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Monday, April 30, 2012

SBT12: Guest Post & Giveaway: Tim Westover

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Southern Book Tour 2012


Tim Westover, Georgia author of the upcoming (July 2012 release) Auraria has come by with a little insight into Southern stereotypes, the class structures, and the Mountain South. Check out the book synopsis and giveaway at the end of the post!  I am currently reading Auraria and am very intrigued by the story.  Watch the blog for my review, coming soon!

Picture a story about the South, especially a historical one, and you’re likely to start seeing a haze of clich├ęs. The romance of the plantation and its cotton cotillions. The cruel fraternity of the Civil War. Humid nights of moonshine and wisteria. These stereotypes were made by literature, furthered by literature. They do no real harm, so long as we realize they’re often as fictional as any fantasy realm.
 
But the stereotypes that are hung on “mountain folk” -- the residents of the Appalachians -- are some of the most perfidious and persistent. Mountain folk, in literature and in popular culture, are not only poor, but woefully benighted, too. Shoeless urchins are clad in burlap sacks. Toothless crones cackle from porches, perhaps dreaming of some old folk magic. Idle men pick the banjo when they aren’t making moonshine or dreaming of brutality aimed at strangers. Incomprehensible drawl immediately marks these people as the Other.
 
Just one personal example: I play the banjo, and hardly ever do I mention this fact without being answered by the ominous opening notes of “Dueling Banjos,” the only banjo tune most people can name, and accompanying off-color remarks.
 
While there were (and are) poor people in the South, the Appalachians were much more cosmopolitan than “Deliverance” wants you to believe, even in the frontier days. A community was made not only of tenant farmers, slaves, and migrant workers, but landowners, shopkeepers, railroad men, and professionals like doctors and lawyers. Even in the darkest hollows, there were mine owners and sawmill supervisors, engineers and dynamiters, school teachers, clergy, newspaper editors, and government officials. There’s a richer potential for story here, in the mingling of these varied people, than in wallowing in overplayed stereotypes.
 
Even the rawest frontier towns could have a middle class. Auraria, a Georgia town that appeared on the Cherokee frontier to exploit the gold found in the Southern Appalachians, had at least twelve law offices to hash out questions of land claims, deeds, and sales. Teachers and clergy came later, as the first generation of prospectors settled into homesteaders.
 
The rich also found their way into the mountains, alongside the farmer and miner and lawyer. Because of the healthful mountain air and cooler temperatures, the mountain south became the site of many resorts and spas throughout the 19th century. The trend of tourists to flock to the mountains didn’t begin in the current generation; it’s as old as the railroads that eventually served towns like Tallulah Falls, Lake Toxaway, and even the famed Biltmore, a private playground for the ultra-rich Vanderbilt family.
 
Writing a historical (if fantastical) novel set in the mountain South, I wanted to explore this diversity of cultural and economic backgrounds. It connects to a host of issues that are still relevant today: class tensions, land preservation versus economic exploitation, the ongoing struggle between native and newcomer. My Auraria, while host to moon maidens and singing trees, is more perplexed by the arrival of developers who want to build an artificial lake and a first-class resort. Dam building, whether for economic or recreational purposes, was somewhat of a mania at the end of the 19th century, and dam breaks were responsible both for great tragedies, like the Johnstown flood, and ironic inconveniences, like the break at Lake Toxaway. These grand projects, and the disasters they sometimes brought about, were a crucible of interactions between the rich and the poor, the changing and the traditional.
 
The story of the mountain South isn’t the just the story of the poor, the ignorant, and the isolated. A place as rich and complicated as the Appalachians can’t be captured with stereotypes. There’s much more fertile ground to explore, both for writers and readers, in a mountain South that’s appreciated for the diversity and complexity that it contains, both in the 19th century and in the 21st.
 
 

About the author:

tim
Tim Westover writes magical realism and folklore fiction in both English and Esperanto. He plays clawhammer banjo and enjoys exploring the north Georgia mountains. His first English-language novel, Auraria, will be released by QW Publishers in July 2012.
 
