Monday, July 18, 2011

Denise K. Rago

Interview with author Denise K. Rago

Steps away from Central Park, among careworn books and paintings, the vampire Christian Du Mauré quietly watches over two modern mortals. Amanda and Ryan are the last two descendants of a painful affair Christian had more than two centuries ago with a mortal aristocrat in Paris. On the eve of revolution, he made a promise to his dying lover that he would secure their safety without ever involving them in his own twisted world.

When Immortal Obsession begins, Christian’s promise is intact; his young ancestors suspect nothing of their origin. Amanda's life is happily predictable: she landed her childhood dream job working for New York's monolithic Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she unites her fascination with Revolution-era Paris and her abiding love of art. During one especially late night at work, Amanda is roused by an unexpected phone call. Her brother Ryan (and only living relative) needs her help urgently; can she come right away? Against her better judgment, she rushes to meet him in Central Park—and unwittingly becomes entangled in a world she never imagined was real.
1. Why did you decide to start writing Immortal Obsession? Your website mentions a chance encounter. Can you elaborate?

Let me start off by saying thank you so much for giving me the honor of an interview. Immortal Obsession was inspired by an otherworldly experience I had in a New York City diner one night five years ago, when my path crossed with that of a beautiful, unusual stranger who sat down at a table behind my husband and I. He was very tall, with waist-length blond hair and dressed entirely in black. When our eyes met and he said hello, he felt familiar to me as I fell into his dark eyes.
That weekend I began writing Immortal Obsession and when my husband and I talked about this mysterious stranger, I realized we saw two very different people that night. The experience was unnerving, yet exciting. This stranger was the inspiration for my main character, the vampire Christian Du MaurĂ©. I have since learned that this being is someone I have known from a past life. He continues to guide me as his role in my writing and my life continues to unfold. He is my muse. 

2. Amanda's love for art shines through as you read Immortal Obsession. Is this something you have in common with her?

Very much so. I have always dreamt of working in a museum so I continued onto graduate school and obtained a Masters’ Degree in Museum Professions. I did my internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan which is one of my favorite art museums. I have been going there since childhood and like Amanda, it is one of those places that I love and feel at home.
3. If so, what kind of art mesmerizes you? Amanda seems to be particularly fascinated with Parisian art.

Amanda is drawn to anything to do with the French Revolution, a period that I love as well. I love all types of art really, from all periods of time. I am also fascinated with non-western cultures as well as their material culture. I love paintings, decorative arts and especially sculpture.

4. What was the inspiration for Amanda, Christian, Michel, and any of your other characters? Do they represent anyone in your own life?

I did mention my inspiration for Christian and I also talk about my resemblance to Amanda. Tony, who is Christian and Michel’s human servant, is loosely based on the mailman at one of my previous jobs, a young, blond haired fellow named Anthony who was really warm, funny and without guile. He said what was on his mind and he always stuck with me. When I imagined a fellow who would admire and yet stand up to two vampires, Anthony came to mind. I changed his name to Tony.
One morning while perusing a magazine I came across a black and white photo of a male model and said to myself, ‘this is Michel.’ His personality is a bit trickier for on the surface he seems to be the exact opposite of Christian in every way, but Michel is much deeper than he lets on. On the surface he is much more outgoing and funny, but underneath he is a pained soul. He just hides it a bit better than Christian.
5. Which of your characters resembles you most? Why?

Amanda and Christian probably resemble me the most, with their love of art, books, antiques, history, New York City and Paris. They are both solitary figures with a rich inner life. Christian loves to read and Amanda loves being in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, hobbies I love as well. They both see beauty in nature and in the man-made world as I do and they both have an element of a sixth sense. Amanda has the gift of psychometry, which is the ability to obtain information from touching an object. This information may be in the form of music, words, sentences or images. Christian’s gift’s come from another place which will be revealed in future novels.
6. Why do you enjoy writing? Are there any parts of your novel that you enjoyed writing most?

I love creating, especially when a chapter comes together and suddenly two and three chapters fall into place and the story takes off and the characters are talking to me, leading me in a particular direction. I wrote many drafts of Immortal Obsession that never made it into print but I still enjoy the process. I think I enjoy writing the romance the most.
7. Besides writing, what other hobbies do you have? Are you a thrill seeker with a passion for sky diving and extreme snowboarding?

No, I am not a daredevil in the least. I love the beach, reading, visiting museums and antique shops. I have a teacup collection as well.
8. Is there anything else you would like to share (about you, your novel, or the art of writing)?

I am working on the sequel to Immortal Obsession. I envision three novels in this series which is tentatively called The Enchanted Bloodline Series. I love to hear from readers, as I especially love their perceptions of a character or their interpretation of events. Sometimes I am too close to my characters and it takes a reader to point out something so obvious that I missed completely!

I plan to attend the Self-Publishing Book Expo in Manhattan on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011. Please stop by if you attend as I would love to meet writers and readers.

I would love to share my website link which is Please visit me there to see portraits of some of the characters from Immortal Obsession; reviews, interviews and guests posts.    

    I just want to take a moment to thank Denise for the great interview! She was kind enough to answer all of my questions so thoughtfully and everything. Hopefully everyone will enjoy getting to know this author a bit. Her novel, Immortal Obsession, was an interesting read. My review is here, if anyone is interested. Again, thank you so much!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (July 15-18)

Book Blogger Hop     This week has been amazing! I was able to attend a program at Sewanee: The University of the South. The campus is absolutely beautiful and the food was scrumptious! All said and done, it was a very rewarding experience. I am so ready for college now, much as I will miss my family.

Question of the Week:
     How/Where do you get your books? Do you buy them or go to the library? Is there a certain website you use like paperbackswap?

     My friends and I are all avid readers. So, whenever one of us gets a new book, it ends up getting passed around. That is where I get a good deal of my books, but I also recently got a public library card! I have a feeling that I will be going there much more often. Of course, my school library is fairly well stocked too.
     Additionally, I've been supremely lucky to have received books for review from authors and publicists. It gives me a chance to widen my horizons, so to speak.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

     The Scarlet Letter follows Hester Prynne as she learns to cope with the conspicuous letter A sewn on her clothing. The letter symbolizes the adultery that she committed in having borne Pearl, her baby girl. Hester refuses to give up the man with whom she committed her sin with.
     Hester raises little Pearl on her own, away from the prying eyes of the extremely conservative Puritan settlement of Boston. She grows as a person throughout this time and eventually becomes someone that people are no longer wary of.

