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New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page
The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now… or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.
I met CJ Lyons at the 2013 YA Author/Blogger Rooftop Party. A few lucky people received a copy of her debut YA novel BROKEN, thanks to her publisher, Sourcebooks Fire. (Thank you, Derry!!) CJ Lyon is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous adult medical mystery novels. She also has a plenty of experience in the medical field as a pediatric ER doctor.
Wow! BROKEN is so different from other YA novels that I think fans of YA will find it refreshing. It’s medical mystery brilliance, a thriller that will pull readers into the lives of Scarlet, a fifteen-year-old girl who is on the verge of death. Her goal is to spend one week in a regular high school experiencing a regular teenager’s life. There’s nothing “new” to the bullying you’ll read about – the kids that tease Scarlet for being different. That can be found in any school. But what is different is Scarlet’s remarkable story. It’s what makes headlines in the news. Scarlet’s life and death situation, her relationship with her family, and her relationship with the two young men who come into her life and help her to “see” things differently, make this medical thriller intriguing. Though there are plenty of descriptions of Scarlet’s problems, readers will not be overwhelmed or unable to comprehend what’s going on with her. As the story unfolds and you discover more and more about Scarlet’s issues, readers will want to keep turning the pages to learn more and more of her story. I highly recommend that you do NOT read anything at the back of the book until you finish the novel. There are too many hints in the Q & A that will give away plot points, so resist the urge to read them!
Definitely recommend this novel for those who want a break from dystopian and fantasy. Perfect for those who want a different twist to contemporary.
An interview with CJ Lyons and her niece Abby, who was the inspiration for the character in Broken. Abby actually has Long QT Syndrome, the same heart condition the main character suffers from. CJ diagnosed her 20 minutes after she was born.
SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:
In the real world, when you vanish into thin air for a week, people tend to notice.
After his unexpected journey into the lands of the fey, Ethan Chase just wants to get back to normal. Well, as “normal” as you can be when you see faeries every day of your life. Suddenly the former loner with the bad reputation has someone to try for-his girlfriend, Kenzie. Never mind that he’s forbidden to see her again.
But when your name is Ethan Chase and your sister is one of the most powerful faeries in the Nevernever, “normal” simply isn’t to be. For Ethan’s nephew, Keirran, is missing, and may be on the verge of doing something unthinkable in the name of saving his own love. Something that will fracture the human and faery worlds forever, and give rise to the dangerous fey known as the Forgotten. As Ethan’s and Keirran’s fates entwine and Keirran slips further into darkness, Ethan’s next choice may decide the fate of them all.
One of the best YA fantasy series! Intrigue, fantasy, magic, danger, murder, romance + brilliant writing + fantastical creatures + well-developed, flawed, believable characters + vivid scenery = Top-notch novels you won’t want to put down!
I read the entire series over the past few days, and I must say that it is FREAKIN’ A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I am so glad I read the entire series at once, and didn’t have to wait for another book to come out to discover what happened next. The novels are centered around an extremely strong female character, Meghan Chase, who is part-human and part-summer fey. Her growth throughout the series is so brilliantly portrayed that readers will identify with her struggles, determination, courage, loyalty.
Julie Kagawa creates such an incredible world that I wish I could be transported to and see, even for one day! The characters are so complex, so believable that you easily set aside “reality” and fall right into this fairy tale world. How Kagawa incorporated Shakespeare is brilliant. (The character Robin Goodfellow-Puck-will have you laughing and your heart breaking.)
I was totally TEAM ASH all the way. Loved his sense of duty as the youngest prince of the Winter Court, his flawed character, his development as love began to change him, making it an absolute need for him to become a better “human being” or “fey.”
The first three novels are told from Megan Chase’s perspective. The last novel, IRON KNIGHT, is told from Prince Ash’s perspective as he takes the most perilous journey of his life. The cast of secondary characters and mystical creatures (goblins, pack-rats, are breathtaking. Journey to Nevernever, the End of the World, The River of Dreams, Briars.
The entire series has danger, murder, betrayal, ROMANCE, magic. The only disappointment is that I finished reading all the novels. If you want to get lost in a series that is extremely well-developed, vivid, and magical with romance that will leave you swooning, don’t miss THE IRON KING, THE IRON DAUGHTER, THE IRON QUEEN, and THE IRON KNIGHT! I loved them all.
