and petty actions that seemed motivated by jealousy and her fear of her daughter besting her. Still, as soon as Anna (and the reader) thinks her mother's motivations are clear, she seems protective and motherly, as if she only has Anna's best interests in mind. 

It's clear that much of Anna's independence is born from necessity. Her mother, no matter her motivations, could never be called reliable. This independence serves her character and the book well. Anna is a capable and strong character, but not without weaknesses. She has a tendency to run from her things that overwhelm her and sometimes has irrational reactions to deep emotion, but she isn't afraid to own up to her shortcomings and she always gathers the strength to do what needs to be done.

The novel features a bit of a love triangle, but it's always clear who's truly in Anna's heart. Still, I liked that she considered both love interests. In some ways, Anna has lived a very adventuresome life (after all, she did travel with a circus troupe for some time), but, in what one may consider the "normal" life of a teenaged girl, she's a bit inexperienced. The two boys, who are very, very different from one another, show Anna different sides of New York... and of herself. Also, I liked that fact that Anna is the one who makes a misguided mistake and has to apologize, not the boy involved int he situation. It often feels like the situation is always reversed and it was good to see something different.

I'll definitely be reading the next book featuring Anna, Born of Deception, which is due out sometime in 2014. I don't know anything about it except the fact that it features Rasputin, but that's enough!

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Balzer+Bray, June 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780062187543, 373 pgs.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Giveaway: Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

I'm giving away my advanced reader copy of Kendare Blake's upcoming release, Antigoddess! This book officially releases in September 2013 and has been one of my favorite readers so far this year. Don't forget to check out my review!

About the book:
The Goddess War begins in Antigoddess, the first installment of the new series by acclaimed author of Anna Dressed in Blood, Kendare Blake.

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. 

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. 

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. 

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.
For a chance to win the copy I'm giving away, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below!

Of course, for every comment left on my blog, I'll be trying to make it over to your blog to spread the comment love! :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

From the Files of the Platypus Police Squad

Case #1138 Detectives of record: Rick Zengo and Corey O'Malley

Case brief: A local schoolteacher is missing, and the only thing fishier than the circumstances surrounding his disappearance is the smell coming from the bag he left behind. All clues point to billionaire businessman Frank Pandini Jr.--but why would Pandini get his paws into the illegal fish trade?

I suppose I should preface this review by admitting that I adore all of Jarrett J. Krosoczka's books and I recommend his amazing TED Talk to people all the time. Simply put, I respect him because his books are fun, he seems like a very engaged, thoughtful guy, and, most importantly, the kids at my library can't get enough of his Lunch Lady graphic novel series! All that said, I obviously picked up his newest offering Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked with high expectations, and, just as I'd hoped, I feel he's written another novel middle grade readers are sure to love!

This first installment in the Platypus Police Squad follows the fresh faced rookie Rick Zengo, newest addition to the Platypus Police Squad, and his partner, O'Malley, an experience detective, as they attempt to solve a case involving a missing schoolteacher and the illegal fish trade. Complications arise when the clues lead Zengo and O'Malley to billionaire businessman - and potential mobster - Frank Pandini Jr.

A play on the partner cop trope, but for a younger set, The Frog Who Croaked is in many ways familiar while simultaneously unique with its animal characters that allow for a silly and fresh take on the jokes one expects in such a formula. Coupled with the intermittent illustrations, Krosoczka's novel has a definite charm and appeal.

I'll definitely be adding The Frog Who Croaked to my library collection and recommending it to readers of the Lunch Lady series. As always, I look forward to seeing what Krosoczka offers his readers next! 

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Walden Pond Press, May 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780062071644, 240 pgs.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Top Ten Best Movie Adaptations

This week's topic: Top Ten Best(or Worst) Movie Adaptations

We've all watched a film adaptation of a novel and hated it - and let everyone know it - so, this week, I'm going to give shout outs to the adaptations I loved! Also, you'll notice I'm kind of obsessed with Keira Knightly films... she just does so many novel adaptations... and she does them so well! 

Link your TTT post in the comments and I'll stop by your blog as well!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fabulous blog The Broke and the Bookish!

1. Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Keira Knightly & Matthew Macfayden
Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice? 
I love the older version of P&P as well - Colin Firth was one of my first crushes after I first saw him as Darcy! - but I love Knightly as Elizabeth Bennett. And Matthew Mcfayden is definitely as swoon worthy as Firth… I think, now, I might actually prefer him!