     Before we actually started the novel, our English teacher wanted to give us a taste of what the novel was about by showing us part of the film with Demi Moore. So, I was expecting something much more romantic than what I found The Scarlet Letter to be.
     The novel starts with Hester's imprisonment and her embarrassment upon the scaffold. I felt so bad for her. The crowd was jeering and the Ministers were prying. I would have wanted to be swallowed by the Earth if I were her.
     As the book continues, I kept waiting to learn more about what really happened. I already knew who Pearl's father was from the movie, so I kept expecting him to step out and relieve Hester. He didn't, of course.  I began to dislike this man; he was a coward in my eyes. When the book finally started describing more about his situation, I finally understood. He was a good man. He cared about Hester more than one might believe.
     Then there was Pearl. The girl kind of annoyed me. She seemed to take pleasure in giving her mother a hard time. Though, if I'm to be honest, she wasn't a terrible child. She just didn't seem to actually care!
     The person I absolutely could not make any excuses for was Roger Chillingworth.He was cruel and malicious. His only concern was for vengeance, and even that was misplaced.
     Most of my classmates didn't enjoy The Scarlet Letter, which I can understand. Hawthorne is a bit long-winded. Nonetheless, I found it to be an interesting book. It didn't drag on too long, nor was it seemingly pointless. I cannot say, however, that the ending did it for me. It just wasn't what I wanted to happen.
     Rating: 6.5

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Art of Rereading

     Rereading. It's something that some say they despise. After all, they've already gleaned everything they can from that particular piece. Others say that they find more to love upon their second appraisal.
     So what exactly is it that pulls some of us back to a book? Is it the characters? Does the plot draw us in that well?
     I think it's something a little more than that. Everything about a book pulls us back. The plot, the world itself, the characters, and the writing all make or break a book. What really makes us pick it up again though is how the book impacts us, as individuals.
     People pick up an old favorite because it feels right. It takes them back to the first time they read it. For me, rereading helps me find parts of myself that I had almost forgotten. For instance, last November I read The Velveteen Rabbit again after about a decade. It brought back so many of my childhood memories, things that I hadn't thought of in too long.
     Maybe I'm just being too philosophical, but I really do think that reading books more than once helps us find ourselves. Those little pieces that make us who we are get lost in the hustle and bustle of life. Sometimes it really is good to remember.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Love, Meg by C. Leigh Purtill

     Meg is just your average teenage kid. Or, rather, she wants to be. Lucie, her sister, stood in the way of that ordinary life by moving them around a lot. What else could she do since they had no other family and she needed a job?
     When Meg finds out about Lucie's long kept secret, her world flips upside down and inside out. She travels to New York to meet the family she didn't know existed and along the way she discovers some things about herself, Lucie, and where she truly belongs.

     I half expected this to be the same old parents die, sisters left to struggle through the world together kind of story. It wasn't really. There were more twists in the plot than that. I was also expecting it to be a light, summery read. Again, it wasn't really. At least, not light in the way of emotional baggage that Meg carries. Although, it wasn't a bad read for the summer...
     Meg is a bit of a snarky character and I love her for it. She's had it rough what with the constant moving. It would be hard for anyone: having to go to a new school, make new friends, and impress new teachers. So, she kind of builds a wall. Meg doesn't really let herself get close to anyone. I can't really blame her because Lucie isn't such a wonderful role model. In fact, I disliked her throughout the majority of the book. Then Meg goes to New York.
     There she meets the perfect guy, Juny. He is smart, athletic, and completely adores her. I admire Purtill for creating such a realistic character. Juny doesn't fawn over her obsessively, but he does care. Nor is he one of those mysterious guys that seem to be in quite a few YA books. You know, the ones who the heroines know little about and yet fall for instantly.
     Meg also finally finds some friends that she seems to be herself around... and they accept her. My favorite part of the book is when Meg goes to Nikki's Christmas party. Of course, she also meets her family. They leave something to be desired, to put it kindly.
     The plot is way better than I had thought it might be. It really had some depth to it. The author did a wonderful job of writing in Meg's voice. I could relate to her. Her worries, ambitions, and experiences became mine as I read.
     Rating: 6.8

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (July 8-11)

     Oh, dear. I was afraid this might happen. You see, I've been meaning to do so many reviews! Much as I know I ought to get them done while I can still remember details, the piles of books I have sitting in various locations around the house are so much more appealing. So, I've had to make a little calendar on my dry erase board and delegate time to posting, reviewing, getting things ready for my school newspaper's relaunch (I'm copy editor!), and everything else I must do. I never realized that I would be so busy over the summer (I never was before), and I still have to find the time to sift through all of those piles of college mail... Yikes!
     There is one thing that has allowed me the time to breathe, of course. Last weekend my mom took me to the bookstore and the library! All of this in the same day, I might add. So, I finally got a library card! You see, last summer there was somewhat of a fiasco concerning me and my promised library card...but that is a story in and of itself. Either way, I now have a lovely, shiny little piece of plastic that entitles me to as many as 30 books at a time.
Book Blogger Hop

Question of the Week:
This week’s question isn’t a question at all! I thought I would do things a little differently this week and give all of you a chance to promote a giveaway (or two!) from the blogosphere.
The catch?
You have to find another blogger who is having a giveaway and promote their giveaway for them! If possible, promote a giveaway from a blogger doing the Hop (hey, you are visiting other blogs anyway, right?). Have fun with this one! It’s not an easy task this week! :)

     Well, this is not really an answer, but what else could I call it? It seems foreign for my Hop posts to take any other form than a question and answer. ;)
     Lisa at Badass Bookie is hosting a nifty giveaway of Inside Out and Outside In, both by Maria V. Snyder! Plus, for her international followers there are bookmarks and other swag. Cool, right? Well, what are you waiting for? Enter here! The giveaway ends July 31st.
     Then we have Misha and Maxine at My Love Affair With Books who are giving away a signed copy of Settling by Shelley Workinger! Get there fast because it closes on July 14th.
     Ellie, yes the very same who runs Musings of a Bookshop Girl, is hosting a fantastic giveaway as well! As part of her Page to Screen event, she is having a giveaway in which the winners will be able to choose a book that is supposed to make it to the big screen this year! It will last throughout her feature, so make sure to enter!
     Of course, there is also Carol at Carolina Valdez Miller who is hosting several giveaways! On the list are Wildefire by Karsten Knight, A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie, Personal Demons, Original Sin, Bad Taste in Boys, and Texas Gothic. Be sure to enter these amazing contests!
     A contest that I am particularly excited about is at Little Miss Becky's blog, Stories and Sweeties! She has reached over 1000 followers which is quite a feat and is filling a box with...BOOKS! Enter here by July 31st, lest you miss out on a chance to win some possible ARC's and more.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Bronze and the Brimstone by Lory S. Kaufman