I adore Ethan Chase and wanted to knock some sense into every person who looked at him as a thug. Ethan Chase is ANYTHING but a thug! He has heart. He is loyal and protective and GOOD!
For fans of The Iron Fey series, you can’t help but be grateful that Julie Kagawa has once again brought us back to the world where fey and the Nevernever exist. The main characters in this book are Ethan, Kenzie, Keirran, The Lady (the Forgotten Queen). We get to see Grimalkin and Razor – <3 <3 <3 – and Annwyl, Keirran’s love. There is very little of Meghan, Ash and Puck.
My favorite parts take place in the goblin market and the Nevernever. I love visiting these places from Kagawa’s imagination. They pulse with excitement and vibrancy and danger.
Keirran is everything his parents are not. In some ways, he reminds me of one of Ash’s brothers. Ash needs to give this kid a swift kick in the butt. 😀
The ending to THE IRON TRAITOR will leave readers’ mouths gaping and, of course, the second you finish it you’ll be clamoring for more! I cannot wait to find out what happens next and hope that Kagawa fans don’t have to wait too long. Gah!
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
Mention blood, and I get woozy. Mention needles, and there is a chance I’ll need to get horizontal before I pass out. But for some glorious reason, I wasn’t bothered one bit from all the blood and gore and even needles mentioned in THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN. As a matter of fact, I became completely wrapped up in listening to this audiobook that I decided to take a long afternoon drive to enjoy the fall colors in the country and listen to the novel. After I returned home, I dragged an old CD boom-box in from the garage just to finish listening to it while I cooked dinner, and then folded laundry.
I freakin’ loved a novel about VAMPIRES!
Listening to a novel is most definitely a different experience than reading it. Christine Lakin’s performance took Holly Black’s rich, detailed, vibrant story and brought these characters to life. The key to this book is buying into the fact that vampires are real. (Yes, I know they are not real.) They’re out there and if you’re bitten, then you’ll be infected. Once infected, the only way to not turn into a vampire is isolation for eighty-eight days. There is a near unquenchable thirst for human blood and if the infected give in to that thirst, they’ll turn into vampires.
The story opens with Tana waking up in a bathtub at a farmhouse where she attended a party. Soon, she discovers that almost all of her friends were massacred by bloodthirsty vampires. She finds her ex-boyfriend Aiden still alive, but infected, tied up in a bedroom. Across the room is Gavriel, a vampire in chains. Tana decides to rescue them both.
Tana’s journey with Aiden and Gavriel is absolutely fascinating, dangerous, and unapologetically violent, but not over-the-top scary. THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN will make readers think about the power of TV and the Internet and how some sensationalize and embrace the underworld. Vampires were revered by some in a sick, fascinating, cultish way. YA blogged about them, emulated them, wanted to become them. With this desire, the reality and fantasy were too different worlds and Holly Black did an exceptional job of showing the two.
Tana is a heroine of heroines. She’s imperfect, struggles with her own demons, loves those who may not deserve it and goes to extraordinary lengths to protect the people she cares about. Sometimes she succeeds. Sometimes she doesn’t.
THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN was my surprise read of the year. I never expected to love it. I did! I never expected that it would make my “top reads list for 2013.” But it did.
Thank you so much, Holly, for writing such an unexpected and gripping vampire novel!! And thank you Christine Lakin for a captivating performance that brought Holly’s characters to life.
NOTE: There’s something remarkably classic about this novel. Think of classic movies/TV shows/books like FUNNY GIRL or DRACULA or SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE or BETWITCHED. Though this novel is different from those I just mentioned, except perhaps DRACULA, it’s a book that I believe will last the test of time. It’s something you could pick up 20 years from now and still love. Like those old movies, TV shows, & books.
Four NYTBS authors = an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime night!
(The fabulous Heidi from YA Bibliophile was unable to attend because of the passing of her grandma a few hours before this event. She was supposed to tweet live and post on her blog about the evening, so I filled in for her. Here’s her FANTASTIC review of UNBREAKABLE. )
My “this was so scary good!!!” review can be found on Goodreads.
