Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Wife for Mr.Darcy Winner!

Let's give a big thanks to Sourcebooks and Mary Simonsen for providing a copy of Mary's new novel, A Wife for Mr. Darcy! And the lucky winner is....


I have already contacted Laura and she responded, so her book will be on the way in the next couple of days.
Thank you so much, everyone who entered, for visiting with Mary and me. :)

I am sharing this with you from Seattle, where I am staying for a few days with my brother and his wife. So if you don't see much of me for the next few days, it is because I am probably doing something wild and crazy. ;)

                                 Lieder Madchen

Monday, July 25, 2011

YA Bachelors Voting is Open!

Voting is open at Down the Rabbit Hole! Go vote for your favorite YA hero and enter to win a book! I really, really want you to vote for Jace, of course. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review #88: Quintspinner: A Pirate's Quest by Dianne Greenlay

Quintspinner: A Pirate's Quest
by Dianne Greenlay
Genre: Historical / Fantasy / Pirates
Ages: 17 and up
I received a copy of this book through Goddess Fish Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

As the daughter of a London physician in 1717, sixteen-year-old Tess Willoughby has seen her share of horrors and been to some of the city's shadiest quarters. But a simple trip through the chaos of a London marketplace takes a bizarre twist. Tess witnesses the murder of a renowned elderly seer and unwittingly becomes the mistress of the woman's prophetic spinner ring. Even worse, Tess's panic-stricken trip home leads her to discover a secret family history that shocks Tess to her core. Unable to give up the bejeweled ring, Tess must embark on a treacherous voyage to the pirate-infested waters of the West Indies. Trapped on a merchant ship and unwillingly betrothed to the murderer who covets the power of her ring, Tess finds strength and comfort in the company of a handsome sailor, even though this growing temptation will most certainly jeopardize their lives. Even stranger, she soon realizes that even though her fiancé is ruthless, he alone can secure her safety throughout their perilous journey. Thrust into a world she doesn't understand to fulfill a role she is only beginning to grasp, Tess questions everything she has believed up to now. Her only hope of saving those she loves is to accept her destiny. And yet, the strange influence of her spinner ring could change everything ... Full of high seas action, dangerous magic, and a dash of romance, Quintspinner is a swashbuckling adventure that twists and turns with the fury of a hurricane.

My Review:
I am not entirely sure what I was expecting from this book. Probably a light-hearted adventure with romance and derring-do and a splash of magic. Quintspinner was not at all what I expected. The story is dark and harsh, so cruel that it was at times painful to read, but I couldn't stop. No matter how awful it got, I had to keep reading to reassure myself that there was some hope for Tessa and Cassie and the others.

I really liked most of the main characters. Tessa was strong and interesting, William was likable and heroic. And Cassie, poor Cassie. I came to care for her the most, and I could truly respect how she stayed strong despite everything that happened to her. There was one thing that she did (can't tell you what, major spoiler) that disappointed me, but I could sympathize anyway.

Edward Graham was very intriguing. He started as a villain, and then perhaps he wasn't so bad, and then he was a villain again. It was difficult, even towards the end, to tell what his true intentions were and I am not entirely satisfied with the author's explanation of his motives. Perhaps in book 2...

No matter how much I liked the characters and the storyline, there were a few points that just grossed me out or made me shudder. The pirates in this book were in no way the "gentlemen pirates" that one finds in Errol Flynn movies. There was gore, cruelty, rape, torture and even cannibalism. While this makes them perhaps more realistic, it also makes the story more disturbing.

This book was a mixed bag for me. I liked the characters and story, but there were many elements that I disliked. Will I recommend it to all and sundry? Probably not. Will I read book 2 when it comes out? Probably yes.

Content Ratings: Profanity, Sexuality and Violence
1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it a 4.10 for mid-level swearing.

I give it a 6.10 for lots of references and a vague scene of rape.

I rate it an 8.10 for murder, gore, battle, flogging, branding and brief cannibalism.

                      Lieder Madchen

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Help! I need your opinion!

I am thinking about writing a novel and posting each chapter as I write it. This would keep me motivated and I hope that you would all provide feedback and advice as I go along. Do you think that you would read such a thing? If so, would you prefer an adult or YA story? Please vote on the poll that is located on the upper right sidebar and feel free to comment with any suggestions or thoughts. Thank you!!!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Should be Required Reading for Teens

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is: Top Ten Books That Should be Required Reading for Teens.

Once again, I am going to divide my list in two. I will have a list of all the books teens (like me) should read for educational purposes but will actually enjoy and a list of books that teens should read just for fun.

Top Ten List of Books Teens Should Read That Their Parents Actually Want Them To.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Not only is it beautifully written and will improve your vocabulary, but it also has a great story that will be enjoyed.