     Hansum, Shamira and Lincoln, three teens from the 24th-century, are trapped in 14th-century Verona, Italy. They’ve survived many deadly experiences by keeping their wits about them and by introducing futuristic technology into the past. Principal among these inventions is the telescope, which brought them to the attention of the rich and powerful.      But standing out can get you into unexpected – situations. The nobles of Verona now believe Hansum is a savant, a genius inventor, especially after he brings them plans for advanced cannons and black powder. Being the center of attention is great, but the potential for trouble is now exponentially greater because people are watching Hansum’s every move.
     Meanwhile, artistic genius Shamira has fallen for a Florentine artist with bloody and disastrous consequences. Lincoln, considered an incompetent back home in the 24th-century, has blossomed – at least until he’s shot in the head with an arrow. And Hansum, after secretly marrying his new master’s beautiful daughter, Guilietta, is offered the hand in marriage of lady Beatrice, daughter of the ruler of Verona. To refuse could mean calamity for all the teens.
     Amazingly, none of this is their biggest challenge. Because a rash illness is spreading across Verona – and it is threatening to consume everyone.
--Taken from the back cover of The Bronze and the Brimstone

     As much as I enjoyed the last novel, I think that this one was even better. Normally I prefer the first of any series, books or movies, but Kaufman really came into his writing in this book. He is really able to throw the reader head-first into the story.
     It was easy for me to get right back into the world that was created in The Lens and the Looker. While the first book took me a bit to get interested, this one did not. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the novel. I loved how well it flowed and how many twists and turns there were!
     In addition to the great plot, there are fantastic characters. Kaufman is truly amazing at developing his characters into real people. They have their flaws, their strong points, and all of the worries that being alive means.
     Hansum really takes the lead throughout this novel. He is the one trying to make their situation work. More than anything, he is trying to make a life for himself in the fourteenth century. Pan becomes an invaluable resource for him as he begins his dealings with the Podesta, but it is Hansum who has to learn how to deal with a noble. He proves himself over the course of the book.
     Lincoln really grows up too. He takes on the responsibility of two little boys and basically becomes a big brother to them. It's so cute to see how they adore him. Of course, as much as he has grown up, Lincoln is still the funny kid from the first book. Nothing can stop him from his jokes.
     Shamira is just great. I wish I had her artistic skill. I know I've mentioned that, but it's still true. I love that she is strong willed. It really comes in handy, but I won't spoil that for you!
     Signora della Cappa, the Master's wife and Gulietta's mother, plays a much more integral part in this novel than in the last. At first, I was very skeptical about her. She seemed so loony and almost malicious. As I continued reading though, I realized that she really wasn't. It just took her longer to get used to people. By the end of the novel, I adored her.
      I got so caught up in The Bronze and the Brimstone that I stayed up past midnight to finish it, even though I had to get up early the next day. I just had to know what was going to happen! Goodness, my eyes teared up, but I had to keep reading! The book certainly did not end how I expected - which is a good thing. I find that I keep thinking about the ending, even though I'm in the midst of reading other books. I am eagerly awaiting the third installment!
     Rating: 10

*The fact that I received this book from the author did not influence my opinion of it in any way. This was my honest review.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (June 24-27)

Book Blogger Hop     I've actually been able to get through several books in the past week or so. In comparison to my one book a month while school is in session, it feels lovely to be able to read that much again.

Question of the Week:
     When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?
     I suppose some time in elementary school. For as long as I can remember I've loved reading. My parents read to me when I was younger and bought me books or took me to the library. I can't really remember a time without books. In elementary school we went to the library every week as a class, and I spent my recesses there often times. I fell in love with all of the books and the discussions that they inspired.

     When did you finally embrace reading as a passion?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Lens and the Looker by Lory S. Kaufman

     It’s the 24th century and humans, with the help of artificial intelligences (A.I.s), have finally created the perfect post-dystopian society. To make equally perfect citizens for this world, the elders have created History Camps, full sized recreations of cities from Earth’s distant pasts. Here teens live the way their ancestors did, doing the same dirty jobs and experiencing the same degradations. History Camps teach youths not to repeat the mistakes that almost caused the planet to die. But not everything goes to plan.
     In this first of a trilogy, we meet three spoiled teens in the year 2347. Hansum almost 17, is good looking and athletic. Shamira, 15, is sassy, independent and an artistic genius. Lincoln, 14, is the smart-aleck. But you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find his insecurities.
     These three “hard cases” refuse the valuable lessons History Camps teach. But when they are kidnapped and taken back in time to 1347 Verona, Italy, they only have two choices; adapt to the harsh medieval ways or die. The dangers are many, their enemies are powerful, and safety is a long way away. It’s hardly the ideal environment to fall in love – but that’s exactly what happens. In an attempt to survive, the trio risks introducing technology from the future. It could save them – or it could change history.
-- Taken from the History Camp website

     I was beyond impressed with The Lens and the Looker. Kaufman did a wonderful job setting up the world of his story and creating dynamic characters. His writing really made the book what it is. Kaufman puts you in the story with ease through the language he uses; his style isn't what one would categorize as pedantic, but it does set the mood beautifully. Because the story takes place in Verona, Italy, you get a sense of the Italian language when he throws in a few words or when he uses words that were common from a time period of the past.
     My favorite thing about this novel was probably how well Kaufman managed to integrate all the minute parts of his story. There really was something for everyone (adventure, suspense, romance...) without any one aspect taking over.
     The characters in The Lens and the Looker were very easy for me to relate to. For the most part, they were down to earth and interesting.
     Shamira was my favorite. She has so many talents and she really seemed to accept her new circumstances. I loved how strong of a character she was. Throughout the novel, Shamira is one person that all of the others can count on. Even though she is from the 24th century, she fits in well with the 14th century just as well. Plus, who wouldn't want her amazing artistic skills?
     Lincoln and Hansum were great too. Lincoln was absolutely hilarious! I loved how he thought everything was "Zippy!" Hansum was cool because he was kind of the big brother sort. He, Lincoln, and Shamira weren't actually siblings, but Hansum did treat them as if they were some of the most important people in his life.
     By the end of the novel, all of the characters really grew into themselves. The Master was far deeper than he seemed at first (and far more of a softy than he liked to show). Guilietta proved that she wasn't just another pretty face. She was a great character. I loved her because of how caring she was.
     Mr. Kaufman is a Master Writer. He created a lovely cast of characters that just felt so... human. I have no doubt that The Bronze and the Brimstone will be a fabulous read as well!
     Rating: 7

*The fact that I received this book from the author did not influence my opinion of it in any way. This was my honest review.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (June 10-13)

     It is officially summer for me (and has been for a couple of weeks), which means that I'll actually have time to read again! What a relief! Those bus rides simply were not long enough for me to get in all of the wonderful books I have been meaning to.
     It seems that I have quite a bit to catch up on. There are plenty of reviews I have yet to write, interviews I have been hoping to have,  and even a new hop-like event I was thinking of starting. If anyone is interested in participating in Summer Reading Sundays, please let me know through the comments or my email! More information will be forthcoming.
     Now, onto the hop!
Book Blogger Hop
Question of the Week:
     Who is the one author that you are dying to meet?
     Picking just one is extremely difficult... I suppose that Suzanne Collins is who I am absolutely dying to meet. Her writing is beautiful: eloquent at times, and very down to earth at others. It would be a dream come true to be able to discuss her novels with her!