In celebration of Kami Garcia’s new novel, UNBREAKABLE, the first book in The Legion Series (Little Brown), Kami traveled to nine different cities with some fantastic authors. Barnes and Noble in Brookfield, WI was one of the stops. THANKS TO: Katie at Mundie Moms for organizing the bloggers for each event!
Here are some of the highlights of the evening:
There was a lot of laughter when Kami Garcia gave Margaret Stohl a hard time for not giving her a copy of Margaret’s ARC, IDOLS. (One lucky winner won it at the end of the evening.)
Kami thanked her readers for buying UNBREAKABLE, which hit the NYTBS list this past week!
After talking about their books, Kami led all the authors on lightening rounds of questions including: French fries or potato chips – everyone said french fries. Favorite accessories varied from cellphone (Rachel), rings (Cinda). Classic books you didn’t like: Ethan Fromme (Kami), any James Joyce (Margaret), Hemingway (Rachel).
The authors talked about the writing process. Cinda said that all her books start out crappy, so give yourself permission to write something crappy. She quoted Nora Roberts: “I can fix anything but a blank page.” Kami and Margaret said that everyone has their own process for writing and you have to respect that and not judge that process. Margaret travels a lot and she will spend quite a bit of time observing and writing down detail after detail of something that catches her attention. Rachel said that at the end of the day, if you get the same feedback from several people, then don’t dismiss it. Don’t think that the advice is wrong or dumb. Listen to the feedback and take it seriously. Kami added that if everyone is saying that your ending doesn’t work, then pay attention and change it. They talked about writer’s block. For Kami, this happens when she’s really tired. It helps to get some rest or watch some TV. Rachel will change environments. Which reminds me, Margaret can pretty much write anywhere, including the jungle. 😀
Some of the crowd:
Sarah Weiss, Rachel Kinnard, Jaime Arkin, Erin Arkin
As Kami signed some of Barnes and Nobles’ stock of her books, I asked her a few questions:
1. There are some superstitions in UNBREAKABLE. Do you have any superstitions?
A: Lots! I have a charm necklace I have to wear when I travel. I won’t get on an airplane without it.I don’t like the number 13. If my hotel room has that number in it, I’ll switch rooms. I won’t walk on someone’s grave.
2. In UNBREAKABLE there is the Legion of Five. Does the number five have significance and will we see more of that number in your books?
A: Definitely, but you’ll have to read the series to find out. Also, the number three!
3. What TV shows/movie genres do you like?
A: I don’t watch sappy romances or sitcoms. Give me Ghosthunters, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, or Buffy. I’ll watch action movies, disaster films, and fantasy, but I stay away from most horror films. Slasher movies don’t bother me, but anything that could be realistic like movies with possession, are a NO! Stephan King’s Carrie – the original is one of them most terrifying.
4. From your novel, UNBREAKABLE, who would you choose, Lukas or Jared?
A: My younger self would choose Jared. He’s a wounded soul with lots of secrets and I would have related more to that. Though I will say that Lukas also has his secrets, he’s just more extroverted.
Fun fact: Kami was a huge Tetris fan. Loved to play it. A lot.
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Take a look at the UNBREAKABLE trailer:
Paperback, 296 pages
Publication date: October 15th 2013 by Spencer Hill Contemporary
ISBN: 1937053881 (ISBN13: 9781937053888)
Edition language: English
Jenna Oliver doesn’t have time to get involved with one boy, let alone two.
All Jenna wants is to escape her evaporating small town and her alcoholic mother. She’s determined she’ll go to college and find a life that is wholly hers—one that isn’t tainted by her family’s past. But when the McAlister twins move to town and Jenna gets involved with both of them, she learns the life she planned may not be the one she gets.
Ian McAlister doesn’t want to start over; he wants to remember.
Ian can’t recall a single thing from the last three months—and he seems to be losing more memories every day. His family knows the truth, but no one will tell him what really happened before he lost his memory. When he meets Jenna, Ian believes that he can be normal again because she makes not remembering something he can handle.
The secret Ian can’t remember is the one Luke McAlister can’t forget.