Shakespeare - I know a lot of teens don't like Shakespeare, but if you let yourself relax and just go with it, the plays can be a lot of fun. Plus, you will then be able to catch all of those pesky references to them that can be found just about everywhere.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Know all of those fantasy books you like? They probably wouldn't exist without this wonderful epic.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy - OK, so maybe this one will not be on every required reading list of classics, but it should be. Maybe you could sneak it in while studying the French Revolution.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - A lovely story of family and growing up that can be read over and over. (I should know.)

The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas - This one can be enjoyed by teenage boys and girls alike with its web of intrigue, romance and a hefty dose of swordfighting and poison.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - I haven't read this one yet, but I still have a couple of years before I am no longer a teenager. :)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - According to my mom, this one is required and I am going to have to read it soon.

The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer - You should know the story long before you become a teenager, but as a teen you should read the original. (Though not necessarily in the original Greek.)

The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder - For its portrayal of real life in the past.

Top Ten List of Books That Teens Should Read Because They Want To.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - No explanation necessary.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card - This one is for older teens because some parts are rather disturbing, but the story and ideas in it are fascinating.

Redwall series by Brian Jacques - This one is for young teens before they outgrow it.

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen - This story is about understanding and respecting the past as well as truly appreciating the present.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver - This story tells of the importance of love and free will.

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare - Because everyone should give the paranormal series a try, even if they don't think it is their genre. If this series doesn't make you like it, none will.

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon - Guaranteed to get any teenage boy who spends too much time on his computer to read.

Rafael Sabatini's adventure novels - Everyone loves a pirate and there is some good historical stuff in them, too.

Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce - OK, so maybe there isn't any particular reason to throw these onto the pile, but I love them.

Anything by Patricia C. Wrede - Because everyone needs a laugh now and again.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Follow Friday (8) and Book Blogger Hop (8)

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee.
This week's question is:
What do you do when you are not reading?

Well, when I am not reading I spend a lot of time blogging (of course) and writing my own stories. I also like to take very long walks, sing, go to the library so I can read more...um, mostly just stuff. I watch tv shows and chick flicks with my mom, action movies with my dad and brothers. I plan a computer game with my not-so-little brother and write Persona Letters to my sister-in-law. My life will become more exciting in the fall when choir practice resumes and we start to prepare for the trip to Canada next summer.

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy for Books.
This week's question is:
How/Where do you get your books? Do you buy them or go to the library? Is there a certain website you use like paperbackswap?

Most of my books come from the library or whatever giveaways I happen to win, as well as the occasional review request. Being a penniless teenager, going to a bookstore and actually buying anything is a rare treat.

Book Review #87: A Wife for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen

A Wife for Mr. Darcy
by Mary Lydon Simonsen

Genre: Romance / Regency / Jane Austen Retelling
Ages: 16 and up
I received a copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A Gentleman should always render an apology...

When Mr. Darcy realizes he insulted Miss Elizabeth Bennet at the Meryton Assembly, he feels duty bound to seek her out and apologize...

When he has insulted a Lady.

But instead of meekly accepting his apology, Elizabeth stands up to him, and Darcy realizes with a shock that she is a very different type of lady than he is used to...

Darcy is more intrigued than he's ever been by any young lady, but he's already entangled in a courtship. It's a brutal predicament for a man of honor who only longs to follow his heart...

My Review:
I will never get tired of Mr. Darcy what-ifs. No matter how many I read, I am always delighted to get my hands on another one. A Wife for Mr. Darcy is an an original and lovely retelling where Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love very quickly, but Darcy's sense of honor keeps them apart.

Because Darcy and Elizabeth do not have all of the misunderstandings of the original Pride and Prejudice, they are more united than ever before. It was very interesting to read a story where they were not fighting against each other, but rather against circumstances. I loved this portrayal of Darcy. He loves Elizabeth but is practically engaged to Miss Montford, a pleasant but bland young woman. He will not hurt her by abandoning her, so how is he to get out of this predicament?

This a lovely romance. Sweet and simple, it focuses on Darcy's determination to be with the woman he loves, no matter how impossible it seems. I read it through in one sitting and I am pretty sure I was grinning the whole time. The waltz...sigh, I loved that scene. Any scene that has Darcy dancing is sure to make me smile, but that one in particular was beautiful. And the love letters, a little steamy at times, were so sweet.

The minor characters were fun and varying. I especially liked the Gardiners. They were just so cute and obviously in love even after many years of marriage. That is what a real marriage should look like and precisely how I imagine Darcy and Elizabeth behaving in their middle years. The Crenshaw children and the Fitzwilliam brothers were also highly entertaining, and I found myself liking Miss Letitia Montford more than I expected to.

I would highly recommend this book to lovers of romance, Jane Austen and good characters.

1 (mild) through 10 (extreme).