     Who would you love to meet?

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

     The Great Gatsby tells the tale of Gatsby's love for Daisy Buchanan. He was in the army and she was a beautiful, popular young girl. They meet again after years under Nick's supervision, but nothing is as it was. Time changes things.

     I cannot say that I enjoyed The Great Gatsby. The novel didn't really seem to have a destination. Few things happened, but when they did, they seemed rather unconnected. Nick meets Daisy and Tom for dinner, then he sees Gatsby for the first time, then he goes to Gatsby's party. Suddenly Gatsby and he are the best of pals. I just didn't see any point in this.
     The characters themselves weren't particularly appealing either. The only one I actually liked even a bit was Gatsby, and maybe Nick. Gatsby was a really generous guy. I was fond of him for her his kind heart. Plus, I just felt bad for the guy. He was in love with someone he just shouldn't love. She was taken.
     At first, I thought Daisy was a great character. She was on the fence between her husband and the man she once loved. I could see how hard that might be. As time went on though, I realized that she wasn't a good person in the least. In essence, she was simply using Gatsby to have a little fun. After all, rich people can destroy things and then just pick up and move on, leaving others to pick up the pieces. That's exactly what she and Tom did at the end too. Things went wrong, so they left and Nick got to deal with the mess.
     Jordan I'm still not sure about. She was cocky, that's for sure. I didn't like her because she really couldn't care less about others. At the same time, she wasn't nearly as bad as Daisy turned out to be. She certainly had more of a personality than Daisy did as well. Daisy didn't really have any opinion of her own.
     All in all, this was not what I was hoping for or expecting. I suppose I set my standards too high because it is a classic. I wanted something that was timeless, and perhaps this is, but it didn't touch me the way it seems to have touched the world.
Rating: 2.7

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Immortal Obsession by Denise K. Rago

     Christian Du Maure is a Parisian vampire now living in Manhattan with his best friend, Michel. Behind him is a complicated past involving a power struggle during the French Revolution, a love affair with a mortal woman, Josette, and a promise.
     His task: to protect Josette's daughter. Of course, nothing is as it seems and he comes to find that Solange is his daughter as well. This leads him to Amanda, a descendant of Solan
ge. When their paths intertwine, so do the mortal and immortal worlds.

     The first word that comes to mind in describing this book is intense. The emotions are vivid and throw you into the book without a second glance back.
     Amanda is a unique character. There is something about her that sets her apart from other humans for the vampires of the novel (I won't tell, lest I ruin it for you) and that, in turn, sort of secludes her, if you will. That is not to say that she is a loner, but she does seem to be a bit of a workaholic. I admire that. Amanda loves her job and I hope to be that passionate about my work one day. Her biggest fault, in my opinion, was her lack of decisiveness. She didn't really know what she wanted from anyone, or herself, for that matter. Maybe I'm just being hypocritical though, because I can't even decide what I want to eat most of the time!
     Christian was the good guy. Although a vampire, he seemed to be like that guy in high school who everyone can't help but like. He was reserved, but still kind. It was interesting to read about his time in Paris and all of his younger years with Michel. I thought Rago did a wonderful job depicting that time period!
     The plot in the novel followed a relatively even pace. It wasn't too quick or too slow, until the end when it moved fast. This is extremely difficult to describe without giving anything away! I thought the mixing of the human world and the vampire world was intriguing. It wasn't anything like in other vampire books. For the most part, it seemed that the vampires had little control in Manhattan, but ruled over Paris even in the modern world. The vampires seemed totally inharmonious, though. They held grudges like no other.
     I was expecting the book to be more young adult than it was, not that I'm complaining. Personally, I was a bit, shall we say, uncomfortable with some of the scenes. So, some younger readers may want to wait a few years before reading Immortal Obsession. There isn't anything extremely graphic, of course. Just a little insinuation and such. None the less, I found this book to be really great! Denise Rago did a fantastic job in writing this novel!
Rating: 7

*The fact that I received this book from the author did not influence my opinion of it in any way. This was my honest review.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Allan Richard Shickman

     Allan Shickman has graciously agreed to share some things about himself today!

1. What encouraged and inspired you to write your two prehistoric novels?
     I never intended to write two books. The idea of the second came much later. The first was inspired by travel across the American West, where, it occurred to me that it would be difficult for anybody to survive without modern technology. From this came the notion of a survival adventure. I started collecting ideas, but it was a long time before I wrote anything. Long afterward my nephews encouraged me to write a sequel.

2. Did you have to do much research on the era? Is any of it fact-based?
     As an art historian, I studied some of the art and artifacts of prehistoric cultures, so I knew a little of how they lived. Of course I had to do a little research too. Tribal societies sometimes were afraid of twins, I discovered, and would put them and the mother (never the father) to death. That fact became important in the first Zan-Gah story. My home state, Missouri, is rich in caves, and I visited Onondaga Cavern. That was a wonderful experience, and generated a number of ideas.

3. How did you come up with the different clans? They were all so different from each other.
     It was half knowledge and half imagination—a fertile combination. There actually are totemistic societies—those that consider themselves related to animals in one way or another. I invented a people who had a totemistic relationship with wasps. They lived in, and were comfortable in trees. There are actually a very few tribes that do so. The Ba-Coro, Zan's people, perform a unification ritual that I actually saw (on video) performed in New Guinea. So I borrowed, mixed, and invented.

4. Zan and Dael were immensely close when they were young, but grew apart after Dael's torment. Does this parallel any of your own relationships? Is family particularly important to you?
     I have no doubt that my own family life unconsciously inspired relationships in the books, but they are all the products of reverie. I dream in fragments, and then I put the pieces together, polishing as I go. Who knows where those dream come from? They have to come from somewhere.

5. Which of your characters would you say is most like you?
     I wish I could answer that question with exactitude, but I really can't. There is a side of me that is a little like Zan, that is, virtuous. There is another side of me that is angry, bitter and disturbed, like Dael—but not so much, I hope. I can be stupid/wise like Chul, ingenious and inventive like Rydl, and somewhat like my female characters as well. It is said that Charles Dickens had a little of Ebenezer Scrooge in him, and I do not doubt it.

6. Which part of your novel (either one) was most fun to write? Why?
     I liked writing the climactic ending of the first book. It's fun when solutions come together dramatically. I thought that happened when the characters' danger and their personal "profiles" interacted. I also had fun describing the land of the red rocks in the first book and the volcano in the second: "Soon only the fiery cataclysm was visible against the night sky. A burst of yellow sparks thrown from the molten heart of the mountain stood out against the blue-black sky, reflecting its brilliance in the fixed eyes of the watchers, while a glowing vein of lava trickled like blood down the smooth slope."