Website
Twitter

About the book

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Coming July 10, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-9849748-0-1
Water spirits, moon maidens, haunted pianos, headless revenants, and an invincible terrapin that lives under the mountains. None of these distract James Holtzclaw from his employer’s mission: to turn the fading gold-rush town of Auraria, GA, into a first-class resort and drown its fortunes below a man-made lake. But when Auraria’s peculiar people and problematic ghosts collide with his own rival ambitions, Holtzclaw must decide what he will save and what will be washed away.
Taking its inspiration from a real Georgia ghost town, Auraria is steeped in the folklore of the Southern Appalachians, where the tensions of natural, supernatural and artificial are still alive.
(Website)
 


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

SBT12: Guest Post & Giveaway with Antony John

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Southern Book Tour 2012


I am pleased to introduce y’all to Antony John, author of the coming release of Elemental.  Asheley at Into the Hall of Books sent me an email relating to the SBT12 where she said this:
“Well, back in November he did an interview on another blog and mentioned that despite being a writer of contemporary YA, he was doing a fantasy series and setting it on NC's Outer Banks. I nearly flipped out. Seriously. My backyard!”
So, she contacted Antony, and he agreed to write a post and provide an ARC of Elemental for giveaway!  Check out the post, read the book’s blurb, and enter to win!
 
And now, here’s Antony:
 
In 1996, I moved to the States for grad school; specifically, Durham, NC, where I did a Ph.D. at Duke. School may have been the lure, but I quickly discovered that North Carolina was the most beautiful place I’d ever been. I lived there until 2002, then spent 2003 teaching at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. By the time I moved to Seattle in 2003, I had developed a fascination with the Carolinas that will never go away.
 

In particular, I wanted to set a book there—one in which the awesome beauty of the land and the dramatic weather patterns would be thematic, not just illustrative. Several years later, I got my chance when my editor at Dial expressed interest in a fantasy trilogy I’d proposed, called ELEMENTAL. The first novel is set on the Outer Banks. Here’s why I chose that setting . . .
 
One of the hardest—if not the hardest—element of writing a fantasy novel is worldbuilding. And to me, an integral part of that is setting. These are my earliest brainstorming notes for ELEMENTAL:
 
  • Elements: Teens can control elements - must make this dynamic and cool. 
  • Setting: OBX - Roanoke / Hatteras. Nautical history; shipwrecks; lighthouses; Lost Colony; hurricanes etc etc

Notice which of those lines is longer? Yup, the one about setting.
 
See, to me, the Outer Banks are a somewhat mystical place. On most coasts, you stare out at a (presumably) wide expanse of ocean. But on Hatteras Island, you stare out at the Atlantic (to the east) and the Roanoke Sound (to the west). On cloudy days, the sound itself can appear almost like an ocean, so that you feel as though you're standing on the last strip of earth on an otherwise watery planet. (Okay, so that's a little whimsical, but if you've been there, you'll know what I mean.)
 

Ocean to the east, Sound to the west
 
But there's more to it than that. For all their popularity as a tourist destination, the Outer Banks are just remote enough to have withstood some of the horrific overdevelopment suffered by other coastal areas. Go off-season, and it's not impossible to imagine the area as it must have appeared to John White and his colonists when they established their ill-fated colony in 1587. It is, in other words, a timeless place.
 

Hurricane Irene hammered NC's Outer Banks on August 27, 2011
 
It's also a place where kayaks can seemingly disappear into maze-like waterways, and land becomes marsh in a single step. The region has its own ecosystem. Because the terrain is constantly in flux (hurricanes, in particular, can invalidate maps overnight), the area is perfect for a fantasy novel. Need to adjust the landscape? No problem. Need to recreate the look of the island? Again, no problem. Nature does it all the time.
 
Every fantasy novel has a hook, or some aspect that drives our imagination. On the surface, my hook is that the teens can manipulate the elements—earth, water, wind, and fire. But in deciding how they control the elements, and to what end, I thought very hard about the Outer Banks, and what it would be like to grow up in a tiny, remote colony, untouched by the rest of human kind. I realized that someone with the element of water would have less use for creating a tsunami than for reading the shifting tides, and the predicting the impact of storm swells. Those who grow up on small islands have a unique relationship with land and water, I believe, and this book gave me the chance to incorporate fantastical elements within a setting that is both striking, and yet recognizably real world.
 