Luke has always lived in the shadow of his twin brother until Jenna stumbles into his life. She sees past who he’s supposed to be, and her kiss brings back the spark that life stole. Even though Luke feels like his brother deserves her more, Luke can’t resist Jenna—which is the trigger that makes Ian’s memory return.
Jenna, Ian, & Luke are about to learn there are only so many secrets you can keep before the truth comes to reclaim you.
Add RECLAIMED to your Goodreads shelf.
About the Author
Sarah Guillory is a YA author. In addition, she teaches sophomore English and loves that they pay her to fan girl over books and authors and to watch her students fall in love with the written word. Sarah lives in Louisiana with her husband and ridiculously spoiled bloodhound. RECLAIMED is her debut novel.
Goodreads | Website | Blog | Twitter | Tumblr
In honor of Teen Read Week, Sarah Guillory is donating several copies of RECLAIMED to school libraries. She’s also having a huge giveaway that includes a $100 giftcard to the bookstore of your choosing and a 30 minute Skype chat with you or the classroom of your choosing. Stop by her blog to learn more!
Also, on Friday, October 18th, at 5:00 PM EST, we will begin the 24-hour RECLAIMED read-along. This is the time for everyone to be reading, tweeting, and reacting to RECLAIMED. No Spoilers, please, just good reading fun! Sarah will also be doing a live online chat on Monday, October 21st, at 9:00 EST so tweet your spoiler-free questions using the hashtags #RECLAIMED, #RWM, and #askGuillory. To learn more about these wonderful events, stop by Sarah’s blog!
Angelle Prejean is in a pickle. Her family is expecting her to come home with a fiancé—a fiancé who doesn’t exist. Well, he exists, but he definitely has no idea Angelle told her mama they were engaged. Tattooed, muscled, and hotter than sin, Cane can reduce Angelle to a hot mess with one look—and leave her heart a mess if she falls for him. But when she ends up winning Cane at a charity bachelor auction, she knows just how to solve her fiancé problem.
Cane Robicheaux is no one’s prince. He doesn’t do relationships and he doesn’t fall in love. When sweet, sultry-voiced Angelle propositions him, he hopes their little game can finally get her out of his head. He doesn’t expect her to break through all his barriers. But even as Angelle burrows deeper into his heart, he knows once their seven days are up, so is their ruse.
I am a sucker for novels/movies with the “fake” fiancé theme. Each one puts their own twist to it, and Seven Day Fiancé is no exception.
Here are the things I loved about this novel:
1. The Louisiana setting and Cajun history and FOOD! The descriptions had my mouth watering. I hope, at some point, Rachel will post recipes. Doesn’t get better than that!
2. Cane Robincheaux is bad boy goodness. He may have the “look” but his heart is pure gold.
3. Angelle in all her clumsiness and sweet girl charm. I also loved that she knew what she wanted and didn’t want and had the strength to walk away from a situation that didn’t make her happy. (Read the book and you’ll understand.) I liked her very much.
4. Angelle’s overprotective family. It never felt like it was over the top. Always great to see a family that cares.
5. The chemistry between Cane and Angelle was definitely smokin’ and it wasn’t insta-lust, which I deeply appreciated. Both characters seemed to appreciate the other for more than just superficial good looks. I like that in a novel, because we all know that the majority of us don’t fall into that “super hot” category.
6. Loved the bachelor auction in the beginning of the novel. Angelle’s motivation for bidding on Cane and his response are awesome!
7. Like Harris’s YA novels, she creates vivid scenes and authentic, interesting characters.
Overall impression: Fake fiancé, romance, strong characters, great setting. If you like this combo, then you’ll definitely like Seven Day Fiancé!
Rachel Harris grew up in New Orleans, where she watched soap operas with her grandmother and stayed up late sneak reading her mama’s favorite romance novels. Now a Cajun cowgirl living in Houston, she still stays up way too late reading her favorite romances, only now, she can do so openly. She firmly believes life’s problems can be solved with a hot, powdered-sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations.
When not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, she homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches reality television with her amazing husband. Taste The Heat is her adult romance debut. She’s the author of MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY and A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES. She loves hearing from readers! Find her at www.RachelHarrisWrites.com.
