Good luck to one and all!
QUICK NOTE...Update: 1/2/19
The blog is slowly coming back on line. We were right in the path of Hurricane Michael (like so many others), and while the family is safe (pups, and parents), the house didn't fair as well. So, reading and blogging (as much as I adore it) have to take a back burner. I've finally reached a stage in all this chaos that I feel that I can try to take a few baby steps back into the blogging world. A post here, a post there, and who knows. Hope you stay along for the ride!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Good luck to one and all!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
From the author's site....
"Living with hope is like rubbing up against a cheese grater. It keeps taking slices off you until there's so little left, you just crumble." Quick-witted, prank-pulling graffiti artist Maxwell Connors is more observant than the average New Middletown teenager. And he doesn't like what he sees. New Middletown's children are becoming frighteningly obedient, and their parents and teachers couldn't be happier. As Max and his friend Dallas watch their classmates transform into model citizens, Max wonders if their only hope of freedom lies in the unknown world beyond New Middletown's walls, where creativity might be a gift instead of a liability.
Can you imagine? A world where creativity is frowned upon and everyone is expected to simply line up, take their assignment and live life as they are told? Nah...never happen...right? I wouldn't be so sure. The world introduced by Ms. Austen isn't so far fetched. I mean, there are advantages to what they were trying to introduce....a more manageable society with potentially less crime and people living up to their supposed potentials. Not so bad.....well, except for that "supposed" part. I mean, whose to say what anyone is truly capable of achieving, good or bad, throughout the course of their natural life....but I for one would rather live in a world that the option to find out exists, as would Max.
Max is not your typical "hero" in any sense of the word. He's not a good boy gone bad that redeems himself through his deeds. He's not the classic underdog that fights his way through insurmountable odds to come out on top. What he is is this....a young man trying to find himself that expresses his frustrations and beliefs through his creative side, for better or worse. In this society, art is viewed more as a "worse". The freedom of expression that lies within its unframed borders is a scary prospect to the powers that be. I mean, if you're going to create a robot like civilization, you can't very well have people thinking for themselves....it'd never work; hence the battle begins for both our free will and our very lives.
In short, it's a fictional look at a reality that may not be so far away with the possible repercussions we could face should the same steps of "progress" be taken. It's enjoyable from a make believe stand point, but also gives you something to really think about. We are so dependent on technology as a civilization and expect things to go just so....how much of a leap is it really to a time when we dictate the path that others must follow in their lives for the sake of smooth sailing?
LibraryThing Early Reviewers courtesy of Orca Book Publishers. (THANKS!) If you haven't visited LibraryThing before, you don't know what you're missing...seriously, check it out! Even friend me if you like! ^_^ For more information on this title as well as their full catalog, be sure to visit the publisher online....or check out the author's official website. Speaking of the author, for a deeper look at today's title feel free to check out my interview with Ms. Catherine Austen herself in yesterday's post and for more on her blog tour going on now, check out her site.
Until next time...happy reading!
Monday, November 28, 2011
...is delayed. I'm so sorry to disappoint you all but a dial work schedule (and low cell battery ...grr) played havoc with it posting. Rest assured it will be up late tonight/early tomorrow ...in the mean time, feel free to look over the interview I had with author Catherine Austen and throw a few questions or comments her way.
Interview: Author Catherine AustenMax certainly loved to stir up trouble to keep things interesting yet you could see that underneath it all, he really cared about the world he lived in. How was he able to foster that desire to make things better in a world where much was already set for them?Max’s love for his family and friends is very intense. Partly it’s his nature and partly his upbringing. He’s an outsider who comes from a strong family, he has a sweet little sister but he misses his father terribly, so he has an unusual sense of protectiveness on the one hand and vulnerability on the other, and together they intensify his love for his family and friends and his fear of losing them. For me, that’s what makes a good dystopian hero: someone who really loves somebody else. When you love someone you want to make the world better for them and you can’t accept the things that threaten them.