Of course, I take some creative license. You won’t find mention of Pamlico Sound, just Roanoke Sound, because I didn’t want to confuse readers. I’ve tried to simplify geography a little, so that readers aren’t forced to consistently refer to a map. But my hope is that as people read the book, they’ll be transported to a place that feels both awe-inspiring and familiar . . . and maybe even be inspired to visit!
 

About the author:


Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA's Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad—the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family.

Giveaway:

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A lost colony is reborn in this heart-pounding fantasy adventure set in the near future . . .

Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe.

In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’ world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SBT12: Jenny Pox’s Southern Heritage by JL Bryan

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Southern Book Tour 2012

JL Bryan, author of the critically acclaimed and highly rated Paranormals Series is stopping by to share a little about how he was able to inject the authentic Southern atmosphere into the series.

Thanks to Richard for having me guest post for his Southern Book Tour!
My book Jenny Pox (and its sequels) are set primarily in the fictional South Carolina lowcountry town of Fallen Oak, which is not the happiest place in the world, but has some great scenery.  My dad’s side of the family has lived and farmed in that region for many generations (we just do pine trees now).

For this post, I’ve picked out a few of my favorite elements from Jenny Pox, large or small, that reflect the book’s Southern heritage.

Music

Jenny Morton’s mother died when Jenny was born, which can happen when you give birth to a girl with a deadly supernatural touch.  Jenny never knew her mother, and her main way of connecting with her is listening to the box of old vinyl albums her mother left behind.  Fortunately, Jenny’s mom had great taste in country music, so Jenny listens to a lot of Johnny Cash, The Carter Family, and Patsy Cline.  Good country music expresses pain, loneliness, and love in the plainest and strongest terms, and so I played a lot of it while writing Jenny Pox.

Charleston

One of the oldest cities in the United States, and still one of the prettiest.  In the second book, Tommy Nightmare, I get to spend some time in this historic city, throw a musical festival there, and wreck the city with a riot.  That’s just how I show affection.

Oak trees (& moss)

I love old oak trees, they’re twisted and gnarled and they look like they’re full of magical secrets.  I even called the town in Jenny Pox “Fallen Oak.”  There’s something very rich and vibrant to me about an environment full of ancient, moss-thick trees.  Maybe because they remind me of my grandmother’s farm in South Carolina.

Piggy Wiggly

Jenny, and everyone in Fallen Oak, shops at the Piggly Wiggly.  I’m not sure why I love the Piggly Wiggly so much, but I suppose it’s because their stores seem to be located only in small towns and out-of-the-way places.

Hoop cheese


My favorite things about my own stories are usually tiny details.  In the second book, Jenny’s father is excited when he gets a good deal on a slab of hoop cheese.  He keeps enthusiastically urging Jenny and her boyfriend to try the hoop cheese, which they don’t.  In the end, the only person who shares his enthusiasm is a villain character, Tommy, who breaks into Jenny’s house for other reasons and feels like he hit the gold mine when he spies the slab of cheese on the cutting board.  Unfortunately, Jenny’s dad never learns that someone finally appreciated it.

And that’s a fairly random-sounding collection of some of my favorites details.  Thanks again, Richard!

For more information on the series, click the covers below.  I have started reading Jenny Pox and am hooked!  You guys should really check it out!
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About the author

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J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories.
 
He is the author of The Paranormals series of horror novels (Jenny Pox, Tommy Nightmare, and Alexander Death) the Songs of Magic series for younger readers (Fairy Metal Thunder, Fairy Blues, and Fairystruck...so far) and other books. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, their son, and some dogs and cats.
 
Website
Twitter

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SBT12: Guest Post & Giveaway with Genevieve Graham

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Southern Book Tour 2012


Let’s put on our Southern hospitality, y’all, and welcome Genevieve Graham, author of the recently released paranormal historic romance Under the Same Sky, to B&D.

Stay tuned after the article for a book blurb and Giveaway.

Take it away, Genevieve:
imageGreetings from the Great White North! As I write this, a blast of freezing rain pelts my window, ushered along by a shrieking gust of wind … It’s March, and apparently the Groundhog was wrong. We’re supposed to get 25cm (that’s about 10 inches) of snow tonight. And so tomorrow, we hardy Canadians will pull on the snow boots, dig out the shovels, check the studs on our tires … again.
 
