Monday, November 30, 2009

Interview with Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl!

Interview with Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl


1) Ethan & Lena - who do you identify with more? Why?

    Margie: I identify more with Ethan. He’s a pleaser, he wants to keep his friends and do the right thing by everyone. But inside, he knows he’s different, he knows he needs to step out of himself and not be afraid to be the person he really is, even if that means rocking the boat. I always felt like that growing up.

    Kami: I identify with Ethan because he’s so protective of the people he loves, and he’s willing to stand up for them no matter the cost. But I identify with Lena because she feels different, and she has to act strong even when she is really hurt. I felt that way in high school. I wrote tons of poetry in my journals, so I could express all the things I could never say out loud.

2) Who is your favorite character? Why?

    Margie: Macon. I love the way he loves Lena, the way he hates Gatlin but is willing to endure it for her. I love the way Macon dresses & talks, his style, his charm.

    Kami: Amma. She fights for Ethan, in this world and the other. I love the way she knows everything, but she never totally lets on. And she’s so incredibly smart!

3) What is the process behind naming the characters?

    Margie: It’s sort of a giant mix of family trees, names of relatives, names we liked, Southern names, French Creole names. Amma’s name was always Amma, and Ethan and Lena were always Ethan and Lena. Macon, too. The others just kind of fell into place.

    Kami: Lena, Genevieve, Delphine, Sarafine, and most of the names of the women in Lena’s family, are French Creole. Macon is a common Southern name, as well as the name of a city in Georgia. Most of the names also have meaning, which is important to us when naming characters.


    4) Are any of your characteristics the same as any of the characters’?

    Margie: I’m a reader like Ethan and a writer like Lena. I love to collect the odd bit of knowledge like Macon and Marian. I want to fit in like Ethan, but I want to be myself like Lena.

    Kami: I’ve always been a reader like Ethan and Lena, and I’ve written poetry all my life like Lena. But I think I share more characteristics with Amma than anyone else; I’m hot-tempered, I bake from scratch, and I’m incredibly superstitious.

    5) Family is a very important aspect of the book. Why so? Also the magic/supernatural element makes it special.

    Margie: Family is so important in a small town, and in our own lives. We both grew up with three generations under one roof, and two of those generations had grown up in a tiny town. So becoming your own person under the shadow of your own family is something we’ve both gone through. The magic aspect works because it takes the idea of developing your own power as a person and literalizes it, I think.

    Kami: My family is full of strong women, particularly my mom, my grandmother, my great-grandmother. They had a huge impact on me growing up, and made me the person I am today. My grandmother and great-grandmother were both from North Carolina, and they were full of stories. Those stories inspired me to write stories of my own.


6) Why did you choose the Southern setting?

Margie: The South is the most magical place in the U.S. Or so we think!

    Kami: Margie and I believe that the South is a place where people still believe magic and the supernatural. The South is also a place with such a unique culture and history. And, of course, there arethe graveyards… and the food.

7) Favorite line from the book? Or a specific scene/paragraph?

    Margie: That’s hard. I love the prologue, I think. I love almost everything that comes out of Amma’s mouth. But here’s my favorite line from the sequel: “Don’t you dare bring the truth inta this house!”

    Kami: I have two: “The right thing and the easy thing are never the same.” And “One day you’re gonna pick a hole in the sky and the universe is gonna fall right through.

8) How many books have you planned in the series?

    Margie: We sketched out six, but we’ll only keep telling the Caster Chronicles as long as the readers want them.

    Kami: It’s a huge universe, and an epic story. We’ll keep writing about the folks in Gatlin as long as you want to read them.

9) Do you guys ever squabble? Creative differences and all that?

    Margie: Of course! We fight like sisters, but only about stupid things. About the book, we have almost an eerie clarity. I can’t think of a single argument about the story, actually. Not one.

    Kami: We fight about things like: there’s no ice at Margie’s house or it’s freezing or one of us has the draft and the other is waiting for it. But when it comes to the story, we really don’t have any ego, and we both have the power of veto. But more than that, we trust each other. Margie is such an amazing writer – if she tells me she thinks we need to re-write something (or more often, tear the draft apart), we do.

10) Personal influences- authors, artists, anyone - on BOTH of you.

    Margie: For me, classic Southern writers – Eudora Welty, Harper Lee – and classic fantasy writers – C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley. And then my own experiences, and my family.

    Kami: Southern writers, of course – Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, Pat Conroy, Alice Walker. Fantasy & sci-fi writers – Ray Bradbury, C.S Lewis, Phillip Pullman. As a painter, I was enormously influenced by art – Raushenberg, Pollock, Motherwell, Roberto Clemente – and more recently Kara Walker, whose art is a social commentary on the history of the American South. I saw an exhibition at the Hammer, in LA, and it literally took my breath away. The person I am, and the stories I tell, come from my family.