Xavier is a side character and yet I can't help but wonder in the way he was developed (so complete and distinct), was he ever a lead character in a draft of the book....or perhaps will he be playing a bigger part upcoming?Xavier is loosely based on a real person who was the inspiration for this book (a boy who was strange and beautiful and heavily medicated). He was never a lead character but Max’s story began with him, i.e., my first conception of Max was of him half-listening to Xavier. (I never imagine my main character from the outside, always from the inside. It’s kind of freaky.) So even though Xavier is a side character, he’s at the heart of the book. (Or at least beside Dallas. I love Dallas. I would like to adopt Dallas. Or be him. I can’t decide which.)
Another surprising, or perhaps not so surprising, part of the story I saw glimpses of dealt with racism. Curious how a society so forward in many ways could be so backwards in others. Was it intentional or did it just surface while the story was being conjured?It was intentional. Economic uncertainty and changing demographics can bring out hatred and blame in any community. My first draft had more overt discussion of racism and homophobia among the kids at school. Now it reads more like fish in water – which is tough, especially when you’re writing for teens, to show something like that and let it stand without moralizing. It makes for a better book, but one more open to misinterpretation.But on the question of race... Max was white until midway through my first draft. I had to come up with a Halloween costume, so I sat at my kitchen table pretending to be Max with Dallas, and I picked up the salt and pepper shakers and thought, okay, one of them can be black. Once Max was a visible minority, it suited his character and plot so well I couldn’t think of him any other way.
I have to admit, the scene in the airplane with Ally, Max and the bag of chips...too funny. So the question begs to be asked....was it art imitating life? (Where'd the inspiration for it come from?)Yeah, I have a teenage son who torments his little brother. I’ve heard praise from many adults about how I captured the annoying jerk aspect of teenage boys in this book. But Max is a saint compared to real kids at their worst. He is arrogant and bored and naughty but very good at heart. I LOVED being in his head while I wrote this book. It was so fun and liberating and young.
Everyone wants to know (or will once they read the book)...will there be a sequel? When? Any details you can share?Yes, although I didn’t intend one when I wrote All Good Children. It should be out in 2013, if all goes well. Max’s life goes down the toilet for most of the book while Dallas’s takes off flying, and they end up on different sides of a violent clash between a corporation and a commune, through which they uncover a horrifying secret about the agricultural labour force that takes them back home to New Middletown for a good old us-against-the-world smackdown.
- - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Quid pro quo....Favorite book of late... I’m reading Room by Emma Donoghue.If you weren't a writer, what was your plan b?Pretty much anything that pays.On your days off, where can you be found?Libraries, museums, parks, in the basement on the drums, out in the yard feeding squirrels, in coffee shops, at the movies, hanging out with my family.The most important thing I've learned in life so far is.........nothing lasts but some things last longer than others.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Hi there readers!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.....the place to be when you're really hungry and true sustanence will only come from the pages of a book.This week, prepare to be satisfied with reviews, guest posts and the like to satisfy your bookish cravings. Today's featured title starts the feast and is reminiscent of a classic read generation after generation starring a Southern cast of characters you won't soon forget. Get ready to be transported to a time and place not so far away from our own. Today's book of choice is....
THE CAILIFFS OF BAGHDAD, GEORGIA
Mary Helen Stefaniak
From the publisher....
Narrator Gladys Cailiff is eleven years old in 1938 when a worldly schoolteacher turns the small town of Threestep, Georgia, upside down. Miss Grace Spivey defies the traditional curriculum and racial boundaries alike, regaling her charges with readings from the Thousand Nights and a Night and casting a gifted African American student as "chief engineer" of the town's annual festival, newly reinvented as the Baghdad Bazaar. But her progressive actions are not without consequence and ultimately culminate in a night of death-defying stories that take readers on a magic carpet ride from a schoolroom in the South to the banks of the Tigris (and back again).
Truth be told, this story reminded me a lot of the infamous "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. The Southern setting, the timeframe, the prejudices seen and the lead character chosen to divulge all the events that transpired. It's a story about prejudice. A story about how everyone has the right to learn no matter their race, age or background. A story about accepting our differences, or heck even celebrating them the best way we know how.