I have to tell you, it was a tropical holiday for me, writing about South Carolina. My debut novel, “Under the Same Sky” was actually written in two locales. The hero, Andrew MacDonnell, is a Highlander escaping post-Culloden Scotland. The heroine, Maggie Johnson, lives in South Carolina. The year was 1746, not a pretty time for either of them.
 
Before “Under the Same Sky”, I’d never written anything before. All I had was a computer and a nagging feeling in my head that I should be writing stuff down. In the beginning, I just stared at the screen, having no idea what to do. After a while, though, Maggie kind of appeared in my head, leading me in to her life, sharing her secrets. She showed me the decrepit old house which had recently been shirking its one responsibility of providing shelter, the surrounding yellowed grass as brittle as her mother’s hair, faraway mountains that loomed like shadows in the distance, on the other side of the woods. The following day I met Andrew, watching him battle on Culloden Moor. I identified far more easily with the climate in Scotland, I must admit! 
 
I’ve been to South Carolina, and I even have family in Spartanburg. But the story didn’t come from any past experience of my own. For half of the book, I lived in Maggie’s head, and she showed me everything as clearly as if I’d been there myself. To be honest, I tried to mold the story at one point, trying to bring the plot up here to Canada, but it would have none of that.
 
Sure, I researched. I own some wonderful books like “The Red Carolinians” and “Bartram’s Living Legacy” which gave me some terrific insights. I went online and visited tourism sites as well as historical ones. I studied historical maps and town names, measuring distances, studying the topography of the area. I also remembered going to the John Mack Oboe Camp for a week near Little Switzerland (NC) (that’s a whole other story). I used to visit my grandparents in Jacksonville (FL), so I let those memories bring back the lushness of the area, the heavy, sweet air clinging to Spanish moss, singing with katydids and cicadas (I still can’t tell one from another). It’s more than humidity that makes the air so palpable down there. There’s a mysticism, an energy that winds through the earth like the roots of ancient trees in the Keowee Valley, then passes from the leaves to the air we breathe.
 
The Cherokee play a major part in this book as well as in a third one which is on my editor’s desk at the moment. I never expected to work with them and knew nothing about them before I started. But the things they taught me resonated, opened me up to a different view of the world.
 
I have a neat little family story to share. It ties in with the Cherokee. According to the story, my ancestors, Greenberry and Elizabeth Taylor, came to northern Alabama from Washington County Tennessee in the very early 1800’s and befriended the local Cherokee. When the daughter of the Cherokee chief fell ill and was beyond the help of the tribe’s medicine man, one of my ancestors—I think it was something like my four or five times great-great-great-grand-aunt managed to cure her with some kind of white medicine. The chief was obviously very grateful, and when the Cherokee scouts heard of an impending Chocktaw attack on the white settlement, the chief brought the Taylor family into their compound for protection. All the other white settlers in the area were massacred in the raid. The Taylors asked the chief what they could do to thank him, and he asked that they name their first daughter either Cherokee or Tennessee. Their first daughter had already been christened, but they promised to name the next one Cherokee. Priscilla Cherokee Taylor was born in April 1812, was something like my three times great-grand-aunt. That name has since been passed from mother to daughter through seven generations.
 
I love the South. I love the feel of it physically as well as the warmth of the people in it. I love the history that oozes from the old plantation homes, the long, slow stories shared in creaking rocking chairs on porches. One of the things I like best about writing historical fiction is that no one can tell me it didn’t happen. Maybe, just maybe, it did. 
 

About the author


Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (playing the oboe). While on a ski vacation in Alberta, she met her future husband in a chairlift lineup and subsequently moved to Calgary to be with him. They have recently settled in a small, peaceful town in Nova Scotia with their two beautiful daughters. Writing became an essential part of Genevieve’s life a few years ago, when she began to write her debut novel, Under the Same Sky. The companion novel, Sound of the Heart, will be in stores May 1, 2012. 

Giveaway

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The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.

Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams—and by the belief in the true love they share.

On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.

Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her. They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever


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Monday, April 23, 2012

SBT12: Guest Review: Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham

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Southern Book Tour 2012

 
Today, one of my favorite bloggers is stopping by to share a review of Genevieve Graham’s Under the Same Sky.  Asheley writes some awesome reviews on her blog, Into the Hall of Books.  Check out her review below, check out her blog, and come back tomorrow for a Guest Post and Giveaway with author, Genevieve Graham.
 
