Tuesday 28 February 2012

Guest Post: Mary Lowry

The Earthquake Machine
The book every girl should read,
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world, but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.

Determined to find her friend Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, Mexico. There a peyote- addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.


Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way. 
Guest Post:

When I was writing THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE I lived in a rented basement room at the Desert Rose Horse Ranch outside of Durango, Colorado. I’d wake up before dawn everyday to work on my novel, and then I’d go to work all day as an apprentice carpenter. 

Now I knew nothing about carpentry, or working construction, but my boss hired me anyway; he knew I loved to read all kinds of books and he figured I’d be fun to talk to while we were working all day.

My boss was a giant, Viking of a man named David. He’s almost fifteen years older than I am but STILL everyone always thought I was his girlfriend. When people asked if we were dating he would always yell, “GROSS! She’s young enough to be my daughter!” I always loved him for that.

David taught me how to swing a hammer, run a skihl saw, chop saw and table saw. Together we built fences and framed houses in the freezing cold and snow of Colorado winters.

Being a construction worker was the perfect writer job. I could put all my writing energy into my early morning time and I know I wouldn’t be stuck at a computer doing something boring for the rest of the day.

Now that I’m back in my hometown of Austin, TX, I miss my carpenter boss David. But we still talk on the phone; and he always sends me great postcards when he goes to Europe to visit his daughter Caitlyn who is studying abroad for her junior year of college.

I’m going to mail David a copy of THE EARTHQUAKE MACHINE soon. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of the book!

You've Been Tagged!

I know I've already done one of these, but I wasn't officially 'tagged' that time and I figure that now I have been properly tagged by 'Book Reviews by DDS' it would be rude not to take part.

1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create ten new questions to ask the people that you have tagged.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them!

Here are her questions & my answers:
1. What is it about Books that you love the most?
I love the chance of adventure, mystery, escape, of doing anything, being anyone and going anywhere. the possibilities are endless! 
2. What got you started Blogging & Why? 
I had found a few book blogs online that I thought were really cool, and I wanted a way to keep track of the books I was reading so I thought about it and decided a blog would be the best place for it.

What is your favourite Genre & Why?
I will read from various genres, but my favourite is now Paranormal, it always used to be Fantasy and whilst I still love Fantasy, Paranormal has taken the lead. 

Which is your favourite Series that you keep going back to?
I have a lot of series that I revisit but the ultimate favourite is of course Harry Potter.
Have to mention some of the others though: -Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, -Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and -Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine.

Which book would you like to see converted into a movie?
There have been a lot of movie flops, but there have been some great successes, I think if you get the write director and writer then you're in for a winner, so I would like to see Divergent by Veronica Roth made into a movie, that would be EPIC!

If you could rewrite the ending of any book, which would you choose & why?
Although I absolutely love the series and I still think it's incredible I think I would have to say 'Forever' by Maggie Stiefvater as it doesn't have a full conclusion, it's left very open - she said she wanted the reader to decide if it all works out right, but for me, I would have loved to see her tie up the ends.

A book/series you love to hate...
erm, I honestly can't think of an answer to this, *searches brain, looks confused*

A book that made you cry...
a lot of books have made me cry! but two most memorable right now are: The Hunger Games and  'The Last Song' by Nicholas Sparks,

Do you donate your books or do you save them all?
I wish I could save them all, I wish I lived in a big house with it's own massive library and store rooms and extra shelves etc, but unfortunately I don't and my bedroom is really quite small so I have to be selective. I hang onto books for as long as possible and have a sort of yearly clearout (or when the books piled on my floor fall over and hurt someone). So in the end I have to donate some either to the library or to the charity shop.

One thing about Bloggers that is very common & continues to irritate you.
erm, what annoys me about bloggers? Not much really, I think it's a lovely community and I'm proud to be part of it. 
But if I had to come up with one thing it would be spam comments, you know the person that sits down and writes out one fairly long comment, that sounds a bit like a sales pitch and then proceeds to go round and comment on every blog they know with that same comment.
I love comments, don't get me wrong, but I want them to mean something, I want them to be a reaction to one of my posts or something I've said, not just a generic comment asking me to stop by their blog because I know what they have posted about will be fantastic!
So thanks to 'Book Reviews by DDS', great questions. 
Again I'm not going to tag anyone, for the same reasons. Firstly, I will be totally honest here, I can't think of 11 people to tag and I'm too lazy to go through all the blogs I follow (don't judge me please, you know I love you all.)
Secondly I know not everyone likes these posts and being tagged can be an annoyance and I don't want to inflict that on anyone, so I'm saying if you want to do it, take my questions below and enjoy, link back to me in the post then then leave your link to your post in my comments below.

So here's my Questions:
(putting the same ones out as the last post I did as I don't think they've been used much)

 1) What are you reading right now?
2) Which book (if any) do you wish you could change the ending of?
3) If you could have dinner with 3 authors who would you pick and where would you go to eat?
4) Which book do you wish would be made into a film?
5) What is your favourite book/movie adaptation?
6) Do you buy or borrow?
7) Where do you do most of your reading?
8) Paperback, Hardback or e-book?
9) When choosing books what factors affect your choice? cover? author? publisher? reviews? etc.
10) Have you ever been to a midnight book launch? If so what book, if not, do you want to?