7. Given the chance, would you go back to the prehistoric era or would you choose some other time instead?
     I have just finished the third book, Dael and the Painted People, which is the sequel to the second. So I did go back to the same prehistoric era. It is not impossible that I will write a fourth; or I may invent something in an entirely different era—ours, for instance. It depends on where my dream life takes me.
     But as for visiting the prehistoric era physically, not a chance!  Why would I want to go to a time when life was "nasty, brutish, and short"?  No, but it might be fun to go back to a period when the economy was running smoothly and a person could find a job.

8. Is there anything else you would like to share with readers whether it is about you, your novels, or writing in general?
     Dael and the Painted People is in the hands of a professional editor at this very moment. Soon, I will have to put together a cover. I intend to quote a passage of the story on the back, and comment, just as I did on the other two books. Here is what I think I will quote (nobody knows this yet):

     The whole time the shaman was speaking, he shook a boney finger at Dael, his enemy—a finger that was almost doubled in length by its long nail.
     "Did you dare to strike my brother?" Mlaka demanded, not without an evident note of sadness.
     Dael did not answer. His eyes were fixed on an empty corner of the room.  Something back there was bothering him, and he looked more closely.  His vision was blurred and he was a little dizzy.  Who was that standing apart in the shadows?  Dael stopped listening to the voices around him and intently focused on someone he only gradually recognized—a wrinkled, haggard old woman that nobody else could see.  She had glazed eyes, and a spear in her breast.  It was Hurnoa, dead and yet alive!

     When Dael, guilty and tormented, came to live with the painted people, he longed for peace and restoration; but without knowing it he made a powerful enemy.  A story of conflict and love.

     A big thanks to Allan for such a wonderful interview! His novels, Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure and Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, are wonderful reads. I can't wait to get my hands on the next, Dael and the Painted People!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blue News

     For those of you who were interested in reading Blue by Lou Aronica, I have some great news for you. The e-book edition of this fabulous read is now only $2.99! As you can see from my review, I think that this book is well-worth the price.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (April 1-4)

     I must say, it has been much too long since I participated in the hop! They do say junior year is the hardest, but I didn't expect such a lack of sleep... Thank goodness for Spring Break and all of the lovely reading I was able to do.
Book Blogger Hop
Question of the Week:
     Since today is April Fool's Day in the USA, what is the best prank you have ever played on someone OR that someone has played on you?
     Honestly, I usually forget about April Fool's Day and usually people don't play jokes on me. Today, however, I got pranked and I did some pranking myself (insert evil grin here).
     My English teacher decided to tell us that she had a death in the family and would therefore have to resign her post and manage Walgreen's. I almost believed her, except that she had already played the joke on my friend who told me about it.
     My Chemistry teacher had the best practical joke ever! She told us that she was going to burn a candle and we needed to make specific observations about it. So we did, and then she blew it out and took a bite of it! She took a bite of the candle! Now, I was questioning her sanity at this point. Of course, it turned out that the 'candle' was really a potato and what we thought was the wick was actually a piece of almond. We got her first though. When she walked out of the room, we all hid, as much as one can hide in a chemistry classroom. :)
     There are two AP English 11 classes at my school. I have it first block and some of my friends have it fourth block. We are currently reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne ( review forthcoming) and were supposed to get through chapter 23 last night. So, first block decided that we would tell fourth block that we had a brutal test over it that our English teacher claims to have told us all about so we could freak them all out. Let it suffice to say that some people thought they were about to fail a major test. Ah, yes, goal accomplished.
     Re-reading all of this, I realize that you probably had to be there to understand how funny all of this really was. So, you'll just have to trust me on this. Hilarious! I'm telling you, today was a riot. ;)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman

     The volcanic turbulence that shakes Dael's mind carries him to vicious extremes. It is Zan's task to calm his brother and lead him away from thoughts both destructive and self-destructive. But even the paradise of the Beautiful Country will not erase them.
--Taken from the Earthshaker Books website

     This novel was just as interesting as its predecessor, but in a different way. It focused more on the relations between the people of the Ba-Coro than on the adventures Zan had. We learned about Sparrow, Morda, Siraka-Finaka, and many more of the characters who played minor roles in the first book.
     The only complaint I have is about the way it ended. It seemed as if Shickman wrapped it up a little too quickly because it just wasn't very believable. None the less, I truly enjoy his writing skills. He puts you in the world of the novel with such ease! Even if you don't fully understand, or like, the characters, you can't help but relate with them just a bit.
     Dael, in particular, played a bigger part in the goings-on of this book. I was just as confused by his behavior as I was in the last book. I understand that he went through absolutely horrendous trials, but I still don't see how that could cause him to be, well, a horrendous person. Everyone goes through difficult times. Granted, his difficult times lasted for about two entire years, but that doesn't give him the right to act so cruelly. In my own personal opinion, he was a slight bit hypocritical. He hated the people who tortured him, and yet he was more than willing to do the same to others.
     I felt bad for Zan. He wanted so badly to have the brother he once knew back again. After all, he had gone through his own perils to rescue Dael. Despite all of his desperate attempts to help his brother regain his old self, it just wasn't meant to be. Once Dael lost his beautiful wife and child, it was all over for him. Even his small amount of happiness was gone. Zan didn't know how to fix that. He couldn't very well bring Lissa back from the dead. Not only were these difficulties on his mind, but so were his problems with the always amazing Pax. All of this Zan handled with compassion.
     Pax was just great. She, along with Siraka-Finaka, took feminism to a new level. Pax had hunting skills better than most men and Siraka-Finaka just had a bearing about her that gave her a sort of authority. I admired both of them for their wisdom and their kindly natures.
     I cannot wait for the next book! This one was so good! Allan Shickman is a talented writer. He brings the words to life and creates stories that you want to read.
     Rating: 6.5-7
*The fact that I received this book from the author did not influence my opinion of it in any way. This was my honest review.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure by Allan Richard Shickman

     A bad conscience and concern for Dael, his missing brother, cause Zan to begin a search which will lead him to captivity, conflict, love, and victory. In a time of war, the hero goes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood, and a role of leadership among his people.
     It's about survival, discovery, a long search, and a good fight.
--from the Earthshaker Books website