Taking the time to reflect on this one, I think I can appreciate the narrators' voice (Gladys Cailiff) even more. It was honest and truthful; its innocence retained both before and after the events played out (no pun intended)....it just had a new set of eyes through which to view the world. Miss Spivey was a breath of fresh air to a town that was seriously due for a spring cleaning...whether they knew it or not. She's not perfect and her transgressions end up being her downfall, but she really tries to make a difference and throw a new coat of paint on a tiresome old problem. In short, her character is a firecracker with a lot of heart and had it not been for her impact on Gladys' life, I don't think she would have amounted to half the person she did.
Theo Boykin on the other hand was a character we'd have loved to see go far but was ill fated from the start. He achieves so many things in his youth that one could barely fathom the feats he would have reached given the chance. Now I know what that sounds like...I promise, I'm not spoiling the story in any fashion, merely making a suggestion to allow his presence to make the impact it was intended to whilst completing this literary journey.
Then there's those characters you love to hate like Mavis (who actually has a life changing experience later on in the story) and Mr. Gordan (who wouldn't bother to change to save his life). Sometimes they get what's coming to them, other times not so much but they make the story complete in the end. The extended family, friends and not-so-friendlies all play a roll as this story unfolds but I'll let you discover them for the most part on your own.
Now, there is one part that started to lose me about 2/3 of the way in. Certain events transpire leading to a rather lengthy story telling from the town's temporarily dubbed Shahrazad (a story teller from their play), where truth and fiction are woven together to create a masterpiece worth turning your attention to. Don't get me wrong, it was done well and anyone that wasn't focused on it rather than the events actually happening in the town just wasn't paying attention...however, for me it got a bit TOO into the historical tale. Admittedly, I'm not a huge historic fiction fan in the true sense of the word so that probably played a part...but had the ending not weaved it way back on course, my end opinion on this one might have differed. Now to my summary....
In conclusion, I enjoyed the story a great deal and warn you, once you enter the town of Baghdad, Georgia you may not want to leave. Though it's true, you will meet those who will stand against you, if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything, right? Whole heartedly recommended to older teens (there's one scene not quite proper for younger eyes even if the narrator is a child) through adults the reading world over. Southern lit fans, TKAM fans, and fiction fans in general....there's something of value in this one for one and all...and life lessons to be gleaned.
Review copy courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. (THANKS!) For more information on this title as well as their complete catalog of works, feel free to visit them online at www.wwnorton.com . This book was released in paperback September of this year and should be available on a bookstore shelf near you.
Until next time....happy reading!
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
- Read this post, review my wish list, and leave a comment to enter
- Visit the main site to check out all the other fabulous blogs participating and repeat the step above
Thursday, November 24, 2011
A Different Thanksgiving Conversation: Eight Questions to Ask Your EldersBy Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D.(adapted from 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans)A famous picture by Norman Rockwell shows beaming grandparents serving turkey to a crowd of smiling extended family members. This idealized image represents reality in this way: Thanksgiving is one event that traditionally brings the generations together. So what’s a good way to spend this precious intergenerational time?Here’s one you may not have thought of: How about asking your older family members to give the younger ones advice for living? I’ve spent the past six years conducting a research project in which we asked older Americans: “What are the most important lessons you’ve learned that you would like to pass on to young people?” The results were fascinating, and yes, you can try this at home! So I’m proposing that we all use Thanksgiving to ask our family’s elders to share their wisdom.Why try it? Because it’s an interesting and enjoyable thing to do. Younger people have a lot to gain by seeking the life wisdom of older people. We can take advantage of years of lived experience, perspectives that defy contemporary “common sense,” and experiential knowledge that comes from having been tested in almost every type of stressful situation. Have they been married for 50 years? Ask them what makes a marriage work. They raised a family, so ask them their advice for raising children. And don’t forget to ask their advice about aging well!On this holiday, we can all be thankful that our elders are so full of wisdom, and