I rate it a 4.10 for some mild swearing and two worse words.

I rate it a 7.10 for one descriptive wedding night and some references.

I give it a 1.10 for brief references to violent events.

This review is part of a blog tour celebrating the release of A Wife for Mr. Darcy. To visit the other stops on this tour, go here. To read an interview with the wonderful Mary Simonsen and enter to win a copy of this book, go here.

                            Lieder Madchen

Mary Simonsen Interview & A Wife for Mr. Darcy Giveaway

Please join me in welcoming the lovely Mary Simonsen to Songs and Stories! This interview is part of a blog tour for Mary's newest novel, A Wife for Mr. Darcy which, thanks to Sourcebooks, we will be giving away at the end of this post. If you have not read one of Mary's novels yet, you really should!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in North Jersey (not the Jersey Shore). Shortly after I married my dear husband in 1976, we moved to Texas where we adopted our two daughters. After six years in Maryland, we moved to Phoenix in 1996. I have been an executive secretary, legal secretary, special ed assistant, and a tutor for English language learners. After I retired, I started to write a family history of my Irish ancestors and the little mining town in Pennsylvania where they lived after emigrating to the United States. That research led to Searching for Pemberley, my first Austen tie-in. Deb Werksman, my editor at Sourcebooks, saw my self-published book on Amazon and offered me a contract. That was in 2008, and I’ve been writing ever since. I have one more book coming out with Sourcebooks. Mr. Darcy’s Bite will be released in October in time for Halloween. That’s a hint.

How was writing A Wife for Mr. Darcy comparable with your other Pride and Prejudice variations? Was it harder? Easier?
Before I sit down to write my stories, I have had the plot in my head for quite a while. Once I start typing, the words just flow. If I should hit a rough patch, I mop my floor with my super duper Shark steam cleaner. By the time I have finished, I usually have the problem worked out.
It was interesting how you neatly cut off most of the problems that plagued Elizabeth and Darcy in the original. Why did you decide to do that?

I wanted to write something different from Austen, but stay true to her characters. What if Darcy and Elizabeth fell in love right off the bat, but outside forces worked to keep them apart? That is the case with Darcy and Letitia Montford. Darcy paid sufficient attention to Miss Montford during the season so that there were “expectations” of a proposal. Darcy, being the straight arrow we know and love, feels obligated to follow through. Fortunately, his friends and family work behind the scenes to keep him from ruining his life and Letitia’s as well. 
What were your favorite scenes to write?

I really enjoy writing original characters. In A Wife for Mr. Darcy, I had a lot of fun writing about Colonel Fitzwilliam’s brother, Lord Fitzwilliam, a total rake, and I invented Diana Crenshaw, Mr. Bingley’s sister, who happens to be the mother of a tribe of free-spirited children who don’t like the word “no.”
What are you working on at the moment?

A novel called Darcy on the Hudson in which Darcy, Georgiana, and Bingley come to New York to visit Bingley’s uncle. Elizabeth Bennet is an American, and Darcy is attracted to a more liberated woman than one would encounter in London society. I found it interesting to compare the two cultures circa 1811.

For Fun:

If Darcy asked you out on a date, what would you wear?

I would wear a simple sleeveless black dress that would hit me just above the knee and pearls. I don’t think Darcy would want me to wear anything low cut. Certainly, not on the first date.

What is one question you would love to ask Jane Austen?

How did you make revisions to your manuscripts using a quill pen? Would you have changed anything else if editing had been easier? You have got to admire writers who turned out masterpieces when their writing instruments were so primitive.

If you went for a walk about the park with one of the ladies in your story, who would it be and what would you talk about?

I would like to talk to Jane Bingley. Before Bingley bolted to London, what did you and Charles discuss? You talked a lot at the Netherfield ball. What were you talking about? Also, I would love to ask Jane Fairfax what she saw in that rascal, Frank Churchill—other than not having to take a position as a governess.

Who are your favorite literary hero and heroine other than Darcy and Elizabeth?

I love Anne and Captain Wentworth. What’s not to love about a couple who stayed true in their hearts for eight years?

Thank you, Natalie. This was fun.

