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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Author Interview - Georgia Clark!

So, on Monday I reviewed Georgia Clark's new YA dystopia, Parched (check out my review here). Today, I'm lucky enough to welcome Georgia to the blog to answer a few questions! 

Photo from Georgia Clark's Goodreads page 












1. How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to final proofs to write your newest book, Parched?

I started working on Parched the year I moved to New York from Sydney: 2009, towards the end. I handed in the final manuscript to my publishers at the end of 2013. But I was working on it on and off, and the first draft barely resembles the final one. It took a long time, because I was basically teaching myself how to write a full-blown dystopian sci-fi as I went.

2. What kind of research did you do to write a book about a teen living in a domed city because the outside environment was considered unlivable?

I did a lot of research! I listened to podcasts about artificial intelligence, interviewed scientists and other experts, talked to smart friends, subscribed to Popular Science magazine, read similar YA titles etc etc. most of my research centered around AI and robotics, which I didn't know much about when I started working, but am somewhat of an expert in now. I've even given talks on it, here in Brooklyn!

3. If you could write a book under a pseudonym that no one would ever connect to you, are there any genres you would love to secretly explore?

The only topics I’d feel the need to secretly explore would be topics that would be risky for me. The very real danger that feminist journalists are getting into over #GamerGate is frightening, but so important they’re speaking up. So something like that. Everything else I’d slap my name on and yell it from the rooftops!

4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be?

Assuming money was no object? I’d love to go scuba-diving in the Greek Isles. This would feed my fondness for sun, the ocean, and olive oil. I also really need to try the Salted Caramel ice cream at Blue Marble in Park Slope. I’ve heard it’s amazing.

Quick picks list:

Favorite vacation destination – The Amalfi Coast, Italy. My friends and I stayed in a 4-story, 400-year-old villa there for a week last summer. Thank you Air BnB! Truly spectacular part of the world.

Favorite childhood book – I inhaled Susan Cooper’s Over Sea, Under Stone series. Classic YA fantasy. Also loved Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree series: fantastic, highly imaginative early chapter series.

Favorite writing snack food - Financier’s chocolate macaroons. Little slice of heaven, right there. I always spend ten minutes critically assessing every delicious-looking pastry in their display cabinet, then get the same thing every time.

Favorite clothing item - I have a great pair of beautiful tan leather boots I bought in Bologna, Italy, many years ago that are still going strong. And, like every Brookline, I have a khaki-green cotton parka that I basically live in.

Thank you so much, Georgia, for stopping by to visit today! 

Author Bio
I'm a young adult novelist with a weakness for hot nerds and cheese platters, not necessarily in that order. I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and spend a lot of time hanging out with improvisers and searching for the perfect pair of skinny jeans. I love Katniss, Katsa, Karou, Clary, Grace, Puck, Lena—you get the picture.

Places to Contact Georgia:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brunette Ambition

Brunette Ambition 
by Lea Michele

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her--from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights. Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way. (Description from Goodreads.com)

I like to flip through a lot of non-fiction "lifestyle" books.  I dabble in books on diet, fashion, and decor but I don't often truly read them from start to finish. When my friend Jen over at yabooknerd reviewed this one I was immediately curious and requested it through interlibrary loan. I was hesitant to let my hopes build up too much because I often find celebrity books to be either knowingly pretentious or to just be written as if we all had enough money and time to live as they do and thus, unknowingly unrealistic. 

I was pleasantly surprised that though, there were a few moments like that here, they were few and far between.  For the most part Lea Michele seems down to earth and the tips she gave and stories she shared seemed well chosen for a large audience.  I liked that she threw in tips on every part of a healthy and happy lifestyle - from loving yourself to choosing and cherishing good friends, to staying  healthy and stress-free, to looking and feeling great! It was not only a fun book to flip through, but one that I actually sat down and READ.  I even took it back to work and photocopied some of the exercise and recipe pages.  

A much better read than I'd anticipated. 

Full Disclosure: Borrowed through Interlibrary Loan

Monday, October 27, 2014

Parched

Parched 
by Georgia Clark

Sixteen-year-old Tess lived in Eden, a seemingly idyllic, domed city where access to information and water is regulated by the governing Trust. After a rogue robot killed her scientist mother, Tess fled with a terrible secret to the desperate, arid Badlands, where she’s recruited by Kudzu, explained to her as a “nonviolent collective working to undermine the Trust and free the Badlands.” Learning Kudzu plans to destroy Aevum, the Trust’s latest advanced robot, Tess reluctantly returns to Eden, where she finds the luxurious life morally unconscionable and secretly trains with Kudzu. Living with her uncle, who’s involved with Aevum, Tess is strangely attracted to his sympathetic assistant, Hunter. During a Kudzu raid on the Trust’s lab, Tess discovers that Aevum will be used to eradicate all inhabitants of the Badlands—and that Hunter’s not what he seems to be. (Description from Goodreads.com

Okay, the very fist thing I am going to say is don't judge this book by it's poorly chosen cover! I don't know who designed it but it is somewhat off-putting. It's very unfortunate, too, because I was hooked on this book from page one! 

Clark is gifted with the ability to set the atmosphere and settings for this book right from the start. I never doubted the desperation of the people starving in the Badlands. I could feel the searing heat and my lips got dry just reading the first section of the book.  Then, when Tess returns to the domed city of Eden, Clark makes the shift to opulent technological excess so smoothly and believably that I felt as if I was in Eden.  The technologies were also clearly based from our own making it very easy to imagine and understand how things were supposed to work in Eden.  

I really enjoyed Tess as the main character.  She had spunk like many other dystphoic heroines, but also was well-rounded in the sense that she seemed truly concerned about others in her society (because she had personal experience living the lives that they did...unlike some other heroines just thrown into their new leadership roles) and the new friends that she made in Eden.  She felt guilty if she put others in danger, she aimed to clean up her own mistakes, and she thought about how her actions would affect the future of her world.  She was determined and brave and also funny.  I rooted for her right from the start.  

This book also had a great sense of immediate danger, though it takes place over the passage of weeks.  Clark threw Tess and her compatriots into some very hairy situations and there were believable consequences.  I was happy to find in the end, though, that things worked out for at least a few of them the way that I'd hoped.  

A book that I flew through, unable to put down, and one that deserves more attention than it may get if not talked up by those who have read it! So...go read it! 

ALSO - STAY TUNED...I have an interview with the author, Georgia Clark, here on Wednesday! 

Full disclosure: Review copy received from Publisher