Monday, 28 January 2013

Exclusive Interview with Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar

Me : Would you like to tell us about your journey of being an author?

Stefan : Sure! It was fairly standard, though. I wrote a terrible book, then I wrote a less-terrible book, then I wrote an ok book, and then I wrote a book I was pretty happy with and sent it off to literary agents in the US. I got rejections at first, as one does, which was great because after each one I would go back to the manuscript and polish it like crazy, so each rejection made the book a little bit better. After about a year Sara Megibow of Nelson literary agency offered representation. She sent the book to NYC editors on a Monday. That same day we had an offer. A few days later we had more offers. Then there was an auction and HarperCollins won and now here I am! :D It was a really surreal experience, and I feel very lucky and grateful.

Me : What was your first piece of writing?

Stefan : When I was six I tried to write my own version of The Hobbit. It was about twenty pages long and illustrated with Pokemon stickers. So bad.

Me : What was the idea behind The Peculiar?

Stefan : I wanted to read a book about steampunk, Victoriana, and creepy faeries, and I couldn't find one at the bookstore, so I tried writing it myself. I love all those elements and I think they fit together well. I also like the concept of magic vs. machinery.

Me : What do you like most to see in a character of your book?

Stefan : Perseverance. Underdogs proving their worth. Not being afraid to do hard things. Actually, scratch that last one: being afraid to do hard things but doing them anyway. I think that's what makes a hero.

Me : Would you like to tell us a little bit about The Whatnot?

Stefan : The Whatnot is The Peculiar's sequel, and it wraps up Bartholomew and Hettie's adventures. It's a bigger book than the first one, not really in page-count, but it definitely has a broader scope. We get to see the inside of the faery world, and there's a sinister war going on, and everything's just a little bit more epic. I'm really excited about it.

Me : As The Peculiar is based of folklore, you must have did tons of research. Would you like to tell us about them?

Stefan : I did do a lot of research! Not so much into folklore, though. I think I had absorbed a lot of that through the fairy tales and books I read while growing up, so the biggest challenge was to get the historical aspects right - 19th century customs, manners, clothes, and especially geography. London doesn't have all the same streets as it does now, and maps drawn in say, 1840 are much different from maps drawn in 1860, so there was quite a lot of that: figuring out how long it would take to walk/steam-engine/run desperately from one part of the city to another.

Me : Any particular book you are looking forward to read?

Stefan : So many. I just made a list of 2013 over on my blog, but excluding those, I'm excited to start The Diviners by Libba Bray. It's supposed to be quite creepy.

Me : You have inspired many teenage aspiring authors. Would you like to share some piece of advice?

Stefan : Aw, thank you! You guys have probably heard this before, but it's probably the best advice there is: read a lot and write a lot. Also, write about things you love. If you're enthusiastic about your subject matter the enthusiasm will show up on the page. And if you have trouble finishing books, try knowing the ending from the start and pointing all the book's elements (character arcs/suspense, etc.) toward that point. That helped me a lot.

Me : Thank you Stefan for stopping over my blog. The Peculiar is an amazing book and can’t wait to read the next installment.

Stefan : Thanks so much for having me here! Also, I'm really happy you liked the book. :)

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Blog Tour + Giveaway : The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

Goodreads Summary : Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.

In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings--Peculiars--and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.

One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley--Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.

Part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure, The Peculiar is Stefan Bachmann's riveting, inventive, and unforgettable debut novel

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : Bachmann, you rock dude.

My love and fondness for middle grade novel brought my interest in The Peculiar, and truth to be spoken; I was left absolutely and utterly mesmerized by this gripping and enchanting gothic mystery.
If you have very sweet idea of faery folks being beautiful and charming, then let me warn you, they are charming indeed but a very haunting way.

Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie are changelings, known as Peculiars and hated by both humans and Faes. When a mysterious lady whisked away a boy, Bartholomew broke the rule, he got noticed by the dangerous lady in plum coloured dress and by many that included risking his life. In this turmoil, Bartholomew made an unlikely alley, young Arthur Jelliby.

Part steampunk, part gothic, part feary magic and part mystery, the peculiar is one of best, actually in my opinion it’s the best MG book of 2012, I have come across. The writing was magnificent and classic, very simple yet so unlikely. The novel itself unfolds the dark monstrous secret that lies beneath, mysteries tangled in magic and murder.

In this alternative Great Britain, each of the characters of The Peculiar was chosen and crafted very carefully and skilfully, especially Bartholomew who was very wise and courageous, unlike the other boys at his age. I’m also very much influenced by Jelliby and Hattie. I would like to see more of little Hattie in next installment.

At this very young age, author Stefan Bachmann has wrote something that is beyond brilliancy and his creativity is truly remarkable. In this dark and ethereal world Bachmann introduced, I was immersed into this stupendously magnificent book, and caught between the conflicts between of humans and fae alike. Sometime I felt chills in my blood as the book became more gruesomely murderous, and I finished it fast only to solve the puzzle. However by the end I found myself desperate for the next book, The Whatnot.

So dear Mr. Bachmann, would you please hurry and satisfy our thrust for the sequel?

