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#rothreread Insurgent’s Ending

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#rothreread is an effort hosted by Allodoxophobia and Gone Pecan as we reread Divergent and Insurgent to prepare for the final installment of the Divergent trilogy.

I swear sometimes my mind is like a sieve. I finished rereading both Divergent and Insurgent last month and already some of the impact of the ending is leaving me. I clearly need to hurry up and read the short stories and preorder Allegiant. Today’s #rothreread topic is the ending of Insurgent. Which obviously means that there will be spoilers in this post. Don’t be caught unaware! You have been warned.

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I realized that the first time I read Insurgent, I had thought the big name reveal of one of the original inhabitants of this new Chicago was Tris’s mother. That obviously led to a lot of confusion for me. But now that I know that it is not her mother, it makes a bit more sense. I have to admit, the ending still upsets me a little. I don’t appreciate the rug being pulled out from under me as a reader. The thing that saves this book from being thrown across the room is that the main character believed everything the reader was made to believe too. It’s a product of her point of view that were misled. I still don’t know if I truly understand the whole premise of the entire series. Like what really is Divergent? How is not everyone already that way? Is the whole experiment designed to force people to evolve physically, physiologically, psychologically to become more flexible? Wouldn’t it take more effort to evolve to becoming suitable for a single faction than it would to become divergent?

I still am very curious to finish the series, particularly because I really do hope that there are more answers to be found in Allegiant. Perhaps I would be better off keeping my questions to myself and just enjoying the action that throws the reader forward in the book…hmmm.

What did you think of the ending of Insurgent?

Join the conversation!

Book Club Update: Author Interview & 2 Books!

It’s a new month (okay, so it’s the middle of the month…time is really flying this season!) and that means a new book club update!

Last month, my book club read The Hunt and met with the author, Jan Neuharth in the very town that the fictional murder mystery takes place. It was a great experience and the club really liked it!

Book club members and Jan Neuharth

We asked Ms. Neuharth about her writing process, about the publishing industry and who she would want to cast as her characters in a movie (the main character would be George Clooney!). We met at a lovely coffee place that was gracious enough to allow us to descend on their establishment. As you can see, we had copies of the book to have Ms. Neuharth sign them.

So for October, we were all a little indecisive. There are just so many cool things to do in the fall and so many appropriately themed books to get us in the mood for Halloween and autumn. In fact, the poll we had to decide our next book was so close that we are trying to read two books in one month for the first time. The first pick is The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, which I have already finished and loved! The second book I’m working on now, The Black Country by Alex Grecian. It’s really the perfect book for the rainy weather we’ve been getting this week. We plan on going to one of those pumpkin patch, corn mazes, apple butter kinds of places for our meeting next Sunday so I’m definitely excited to see these girls again!

Are you in a book club? How does your club select the books to read?

Support an Influential Creative Writing High School Program

An influential high school creative writing program is in jeopardy.

Remember when I reminisced about the great writing program I was a part of in high school?

Let me break it down here.

The high school I went to in northern Virginia hosted a program called the Center for Fine and Performing Arts (CFPA). There were different concentrations students would apply to be in to pursue intensive studies in: theatre, visual arts, dance, music technology (in my day it was TV productions), instrumental music, vocal music, and creative writing.

I was a part of the creative writing program. That meant that for all four years of high school, all of my available electives went to creative writing classes, focusing on the basics, to publication, to short stories, scripts, poetry, and nonfiction.

This program was instrumental in developing who I am as a person and the things I have done since then. I have always loved to read, but it was that program that I learned the love to write. It was because of that program that I maintained a GPA sufficient to get into college, led to a great job during my college years, which arguably has led to the jobs I’ve had post-grad.

I was not the only person to have reaped such great benefits from this program. The list is too long to get into, but each of us that were in that program was moved to different heights. For some it was the very thing that kept them in school, for others it illuminated different career paths.

Specifically, with creative writing, there is such a wide application of this art form. We learned how to read and write critically, to express ourselves both succinctly (though I know I fail at that sometimes) and intelligently.

I write about this today because this program is in jeopardy. The CFPA is moving to a new high school (which I’m indifferent about it, as long as it exists somewhere in the county and is open to kids across the county). The issue here is the discontinuation of the creative writing concentration. The school board has decided that creative writing is either not a sufficient art form to maintain its place in the program, or perhaps it boils down to root cause of mostly everything: $$$

One of my old classmates has started a very successful petition that has garnered support from authors Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and Jacqueline Carey. If you feel that creative writing should remain part of this program in its intensive form, please consider signing this petition. The petition will be presented to the school board on October 17th.

To read even more about the importance of this program, here’s a great post from one of my former teachers.

Thanks for your support of the arts!