Thank you, Mary, for letting me ask you all these questions! :)

Books by Mary Simonsen:
Searching for Pemberley
The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy
Anne Elliot, A New Beginning
For All the Wrong Reasons
Mr. Darcy’s Angel of Mercy
A Walk in the Meadows at Rosings Park (August 2011)
Darcy on the Hudson (August 2011)

The Giveaway:
Beth from Sourcebooks is offering a copy of A Wife for Mr. Darcy to one lucky commentator. To enter, just leave something nice for Mary along with your e-mail or Twitter handle. For one extra entry, spread the word (Twitter, FB, Blogger etc.) and leave a link. This giveaway is only open for the U.S. and Canada and runs to 11:59 p.m. July 25 Pacific time.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

YA Bachelors Month: Jace from the Mortal Instruments

Welcome to the YA Bachelors Month hosted by Amber at Down the Rabbit Hole. This fantastic event is filled with boy-crazed bloggers gushing and raving about their favorite YA heroes. Of course, (sighs) mine is the best. It is my job, as the representative of Jace Wayland, star of City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass and City of Fallen Angels, to convince you (if you are not convinced already) that he is the most eligible bachelor around. To fulfill this purpose, I will share a few of his most swoonworthy lines, pictures and mannerisms, not to mention a brief interview with the man himself! (I will be using pictures of Jamie Campbell Bower as well as one of Lily Collins for Jace and Clary as they have recently been cast to fill the roles in the upcoming film.) So, here it goes...

Jace Wayland is a 16 year old (at the beginning of the series) Shadowhunter with a muscular but slender build. He has tawny hair and gold eyes that remind Clary of a lion. His relationship with the lovely red-head Clary Fray gets off to a rocky start (and middle), but their love conquers death. And I mean that literally. Here is a quote from City of Bones showing how Clary sees him:
Jace was seated at the grand piano, his slender hands moving rapidly over the keys. He was barefoot, dressed in jeans and a gray t-shirt, his tawny hair ruffled up around his head as if he had just woken up. Watching the quick, sure movements of his hands across the keys, Clary remembered how it had felt to be lifted up by those hands, his arms holding her up and the stars hurtling down around her head like a rain of silver tinsel.
Sigh, I love a man who plays the piano.

Despite his father's dubious parenting abilities, Jace loved him dearly and is terribly scarred from witnessing his murder. Who doesn't love a guy with a tragic past? Though he comes across as being utterly full of himself, he never sees himself as being worthy of Clary, and the worst punishment he can come up with for himself is to stay away from her. Aww.
"And now I’m looking at you,” he said, “and you’re asking me if I still want you, as if I could stop loving you. As if I would want to give up the thing that makes me stronger than anything else ever has. I never dared give much of myself to anyone before – bits of myself to the Lightwoods, to Isabelle and Alec, but it took years to do it – but, Clary, since the first time I saw you, I have belonged to you completely. I still do. If you want me."  Swoon.

Best Bad Boy:
Very quickly, you can see that he is fearless, smug, arrogant, sarcastic, irritating and totally swoonworthy. I mean, really, all of those pointed words and barbed remarks are a shield he uses to hide his true feelings. Not that he doesn't have fun being insufferable, though, because he most certainly does. It is one of the few things he truly enjoys in life. Well, that and near-death experiences. He is perhaps a bit addicted to those.
"Tell me, is he always really rude, or does he save that for mundanes?"
"Oh, he's rude to everyone," said Isabelle airily. "It's what makes him so damn sexy. That, and he's killed more demons than anyone else his age."
I think Isabelle has a point. He is the perfect Bad Boy.

Favorite Supernatural Being:
As a Shadowhunter, Jace has angel blood and certain abilities. He can heal himself, he has a wicked way with knives and he is far tougher than the ordinary teenager. He also has his own unique and not entirely explored powers imparted to him by extra angel (or is it demon?) blood in his veins. He can jump so high he is nearly flying and land as light as a feather, and who knows what talents may develop in the future...

OK, where do I begin? Just look at him shirtless on the cover of City of Bones! In my mind, what makes a guy sexy is a combination of several things. One of them is good looks, which Jace Wayland certainly has. He knows exactly how hot he is and treats it like a fact of nature. Which it is. But more important is his personality. He is a sarcastic devil-may-care on the outside, but he is capable of such tenderness and that is what makes him so attractive. And his kissing...
It was almost as if he hadn't wanted to kiss her: His mouth was hard on hers, unyielding; then he put both arms around her and pulled her against him. His lips softened. She could feel the rapid beat of his heart, taste the sweetness of apples still on his mouth. She wound her hands into his hair, as she'd wanted to do since the first time she'd seen him. His hair curled around her fingers, silky and fine. Her heart was hammering and there was a rushing sound in her ears, like beating wings --
Add to that the fact that he plays the piano, speaks who knows how many languages, including Latin, and writes a killer love letter, how can any girl resist?

Best Fighter:
He isn't a bulky jock, but rather slim, agile, fast and he laughs and cracks jokes in the face of death. Wielding numerous seraph blades as well as a stele, he causes destruction wherever he goes. His very presence makes any sensible homeowner cringe. Among his many defeated enemies are: Demons. Downworlders. Forsaken. Creatures of evil too numerous to count. Not to mention the occasional near-relation...
"Now he's a - what do you call people like him again?"
"He's a Shadowhunter," Clary said.
"A demon hunter," Jace clarified. "I kill demons. It's not that complicated, really."