     I was enthralled by this book. At first, I thought it would be a bit childish, just because of the cover, but it really isn't. The language gives you a feel of being in ancient times, as does the plot itself, obviously. Shickman must have put a lot of thought into how to make this adventure come to life!
     Zan is just an ordinary kid in a prehistoric world. He lost his twin brother, Dael, and though life has gone on, he misses his best friend. I admire Zan's determination to find his brother and his willingness to leave behind all that he knows to rescue Dael. He shows amazing strength in bringing the clans together and enduring all that he is put through.
     I was so disappointed when we finally met Dael. He was far from the person built up in my imagination. Zan's view of him, and everyone else's actually, made him out to be a great person. Yet he is far from the person they once loved. Zan describes a meek, caring kid, but Dael is a withdrawn, disturbed young man now. Whatever he went through must have been beyond torture.
    Aniah seems so amazing and wise! He reminds me of a kindly grandpa, which, I suppose, he is. Despite his great status among the clans, Aniah is far from perfect and he doesn't try to hide the fact. He accepts who he is, which just adds to his aura of intelligence. I'd have to say he is one of the best minor characters I have met in a while.
     I really enjoyed this book. It had an amazing plot line and an awesome world. The Beautiful Country sounded so neat! I kind of wish I could see it for myself, maybe go swimming in the pristine lake. The different peoples that Shickman created in his story were fascinating as well. He really made interesting, deep characters that had entire backgrounds of their own. They could have stood alone, without the great plot, and still been great characters.
     Somehow, Shickman was able to turn the prehistoric era into a fascinating story of peril, growing up, the bond between family, and all that this encompasses. Zan-Gah was well-written and worth reading!
     Rating: 7.5
*The fact that I received this book from the author did not influence my opinion of it in any way. This was my honest review.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby

     For some reason, I keep forgetting to push the publish button on a lot of my posts. I thought I had this scheduled for a while ago, but I guess not...
     Appointed to the queen’s household at the age of fourteen, Catherine Howard is not long at court before she catches the eye of King Henry VIII. The king is as enchanted with Catherine as he is disappointed with his newest wife — the German princess Anne of Cleves. Less than a year from her arrival at court, Catherine becomes the fifth wife of the overwhelmingly powerful, if aging, King of England.
     Caught up in a dazzling whirl of elaborate celebrations, rich gowns and royal jewels, young Catherine is dizzied by the absolute power that the king wields over his subjects. But does becoming the king’s wife make her safe above all others, or put her in more danger? Catherine must navigate the conspiracies, the silent enemies, the king’s unpredictable rages, as well as contend with the ghosts of King Henry’s former wives: the abandoned Catherine of Aragon, the tragic Jane Seymour, and her own cousin, the beheaded Anne Boleyn. The more Catherine learns about court, the more she can see the circles of danger constricting around her, the threats ever more dire.
--Alisa Libby's website

     This is what makes me love historical fiction. It was so vivid and real. Libby is a very talented writer for being able to bring history to life as she did in this novel.
     The characters said and did things that I could actually imagine the real Catherine or King Henry do. Catherine is a timid child to begin with, but she grows throughout the book. She grows into a woman through the trials of being Queen. This may not seem so terrible, but nothing is ever as it seems. She had responsibilities just as anyone else does and she had to bear the largest burden of all: pleasing the King. I think Catherine was a great character. She wasn't so naive as to believe that she could trust everyone, but at the same time she didn't try to seclude herself.
     Henry is an aging King. He isn't quite sure what to do to keep his position and status with his people. They are slipping away from him after all the years he has ruled. So, he turns to his
newest distraction: Catherine. I'm not quite sure how I felt about him. On one hand, I wanted to hate him. Knowing what I do about King Henry the Eigth (albeit very little), I was disgusted with his merciless actions towards women he supposedly loved. On the other hand, I could feel his desperation to have an heir to the throne.
     The plot of the novel was wonderful! It moved fast enough, but not too quickly, and of course it was interesting. I liked that we got to see Catherine's day-to-day activities and such. I could picture her chambers and the gardens. I could see her sneaking out late at night by the light of the moon to see... nope, can't tell you that. Her dresses sounded so beautiful! I also wish I could have heard her playing the lute in real life. It was just a very insightful book. Everything was imagined in detail and you can tell the author took great care to SHOW and not tell what happened.
     Rating: 8.5

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lou Aronica

     Lou Aronica, author of Blue and several other novels, has graciously agreed to do an interview. His book was absolutely amazing and I'm glad I got the chance to know him better. I hope you enjoy the interview...


1. What inspired you to write Blue? Were there any specific events that led to your writing it?

     Interestingly, the thing that inspired me to write Blue was the fact that my oldest child was going away to college and I was worried about losing her. I realized that no one would want to read a novel about this, so I turned everything into a metaphor. My imagination just took over after that.

2. How did you create the fantasy land of Tamarisk? The names you came up with for some of the creatures were interesting, but how did you think of them? I have never heard of a wacasassa before...
     Before I started writing, I had a long history as a publisher, and my first serious job in the industry was as running the science fiction and fantasy line for Bantam and founding their Spectra imprint. I have a great deal of affection for the genre, but I often thought the way writers chose names left a good deal to be desired. When I decided to invent a world in Blue one of the first things I decided was that I would have a rational naming convention. Therefore, all of the characters are named after plants that represent them in some way (this is true for all characters, not just the Tamarisk characters), the places are named after explorers, the food is named after accomplished chefs, the trees and plants were named after US national forests, and the wildlife is named after US wildlife preserves. Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park is on the west coast of Florida.

3. Family relationships play into the events of Blue quite a bit. Is family something that is important to you?
     Gigantically important, which is why I was so freaked out about my daughter going to college in the first place. Family meals and little traditions are a big part of our lives, and I didn't want to see that go away. As it turns out, I had nothing to fear. It took me so long to write Blue that she's actually finished with college and living nearby. We didn't lose her at all.

4. Becky, Chris, and Miea are amazing, dynamic characters. What was the inspiration for them? Do any of your characters represent people in your own life?
     Several people have wondered if Blue is autobiographical. Just about nothing in the novel actually happened to me or anyone I know. However, I do consider it to be an "emotional autobiography" in that I felt or experienced with others most of the emotions that happen in the novel. Similarly, Becky shares many of the characteristics of my oldest daughter, though none of the circumstances, and Chris is very much a mouthpiece for me, though our experiences are very different. Miea is an amalgam of several people.

5. Which of your lovely characters would you say is most like you? Why?
     Without question, Chris. Chris is in an endless state of trying to figure things out, and I absolutely share that with him.

6. Did you have a favorite part of Blue that was most fun to write?
     The scenes between Becky and Chris after she learns she can travel to Tamarisk were the most fun for me because I loved the way the two of them sparked together. I also had a great time writing the extended scene where Becky goes on her first waccasassa ride, as it allowed me to show a great deal about Tamarisk in a short stretch.

7. If you could travel to another time period, where would you go?
     I wouldn't go far because I would miss too much of what we have in the world now. I'm not sure I'd want to be anywhere that didn't have the internet, molecular gastronomy, and The Decemberists for very long. That said, I think I would have loved to have been a young adult in the early sixties. There was so much possibility then, and I think I would have embraced those opportunities.