#rothreread Week 3: Faction or Blood?

divergent reread2

#rothreread is an effort hosted by Allodoxophobia and Gone Pecan as we reread Divergent and Insurgent to prepare for the final installment of the Divergent trilogy.

While I was behind on this endeavor initially to reread Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth ahead of the release of Allegiant, I have now finished both. I actually finished Insurgent in less than 24 hours (both because it sucked me back in but also I was lapping my mother-she is still working her way through it and we only have one copy). I am now nice and refreshed on the story to properly enjoy Allegiant. I just -might- for the first time, preorder it so I can make sure I read it before someone spoils it for me.

This week’s discussion is about faction before blood. In the books, the society touts that it is imperative to follow your faction, to remain loyal to your chosen faction even if the rest of your biological family is part of a different faction and on the other side of an argument (or war in this case). Would you follow that rule?

I have a bit of a problem with all of this. I think that it is meant to be thought-provoking. I don’t think anyone in the books has an easy time with this dilemma either. I trust my family’s opinions on things. If it came down to the rest of the world versus my family, I’d stick by them. I’d defend them against attacks if possible. It was both the way I was raised and the kind of person I am.

But I am also the kind of person that can’t keep her mouth shut if she disagrees with something. Whether I was aligning myself with the faction or with my family, I don’t think I’d end up just going along with the flow. For me to keep my mouth shut when I disagree with something is almost painful. I might regret opening my mouth and stating my opinion later, but the regret is easier to deal with if I stood up for my side of things than if I stayed quiet.

So if I were in the world of the Divergent books, I would have probably ended up factionless. Or perhaps Candor or Dauntless would appreciate my bluntness?

What would you do? Align yourself with your faction or your family?

Join the conversation!

Reading Goals: September’s Results and October’s Goals

So it’s a new month. How did I do with my reading goals for September?

I had wanted to read:

I didn’t exactly finish Tumble & Fall. In fact, I did not finish it…eeeks! I plan on posting my thoughts on that particular book in a couple of days, but yeah, I don’t think I can even really count Tumble & Fall as a book I read this month. Technically I finished Love & Lament this month as well. And while I haven’t made any new reviews for them, I did finish both of my rereads of Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth for #rothreread! So I read about four books!

That said, all the other books I read for September were fantastic reads!

 So! For the month of October, I plan to read:

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  • The Black Country by Alex Grecian: This is the second book that we’re reading for my book club this month. We picked this book from the list of historical fiction books for the summer. It’s a 19th century murder mystery in England, so it’ll be quite a seasonal read.
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon: I’m looking forward to reading this. I think it’ll be good fun and I’m curious if I will share the same kind of opinions about it as others.

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  • Relic by Heather Terrell: I’m thinking I’ll continue this trip into the Post-Apocalyptic/dystopian genre; Relic will be a good read.
  • The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ostrovski: Sometimes, contemporary stories can be more dystopian to me than actual dystopian stories. I sort of ended up with this book by accident, so I think it’s time to see what I think of it!

And of course, if I get my hands on Allegiant, I will likely be delving into that one too. We’ll see how fast I devour it!

#RothReread Week 2: Fear Landscape

divergent reread2

#rothreread is an effort hosted by Allodoxophobia and Gone Pecan as we reread Divergent and Insurgent to prepare for the final installment of the Divergent trilogy.

So I have now finished both books (yay ahead of schedule!) so I’m very excited for the next book! This week’s prompt is what would be in your fear landscape? For the uninitiated to the trilogy (and within the trilogy) those 16 year olds who want to join Dauntless have to go through a version of simulation where they are confronted with their fears. It is meant to make them able to still operate despite their fears. So what are my fears?

  • I feel like I’d be remiss if I did not mention the death of those I love. Unfortunately, it’s sort of fact of life, but it is still not something I’d like to think about and I’d rather if it didn’t come prematurely.
  • Rats. I have a phobia of rats. Mice are still not pleasant for me, but it’s really rats that I have a problem with. It’s completely irrational, I know. But I can’t help it. My heart will begin to race just to look at the rats in a pet store.
  • Frogs. But really, anything that has the potential to jump on my feet. Even going to the ocean is somewhat terrifying because there’s the potential that something could mess with my feet. It must have something to do with vulnerability.
  • Some of my scariest nightmares involve a breaking and entering of some kind with the intention to cause harm to me or those inside the house. There’s this violence to it and real intent to harm that is just terrifying.
  • Maybe being chased by wolves? I get a few nightmares about that, despite how again, completely irrational and unlikely that would be.

I could see a few of the ones that I’d be surprised by in the fear landscape involving different versions of loss of control or vulnerability.

What would be in your fear landscape?

Join the conversation!

#RothReread Week 1: Factions

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(I’m feeling that wave of laziness that strikes me about once a month when it comes to blogging. So I’m a bit late in getting this post up, and probably others as well.)