"I wish he'd hurry," Jace said crossly.
"Why? Does it hurt?" Clary asked.
"No. I have a high pain threshold. In fact, it's less a threshold and more of a large and tastefully decorated foyer. But I do get easily bored."

Best One Liner:
"There is no pretending, I love you, and I will love you until I die, and if there is life after that, I'll love you then." With anyone else that would probably be corny, but Jace says it so sincerely, as if stating a simple fact, that you just can't help but sigh.

Change My Mind:
Well, I will have to leave this part to you, because my mind is already made up.

Overall Favorite:
He is most certainly my overall favorite. I have read a lot of YA novels, and I mean a LOT, and many of them have truly wonderful heroes, but in my mind not one comes close to Jace Wayland.

Now, for the grand finale, the wonderful Cassandra Clare agreed to have Jace and Clary answer five questions. Since this post is all about Jace, so are the questions.

1) What is the best thing about Jace? The worst? Is he a good kisser?

The best thing about Jace is that he always does what he thinks is right. He has his own code of honor. The worst thing is that he doesn't care about placing himself at personal risk. It doesn't make it easy to be his girlfriend. As to whether he's a good kisser . . . that's like asking if Everest is a big hill.
2) Can you please describe yourself in your own words?

 I keep trying, but Clary keeps erasing what I write and writing over it. I don't see what's wrong with describing myself as 'so staggeringly good-looking that people of both genders have been known to walk into telephone poles while staring at me.'

3) What do you think of Jamie Campbell Bower? Do you think he can manage to properly portray you or will your awesomeness get the better of him?

[The author says: now, there's a metatextual question.]  I can only assume that if the producers chose him to represent myself, he must have some astounding qualities. While no one can quite capture the lightning flash of amazingness that is myself, he seems well placed to do an excellent job of trying.
4) What are the worst/best situations you can possibly imagine?

Worst situation: Being stuck listening to Alec sing. I used to have the room next to his and I could hear him sing in the shower. It's bone-chilling, I tell you. Best situation — what's the rating on this?  Because I'm a sixteen year old boy and our minds are pretty much like the Welsh railway system: one-track and dirty.

5) Is there anything about yourself that you wish Cassandra Clare would put in her books but hasn’t?
More nude scenes. I should be naked more often. Some time spent every day admiring my nude form would do most people a world of good. Perhaps there should be illustrations.

Jace is so hilariously full of himself, I should have known he wouldn't take an interview seriously. Then again, would it be nearly so entertaining if he did?

I would like to thank Jace, Clary and Cassandra for answering my questions and Amber for coming up with YA Bachelors Month. This was way too much fun!

Head over to Down the Rabbit Hole to see Jace and other cute guys from YA novels!

                                  Lieder Madchen

Interview with L.Carroll, author of the Lor Mandela series

My Photo

Please join me in welcoming the wonderful L. Carroll, author of the Lor Mandela series, to Songs and Stories! It has been so much fun reading her books and participating in the blog tour for her newest novel, 400 Days, so it is so cool that I got to ask her some questions and share her answers with you. :)

P.S. I am so sorry this is a day late, I really have no excuse except that I mixed up the days. Well, better late than never.

Could you describe 400 Days in 200 words or less?
I'll try...here goes...

When Audril, the heiress to the Lor Mandelan throne, sneaks away to Earth to save a dear friend, she finds that a power hungry tyrant from her own world has begun obliterating towns and cities to get her to turn herself over to him.

On Earth, she meets an eccentric old lady named Teedee Venilworth whose imaginary butler/fiancé holds the key to her success. But how can someone help if he doesn't exist? Could it be that creatures who dwell in shadow are not exclusive to Lor Mandela? 

Four Hundred Days, is an action-packed whirlwind of intrigue and fantasy. Join the extraordinary characters from the first book, (both the good and the evil), as they traverse the haunted corridors of Alcatraz Penitentiary, travel via portal to an ancient castle on the cliff shores of Ireland, and meet a foreboding race of mystic warriors known as the Solom.

Soar on the back of a large horse-like creature to the Northern High Forests and discover that on the picturesque world of Lor Mandela, your friends can become foes, your enemies your allies, and just because someone dies, it doesn’t always mean that they’re dead.

What inspired you to write the Lor Mandela books? How did you come up with the title?

The series was inspired by a dream…I know it sounds cliché, but it's the truth! I had a dream where a lovely young woman was engaged in a huge battle -- and holding her own -- despite the fact that she was grossly outnumbered. Just as the battle took an ugly turn, she raised her sword in the air, shouted a cryptic chant, and everyone around her disappeared. The story just evolved from there….

As for the title, its origin is pretty unromantic…I just picked a couple of letters from the alphabet and made up words that started with them. I actually had three or four options, but Lor Mandela sounded the best and looked the best written out, so I went with it.