Sunday 26 February 2012

Book Review - The End Of The World

Title: The End Of The World
Author: Derek Landy
Series: Skulduggery Pleasant (novella, book 6.5)
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books; World Book Day
Release Date: 23 Feb 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0007458202

Skulduggery and Valkyrie are back, in an exclusive World Book Day novelette, set after the momentous events of Death Bringer…
Hey, punks! Skulduggery and Valkyrie are about to make your day…
15-year-old Ryan is running away from home, looking for escape and adventure. But unfortunately, sometimes people DO get what they wish for. Ryan hasn’t gone far before he is set upon by a bunch of scary, nihilistic punk-sorcerers who need him to set off a doomsday device that will destroy the planet and everyone on it. Fun!
Riding to the rescue, however, is a certain skeleton detective and his teenage partner/combat accessory. Now Skulduggery and Valkyrie only have a few hours to figure out what's going on, while saving Ryan and – incidentally – the whole world.
And all that time, the punk-sorcerors are closing in…

My Review
This is a novella, there is a scheme in the UK and Ireland where children are provided with a £1 book token which can be exchanged for a specially released short book. If you want to know more check out the website here.
I found out months ago that Derek Landy was writing a short story as part of this scheme and I litereally screamed. So exciting. This is one of my all time favourite series, I have met Landy twice and Skulduggery Pleasant is just EPIC!
I couldn't wait for book day, plus I'm too old to recieve a voucher (though we do get them at the library to hand out), but I saw this on amazon with early release and even better it was only 80p so I ordered it. It arrived yesterday and I read it in about 40 minutes tops. I was of course laughing out loud throughout, Skulduggery and Valkyrie still have their witty rapport and verbal jibes with one another and their enemies.
Ryan craves adventure, but when he gets mixed up in a plan to end the world he has to rely on Skulduggery and Valkyrie to get him out of it and stop the bad guys before they cause a massive explosion and destroy the world.
If you love Skulduggery, this is a perfect addition to your collection, and if you don't love Skulduggery, what's the matter with you? seriously, are you ill? and if you haven't heard of the series, check it out immediately - you won't regret it.
I now can't wait until September for book 7 to come out. So far away, I don't know what I will do until then.

My Rating

Book Review - POD

Title: POD
Author: Stephen Wallenfels 
Publisher: Templar
Release Date: 1 Aug 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1848773899

POD's - strange alien spheres hover menacingly in the sky, zapping anyone who ventures outside. Will is 15 and stuck in his house with his OCD dad. They're running out of food...Megs is 12, alone and trapped in a multi-storey carpark. The hotel next door is under the control of dangerous security staff, but Megs has something they want, and they'll do anything to get it...When the aliens invade, the real enemy becomes humanity itself. What would you do to survive? 

My Review
I saw this in the bookshop a couple of months ago, the cover, although quite plain and simple drew me in. The synopsis on the back doesn't tell you much but I was intrigued. I decided to request it from the library and it came in a couple of weeks ago. 
From the little I knew about this book I expected a Sci-Fi sort of thriller, but when I started reading it I realised that it was actually more of a Dystopian novel with a sci-fi twist.
This book is told in first person from two different characters. (each character has a chapter each). Josh is 16 and is stuck at home with his Dad who is slightly obsessive. They are running out of food and water and driving each other up the wall. Megs is 12 and was left in the back of her mums car in the carpark of a hotel. She has very little with her, a couple of bottles of water and some beer. She must scavage round the car park to find resources to survive.
Alien 'POD's are hovering in the skies above. They have absorbed all cars, motorbikes, planes and trains in strobes of blue light and if anyone steps outside they too are taken, or 'deleted' as Josh refers to it. This creates a world where everyone is trapped in their own little bubble, doing what they can to survive.
Josh and Megs story is very different, Josh has resources for a while and doesn't really see the seriousness of the situation, he has his dad to rein him in and keep him in order, whereas Megs has nothing and has to fight for herself, not only does she have to avoid the aliens outside, she must search for food and water whilst avoiding a group of 'security guards' turned thugs from finding her. The hotel has turned into a prisoner camp run by these thugs and Megs wants to avoid it at all costs.
I really enjoyed this book, I started reading just before lunch and got about 40 pages in when I had to put it down. I ended up going out with my parents in the afternoon and round my grandad's house etc so I didn't get back til about 5. The whole time I couldn't stop thinking about the book, it was running through my mind, it was almost like Josh and Megs were calling me to come back and help them and I had to get back to it. 
I then sat and read until I had finished, I couldn't put it down. 
I liked Megs as a character more, it's almost like she had more to prove, and even though she had it so hard she was still very compassionate towards others and did her best to help. I thought Josh was a bit self-centered at times and I felt sorry for his dad, but I suppose in that situation it pushes you to the limit and I can see why he acted like he did.
Overall I was totally absorbed by the book, to be honest the aliens were more of a side-line to the book, apart from teh fact that they are there which stops the characters from going out, the aliens really don't actually do that much, but it didn't take anything from the book in my opinion. The plot idea was well thought out and the pacing is fantastic, each chapter is quite short which helps it move well.
The only thing I felt that let this book down a bit was the ending, to be honest, for me it was a bit of a deflation, it's almost like the author didn't know how to finish it and so just stopped. There were quite a few things that weren't tied up and events that still hung in the air. I was expecting some great big revelation or attack or wipeout but none of that happened. I mean the ending was OK, but I felt it could have offered so much more, however I have looked up his website and he says he is working on book 2 which makes me feel a little better about the ending, clearly more to come so I will look out for that.  
A quick easy read that will keep you hooked. Definitely worth a read.

My Rating

Saturday 25 February 2012

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a weekly event over at The Story Siren, which showcases the books we've purchased, borrowed and received in the mail this week.

Book News and Other ramblings. ;D

Sarah McIntyre
Steve Cole

Hope you had a good book week, what did you get???