    11) Who came up with the idea for the book? How? When? Why?

    Margie: There’s nothing about this book that didn’t come out of a conversation we had together. We came up with the whole story over a long lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. A million Diet Cokes and two enormous whiteboards later, here we are!

    Kami: We really put our chocolate and peanut butter together.

You can keep up with Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl at www.BeautifulCreaturestheBook.com.


Visit Little, Brown’s Beautiful Creatures website at www.SomeLovesAreCursed.com.

I hope you enjoyed the interview! Let us know what you think of it!

Until next time,

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures
by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl



Release Date: December 1st, 2009

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Edition: Hardcover, First Edition

Pages: 576 pg.

Source: Strand Bookstore.

Rating: 5/5 stars.



Some loves are meant to be…
others are cursed.
There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
At least, that’s what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end,
there was a grave.

Synopsis:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.


Review:

In all my 19 years, of all the vocabulary I have acquired, I don't think I possess the words that could describe how much I loved Beautiful Creatures. Of the meager words that I have under my belt, the ones that I would use to convey the feelings I felt while reading BC and well after I was done would be limited to OMG, that was fan-freaking-tastic and I need more stat!. I am about to die of excitement. This is one of the most amazing books of the 21st century that I have read.

Beautiful Creatures is one of those books - the must haves on your library shelves. Ms. Garcia & Ms. Stohl do a wonderful job of mixing American Culture and present day mentality of teens to create something different, but something so delectable, you can't resist it. In the span of 576 pages, Ms. Garcia and Ms. Stohl deliver a book full of twists and turns so minutely controlled that not one page goes by where the reader doesn’t try to anticipate what comes next. Beautiful Creatures is well-crafted, detailed, giving away just what is necessary to keep the reader hooked. This mind-blowing book is written so beautifully like intricately carved wood that it takes a certain kind of mind to appreciate its beauty.

The congruence of the contemporary and the past is as articulate and seamless as though it was all one occurrence. The concept of the Mortals and the Casters and their world is unraveled in quite a way where not too much information is thrown at you but you crave more nonetheless. It is fascinating- not quite the same paranormal action you’d see in a book. Full of depth, Beautiful Creatures gives us 500+ pages of non-action packed verbal action that boggles the mind. Same goes for the plot that is quite unique and not something run-of-the-mill. The main characters Ethan and Lena, two high school teenagers in love, who against all odds remain together, are perfectly rounded. Their families are tied back to the Civil War Era and it’s not known to them until the secret is revealed and the mystery then unfolds. The book, which is told from a male POV, is even more striking with its Southern setting in the town of Gatlin where everyone knows everyone’s secret. The male POV is a refreshing change and a success.

Ethan and Lena are not unlike normal teenagers. Ethan wants nothing to do with Gatlin and living in the same town where nothing had happened for more than a century felt very binding to him. Enter Lena, a girl who wants a normal life on account of having not lived anyplace for long. A girl who wants to experience every trial and tribulation a teen girl has to go through. A girl who wants to experience every single nuance of teenagedom from going to school dances and craving approval from the popular kids. Ethan can’t think of leaving town with the new girl haunting his dreams and the inkling of something new and deep. He decides to stick around and try the something new. And the rest is history. Or rather BC. And so it goes.

My favorite part:

Or rather parts. I love the incorporation of American writers in the forms of quotes or aphorisms. Being a Lit major, I’ve read my fair share o American Lit, and I have to say that I’m not a huge fan; whereas BC made me sit up and take notice of the rich aspects of American Culture that were interspersed through it.

“What is the opposite of two? A lonely me, a lonely you.” ~Richard Curtis.

“Three can keep a secret I two of them are dead” – Benjamin Franklin.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway.

This is what got me hooked: There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.

An English teacher named Mrs. English? Oh yeah. I was hooked and then some.

My favorite character: Characters rather. Again.

Amma and Macon. I can’t quite explain it. They had the whole protector thing going but it wasn’t quite that.

My favorite Latin phrase:

Cruor pectoris mei, tutela tua est!

Blood of my heart, Protection is Thine!

(Especially since I’m taking Latin next semester. Thanks to Kami & Margie!)

Over the past 5 months, I’ve begged and borrowed this book from quite generous friends so I could read and re-read this book to satisfy my “craving”. I finally found the book one day on an unscheduled Strand trip. I am so so glad I went because now I can randomly open the book at times and look up my favorite parts and read them again.