Do you plan out your plots or do you make them up as you go along?

Hmmm…I learned the hard way when I was writing "Destruction from Twins", that the story was a bit too complicated to not have at least a basic outline.  So, when I started "Four Hundred Days", I made sure that I had the story planned out, but the plot took more than one unexpected turn as it progressed, so I guess I do a little of both!

What was the hardest scene to write from either book? The easiest? The most fun?

Without giving too much away, there's a chapter in "Four Hundred Days" where the bad guy meets with the President of the United States. This chapter was probably the most difficult for me because of the amount of research that had to go into it to make it believable.

The easiest scene for me was probably the epilogue of "Destruction from Twins". I already had a very clear idea of what needed to take place in that chapter, and how the book needed to end. It just seemed to write itself!

The most fun chapter is the one called "The Math Nazi and the New Kid" in DFT. It introduces a new character named Holden Guarlo who is so much fun! He walks into his high school math class and absolutely torments the horrible teacher! He's the stereotypical surfer-dude, right down to the casual attire and laid back attitude. At one point, he says to the livid Math teacher, "Dude, two words. Day…spa!"  I still chuckle whenever I read it.

What do you do when you get stuck?

Luckily, it doesn't happen too often, and I've noticed that it's typically a result of fatigue or lack of sleep. A nap usually helps, but if it doesn't, I'll force myself to at least write something…even if it's horrible! For some reason, when I start to tweak the awful lines I've managed to eek out, it seems to get the RIGHT words flowing again.

Are there any novels that have inspired you or that you just plain love?

There are a lot of 'em, but I really loved the Harry Potter books. I'm one of those nerds who enjoyed the books more than the movies, (even though the movies were really good). I also love pretty much anything Jane Austen, and I also am a huge fan of the "Anne" books by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

For fun:

If you could borrow one of your character’s powers for a day, what would you do with it?

I'd like to have Ultara's ability to kill with invisible lightning bolts sent from my eyes. Don't worry, I doubt I'd ever use it, but can you imagine the respect…? (Buah ha,ha!)

If you could meet one of your characters in any situation you can imagine, where would you be and with whom?

There was this one time where this jerk of a guy got all up in my face over something that I had no control over. I'd love to have that happen again and have Lonoren, the Solom Warrior, materialize out of the corner behind me. All Solom are at least seven feet tall, and pitch black from head to toe. They have glowing orange eyes and thick, scrolling, ram's horns on either side of their heads. If that didn't shut the guy up, I'd zap him with my lightning bolts!

Are there any of your characters that you just want to smack upside the head sometimes?

I'm sure this will sound bizarre, since I created him and all, but I think Lortu, the Shadow Dweller, is a prime candidate for the head smack! You never know if he'd good or evil, and to be honest, sometimes even I wonder! 

Is there any question that you wish someone would ask you but nobody has? If so, what is it and what is the answer?

Yep…I think it goes something like, "Can I buy half a million copies of each of your books?" And the answer would be, (after resuscitation), "Why yes…yes you can!"

Thank you so much for stopping by! (I totally agree with you about Lortu, by the way.) I hope you do have a fan wealthy enough to buy a million copies of your books someday. :)

 To visit  all of the stops on the 400 Hours to 400 Days Blog Party, go here.  Or, to read my review of 400 Days, go here. I hope you have as much fun as I have!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors I Would Die to Meet (4)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

The usual disclaimer that my Top Ten lists are not in any particular order...

This week's list is: Top Ten Authors I Would Die to Meet

OK, for this one it is going to be more of a Top Twenty, with ten dead authors and ten living.

Top Ten Dead Authors I Would Die to Meet:

Jane Austen, for the obvious reasons that her books are magnificent and she has a great sense of humor.

J.R.R. Tolkien, because I love The Lord of the Rings and it would be fascinating to discuss history and mythology with him.

Alexandre Dumas, because he wrote The Count of Monte Cristo, one of my favorite books of all time.

William Shakespeare, author of Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Cymbeline, the Sonnets...

Baroness Emmuska Orczy, who wrote one of the greatest adventure romances of all time, The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Howard Pyle, author and illustrator of medieval tales involving Robin Hood, King Arthur and many knights in shining armor.

Robert Ludlum, because I want to know what he would think of the way Eric van Lustbader absolutely massacred his wonderful Bourne series.

Douglas Adams, because I know he would make me laugh.

Brian Jacques, because I think he was a really nice guy and I read his books over and over again when I was younger.

Eva Ibbotson, because her stories are so lovely.

Top Ten Living Authors I Would Die to Meet:

Lois McMaster Bujold, because she wrote two of my favorite series ever and I want to know how on earth she manages Miles Vorkosigan.