willing to share. Below are some “conversation starters” to use around the dinner table this Thanksgiving. While you’re digging into your turkey and mashed potatoes, you can profit from the valuable lessons that those around you have have learned first-hand over their lifetimes.1. What are some of the most important lessons you feel you have learned over the course of your life?2. Some people say that they have had difficult or stressful experiences but they have learned important lessons from them. Is that true for you? Can you give examples of what you learned?3. As you look back over your life, do you see any “turning points”; that is, a key event or experience that changed over the course of your life or set you on a different track?4. What are some of the important choices or decisions you made that you have learned from?5. What would you say you know now about living a happy and successful life that you didn’t know when you were twenty?6. What would you say are the major values or principles that you live by?7. Have you learned any lessons regarding staying in good health?8. What advice would you give to people about growing older?I hope you will give these a try. We do sometimes ask older people for their life stories, but it can actually reach deeper and be more rewarding to ask them their advice for living.This is how knowledge for living was once transferred; the experience of interlocking lives, intertwined over generations, was passed along and remained alive in the telling. This wisdom exists in people you know, right here, right now. And it’s your for the asking this Thanksgiving.And if you learn something valuable from an elder, or your own family elders would like to share their advice, you can add it to our website http://legacyproject.human.cornell.edu/give-your-advice/ and be entered for a chance to win $100 Amazon gift card, now through December 4th!------------------------------------------------About the AuthorKarl A. Pillemer, Ph.D - Karl Pillemer is a professor of human development at Cornell University and Professor of Gerontology in Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College. An internationally renowned gerontologist, his research examines how people develop and change throughout their lives. He has authored five books and over 100 scientific publications, and speaks throughout the world on aging-related issues.After a chance encounter with a remarkable 90-year old woman, Dr. Pillemer decided to find out what older people know about life that the rest of us don't. His quest led him to ask more than a thousand older Americans their advice for living. He asked about all the big issues - love, marriage, children, work, happiness, avoiding regrets.This 6-year project led to the book: 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans, published by Hudson Street Press in November 2011.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
From the author’s site…
Something extraordinary is lurking in the deep ocean waters off the coast of Aptos, California. In just a few weeks after moving to the small beach town, sixteen year old Marina has nearly drowned twice, enchanted the hottest guy in high school, and discovered a supernatural creature. If she can only manage to survive her increasingly dangerous encounters with unpredictable mermaids, she might just be able to unlock the mystery of her past to learn how to appease the mysterious forces that seem to want something from her...and maybe even find true love along the way.
Let’s see, if I had to put this in a nutshell I’d say….take one dash Twilight, add a tablespoon of “under the sea” magic, and shake violently still you achieve a color of serene sea blue. That’s what this book brings to readers. Now, I shall explain the compact description I just created in order to appease the gods of curiosity…because let’s face it, if I stopped there…A) it just wouldn’t be me; and B) some would probably be instantly attracted while others instantly turned off to reading this selection without giving it a fair shake. Ready set….explaining time!
The cast of characters surrounding her are varied in their likes and dislikes and might I say that the stereotypical mold is no where to be found when it comes to their true colors, a fact I found refreshing. The descriptions of both land and sea take you places you may never have been but will vividly see right before your eyes. Travel the coastal road and gaze down at the beach (and surfers...hehe) below. Stand on the beach and watch the wave’s crash on the shore. Cut through the water at astounding speeds and surface in the great blue beyond with only the stars to light the sky above. It’s a verbal picture waiting to be painted on the canvas of your mind….so what are you waiting for? Grab a “paintbrush” and get to work!
This book as well as its follow ups is available now at many of your favorite online book retailers so feel free to scurry off and find a copy after you finish reading my close. ^_^ Ebook for review courtesy of author Derrolyn Anderson. (THANKS!) For more information about this series as well as her other published works and works in progress, be sure to visit her official website.
Until next time….happy pre-Thanksgiving to you…and happy reading!