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The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.

Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams—and by the belief in the true love they share.

On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.

Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her. They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever. -(summary from Goodreads.com)
Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham
 
My Thoughts:  I love to read books that are rich in characters and setting. I completely lucked out with Under the Same Sky. Not only are ALL of the characters absolutely amazing, but the setting - well, both of the settings - are lush and perfect. To top it off, half of the book is set in the Carolinas, and I'm a Carolina girl myself. When I heard about this one, I had to read it and you guys, before I even get started I'm gonna just recommend it to you ALL.
 
Why do you need to read Under the Same Sky?
 
1. The characters are fantastic.
Maggie Johnson has "the Sight." She can see the future and find things that are lost or hidden. When she is young, she begins to see a boy in her dreams - Andrew - and they communicate with each other for years, wordlessly, while they begin to form a bond that grows from a slow friendship into a romance.

Andrew also has "the Sight."  He loves seeing the girl in his visions and dreams - Maggie - and dreams of the day when he can finally meet her. After fighting a war that takes the lives of his entire family and destroys his farm, Andrew decides that he needs to leave Scotland and search for this girl. He can't stop thinking about her.

2. The story is unique.
Sure, I've heard of historical romance - but this has a twist. The paranormal element to the story makes it something special, something different than I've ever read before. 
 
The magic that allows Maggie and Andrew to see each other in their visions and dreams is a real treat. It is even cooler when you consider that Maggie and Andrew are on two separate continents, separated by an entire ocean! Further, the older that Maggie and Andrew become, the magic seems to become stronger. In other words, while they can only communicate wordlessly as young people, eventually they are able to speak and to touch briefly in their visions. 
 
As a fan of the paranormal and romance genres but someone who is relatively new to the historical fiction genre, I love the way these blended together. Very interesting! 
 
3. The settings are amazing.
The two settings written into Under the Same Sky - South Carolina and the Scottish Highlands - are both lush and vivid. The author goes into great detail to paint a picture so the reader isn't only reading a story on a page - she wanted us to travel along with her characters. I am a huge fan of setting, so this was wildly important to me. 
 
As a North Carolina girl, I loved the South Carolina setting. It was comfortable and familiar, and it felt like home despite the 1700's time period. As for the Scottish Highlands setting - I was completely taken in by the countryside described, even though parts of it were ravaged and wartorn. It still sounded amazing and beautiful to me. 
 
Southern Friends, this book is a winner. As if I haven't given you enough reason to read Under the Same Sky, the writing was beautiful and the romance was perfection. Genevieve Graham has a style that is lovely and breathtaking, and I became a fan within the first chapter. The romance between Maggie and Andrew wasn't quick and forced; rather, it was slow and authentic. I am thrilled to say that I am not-so-patiently waiting for the next book to be released in May of this year and I will be devouring it with the same ferocity that I did this one. 
 
Under the Same Sky will appeal to fans of
Historical Fiction/Historical Romance with Paranormal/Magic
Slowly-Developing Romance with No Love Triangle
Multiple POV
Rich Setting: Scottish Highlands, America/South Carolina




Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham is currently available for purchase. 
 
**I received a review copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you SO MUCH Genevieve and Berkley Trade! 

About the blogger

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My name is Asheley. I'm a wife and mother to a very busy family. My job is to take care of them but I read as much as I can. I read adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction. I love dystopian, apocalyptic, fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and literary fiction but will occasionally read other titles that spark my interest.

Thank you, Asheley, for sharing your thoughts with us!

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for a Guest Post and Giveaway for Under the Same Sky!

Friday, April 20, 2012

SBT12: Review: Lowcountry Punch by Boo Walker

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Southern Book Tour 2012


 
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After the worst Christmas Eve of his life, DEA Agent T.A. Reddick leaves Miami for the magical city of Charleston, South Carolina, hoping a return to his roots will heal a broken heart and the guilt of killing a friend. The sleepy and sultry town of Charleston is filled with echoes of the Old South: genteel playboys, society debutantes, and quiet cobblestone streets. But as Reddick will soon discover, there's danger lurking under her charming veneer. When a movie star's death shines a national spotlight on Charleston's underground cocaine trade, he must go undercover to find the main supplier and shut him down. As a hurricane bears down on the port city and the DEA gets ready to spring its trap, Reddick must contend with more than he ever could have imagined.