Friday, 25 January 2013

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

Summary : When oxygen levels plunge in a treeless world, a state lottery decides which lucky few will live inside the Pod. Everyone else will slowly suffocate. Years after the Switch, life inside the Pod has moved on. A poor Auxiliary class cannot afford the oxygen tax which supplies extra air for running, dancing and sports. The rich Premiums, by contrast, are healthy and strong. Anyone who opposes the regime is labelled a terrorist and ejected from the Pod to die. Sixteen-year-old Alina is part of the secret resistance, but when a mission goes wrong she is forced to escape from the Pod. With only two days of oxygen in her tank, she too faces the terrifying prospect of death by suffocation. Her only hope is to find the mythical Grove, a small enclave of trees protected by a hardcore band of rebels. Does it even exist, and if so, what or who are they protecting the trees from? A dystopian thriller about courage and freedom, with a love story at its heart.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : In this conventional dystopian tale, author Sarah Crossan has given her readers a glimpse of distant future which might come true someday. Set in a futuristic world, where the world is worn out of oxygen and stripped of all greenery. Only inside the POD, which is a secured dome where people can stay alive and breathe. Oxygen tanks are most expensive for people like Bea, who has not earned the privilege to be a premium like her friend Quinn.
When, Bea got a chance to camp outside the POD with Quinn, all she wanted to spend some quality time him, with interference of any kind of trouble. But when, Quinn helps a rebel Alina to escape the POD, he jeopardized everything.

For last few years, mostly YA market is following the usual trend of dystopian setting, Breathe is no such exception, yet it was utterly entertain and I found myself gripped by this book. I didn't hold much high hopes for this one where I started, but I’m glad I picked up Breathe as it proved to be surprisingly good.

Both Bea and Alina were well developed characters, while I found the male protagonist Quinn as the human version of puppy, no doubt he acted like one.
Alina is you usual kickass character that you mostly expect to find in a dystopian, an active rebel fighting against the corrupted government. I was rather surprised by Bea, a very compassionate and intelligent girl and I liked how her character growth with progress of the story. There was a subtle hint of triangle in the book that could develop more in next installment.

Breathe is fast paced and action filled. As much as I enjoyed the story, I would like to recommend it for a try to dystopian lovers, hoping you may find it engaging as well.

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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Through to You by Emily Hainsworth

Goodreads Summary : Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he'd give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv's deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn't Viv.

The apparition's name is Nina, and she's not a ghost. She's a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can't believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn't the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he's forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : I always have a special place in heart for emotional stories of grief and death. A story about how hard it is to accept death of the one you love and moving on like a mechanical being. Carrying guilt for something inevitable, grief stricken Cam can't forgive himself for Viv's death.
But what if in a parallel world, Viv's death never happened and Cam is the one who died. With appearance of strange and mysterious Nina, from a parallel world led Cam to discover the doorway between two worlds where another version of Viv still lives. But altering fate can have many dangerous consequences.

Cam was shown as a bereaved person, mourning for his girlfriend's death, and thus unable to let go of her memories. His character was slowly reveal as readers get more glimpse of his broken heart and his way of dealing with such deep emotions. Somehow it was easy for me to relate Cam, because he seemed very real to me with his unhealed scars running deep. His decision to be with other Viv was momentary outcome of his sorrow as he thought he found his lost love, but eventually he realized this version of Viv might not be the same girl he fell in love with.

Amongst the other characters, I adored Nina, as I considered her to be the female lead. She was the best friend of dead Cam in the other world, also was dealing with his death. In spite of her own grief and family problems, she acted more like Cam's guardian angel to guide him to the truth. She was mature for a seventeen years old, and understanding. Her compassion and companionship really grew onto me, I can't deny my respect for her character.

As for Viv, she mostly made appearance in Cam's memory and her other version showed up during Cam's crossroads between two worlds. towards end of the story, Viv's character raised a thoughtful question of everything may not what it seems to be.

The story was very original, unpredictable and prominent. The overflowing emotions of loss and sorrow was beautifully portrayed in the story, however in the very beginning things were overdone a bit too melodramatic to slow the pace and progress of the story, also there was lack of character development.

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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Touch of Death by Kelly Hashway

Goodreads Summary : Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.

After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendants of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn't difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : There's been a lots of mythological YAs last year, and not all of them actually pleased me like this one did. Truthfully I have never ready anything related to Medusa's good side, all we know that is a snake headed monstrous goddess who enjoys petrifying people with her eyes.
Embedded in rich Greek Mythology and infused with zombie horror, I found Touch of Death immediately interesting.

Born under 13th sign, Jodi is part of part of a branch of necromancers, descendants of Medusa, thus she possess a rare talent of not only healing people, but also bringing dead to life, as well as killing people with her one touch. Running away from the people she loves, Jodi was determined to protect every necromancers from perishing at the hands of Hades. However everything is not as it looks like, soon Jodi faced betrayals and deception.

I liked the story building, which has a fascinating back story that helps reader to relate themselves to the plot line , however the writing was a little juvenile for me.

The main protagonist Jodi was a bit confused and indecisive at beginning but eventually her character improves and readers saw her making hard decisions. I like her improvement because this is realty, a character changes with time and situations they faces. We can't always expect a heroine to be kick ass from the very beginning. She wasn't easy to convince at anything neither she easily fell for Alex's charm.
On the other side, Alex was great lead, supportive and romantic. He was cocky initially and later we saw his as downright romantic hero.

Touch of Death was fast, enjoyable and entertaining read for me, and I finished the book in one sitting. The unique world building and well developed characters made me want to read the next book already. However Touch of Death is highly recommended for those who are seeking for good mythological and paranormal read.

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