I was a bit late in starting my reread of Divergent, but I’m pleased to say that I have finished it. I won’t be able to start Insurgent until my mother finishes my copy,  but maybe I’ll get it back this weekend. I will I realized a few things in my reread of it.

  • Details are super vague and confusing. I kind of noticed it on my first read but I was too propelled by the drama to care. It is still good for the drama, but I do wish that it was a bit more detailed in terms of setting and character movements.
  • The serum technology is also really confusing. I think there a lot of things you have to take in stride when reading this series versus some other books.
  • Tris is really kind of bitch. She treated Al way meaner that I would have. I think that Four/Tobias is in a few ways more of a dynamic character than Tris is.

Those little thoughts aside, today’s conversation is on which faction I would be a part of, both born into and then chosen.

I have a harder time thinking of which faction I would have been born into. I don’t think I can figure that one out. When I first read the book, I thought I’d want to be in Candor, but two different quizzes have placed me closer to Abnegation. Which is really strange, because I’m really an extraordinarily selfish person. I would want to pick Dauntless, but Dauntless how it was back when and not how it is with Eric in charge. I would suffer from the lack of natural light in their headquarters.

Which faction would you have been born into? Which faction would you have joined?

Join the conversation!

Giveaway and Interview with Lenore Appelhans, Author of The Memory of After

Debut Authors Bash at yareads.com

Lenore and I!

Lenore and I!

So YAReads has organized this amazing 2013 Debut Authors Bash. I am super excited that I was paired with Lenore Appelhans. I listened to the audiobook of The Memory of After (when it was named Level 2) and really liked it. It was one of those audiobooks that I sat out in my car for longer than necessary to keep listening.

Then, Lenore was awesome and in town and joined the YADC group (a lovely group of people in the DC Metro area that enjoy books, specifically young adult) at a dinner in DC.  I was able to meet her and even had a picture taken! I am slowly coming to the realization that authors are just people too, but I don’t think I will ever get over the excitement of meeting an author, especially one of a book I enjoyed. It really does take a lot to write and finish a book.

Haven’t heard of The Memory of After? Here’s some information on it before we get to the interview.

The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans

Published: September 3rd 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published January 15th 2013 as Level 2)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Dystopia
Pages: 304
Buy it!

12614754Synopsis:

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow drones, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost-family, friends, and Neil, the boy she loved.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber is found dead, and nobody but Felicia recalls that she existed in the first place. When Julian-a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life-comes to offer Felicia a way out, Felicia learns the truth: If she joins the rebellion to overthrow the Morati, the angel guardians of Level 2, she can be with Neil again.

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And, keep your eye open next year for the sequel, Chasing Before!

So, without anymore preamble, here is my interview with Lenore!

I have described the setting of Level 2 as ‘a kind of dystopian purgatory’. How would you describe your book’s setting in five or less words?
Your setting description is pretty accurate. I’d probably say “Memory chambers in the afterlife” since the memory chambers are the hook of the setting.

Which memory would you revisit the most if you were a resident of Level 2?
I would compile top 10 lists like Felicia did. So my top 10 travel memories, top 10 concerts, top ten family vacations, that sort of thing. I like the idea of being able to organize memories into playlists.

I’ve read that you like playlists for books. What is your Level 2 music playlist?
Yes! See? Obsession with playlists! You can see my entire Level 2 playlist here (link: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYf-ELpNqYRBOBsa03NXsepn2xbuoVULI )

I don’t listen to music while I write, but I do have certain songs I’ll listen to before writing scenes that help me get into the right mood. Music has such power to convey emotion, and I really try to bring some of that atmosphere into my writing.

I just turned in revisions for the sequel, Chasing Before, and two days before the deadline, I downloaded Bastille’s debut album Bad Blood. It is insane how many of the themes their songs share with Chasing Before. I am convinced we are sharing a muse.

Felicia’s mother is a Foreign Service officer, which means that her family moves to different countries every few years. What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to or would want to travel to?
I’m very sloth fixated at the moment, so I really want to go to the sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Ruins of ancient cultures fascinate me and some of my favorite places to visit have been Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Tikal in Guatemala (well, all except for the killer mosquitos). I also love visiting natural wonders and was blown away by Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), the fjords of Norway, black sand beaches of Iceland, the natural rock labyrinth of Gory Stolowe (Poland), and gosh I could go on and on.

As far as urban areas, I love NYC!

The structure of Level 2 definitely seems to be closely modeled after internet and social media trends. Is there someone you think would have the most popular memories?
I recently wrote a guest post for Authors are Rockstars about why there are no celebrities in Level 2. (link: http://scottreadsit.blogspot.de/2013/08/lenore-appelhans-is-rockstar-giveaway.html ) So aside from celebrities, I think the most popular memories would be from people who take joy in life.  Even the most spectacular sites or unique experiences would not be much fun to relive from a jaded, bored and/or grumpy perspective.