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SEVEN DAY FIANCE Goodreads
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The best writers of our generation retell the classics.
Literature is filled with sexy, deadly, and downright twisted tales. In this collection, award-winning and bestselling authors reimagine their favorite classic stories, ones that have inspired, awed, and enraged them; ones that have become ingrained in modern culture; and ones that have been too long overlooked. They take these stories and boil them down to their bones, and then reassemble them for a new generation of readers.
A print of one of the illustrations done by artist Charles Vess.
Sir Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene – Saladin Ahmed – Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy by Saladin Ahmed
W. W. Jacobs’s “The Monkey’s Paw” – Kelley Armstrong – New Chicago by Kelley Armstrong
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” – Holly Black – Millcara by Holly Black
“Sleeping Beauty” – Neil Gaiman – The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
The Brothers Grimm’s “Rumpelstiltskin” – Kami Garcia – The Soul Collector by Kami Garcia
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening – Melissa Marr – Awakened by Melissa Marr
Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King” – Garth Nix – Losing Her Divinity by Garth Nix
Henry James’s “The Jolly Corner” – Tim Pratt – The Cold Corner by Tim Pratt
E. M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” – Carrie Ryan – That the Machine May Progress Eternally by Carrie Ryan
Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto – Margaret Stohl – Sirocco by Margaret Stohl
William Seabrook’s “The Caged White Werewolf of the Saraban” – Gene Wolfe – Uncaged by Gene Wolfe
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birth-Mark” – Rick Yancey – When First We Were Gods by Rick Yancey
Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales is filled with stories we heard as children, now re-imagined and retold by numerous talented authors. They’re creepy and scary, haunting and as memorable as some of the “originals.”
Imagine living in a machine.
Imagine a monkey paw that grants wishes but with horrible consequences.
Imagine a woman who turns into a leopard and kills children.
Imagine selling your soul to the devil to save someone you love.
Imagine a goddess who wants to be human.
Imagine Sleeping Beauty rescued by a woman and not a prince. (Written by Neil Gaiman!)
Imagine changing the size and shape of your body and living for eternity.
With these stories, there’s lots to imagine.
These are just a few of the ideas you’ll encounter in these tales. The stories are horror, dystopian, and fantasy, the weird and the freaky. There’s love and lust, sex and drugs, there’s good and evil, and your worst nightmares. Pick and choose what you want to read. And in any order, it doesn’t matter, which is awesome. I personally read each one straight through from beginning to end. But hey, I’m pretty conventional.
I think it’s important to note that I am usually not a fan of horror or anything remotely scary. Setting that aside, I really got into this compilation of tales. That says a lot about the authors and the stories they told.
So, if you are ready to get into the Halloween spirit or are just a fan of things that are creepy, scary . . . then you will LOVE Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales.
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Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE TO COOK! Cooking is a way for me to nurture the people I care about. Most of the cooking I do is simplistic, but I always pour a lot of love into each dish. I am not the type of person who collects cookbooks, but I ADORE recipes with a story. Family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, food that has a history and holds memories for those who eat it. If you’re anything like me, then you’ll savor every page of MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH EATING!
(Oh, and one more thing: Julia Child is mentioned in this book. My nickname for my grandma was Julia Child. I used to call her up and when she answered I would say, “May I please speak with Julia Child?” And my grandma knew that I had a cooking question. I cherish that memory sooooo much and whenever I make a recipe that she passed down to me, I’m reminded of that very special bond we had and how cooking and eating that delicious food brought us closer together.)
When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Light is turned upside down.
So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city. Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths.
Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Timesbestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France.
From page one, Ann Mah transported me to Paris! I savored each tasty page, identified with her frustrations over cultural differences, and travelled along side her as she journeyed throughout France, searching for the best cuisine.
I found myself drifting into memories of Paris and France, sipping wine, eating in cafes and restaurants. Most of the memories were joyous, but some came with a flush of embarrassment as I remembered that we initially ate like barbarian Americans, stuffing food down our throats in comparison to our French counterparts. In France, eating is an art form, something to be savored over hours. (Dinner started at 8 pm – if not later – and would go on for hours. Sometimes people sat until midnight or later. Can’t imagine a restaurant here allowing patrons to sit that long. In that period of time, they’d rotate at least 2-3 more sets of guests.) I thought about this and others awkward and embarrassing moments after Mah shares some of hers.