2. Now Is Good (2012)
(Based on Jenny Downham's Before I Die) 
Dakota Fanning & Jeremy Irvine
A girl dying of leukemia compiles a list of things she'd like to do before passing away. Topping the list is her desire to lose her virginity. 
I’m not sure I’ve ever cried so hard while reading a book as when I read Before I Die. Therefore, I should have known how much I’d cry while watching Now Is Good. Word of advice: have tissues handy.

3. Blood and Chocolate (2007)
(Based on the novel by Annette Curtis Klause)
Agnes Bruckner & Hugh Dancy

A young teenage werewolf (Bruckner) is torn between honoring her family's secret and her love for a man (Dancy). 
I actually wasn’t a huge fan of the novel, but I loved the movie version. This is one of those that really doesn’t faithfully follow the book, which is actually what made me like it!

4. The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
(Based on the novel by Karen Joy Fowler)
Amy Brenneman, Emily Blunt, Hugh Dancy, Maria Bello
Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships -- both old and new -- begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels. 
I love, love, love this movie. It’s perfect for girls night and for fans of Jane Austen! Plus, Hugh Dancy is adorable, as usual.

5. The Painted Veil (2006)
(Based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham)
Edward Norton & Naomi Watts

A British medical doctor fights a cholera outbreak in a small Chinese village, while also being trapped at home in a loveless marriage to an unfaithful wife. 
The Painted Veil is most definitely one of my all-time favorite films. It’s gorgeous and atmospheric and just so, so incredibly heartbreaking. I never get tired of watching it. Also, I'm in love with Edward Norton, so that might make me a bit biased.

6. I Capture the Castle (2003)
(Based on the novel by Dodie Smith)
Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Henry Cavill

A love story set in 1930s England that follows 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, and the fortunes of her eccentric family, struggling to survive in a decaying English castle. 
I’m not sure I even have words to describe how much I adore this film. It’s beautiful and emotional and romantic and just absolutely perfect. It’s the first film I saw Romola Garai in and it basically cemented her as my favorite actress. I watch absolutely everything she’s in now. Plus, Henry Cavill!

7. Atonement (2007)
(Based on the novel by Ian McEwan)
Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan

Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a 13-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's lover of a crime he did not commit. 
This is another one to watch when you need a good cry. I felt that the characters perfectly cast for this film. Also, there is a undeniably steamy scene between McAvoy and Knightley in a library… Yeah, you don’t want to miss this one!

8. Anna Karenina (2012)
(Based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy)
Keira Knightly, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Set in late-19th-century Russia high-society, the aristocrat Anna Karenina enters into a life-changing affair with the affluent Count Vronsky. 
I know that there were quite a few people who didn’t like this movie, especially the way the story was told (almost completely from a constantly changing theater stage), but I adored it. Granted, I haven’t read the actual novel, but I’m definitely a supporter of this film’s execution and the story it tells.

9. Beautiful Creatures (2013)
(Based on the novel by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl)
Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum
Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. 
I have to confess, I didn’t love the original novel as much as many other readers did… but I did love the film version. It actually made me want to read the rest of the novels, which is not something I was motivated do after actually reading the first book!

10. Water for Elephants (2011)
(Based on the novel by Sara Gruen)
Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz

A veterinary student abandons his studies after his parents are killed and joins a traveling circus as their vet. 
I was actually surprised by how much I loved this film adaptation… and how much I enjoyed Robert Pattinson in it! I knew I’d love Reese Witherspoon, I always do, but Pattinson really excelled in this role. It’s a beautiful love story and the sets and costumes are gorgeous as well!

Giveaway: Precious Blood by Tonya Hurley

I have a copy of Tonya Hurley's Precious Blood (and a bookmark!) for two winners at The Hiding Spot, courtesy of Simon & Schuster! Read on to find out more about the novel, the author, and to enter to win!

About the book:
What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?
Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy are three lost girls—each with their own personal demons. These girls meet one night when they all end up in the same hospital…and each wake up with a token from a boy they’ve only just met. Sebastian is gorgeous, mysterious, and has a plan for all of them. As each girl gets wrapped up in finding out just who Sebastian is, they each discover their own strengths, and realize the only way to save themselves is to save each other.
The story begins in Precious Blood and continues in Passionaries, available 1/7/14.

Check out the book trailer:

About the author:
Photo courtesy of Kevin Mazur
Tonya Hurley is the New York Times best-selling author of the highly acclaimed ghostgirl book series; creator, writer and producer of animated and live action hit television series; writer and director of independent films; writer and director of commercials for Playstation, Gameboy and Warner Home Video; and creator of groundbreaking videogames. Her new young adult trilogy, The Blessed, begins with Precious Blood.
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