The story alternates between Felicia in Level 2 and the memories that she experiences. Did this require you to outline the story or did the story just come together as you were writing it?
I had an outline of the memories because they were the most complicated part of the story (two separate timelines and not always in chronological order).  Adding tags and memory numbers to each memory was a way to give them more structure.

I free wrote the Level 2 sections in the first draft and let the characters guide me. Of course there had to be a reason for Felicia to view a particular memory at a particular point in the story, and it was a great exercise to have to figure out those reasons.

Giveaway!

Lenore is also offering one paperback copy of The Memory of After! And thanks to the awesome timing of our dinner, I have signed The Memory of After bookmarks to give out to even more potential winners! This giveaway is for US only. To enter, please go to this rafflecopter! Good luck!

Excerpt from Kinetic by S.K. Anthony and Giveaway!

Today, Playing Jokers has an excerpt from Kinetic, a new adult urban fantasy novel that was released this month! Definitely check it out!

Kinetic by S.K. Anthonyhttps://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=aca2695382&view=att&th=1412ce790179eaf2&attid=0.2&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_S6mgdahaRg3UQlho0R7NS&sadet=1379693937175&sads=L6rJ-AX4SR36ubJdDLBv36gOHLc

Published: September 2013
Genre: New adult urban fantasy
Series: The Luminaries (#1)
Pages: 336

Synopsis:

Being strong is one thing. Being an unlimited source of power is quite another.

Genetically altered by the Organization, Annie Fox takes down criminals CIA-style with her luminary strength. With nothing to mend but her broken heart, she is relentlessly pursued by her boss Derek Lake. Just when Annie is about to give him a chance, her ex-husband unexpectedly comes out of hiding.

A wanted man, Nick Logan is a cold-hearted murderer who is considered enemy number one, and orders are clear: kill on contact. He is more powerful than ever and threatens the lives of those she holds most dear. His plan? Get his hands on Annie and use her Kinetic energy to destroy them all. When Annie finds herself with an opportunity to end him, she pauses, horrified by the scars covering the face she once loved. A split second that will cost her everything…

Excerpt:

I stooped down and back-elbowed him across his jaw. His head fell sideways, but not for long, he turned to watch me but said nothing. I got up and slammed a good kick to his side. He winced but remained silent.

“What are you up to?” I demanded.

“Killing.”

“Why?”

He smiled. “It’s fun.”

“I’m about to call Derek, but I’d like to know what you’re after first.”

“Let me go,” he said.

“Oh… you’re hilarious.”

“You’ll regret keeping me here, Annie. I can’t afford to be captured right now.”

“Oh, RIGHT, what was I thinking? I should have called ahead to schedule an appointment for your capture. I just didn’t have your number!” I watched him in disbelief.

“I don’t have email or Twitter either. You know why?” His lip twitched. “I can’t have followers.”

I heard a chuckle from behind.

“Really, Beth? You’re going to encourage him?”

“What? No, it was just… I thought it was… funny,” she finished saying in a low voice.

I turned back to Nick and was about to grab his neck when I realized being that close to him would not be a good idea. If I allowed myself to get that close to him, he could hypnotize me to let him go, so instead, I kicked him.

“Now you’re just doing this for spite,” he said.

“Yes.” I kicked him again. “You started it at Worldsafe.”

“What are you, ten? I pinch you, you pinch me? Actually, I wouldn’t mind pinching you…” I was about to slam him again. “No, stop. Stop! Your kicks are more painful than mine. Stop it.”

“Any more requests? It seems you think you’re in charge here,” I said.

“Just, wait, all right? Don’t call Derek. Don’t let anyone know I’m here,” Nick begged.

“Scared?” I smirked.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=aca2695382&view=att&th=1412ce790179eaf2&attid=0.4&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_S6mgdahaRg3UQlho0R7NS&sadet=1379693962325&sads=akcRZ2rN-TwRYXE4UiQSoPNm7ywAbout the Author:

S. K. Anthony is a writer, a reader and a make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York with her husband and toddler twins. She is a wine connoisseur, which just really means she knows she loves it, and a caffeine addict. When she isn’t busy with her family she finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders…she is convinced they are out to get her!

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

The author is graciously hosting a giveaway with quite a few prizes! It is open internationally! You can win one of the following:

  • One $25 Amazon gift card
  • Two signed print copies of Kinetic, with a notebook, pen and bookmark
  • Three swag bags of notebooks, pens and bookmarks

To enter, go to this rafflecopter! Good luck!