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?

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Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

12813630The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Published: September 3rd 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format/Source: Paperback Advanced Reading Copy from BookExpo America
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Pages: 419

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

When you’re drinking a fine wine, you want to take small sips, enjoying the layers of flavor. As tempting as it is to drink many glasses, you try not to overdo it. And yet, sometimes it happens.

I liken my experience of reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown to drinking that fine wine. Each chapter was a delicious morsel that I was trying to savor before I picked up too much momentum and began tumbling down the stairs. Needless to say, my self-restraint failed after a certain point and I spent most of my weekend finishing the book in newborn vampire hunger.

It had been a while since I had read a vampire story. I think the last one was probably a Charlaine Harris southern vampire novel. That series is great fun but The Coldest Girl in Coldtown definitely had a different vibe to it. There’s nothing quite like a novel beginning with a 30+ teenager massacre and a girl stumbling out of being passed out in the bathtub to discover the entire party’s population dead and drained. It definitely sets the mood for the rest of the story.

There were parts of the novel that I was confused about. Questions where I was wondering if I had skipped a paragraph or something (which I have been known to do by accident). However, most of those questions are answered as the story progresses. Don’t expect everything to be immediately known and understood right away, or even completely after your first read. This is a book that I strongly believe will only grow on me more with a reread. I think I missed some of the carefully laid details that make such a detailed world. I particularly love how the vampires bloat like leeches or ticks after a feeding—it’s those details that make is so much more real and different. Very believable. I also love how it’s basically a pandemic biological disaster—the disaster preparedness part of me found that fascinating.

I do wish the ending was a bit more concrete, but I am okay with it as it is. It leaves it up to your imagination as much as I’m dying for more of this world.

It’s a young adult book, but I really think that if this had been published before that marketing label was so widely used, it would have fit just fine in the science fiction/fantasy/paranormal adult genre. There are really only two factors that make it young adult for me: the age of the protagonist and the lack of sex. Otherwise, it is entirely an adult-styled book.

I really believe that this is a book that will remain on my bookshelf and be read at least once more. I highly recommend this book—particularly to get you in the mood for Halloween!

My rating: 5/5

Waiting on Wednesday (9): Three Books Worthy of Spotlighting

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I can’t decide between three books that are coming out soon. So I figured I’d just include all of them!

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Expected publication: September 3rd 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal12813630
432 pages

Synopsis:

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

I have the ARC of this book from the Book Expo America this year but still, I can’t wait until I have an opportunity to read it! Everything from Holly Black generally enthuses me.

All of Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Expected Publication: September 3rd 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction13514612
Pages: 368 pages

Synopsis:

“You have to kill him.” Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

All Our Yesterdays is a wrenching, brilliantly plotted story of fierce love, unthinkable sacrifice, and the infinite implications of our every choice.

A lot of my fellow bloggers have been posting about this book and there is even a release party near me next week (that I can’t go to!). At this time, I definitely plan on reading this one.

The Transfer by Veronica Roth

Expected Publication: September 3rd 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia18080920
Pages: 50 pages

Synopsis:

More Four! Fans of the Divergent series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by “The Transfer,” the first of four new short stories told from Four’s perspective. Each brief story explores the world of the Divergent series through the eyes of the mysterious but charismatic Tobias Eaton, revealing previously unknown facets of his personality, backstory, and relationships.

Does this one even need an explanation? Despite some of the issues with the Divergent series, I will continue to devour anything about it. I’m definitely very curious about this and the other short stories being released. So excited!

What are you waiting for?

Book News: Galbraith = Rowling and I’m Celebrating

So, I know this is no longer quite breaking news, but it’s still fascinating news to me. Especially considering that I just finished and reviewed The Casual Vacancy

Robert Galbraith

This lovely lady, J.K. Rowling has been outed as having published a book under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. This book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, was published in the spring pretty quietly. And I mean quietly as compared to some other books I’ve seen. On Goodreads, there are only 345 ratings at the time I am writing this post. That’s compared to the tens of thousands of ratings popular books published the same month have already.

I cannot blame Rowling for trying to publish under a pseudonym. After the mixed reception of The Casual Vacancy (with so many people crying out that it’s nothing like Harry Potter!), who can place blame? Honestly, I wish it had stuck…but here’s where it gets particularly interesting.