Sasha Soren, because if she is even half as much fun in person as she is online... :)

Maria V. Snyder, because she wrote the Study series and invented Valek for which I will love her forever.

Cassandra Clare, because I love her characters, her books and Jace.

Juliet Marillier, because she retold my favorite fairytale (The Wild Swans) in such a beautiful way with her book Daughter of the Forest.

All of the writers on AustenAuthors.net, particularly Abigail Reynolds, Marsha Altman, Vera Nazarian, and Mary Simonsen, all of whom are so lovely in their e-mails.

Lauren Willig, because she was the first author I interviewed and she was absolutely wonderful. Plus, her books are so much fun!

Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, because I would love to ask them more about their marvelous Letter Game.

Gillian Bradshaw, who writes the best historical fiction novels I have ever read.

Tamora Pierce, because she invented such an entertaining world and then sicced Aly Homewood on it.

Bother, If I hadn't run out of space I would have added L. Carroll of the frustrating cliffhangers, Cameron Dokey of the lovely fairytales, Elizabeth Chadwick who writes books about my grandparents and....well, a lot more.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bookie Brunch

Welcome to Bookie Brunch
Come join the discussion!
* Every Sunday*

Today's host: Songs and Stories 
Next week’s host: Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf 
This week’s discussion open through: July 17

Your host this week:
Her guests this week:

Welcome to the first ever Bookie Brunch! Created by the marvelous Sasha Soren, the Bookie Brunch is a traveling event where bookish people get together to discuss bookish things. Every Sunday, 5 voracious readers will share their opinions on a particular topic, and you are welcome to join us! Come on in, pour a cup of tea and sit awhile...
Please join me in welcoming Lucy, Irena, Amber, and Michelle to Songs and Stories!

On the Menu:
Question: Are books better with or without love triangles?
Related topics to consider: Do you root for a particular character in the love triangle and why? What is your favorite literary love triangle?
I am so excited to have all of these lovely ladies here for a visit sharing their thoughts on love triangles. This is sure to be fun! 
Lucy, who is enjoying a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks, says:

I personally enjoy books that have love triangles. I know they can be cliche, but it is rather fun to see two people fighting over one person and finding out who ends up with who at the end. Love all the drama! 

I often find myself rooting for a particular character in the love triangle, especially after getting to know the characters. I start to get a feel for who has chemistry and who is just blinded by lust. I usually go for the person who has genuine feelings for the person and isn't blinded by lust.

What is your favorite literary love triangle?
This is a tough one.. I would have to go with Once Every Never right now. I just finished reading an ARC and I have to say this one is excellent (and definitely has plenty of love triangles!). 

Irena, taking a sip from her Irish Breakfast tea with cream and sugar, says:

I used to not mind love triangles in literature. In fact, some love triangles are so well constructed and written that they pull at my heart strings and simply make sense because they are written cleverly and with a purpose. To my mind comes the example of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, which is not only my favourite novel to date, but also features one of my favourite love triangles ever written. In the last years, however, love triangles have started to overcrowd the book market, especially the young adult (YA) section, and I have started to see them as a redundant element of a story, mostly because they are present in the majority of such fiction for the sake of being there. I don't feel most love triangles and I have to connect to something in order to like it. So, I have a rule: no love triangles. But every rule has exceptions and so does mine. On occasion, I do enjoy a love triangle. My current favourite one is the Elena-Stefan-Damon one in The Vampire Diaries book series by L.J. Smith. I have also noticed that, if I like a love triangle, I root for the person who is a bit of an outcast because that makes things more fun. But what is most important is that true love wins, not some silly infatuation or fascination with a person.

Are books with love triangles better than the ones without it? Personally, I'd say no, but there are always nice exceptions.

Michelle, with a chocolate ice chai in hand, says:

My answer is YES! (There is a but coming) But, it has to be a plausible triangle, not just the best friend in love with the friend, while the friend loves someone else. The girl has to have real feelings for both boys or the boy has to have real feelings for both girls. I think I love a good love triangle because I will have outbursts while I am reading such as: "Oh my God, she going to kiss him!" or "I knew he was going to catch them!" It's a great addition to any story, if done well. My favorite, bar none, love triangle is Rose, Dimitri and Adrian from The Vampire Academies by Richelle Mead. I loved both of these guys and I think the heartbreak that Rose inflicted on both of them made it better because it made me feel something, and is the best experience from a book when you feel it.
Amber, savoring the taste of her caramel frappe, answers with:

I think I might be the minority here but I still can't get enough of love triangles in my reading as long as it's a balanced love triangle. I've mentioned this many times but I feel like a love triangle is a great way to represent a protagonist's choices for their futures. In general each guy on the triangle represents the kind of life she is choosing for herself. Also, it's an amazing way to make really complex characters as the points of the triangle seem to contrast each other faults and highlight their good points. My major thing is that both sides must be even. I don't like when another guy/girl/love interest is thrown into the plot just because and it's obvious who the main character will pick. I want to be struggling with said main character to pick a favorite.