Mastering the Art of French Eating is much more than a book about food. It captures the author’s struggles to create a life for herself after her diplomat husband is given a year assignment in Iraq. Mah makes some comparisons to her own life to the famous chef, Julia Child. Like Child’s husband, Mah’s husband is a diplomat. Mah was raised on watching Julia’s show and when she was a child, she cooked recipes from Child’s cookbooks. There are plenty of other connections that culinary fans with enjoy.
The subtitle for this novel is: Lessons in Food and Love From a Year in Paris. Yes, there are lots of lessons about food and readers will love the stories and the history behind the tastes and smells. Her trips across France are vivid and readers will have no problem picturing the countryside and the people she met. The lessons on love are interwoven and subtle. Mah had to learn to love herself in a different way, to appreciate what she has to contribute or stay locked up in her apartment alone and lonely. Food helps her get out into the streets of Paris and out of her comfort zone. There’s also the love she has for her husband and how they stay connected so far apart from each other.
I absolutely recommend this novel for anyone who loves Paris. France. Cooking. Eating. Or if you appreciate a well-written memoir. There are recipes included throughout the book. You bet that I’ll be trying plenty of them!
From her blog:
I’m a food and travel writer and author of a food memoir, Mastering the Art of French Eating (Viking Penguin), and a novel, Kitchen Chinese (HarperCollins). My articles have appeared in the New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, the International Herald Tribune and other publications. I currently split my time between Paris and New York City; I love eating everywhere. Thank you for sharing my food adventures!
To learn more about Ann, check out her website.
Is the chance to serve as an extra for Hitler’s favorite filmmaker a chance at life — or a detour on the path to inevitable extermination?
One ordinary afternoon, fifteen-year-old Lilo and her family are suddenly picked up by Hitler’s police and imprisoned as part of the “Gypsy plague.” Just when it seems certain that they will be headed to a labor camp, Lilo is chosen by filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl to work as a film extra. Life on the film set is a bizarre alternate reality. The surroundings are glamorous, but Lilo and the other extras are barely fed, closely guarded, and kept in a locked barn when not on the movie set. And the beautiful, charming Riefenstahl is always present, answering the slightest provocation with malice, flaunting the power to assign prisoners to life or death. Lilo takes matters into her own hands, effecting an escape and running for her life.
In this chilling but ultimately uplifting novel, Kathryn Lasky imagines the lives of the Gypsies who worked as extras for the real Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, giving readers a story of survival unlike any other.
Kathryn Lasky has written award-winning books for children across all genres, including the Newbery Honor book Sugaring Time and the New York Times best-selling series The Guardians of Ga’Hoole. She is also the author of the novel Chasing Orion and numerous illustrated nonfiction titles. Kathryn Lasky lives in Massachusetts.
Click here for Kathryn Lasky’s website.
BARNES AND NOBLE
Q: Almost all Holocaust books are told from the Jewish point of view, which obviously is extremely important since six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. What attracted you to a Holocaust story about a gypsy family?
A: I really feel that sometimes a writer has to slip out of one’s own skin and assuming the perspective of another to really begin to understand something. Now I am Jewish and several of my distant cousins and their parents were Holocaust victims. But I had no desire to write from a Jewish point of view. Jews were not the only victims. I am very uncomfortable with this notion that Jews somehow ‘own’ the Holocaust. The Nazis cast their nets wide. Gypsies suffered, homosexuals, people with mental retardation and birth defects as well. Because of the Holocaust we have a shared cultural context if not a genetic one with all of these people. Suffering has and should unite us.
