Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review and Interview: Streamline by Jennifer Lane

Review and Interview: Streamline by Jennifer Lane 





Book Blurb

Seems like Leo Scott has it all: looks, brains, and athletic talent. He’s captain of his high school swim team with a bright future in college and beyond. But Leo has secrets. His mother’s crippling car accident has devastated his family and left Leo to deal with his father’s abuse, battered and alone.

Leo’s girlfriend Audrey Rose is poised for her own share of success. As one of Florida’s top high school swimmers, Audrey dreams of college swimming stardom. But there’s an obstacle to her glorious rise to the top. Her number-one supporter--her father--is in prison for murder.

Part murder mystery, part tale of young love in a military family, this gripping story takes readers on a journey from Pensacola to Annapolis. Leo and Audrey must band together to rise above the adversity they encounter and find their true selves in the process. When everything’s on the line . . . streamline.

REVIEW




I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) for this new novel and I couldn't put it down. Lane has created a rich group of characters that feel like people you know. Her descriptions of what it's like to be a professional swimmer made me want to dust of my bathing-suit and get in the water - or at least paddle in the shallow end. There is excellent character development throughout the story and what seems to be fact when you start reading, quickly has suspicions raised upon it and the mystery unfolds.

Lane does a supurb job of peeling the onion and only letting out key pieces of the puzzle to keep the reader guessing, there are even a few red-herrings thrown in for good measure. The attention to detail in the novel is fantastic and I really felt like I knew what it would be like to be a pro-swimmer or to attend a military acedemy.

The difficult topic of child abuse is handled respectfully and truthfully, not glorifying it in anyway, but showing the reality of what happened in this family. Leo is a strong protagonist and is easy to relate to. I enjoyed traveling on this journay of discovery with him and can recomend this story to others. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel.


Information

All about Jennifer Lane - WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER


Author Interview


1) First of all, congratulations on getting Streamline published. It's such an interesting plot with several twists and turns, how did the story come to you?


Thank you, Holly! This was my first novel, written in 2007. I've always been fascinated by competitive swimming, dysfunctional families, psychotherapy, the military, and the transition from young adult to new adult, so I decided to combine all these interests into a story. I let my imagination take over from there. When I finished, the novel was way too long and unpolished to consider publication. But after Omnific Publishing released two of my later novels, I returned to Streamline, fired up the hacksaw, and hacked away at a major edit. My editor Jessica Royer Ocken really helped tighten the story as well.


 
2) There were a lot of excellent details in the story about swimming and the military. Do you have personal experience with these or are you a master researcher?

Personal experience? Swimming yes, military no. I started year-round competitive swimming at age eight and haven't looked back. I don't compete much now due to a hip/back injury but I still adore the sport. Conversely, I've never been in the military and had to do extensive research on the Naval Academy--a paradox of horror and exhilaration. Several friends and service members gave me the inside scoop on the Navy.


 
3) Which of the characters did you have the most fun writing?

Alex is based on a real-life teammate who makes me giggle. Since I'm a psychologist, I also had a great time writing Dr. Ina's character.


 
4) The cover is of a very sweet moment in the book. Were you choosing from other designs or did you know what you wanted from the start?

Choosing the cover was drama! This is my first YA novel and I hear that YA covers are VERY important. All along I had a particular image in my head of a male swimmer streamlining, but I couldn't find that image anywhere. In hindsight, that was probably lucky--what do I know about designing a fantastic YA cover as a 41 year-old? My publisher showed me multiple designs and was probably ready to smack me if I didn't decide on one. At first I was uncertain about the current cover, but when I had friends vote, the underwater kiss scene was hands down the favorite. The clencher was the teenage daughter of author Nicki Elson giving it the thumbs up.


 
5) Is this a stand alone title or will we see Leo and Audrey again?

Uncertain at this point. I'll gauge interest in their story and decide if I want to turn this into a series. College swimming was such a blast for me and it would be fun to write the continuation of their adventures. However, I need to write the third novel of The Conduct Series first.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games

In Honor of the movie being released this week, I thought I would review the novel that inspired the film. I will be seeing an advanced screening in 10 hours and I can't wait!



Book Blurb

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games," a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

REVIEW

 


Wow. This book is just, wow. I first read it early last year after a friend told me that I just HAD to read it. I put it off for a few weeks because I was reading another series but when I finally got my hands on this book... I never wanted to let it go.