Brash and bold, TA Reddick is a hero you won’t soon forget. Lowcountry Punch is an action-packed novel that will have you on your knees begging for more.

eBook
Published (first published October 28th 2011)
ASIN: B0060ZNSOE
url: http://boowalker.com/books
(Goodreads)

Review:

I don’t know if you’ve caught on by now.  I mean I have devoted the entire month of April to the literary South.  I am proud of my Southern roots and proud to be a South Carolinian.  Y’all, Lowcountry Punch is one of the reasons I am so proud.

Debut author Boo Walker (isn’t that  a great name?) leaps onto the scene with his hard-hitting, fast-paced, in-your-face Lowcountry Punch.  This ain’t your mama’s thriller. 

I liked the no-nonsense writing style, as if we’re reading T.A.’s police report or testimony on his life.  There’s a transparency about it that is unique among recent reads.  There’s a lot of foreshadowing that draws you in, makes you want to read the next page, paragraph, sentence, word, just to know what’s next.

Despite being the perfect blend of macho chauvinism and romantic leading man, T.A. is broken.  Even though he likes wine, jazz, cooking, he’s haunted and closed off.  It’s an odd and interesting combination of qualities that I haven’t seen in a lead character, and it kinda made me like T.A. a little bit more with each sentence.  Though he seemed slightly unrealistic in just how perfectly all his qualities meshed together.  I felt like I needed to like him, but had a hard time doing it.  In the end, T.A. is a likeable character and I hope that Lowcoutnry Punch isn’t the last we see of his character.

The book was full of laugh out loud moments, clever cuts, sarcasm, and wit.  Here’s on of my favorite lines:
We drank a Dundee Hills Pinot and dined on Mahi Mahi with salsa, scallops, asparagus, and my famous mashed potatoes. The way to a woman’s heart is mashed potatoes, I’d learned. Put ‘em on a tray with eggs and some fresh-squeezed orange juice and take it to them in bed one morning. See what happens. (pg 55)
I enjoyed reading, not just for the story, but for the humor Walker included.  T.A. never took himself too seriously.  And it kept things fun.

There was so much going on, it was hard to put the book down!  From beginning to end there was so much action!  I had to make the decision last night, whether to sacrifice sleep to finish, or wait until today to finish.  I sacrificed sleep.  It’s was the right choice.  There is very little break in the action, especially toward the end of the book.  I became obsessed with finishing.  I become obsessed with the book!

The settings are familiar to me, being from SC.  Fort Sumter, Charleston, Atlanta (even though that’s in GA).  The became vivid characters in the book.  The climate contributed to many of the scenes in ways that few climates can.  The summer air hangs thick with humidity here, and I could feel it as Walker wrote it.

Boo Walker is on my favorite authors list.  Lowcountry Punch is on my Best Reads of 2012 list.  Y’all, seriously, get your hands on this book…NOW!

treetreetreetreetree
5 Trees: This is a must read!

Get to reading,
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About the author:

boo
Boo Walker spent his College of Charleston years and a few after in Nashville as a banjoist and songwriter for the avant-garde punchgrass band, The Biscuit Boys. Some hand problems knocked him out of the game, and he stumbled into a position with Automated Trading Desk, a short term equity trading firm based out of Mt. Pleasant, SC. To feed his ravenous muse, he began writing his first novel, Lowcountry Punch. Around that time, what started as a passion in wine became a neurosis.
 
After six years of the Wall Street thing, Boo decided it was time to end his sedentary, computer-driven lifestyle. He grew out a handlebar mustache and moved clear across the country into a double-wide trailer situated on 5 acres of Malbec vines just down the road from Hedges Family Estate on Red Mountain in Washington State. The Hedges family took him in and taught him the art of farming and the old world philosophies of wine. He now travels North America peddling the family's juice, and chances are you can find him in an airport somewhere working on his next novel.
 
Website
Twitter
Goodreads

Thursday, April 19, 2012

SBT12: Follow Friday (21)

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Southern Book Tour 2012




Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.


Q: Fight! Fight! If you could have two fictional characters battle it out (preferably from books), who would they be and who do you think would win?


A: This question took some major brain power.  I mean MAJOR.  You should have seen the steam pouring from my ears! 