I think from stepping out from a familiar, a comfortable point of view there can come a power. The best Holocaust novel I ever read was Sophie’s Choice, narrated by a gentile man. So why did I find this gentile voice so moving? It is mysterious like art itself. But I think it is the choice that William Styron made to use the young, naïve Southern male as the narrative channel for this story of ultimate horror that gave it a kind of distance and brought with it an innocence that, in the end, made it so resonate with so many people. Three years ago my book Ashes came out. It is set in Berlin in the early 1930’s during the rise of Hitler and I made I made a similar decision about the point of view. I told the story from a gentile girl’s perspective. I felt that I could write a more insightful and ultimately powerful story if it came from an unorthodox angle. You know how artists are sometimes told to turn their pictures upside down and see how it looks, how it works. Well this is my version of that and by turning to an unusual point of view I often discover things I never thought were there.
Q: What did you find most surprising as you researched this novel and how did it influence your storyline?
A: Well the story in and of itself was the most surprising thing of all. I mean this was a story that had fallen between the cracks of history. I discovered it while I was researching my novel Ashes. It had what I call a real WOW factor. So my first task was just getting over the ‘oh wow-ness’ of it all and thinking how am I going to make this a really compelling story. Then I sort of stumbled (and it is always just stumbling when you start a novel) but I had stumbled, lurched whatever upon a pretty cool possibility. It glittered like a brilliant diamond on the rather dull mental landscape of my mind and it was the essential paradox of this situation. In the middle of a world war this treacherous woman Leni Riefenstahl is making this corny, romantic film and using slave labor. They have built a Spanishy looking village in the Tyrol of Austria and then they go to the famous movie studio in Berlin. The Roma extras, the gypsy people, are locked in a barn at night in the Tyrol and then in the sound studio in Berlin. It is a dramatic clash of realities. It is truly staggering. There is the flawless nature of the unreality of the film world bumping up against the horrible reality of the extras who were to become known as ‘film slaves’. It was almost as if ‘reality’ and ‘unreality’ became two additional characters in the narrative.
Q: When it comes to your characters, what do you draw upon more: people you know, your imagination, or research? And how does that help make for strong characters?
A: All of the above and more. Leni was easy as I watched the movie Tiefland in which the Roma people served as extras and she starred and of course there are thousands of pictures of her on the internet. I was really intrigued by he eyes. They are very close set and there is something feral about them. She is quite beautiful. For Django there and Lilo I looked at a lot of photo books about the Roma people. I sort of through some mysterious kind of visual osmosis absorbed their feature, their bone structure and painted a picture in my mind. I usually do begin with a face. Often it might be a movie star’s face. I draw a lot on the pitch and the cadence of people’s voices that I know or I have heard somewhere. Cadence is very important to me in writing dialogue. And then yes there is a lot of research. Tons of research. But there is also something else and file this under imagination. For I do feel that we all have characters running around inside of us that we would like to be, or perhaps at least like to explore and see what their potential is. It’s a kind of healthy version of multiple personality disorder that authors should cultivate.
The parts that are truly me in a character are the person’s weaknesses not their strengths. It is the impatience, the fears. It is vulnerability rather than fortitude. It’s impetuosity rather than clear logical thinking. And perhaps most important of all it was that constant (and not uncommon) feeling of being left out, as a young kid, as a teenager, that has been a real force in forging my characters. Kids feeling alienated or freaky is where young adult novels really begin. Then you take all that stuff inside you and transform it so it will become solid narrative and not one long whine. No one likes whiney characters.
Q: I saw on your website that you encourage those who want to become published authors to read, read, read all types of genres to help learn about plot, character development, story structure. Are there any other key elements that you feel make a story stand out? If so, what is it and why?
A: I think the single most important element in a story is voice. It is stupid when people say about an author ‘oh she has a great voice’. An author has to have many voices because each book and each character in a book demands a different voice. If we are going to fall in love with a book it is going to be because we fall in love with the characters. Well, no one should fall in love with Leni Riefenstahl but you have to come to believe her voice.
Q: If there were any request you could ask of your readers before they begin reading THE EXTRA, what would it be?
A: A reader should just be able to plunge right in and read the book. Just remember you don’t have to be Jewish to read a Holocaust book that is about other victims of the Holocaust. If we hope to prevent such a tragedy in the future we must realize that we are all part of one world. No one ‘owns’ the holocaust. The Armenians suffered a horrendous genocide in the early part of the last century. In the last decade there have been the genocide in Darfur in the Sudan and then the Tutsis in Rwanda. No one is ‘special’ when it comes to genocide.
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