Suzanne Collins has created a world familiar enough that we can relate to it, but also completely alien to our own way of life. The main character, Katniss, is a strong teenager who fights for her family, her beliefs and for what she sees to be right and fair. I believe she is an excellent role model for young women and commend Collins for having the guts to write such a strong female lead.

You would think that the storyline of children killing each other as entertainment would be horrifying to read, and it can be, but the narrative tells the violence in such a veiled way that you know when someone has died, how they died and who killed them without the need for gushing blood or visceral descriptions.

The budding love story between Katniss and Peeta is subtle enough not to take over the story, but sweet enough to make you want them to be together while leaving a lot of romantic development for the later books in the series.

Basically, once you start reading this, you can't stop. If you haven't read this series yet (first of all, stop reading this post and start reading Hunger Games RIGHT NOW!) then I recommend making sure you buy all three books at once because once you get going you wont want to stop.



Information

The Hunger Games can be purchased from AMAZON
All about Suzanne Collins - WEBSITE

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Review: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare



Book Blurb


In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.



REVIEW




This book is the second in The Infernal Devices Series. Book One is called Clockwork Angel and sets the scene of a magical world in 1800s London. This just happens to be a time period that I find fascinating and I had enjoyed Clare's other series (The Mortal Instruments) so I thought I would give The Infernal Devices a try. This review is for book Two in the series - Clockwork Prince.

This book is everything a sequel should be - better than the first. The plot and characters that had been seeded in the first book grew into richly woven ideas and interactions that kept me turning the pages. This book also did something that I hadn't expected - changed my allegiance. In book one I loved Will (who wouldn't?) but in book two I slowly started to develop attachment to Jem. This infatuation crept up on me so slowly that I didn't even realize it was happening until I was already in love with Jem and wishing Will would get out of his way. (Which is really saying something because I still love Will.)

I am a sucker for love triangles and for doomed love and this book gives both. How can Tessa and Jem possibly be together when Jem is dying and how can Will watch his best friend and the girl he loves be together? It's all so tragic - and I LOVE it!! But, this book isn't all about the romance; there is a fascinating underworld that is explored and some beloved characters that return (Magnus Bane) and some other characters true colors come to light. This world of Shadowhunters, demons and mechanical creatures plays before the readers eyes like a movie and there are several twists and turns along the way that kept me guessing. Clare's writing has improved over the course of her career and I can see the improvements in this, her latest release. The next book, Clockwork Princess, is the final in this series and I am waiting for it with bated breath.



Information

Clockwork Prince can be purchased from AMAZON
All about Cassandra Clare - WEBSITE / FACEBOOK / TWITTER

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer



Book Blurb

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining "wild" humans is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Wanderer probes Melanie's thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer's mind with visions of the man Melanie loves—Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing. When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.



REVIEW




I'll be honest and say that it took me a while to get into this book. I had tried to read it several years ago, got a few chapters in and just wasn't feeling it. I was confused about the characters and there didn't seem to be a lot going on. But, I picked it up again recently, thinking I would give it another go because a friend had raved about it. My second attempt at reading it was a completely different experience to the first attempt. I connected with Wanderer straight away and was delighted by her memories of other, strange worlds. Meyer's imagination knows no bounds in this novel and her writing is excellent. If I had been expecting something similar to 'Twilight' I would have been disappointed. This is no teen romance full of angst and vampires.

The characters of The Host, human and non-human, all brought their own dimension to the story and when Wanderer/Melanie discovers the human hideout, the fun really begins. The love triange/square in this book is second to none and had me sucked right in. I loved both of the male leads in this story and was pleasantly surprised at how Meyer was able to wrap the ending up nicely.

 The perspective that Wanderer brings as she views the humans as savages; violent and uncaring, is so different from the usual - humnas are better than all other beings - we usually get from sci-fi and I found it refreshing. I loved watching Wanderer begin to develop relationships with the humans and see the range of good-bad that lives in all of us.

I am giving this novel 5 hearts, despite our rocky beginings, because you can really see Meyer's growth as an author with this story. I stayed up late into the night reading (I physically couldn't put the book down) and spent days thinking about the story after it was finished. To me, you can ask no more of a book then to captivate your mind and imagination and The Host did that for me.

I believe there is a movie of this book in production and I can't wait. But I would definetly recomend reading this book (instead of just watching the movie). Trust me, it's worth the read!

Information

The Host can be purchased from AMAZON
All about Stephenie Meyer - WEBSITE