T.A. Reddick from Boo Walker’s Lowcountry Punch and the zombies from anything by Rusty Fischer.  It would be interesting to see 1. how the characters from different zenres could relate, 2. how T.A. would kick some zombie tail, & 3. if it would involve wrecking a yacht into Fort Sumter off the coast of SC (read Lowcountry Punch for more info on this.  For info on Fort Sumter, click here].  I have no doubt that it would be an awesome battle to the death, or undeath, or whatever.  And I have a sneaking suspicion that T.A.’s resourcefulness would play a big part in him winning over the zombies.  [think tank scene from The Walking Dead]

While you’re here, be sure to check out my giveaways, and come back soon, because there will be more!

Who would you want to battle it out?

Get to reading,
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SBT12: Guest Post: The “Small Town” Feel by Victoria Schwab

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Southern Book Tour 2012


Y’all, one of my first Southern-bookish experiences was going to the Ash2Nash Tour in Spartanburg.  Beth Revis, Myra McEntire, & Victoria Schwab organized several stops from Ashville, NC to Nashville, TN to promote their books.  My wife was unable to attend, but asked me to go in her stead.  She was really excited about The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (see her review here) and wanted to get a copy signed.  Being there and hearing these Southern authors tell their stories, share their inspirations, was amazing.  I feel as if I “know” them and are close friends with them.  I bought Beth’s and Myra’s books, had them autographed as well, and the rest is history in the making.

This long introduction is simply to say that I am super excited to have my close personal friend [lol] Victoria on the blog today, sharing how her small-town upbringing helped create the setting of The Near Witch.

It's porch gossip on a Saturday morning, sidelong looks and sometimes outright stares, "what brings you to these parts?" and "just passing through?" with the raised or knitted brows that suggest you should be.
Growing up in the south, but not being from the south, I found myself constantly straddling the line between insider and outsider. I had picked up many of the cultural tells, but not the linguistic ones. I knew politeness as a social construct, and even said y'all, but never with an accent. I attended an all girls prep school where nine out of ten students were debutantes, and my mother played cards with women who referred to their local Methodist branch as simply The Church. Much as loved my city, I was perpetually aware of the fact that I'd never fully belong.

Even though The Near Witch is a fairy tale set in a village on the English moors, in some ways it could have easily been set in a small town in the south.

One of the major themes in the book is that relationship between insider and outsider. The village creates divides between those who belong, and those who don't, and it's not always a matter of who lives there and who doesn't. The stranger, Cole, is an outsider in the most obvious way, appearing on the moors one night, but the main character, Lexi, has lived in Near all her life, and she doesn't belong either. Growing up in the south would come to inform the village of Near more than I would ever anticipate.

I played it up, obviously, transformed the experience into a more archetypal one for the sake of fairy tale. The subtle divide between insider and outsider became a physical one, a line between humans and non-humans, and between those who fit into the world, who share the ideals and the fears, and those who don't. The insular feel of the small town became a literal isolation, Near existing in a sea of hills, cut off from any and everything else. The careful curiosity toward outsiders became distrust and outright hostility.

I'd always wanted to write a fairy tale where the setting was as much as character as any person in the book, and Near is that, a twisted, fairy tale version of a small town in the south.

But if it seems like I'm being too hard on southern small town living, I promise, I give Near the chance every community has. A chance to change. To grow. In the real world, it's often easier. Battles don't always have to be fought, worlds saved, days won. But in The Near Witch, where the stakes are higher, the outsiders have to drastically impact their world to even have a chance at becoming part of it.

About the book


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The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger — a boy who seems to fade like smoke — appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.
(Goodreads)
 

About the author

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I am the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, I have been known to say "tom-ah-toes", "like", and "y'all". But since this is about what I write and not how I pronounce my a's, I will say that I tell stories.
 
I love fairy tales, and folklore, and books that make me wonder if the world is really as it seems. I love writing about doors, and places between, and the cracks where reality slips into something darker, stranger, and invariably more interesting.
 
I grew up on the west coast, but went to high school in the south, an all girls' prep school complete with plaid skirts I used to doodle on during math.
 
I went to Washington University in St. Louis, where I changed course SIX times (and would have done it a seventh time, but my family and advisors said you couldn't switch majors in your last semester). I went from Physics, to Film, to Set Design, to Art History, to English, to Communication Design.
 