I must be an adventurer because I tend to lean towards the guy that will offer the most exciting life. My opinion is, what's the point in reading a paranormal novel if the main character is going to spend the rest of the time fleeing from it and the person who represents it in the story? Heck, no! I want the adventure and danger that comes along with said paranormal creature. Likewise, I tend to like the bad boy because he offers a way to shake the main character's life. I'm not into the type that treats the main character like crap but I like him to have a complex past.

For me, one of the best love triangles I've read to date is the one in Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. I flip-flopped between Shay and Ren the entire way through. This is because Ren was the quintessential bad boy-- he had the look and the rebel with a care attitude but was fiercely loyal to Calla. On the other hand, Shay had the bad boy mind-- he questioned authority and encouraged Calla to take her future in her own hands.

If done right, love triangles challenge the main character in ways that one love interest may not. They also instantly cause strife and can really boost the plot. I know I'll read on just to figure out who the lead is going to pick. So while I get why people are tired of them, I'm still for a balanced love triangle. Like a good bogo sale, for me, two is always better than one! (which, you know, isn't to say I don't want the character to choose, I just love to watch the beforehand!)
I stir a generous helping of cream into my iced coffee and answer:

I love a good love triangle. To me, it is a good way to test the depths of the character's love for each other, to see if their romance is something that will fade away or last forever. Also, it puts the characters into situations where their true personalities are revealed. What will they choose? The safe and sweet boy who worships you? Or the wild one you will have to fight for? Which one they pick tells you a lot, as does how they choose.

I almost always root for a particular person immediately. I tend to go for the bad boy in love triangles with two boys, but even more so I go for the one who is more desperate. The one who would do anything for the girl, the one who would give her up for her sake. (I have the same opinion in two girls-one boy love triangles, but I don't think they are nearly as much fun as two boys fighting over a girl. But that's just me.) I also love, love, love a guy with a tragic past. I will pick a boy with a tragic past over the other every time.

Recently I read Shade and Shift (The first two books in the Shade trilogy) by Jeri Smith-Ready and I loved the triangle in them. On one side you had the hopeless ghost Logan, and on the other there was Zach, the cute Scot. Even though Logan was more of a bad boy, I loved Zach from beginning to end. (I also tend to go for the guy more likely to make the girl happy.) I liked that Aura truly loved both of them and did her best to be honest about it, which the boys took (mostly) well. So many love triangles are full of lies and jealousy, and I liked that Shade and Shift had so few lies. (There was still plenty of jealousy, where would be the fun without it?)
Brunch Goodies from Sasha:

About: Cute and colorful tote bag, the perfect size for a beach towel, sunscreen, a cool drink and a beach read. We'll even provide a light beach read for the winner!
Details: Measures 15.20 x 14.20 inches (38.60 x 36.06 cms), cute casual tote to take to the grocery store or for day trips to the beach or sporting events. and:

About: A light summer read for the beach, to tuck into your tote bag. When a powerful hypnotist succumbs to the charms of a talented crystalworker, both of their futures are threatened. Light read, historical romance. Setting is Victorian London. Can be read as part of a series,but each book is also a stand-alone title. Paperback edition. 418pages.

Details: To win this cute brunch gift of book bag plus light summer read, please leave email info and thoughtful or interesting comment below. Please include a separate line just indicating that you’d also like to enter to win this week’s brunch goodies, also. A winner will be picked at random. If host and guests agree that a specific visitor comment is substantial, outstanding, or in some other way has particular merit, they can override random.org pick at their discretion. U.S./Canada (Hopefully there’ll be some international goodies on future brunches.). Through July 13, 12 midnight EDT.

Brought by Sasha Soren, author of Random Magic.

If you want to be a part of Bookie Brunch, please contact one of the people below:

Contact Bookie Brunch:
If you would like to be a host, contact: @StoryWings
If you want to bring goodies for a giveaway: @StoryWings
If you want to suggest a topic or question for discussion, you can reach me at @LiederMadchen
To see an archive of past brunches (when there are some) go here: Fluidity of Time

Upcoming Bookie Brunches in July 2011: We’ll be talking about e-readers vs. print editions, fantasy vs.realism in books, characters vs. plot, and lots of other cool and bookish questions.

Sunday, July 17
Host: Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf (@MoonlightGleams)

Sunday, July 24
Host: This Miss Loves to Read (@MissIrenne)

Sunday, July 31
You’re invited to join the discussion below, and you will most likely get a reply from one of your fellow bloggers.
So, ladies and gentlemen, what are your opinions on love triangles? And what are your favorite beverages?

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you decide to visit us again. :)
                                                 Lieder Madchen