In conclusion, all I'd like to say is Beautiful Creatures is a book that not just a teen but any reader, any age, can pick up and enjoy. This deliciously magnificent book is just awe-inspiring and there is not much I can say except that it's a book that you won't regret spending time reading!
It will leave you dumbfounded with the feeling of something clogging your throat and your jaw being in the clothes of something impenetrable.


PS. I know the review lacks lots because there is no way I could write an absolutely amazing review without it being spoiler free. So I’m sorry!

Until next time,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Unofficial Hiatus

Hey everyone!!

I feel this has been a long time coming and I've finally found the time to write a post about it! College has been crazy this semester and I know there are a lot of us out there who've been able to handle both college and the blog and do splendidly on both. I, however, have unfortunately failed to do so.

The blog has been empty for months and I apologize for that. It is the end of semester and finals are near but I am trying to do my best to remedy for the blog being bare and I shall try my best to post at least a few times during the week!

Thank you so much for bearing with me! In my time away I assure you I have read tons of wonderful books that I am excited to share with you!

I look forward to that and hearing from you!

Until next time,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

thanks⋅giv⋅ing

[thangks-giv-ing] Show IPA
–noun
  1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, esp. to God.
  2. an expression of thanks, esp. to God
  3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness.
  4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.
  5. (initial capital letter) Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day

–noun
a national holiday celebrated as a day of feasting and giving thanks for divine favors or goodness, observed on the fourth Thursday of November in the U.S. and in Canada on the second Monday of October.

I never celebrated Thanksgiving, but after moving here I thought about it and I wondered:

WHAT AM I THANKFUL FOR?!

Thats actually a pretty good question.
Well first off, Life. I mean we wouldn't be here if not for God creating humanity and granting us a life to live. Hence God and life.

Secondly my parents for giving birth to me and making me who I am.

I am thankful for the teachers and professors who've helped me culminate what meager intelligence I have and inculcate in me a sense of being and belonging.

I am thankful for the friends who've stuck by thick and thin for the past 19 years. I am thankful for those who haven't but still have taught me an important life-lesson by doing so.

I am thankful for friend who've become friends thanks to other friends. In short friends of friends who're now friends. xD

I am thankful for school friends, college friends, blogger friends and friends who don't fall under any category friends.

I am thankful for the little things in life that go unnoticed but without them a day wouldn't pass by normally.

I am thankful for BOOKS! And hence for the people that write them! And the ones the help get them out there! (AKA Publishers!) And the people that find them! (AKA Agents!).

I am thankful for everything that I have and everything that life and God are bringing me and have brought me and will in the future.

So this Thanksgiving, what are YOU thankful for?!

P.S. I am also thankful to Maureen Johnson for Devyn Burton, Fox for Glee and ABC for Grey's Anatomy and CWTV for Supernatural and Gossip Girl!

Until next time,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff

Review:

I have only two words. Well three. A laugh riot. Despite dealing with all the issues that Andrew Zansky goes through as a teenager, which are REAL, Mr. Zadoff successfully brings attention to the social strata that exists in high school while at the same time making the book one that will keep you roaring with laughter.

Name: Andrew Zansky
Age: 15
Gender: Male
Size: W 48 L 30
Weight: 307 pounds
Hobbies: Eating
Best Friend: Eytan
Potential girlfriend(s): 1

As every teenager looks forward to beginning a new year at high school complete with the dream of reaching the next level on the social ladder, Andrew and Eytan dream so too. Their dream is to achieve this goal via the Model UN Team where they were sure they would be assigned Estonia which would be one step up from the country they'd been assigned last year- Bostwana. Although he isn't to jazzed up about it, he goes along with his friend but somewhere along the way, Andrew has lost interest.

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have is the story of a 15-year old boy who has asthma and despite it wants to play football.It is the story of a boy with natural talent to play football.
It is the story of a boy with parents who are divorced and haven't given their son the time to transition smoothly. It is the story of a boy whose parents wont permit him to play ball with his condition. It is the story of a boy who is excited to be in AP American History (REALLY??!!). It is the story of a boy who meets a girl he likes

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have is a realistic depiction of high school life and the ways teens come up with to cope with peer pressure. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.
It is the story of Andy, who like every other teen , is just trying to find his identity - where he fits in the jungle that is called high school...

Hats off to Mr. Zadoff on pulling off such a wonderful book filled with LOL/LMAO/ROFL moments that make you laugh till it seems your sides would burst!


UPDATE- AL YOU GLEE FANS- If I could just point out that the whole Kurt dancing to Single Ladies routine on the field? Not so original after all .. If you go to page 285 of the book you'll notice the similarities.