There’s a growing conspiracy surrounding how this pseudonym was discovered. Sometime over the past weekend, a news outlet received a tweet concerning Galbraith. After some research, it was discovered that it was curious that Galbraith and Rowling had the same editor and publisher. Just like with any media rolling ball, the news broke and admissions came out, that Galbraith was in fact actually Rowling. (A strange transition given that Galbraith had been described on publication materials as a male veteran.)

The conspiracy is that the book had actually been struggling. I don’t think that that is difficult to see even to someone outside of the publishing The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)and bookselling industry (see my ratings comment above). I have also read that the timing of this revelation, both within the actual day of the week and the overall lifespan of the book, is increasingly suspicious. However, Little, Brown and Rowling have both denied that this was all actually a publicity stunt to save what would have otherwise been a floundering novel.

Again, do I blame them? No. If it was a publicity stunt, whatever. It’s a better stunt than some others out there trying to get money off of what they really probably shouldn’t, at least ethically speaking (see the Zimmerman juror B37’s ‘book deal’ or even OJ Simpson’s book a couple of years ago). So I think in the scheme of things, this isn’t that big of a deal in terms of the reason behind it.

I totally have fallen for this trap though. Had I even heard of the The Cuckoo’s Calling before? Nope. Do I now really want to go get a copy of it? Yes. It’s J.K. friggen Rowling, the architect of my childhood whimsy! It is now on my to-read list, once of course all those new copies have been rush printed. (If you want to try your chances, there’s a Goodreads’ giveaway up for this book.)

For more interesting news, definitely look into the impact that this is having on booksellers. If people really want a book they can’t get a physical copy of, will they wait for the bookseller to get it or will they go get the ebook version? Like I said, this is definitely an interesting piece of news.

Sources:
NY Times
The Bookseller
Yahoo

And I highly recommend following Publishers Weekly on Twitter…it’s really thanks to them that I found all this out.

Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Published: September 27th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company
Format/Source: Kindle eBook, purchased
Genre: Contemporary

The Casual Vacancy

Synopsis:

A BIG NOVEL ABOUT A SMALL TOWN …

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils … Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Review:

Before I begin, I highly recommend reading Nataliya’s review of this book. I’m so glad that I read most of her review before beginning this book because it helped to set up expectations. Because I had completely gone into this book first expecting the magic of Harry Potter and also a murder mystery.

The Casual Vacancy is neither. It is:

  • Very intricate. There are many parts that connect and I could definitely see myself re-reading it to get a better idea of all the connections.
  • A study in characters. All of the characters are extremely real. It is perhaps my favorite thing about the whole book. There is absolutely no fantasy about these characters. They are real people.
  •  It is perhaps the first book in a really long time that I’ve read that is in 3rd person omniscient. Even with books like those in A Song of Ice and Fire, each chapter is limited to only that character’s POV. In The Casual Vacancy, POV’s can switch within a chapter.

In explaining this book to my friends, I used the following analogy:

“You know Miley Cyrus? How she was Hannah Montana and a Disney star? Well when she wanted to break free from that become an adult artist, how she started posing nude and getting caught with drugs, and singing racier songs? That’s what it seems like J.K. Rowling is trying to do with The Casual Vacancy; really show that she’s not just a children’s book author.”

Maybe that’s an unfair statement, but out of the various books I’ve read recently, I haven’t read one with as many curse words and some vulgarity in it without it being explicitly that kind of book. At first, it was very shocking and jarring.

Additionally, the style in the beginning had me confused as to who was who. There are so many characters and the way the POV switches, it takes a while to really get involved with each of the different characters. It’s a book that would benefit from a list of characters in the beginning, like some of Agatha Christie’s books. It made it tough going for the first 50% of the book. It was a book that went up hill to then suddenly race to the bottom. It’s that race to the bottom that had me improving my opinion of the book.

That’s why this is a hard one to rate. The beginning was like three stars for me…I liked it. I didn’t really like it, and it was well written enough to be better than just okay. But the end, the revelation of all things being connected…well that bumps it to four stars for me. I feel a bit guilty for whatever reason not giving it five stars, but the meandering in the beginning didn’t match the acceleration at the end.

My rating: 4/5