Tuesday, 23 April 2013

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Goodreads Summary :In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

My Rating : 5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : In 1918, where a war torn earth was on the verge of a great misbalance, outbreak of a deadly plague frightened the human and ghost alike-the epidemic Spanish Influenza. It scares me to think what it was like back then when humanity was on verge of eradication. Not the Influenza but also in the war ravaged world, many lost their loved ones in the terrors and trenches of World War I. Every single glimpse of it we can picture while reading In The Shadow of The Black Birds. There is no doubt the author did an great amount of research before writing the book which is clearly evident by the author’s note included at the end of the book.



Mary Shelly is not your usual heroine. For a sixteen years old girl, Shelly showed a great inner fortitude where everyone else was painstakingly struggling in a world of epidemic outbreak of flu. We come face to face with emotion when her childhood sweetheart Stephen died in the war filed. Her vulnerability over his death yet strength to find out the truth behind Stephen’s death, we met an incredible heroine with sides I can’t help but admiring. Truly, all credit goes to the author for creating such a realistic heroine a reader can easily relate herself to.

Among the other characters, Stephen made such an impression in my mind. We always expect a hero to be immensely strong and extremely courageous and we expect him to do miraculous that some is not even naturalistic. However, here Stephen is just a boy like we see in our day to day life, a boy who feared, a boy who went through mental trauma, a boy who gave us every reason to be emphasized with him.

The other side character were just influential for the story line, I liked their roles as positive and negative catalyst, including Julias and Aunt Eva. The secondary characters truly made an impression.

The book was written in simple yet very artful way, one that captures our interest. The world building was hunting along with those photographs attached to the book which enriches the spookiness of the story. The suspense was well maintained, however around the middle of the book I guess who could be the villain but still I must say, the mystery was well build. In The Shadow of The Blackbirds is recommendable for everyone, the book is worth reading, truly.

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Friday, 12 April 2013

Exclusive Interview with Miriam Forster, author of City of a Thousand Dolls

Me : Describe City of a Thousand Dolls in three lines.

Miriam : Murder and mayhem
Beauty and danger
Talking cats and kissing

Me : What inspired you in writing City of a Thousand Dolls?

Miriam : The initial inspiration was a combination of different things. One was line in another book about being "groomed" for someone. Another was a book about gehisa that I was reading at the time. And then my boyfriend--now my husband--went to India for a few weeks. I ended up wanting to write about a place where girls were groomed and trained for different tasks and set it in a South Asian-type of world.

Me : What is your favourite scene from City of a Thousand Dolls?

Miriam : So hard to choose! Without spoiling anything, I think it's after Nisha returns to the City and talks to Devon. There's a part at the end of that scene that makes me cheer every time. *grin*

Me : I’m very tempted to ask about your research on Indian Culture while you were writing City of a Thousand Dolls. You can imagine why.

Miriam : The research was kind of an ongoing thing with the writing. I wrote most of the first draft of the book in the cafe of our local Barnes and Noble bookstore. So when I'd get stuck, I'd go to the travel section or the history section and grab a few books to look things up in. I was still researching details right up through the editing process. For example, originally, the toy that Nisha brings with her to the City is a carved spotted cat. But originally it was a stuffed animal. I realized at the very last minute that stuffed animals would probably not have been invented yet and changed it. We were in first pass pages by then, the ones that come formatted like the book. The only thing you're supposed to do with them is check for typos and misspellings. But they let me tweak it anyway.

I ended up basing a lot of the Empire on the early Indus River Valley civilizations. Basically my question was, what if you took these people and isolated them for five hundred years? What would happen? The Empire was my answer to that.

Me : Tell us about your journey to the way of being published.

Miriam : City of a Thousand Dolls is the second book I ever wrote. It took me a year and a half to write and edit. Then I queried it off and on for two years, in between writing several other books. At one point I tore it apart and rewrote it. But I was still getting no as an answer. So I sent it to one more agent, just to keep my spirits up. Imagine my surprise when she loved it. And then she found an editor who loved it too. I was about to move on and work on other books, but I'm really glad this was the one that made it.

Me : If City of Thousand Dolls was a movie, who would you like to see play the characters? Any particular actors and actresses in mind?

Miriam : I've been thinking about this, and I don't know! If anyone has any suggestions, I'd LOVE them

Me : How different is City of Thousand Dolls than its first draft?

Miriam : The original draft was 30,000 words shorter, had twelve Houses instead of six, and had five extra characters and an extra murder. It was really fast paced and messy. Akash wasn't in it at all, and neither was the masquerade Originally, Nisha only enters the story at the third murder (the extra one that I cut) and is told about the others. When I rewrote the story completely, that was one of the things I changed. Other than that, most of the major changes were things my editor and I came up with to streamline and strengthen the story.

Me : When the sequel is coming out?

Miriam : It's actually a companion novel! And we're shooting for Fall of 2014. This one is taking me longer to edit because it's a much more complicated book. But there will be LOTS of Sune goodness and lots of Black Lotus and you'll get to see the capitol city. There will also be a few crossover characters for the first book.

Me : Books you are looking forward to read at this moment?

Miriam : I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of Clockwork Princess when Cassandra Claire came through my town. I'm excited to read it, but I want to read the other two again first. :)

Me : Thank you Miriam for your time and consideration for this interview. And best wishes for the success of CoTD.

Miriam : Thank you for having me!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Bruised by Sarah Skilton

Goodreads Summary : When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else -- more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world -- full of dark humor and hard truths

My Rating : 3.5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : Before Bruised I have never read any novel related to sports, any kind of sports. So I better shan’t compare this book with any other book because I found it unique itself. Most of all, before staring the book, I had no knowledge about any kind of Karate but now I can name few moves that are used in Tae Kwon Do.

The story deals with a mental agony of a sixteen-year-old black belt Imogen, who believed that her black belt made her strong enough to survive any situations. But when she freezes and hides under a table during a holdup at a local diner and witnessed the gunman was shot down to death by police, she held herself responsible for his death. She believed all her countless hours of hard training, her efforts and practice was in all went in vein because of her cowardice act during the shootout. Here the story begins about her journey from a guilt ridden girl continuously struggling with depression, anger to how she moves on in her life after that.

First, I like in the intensity in Imogen’s voice. However in few stages I had problem in dealing with her illogical impulsive behaviour (view spoiler)[ She punches random the guy she likes and without reason (hide spoiler)]. Other than that, she was a fine protagonist.

I must say, the concept was new in YA market and the presented the story in layer by layer, from the negative side to the positive side of a person’s life. For contemporary fan, Bruised is an excellent read.

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