8. Is there anything else you might like to share about yourself, Blue, or the writing process?
     Nothing other than to say that I'm extremely interested in what others think about the themes in Blue. If anyone wants to discuss them with me, they can reach me at

Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (February 4-7)

     I've been incommunicado for quite a while... A combination of little sleep and tons of homework are definitely the culprit. Somehow, I still managed to get a bit of pleasurable reading in as well. Thank goodness, otherwise I may have gone insane.
Book Blogger HopQuestion of the Week:
     What are you reading now and why are you reading it?
     Well, for English I am reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. So far, I am disappointed. I expected it to be much more intriguing than it is. I really do hope I begin to like it more sometime within the next chapter.
     I am also in the middle of re-reading Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev so that I can read the next book, Perchance to Dream.

Blue by Lou Aronica

     Do not begin this novel unless you are prepared to be moved, willing to open your heart, and available to the possibility that life can bring you magic.
     Chris Astor is a man in his early forties who is going through the toughest stretch of his life.
     Becky is Chris's fourteen-year-old daughter, a girl who overcame enormous challenges to become a vibrant, vital young woman - and now faces her greatest obstacle yet.
     Miea is the young queen of a fantasy land that Becky and Chris created when Becky was little, a fantasy land that has developed a life of its own and now finds itself in terrible, maybe fatal trouble.
     Together, Chris, Becky, and Miea need to uncover a secret. The secret to why their worlds have joined at this moment. The secret to their purpose. The secret to their future. It is a secret that, when discovered, will redefine imagination for all of them.
--Summary from back cover of Blue

     I've been mulling over how to express my sentiments regarding this book for a little over a week now. The first time I picked Blue up, I read the first sentence and put it back down. I wasn't intrigued, plus I had chemistry homework to finish. The next time I picked it up, I re-read the first sentence and moved on to the next sentence, the next paragraph, the next page, and then the next chapter. While the opening sentence didn't pull me in, every subsequent word had me up late for a few nights reading. Blue was beautifully written and Lou Aronica obviously put plenty of love and effort into his book.
     I'm not sure who my favorite character was. All of them were so interesting and I felt compelled to continue reading their story. Aronica was able to create people that jumped off the page into reality, people who were deep and caring, but had their own problems to contend with. They weren't perfect, but all of their imperfections made them that much stronger.
     Chris is a loving father. Any girl would be lucky to have a dad like him, someone whose whole world revolves around his little girl. From the moment the book begins you know that he would do just about anything for Becky. Becky is growing up though. She isn't that same little girl who once made up stories with her father. At fourteen, she is trying to be a bit more independent, which makes it seem as if she is pulling away from Chris.
     Miea is quite amazing. She is in her early twenties, but she rules an entire kingdom by herself after tragedy struck her family. She is overwhelmed and still somewhat lost. Then, she meets Becky and she sees some of herself in the younger girl. Their growing friendship is an integral part of the story.
     The fantasy land that Becky and Chris created is wonderful! I loved every minute reading about it. The way the author described everything was great because I could see it all in my mind's eye. The blue of the plants, the interesting creatures, Miea's palace... all were described in exquisite detail. I'm actually kind of jealous that I don't get to visit myself. I would love to ride a wacassassa or sit in on a meeting in the palace.
     Lou Aronica has definitely created an amazing piece of art in writing Blue. The book tugged at my heart, and every emotion expressed was easy to feel and understand. I feel cheated that I've had to go this long without having read something this wonderful. Sometimes there are just certain books that come into your life at the perfect time and touch you in unforeseen ways. Blue was that book for me.
     Rating: 10
*The fact that I received this book from the author did not influence my opinion of it in any way. This was my honest review.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Haunted by Jessica Verday

     After an extended stay with her Aunt, Abbey finally feels ready to move on and put Kristen's death behind her. She's managed to forget about Caspian. Well, she thought she had, until he shows up in her life once again. It just isn't in their cards to be apart...

     Okay, I will do my best not to go into fan-girl gushing mode. I must say though, this book was fabulous! I can't tell you how much I enjoy Jessica Verday's writing style. It's just... comfortable.
     The characters were developed even further in this book and the plot was just as interesting as in the last. The whole idea of Revenants and such was intriguing, to say the least. I want to know more though. I felt a little lost when it came to that aspect of the plot because it wasn't really explained for what seemed like forever. Not that I'm complaining of course; it definitely helped build the tension. I'm sure that I'll get to know more in the next book, which I am dying to get my hands on!
     Now that we've gotten to know Abbey, I can honestly say she is an amazing, dynamic character. Unlike me, Abbey isn't too interested in school. She has other plans for her future, but she is not lazy. I think I like her because she isn't your average teenager. Abbey is much more mature than her peers.
     After having read The Haunted, I can understand why Abbey has fallen for Caspian. He is more vulnerable in this book and that allows the reader to get to know him better. The glimpses into his life are helpful, not to mention interesting. Granted, Caspian is pretty great, but I can't make myself forget about Ben. Even if he actually liked Kristen, I still think him and Abbey would have been good together. Of course, Abbey gets to decide for herself. I will refrain from pressuring her into accepting my view. :)
     I can not wait to read the next book. I need to know what happens! If you haven't read this book yet, you are crazy.
     Rating: 9.7

Friday, January 14, 2011

H.A. Goodman

     H. A. Goodman is here to give us a bit of information about himself and his novel, Logic of Demons: The Quest for Nadine's Soul!

1. What led you to write Logic of Demons? Was it something that happened to you, or something you witnessed? Why did you decide to actually publish Logic of Demons?

     About one year ago, a couple of close friends betrayed me. This event, along with several other issues I was going through, inspired me to write Logic of Demons. Essentially, the novel is about how human beings justify their actions, the thought process (or lack thereof) pertaining to decision making, and how even good people are at times capable of immoral behavior. Getting back to my squabble with several close friends, I remember that during the last conversation I had with one of them, he actually quoted a Bible verse in an attempt to give me advice. Thus, the theme behind my book stems from an observation of how religion can be used to legitimize a point of view, or even to circumvent logic. Writing the novel was a catharsis and helped me heal from the hurtful actions of others and my mistakes as well (I wasn’t perfect either). It also enabled me to make a statement about humanity – all at once. I suggest that anyone going through heartache write a story and vent emotions through characters, a plot, and a storyline. If your literary endeavor is fueled by emotions that you’d normally bottle up inside, it will automatically be successful because the pursuit of writing will help alleviate stress and perhaps heal some wounds.

2. How did your background in history and international relations have an impact on the events in the book? On the characters?
     Well, there are two wonderful books that I think anyone interested in politics, world events, and human nature should read. The first book is entitled, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. Mr. Grossman’s On Killing is an unbelievable look into the human mind, and how people can be conditioned to kill a legitimate enemy (in battle) and even innocent people (during genocides or slaughters). Mr. Grossman taught psychology at West Point, and the case studies and research found in his book are eye opening and reveal a part of all human beings most of us don’t like to recognize. Ultimately, he highlights how the human mind can justify an entire array of cruel acts, and how these rationalizations can lead to dire emotional consequences. Another wonderful book is God is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens. Mr. Hitchens analyzes how religion has been utilized throughout history to legitimize irrational, dangerous, and often times deadly behavior. Both books helped me also see how one of my friends (who happened to be quite religious) was able to justify his actions, even though these actions were not only contrary to religious values, but also in opposition to logical and rational thought. In addition, I did research on the Rwandan Genocide, the Iran-Iraq War, and various other historical events that are addressed in my novel.

3. Your novel takes the idea of 'good' versus 'bad' to a new level. The main character himself has acted immorally, but is he truly a bad person? Is anyone entirely 'good' or entirely 'bad', in your opinion?
     I think Devin is a good person; he just wanted to avenge the death of his wife, which in turn caused him to commit a horrible act. Ultimately, he pays for his lack of self control in the afterlife, and quest for Nadine’s soul begins. I think that the vast majority of people on this planet are good, wonderful people. However, it unfortunately only takes a small number of people to cause a tremendous amount of pain and havoc for everyone. But to answer your question completely, everyone is capable of committing evil, and even though it can be difficult at times, it’s up to each of us to control our behavior and act in accordance with decency and goodness.

4. Devin made a huge mistake, but he was eventually able to redeem himself. Do you think that everyone deserves a second chance?
     I’d say most people deserve a second chance. However, when it comes to mass murder, for example, such killers in my view don’t deserve reprieve.

5. Religion plays an immense role in your book, as does the idea of religious fanaticism. Did you create this added tension in order to convey a particular message?
     Ultimately, I believe that positive actions speak louder than words or even “faith.” A person can have all the faith in the world, be able to quote Bible verses, give 10% of their income to a religious institution, and do everything their religious leader tells them to do, but if their actions are inconsistent with logic and rationality, and if their behavior hurts other physically or emotionally, then all their beliefs don’t help the world. Although I’m Jewish, philosophically I’m agnostic in my view of the world. I don’t believe “the guy upstairs” plays favorites, and if I wasn’t so frightened of the notion of nothing happening when we pass on, I’d probably be an atheist. Also, I believe that tribalism, or any viewpoint that leads a person to think that their culture or religion (or manner in which they separate themselves from others), is better than another person’s background , is the scourge of humanity. History has shown that millions can be slaughtered if certain people are deemed by more powerful groups to be less than human, or below the worth of the powerful group. A quick look at world history easily sheds light into the phenomenon of tribalism and its consequences.

6. Which character is most like you? What are some of the similarities and differences?
     I’m probably a combination of all the characters – hopefully a lot more of the angels than the other guys!
7. You put a lot of historical references into your book. Is there a time period you would like to visit, given the chance?
     It might sound odd, but knowing what I know about history, I’d probably like to just stay in 2011.

8. Is there anything else you would like to add, whether it is about yourself, your novel, or the writing process?
     I’d like to thank you, Alex, for taking the time to review the novel and I appreciate the interview! Also, I encourage everyone who is going through stress or a tough time in life to write a story, a poem, or something that will allow them to display, or vent emotions on paper.

     Thank you so much for the wise advice and for taking the time to answer my questions honestly! Make sure to check out Hal's own website and his book. I hope everyone enjoyed the interview, because I certainly enjoyed coming up with the questions.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My First Challenge

     That's right, I finally decided to commit to a challenge, my first as a book blogger! Misha at My Love Affair With Books is hosting the Wish I'd Read That Challenge 2011 and I am beyond excited. I think I can actually accomplish something in this challenge, despite my lack of speed reading skills. :)
My Love Affair With Books
     I'm hoping I can make it to the 4th level. Twenty books seems like something I can do, especially since they are books I've been meaning to read anyway. Now I just need to figure out which books I will attempt to read...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Logic of Demons: The Quest for Nadine's Soul by H. A. Goodman

     What would you do if the love of your life was murdered by a deranged killer? Would you become a vigilante and seek retribution? And would this revenge affect those you care for in the afterlife? LOGIC OF DEMONS The Quest for Nadine's Soul takes you on a journey inside the psyches of men and women forced to deal with the spiritual consequences of their decisions. Through the lives of a demon, two Angels, and a mysterious teenage girl, a plethora of politically and socially relevant issues ranging from the roots of genocide and sex trafficking to child conscription and religious fundamentalism are addressed in this fantasy thriller. Life as well as the afterlife converge in this novel to explain certain peculiarities of the human condition. Whether you are God fearing individual or an atheist, LOGIC OF DEMONS The Quest for Nadine's Soul addresses moral and theological issues of interest for people of all backgrounds.
--Summary from back of book

     This book was simultaneously revolting and intriguing. I wanted to keep reading and yet I didn't. The characters were interesting enough, but the events that were taking place were horrendous (the scenes concerning genocide and such were just so sad).
     The biggest problem I had with Logic of Demons was that it was a bit hard to follow the action. Not to mention that it was slightly slow to really get going. The writing itself wasn't bad, though. It was compelling enough and was able to draw forth my emotions. For the most part the characters were believable as well.
     I'm not sure what to think of Devin. He was despicable and selfish at times, but it's hard to forget why he is that way. When you really get down to it though, he isn't such a bad person. He made a terrible mistake. Who hasn't? Granted, I've never done anything as drastic and horrid as Devin, but no one is perfect. I just wish that he wasn't quite so naive and gullible! I mean, I figured out who he was 'working' for far before Natalia told him.
     My favorite character was probably Natalia. She was a pretty neat Angel, I must say. The thing is, she didn't try to sugar-coat anything for Devin. She made him deal with his new reality and that helped him to grow as a person. Eventually, he came to realize that his actions were important even in the after-life. So, despite his hope of seeing Bridget again, he began taking things more seriously and tried to make better, more conscientious decisions.
     Nadine's portion of the story was most interesting to me. Her life was depressing, but she kept going. I admired her for that. It couldn't have been easy, given her uncle's incessant griping and such.
     As a whole, this book wasn't really my cup of tea. I didn't dislike it, per se, but it was not my favorite either. Goodman did do a wonderful job creating a unique storyline, one that had plenty of twists. He also created some interesting characters. None the less, I didn't care for it as much as I thought I might. I'm sure plenty of people would enjoy the book more than I did, and if it sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to read it!
     Rating: 5.6
*The fact that I received this book from the author did not influence my opinion of it in any way. This was my honest review.