Job-wise, I have been a clerk in a department store, where I met a very nice Erotica writer while re-hanging bras. I have been an assistant caterer and a personal chef. Because of this, I bake some mean chocolate chip cookies, can plate hors d'oeuvres, and know how to make twirling napkin towers. I was a dog daycare attendant for a few summers, and have the scars to prove it. In college, I worked in a bookstore, where I never made ANY money because I spent every check feeding my book-buying habit.
 
And now, I am an author. That's still really fun to say, and I feel like I need to fact-check myself just to make sure it's true.

Website
Blog
Twitter

Giveaway

In honor of the upcoming release of The Near Witch paperback, I’m giving away a copy (well, preorder, really).  Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. It's INTERNATIONAL, as long as the Book Depository ships to your country!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SBT12: WoW (13): The Archived by Victoria Schwab

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Southern Book Tour 2012


wow_thumb3Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blog-hop hosted by Breaking the Spine that features books we are eagerly awaiting!




The Archived by Victoria Schwab

THE ARCHIVED, about a teenage girl who must return the restless, ghost-like Histories of the dead to their rightful place in a labyrinthine supernatural library known as the Archive; when more Histories begin to wake and escape, she must stop the doors between the worlds of the living and dead from breaking open, all without falling victim to a beguiling History who is more human – and more disarmingly attractive – than the others.

Expected publication: January 2013 by Hyperion
(Goodreads)

Victoria announced on her blog that a sneak peak of The Archived will be in the May 15, 2012, release of The Near Witch paperback edition!

So, what are you waiting on?

Get to reading,
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SBT12: Guest Post & Giveaway with Tara Fuller

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Southern Book Tour 2012


Hey, Y’all!  Tara Fuller, author of the recently released, Perigee Moon, is here with an introduction and excerpt from her upcoming release, Inbetween.  After the excerpt, enter to win a copy of Perigee Moon!
 
Now, here’s Tara:
 
As an author that lives in the South, you would think that I would set more of my books here. Especially since I adore North Carolina. The closest I have gotten so far is my current character. His name is Finn and he is dead. Dead, you say? Yes. He’s a grim reaper that falls in love with a girl he is sent to reap. But when Finn Carter was alive he resided in South Carolina where he worked on his father’s peach farm. I loved researching South Carolina in the World War 2 time period to get a good look into Finn’s past. Finn may be Death, but he’s still a sweet southern boy at heart. And to honor the South and my one southern character I thought I’d give you guys a sneak peek at Finn’s story. My upcoming book INBETWEEN (Kissed by Death, #1) will release August 14th, 2012 from Entangled Teen. But seeing as how we are honoring our Southern writers here I thought you guys should get an early peek. So enjoy!
 
 

Special Excerpt from INBETWEEN:

imageFinn
I reached out my hand to her. “Dance with me.”
 
Emma just looked uncertainly at my outstretched fingers and chewed on her lip. “But if you touch me you’ll…”
 
“Then we won’t touch.” I pulled my hand back and smiled when she stood. “Just dance.”
 
Emma pulled her hands out of her sleeves and stared at her feet, looking lost. I stepped in closer. So close I could see my shimmer reaching out towards her skin, like metal to a magnet. I never needed to breathe, but now, in this moment, I couldn’t stop my lungs from pumping.
 
We moved together wordlessly. A step to the right. A smooth glide to the left. I wanted to do like I’d seen Pop do, tip her back and make her laugh like a girl in love. I didn’t. Instead, I settled for leaning in as close as I could, letting my cold, unnatural breaths coat her neck. She shivered.
 
“Hey, at least it won’t hurt if I step on your foot,” I said.
 
Emma chuckled and reached her hands up as if she meant to place them on my shoulders, then stopped herself and dropped them back down to her sides.
 
“I never know what to do with my hands,” she said.
 
“Well.” I leaned back and held up my hand. “If we were doing this for real, you’d put your left one here.”
 
She hesitantly raised her hand and placed it in front of mine so that our palms nearly touched.
 
“And in a very desirable world, mine would go right… here.” I placed my hand near her waist and she shivered, accidentally arching into my touch. My fingers scattered into a thousand iridescent particles, swimming around her like silver smoke. She gasped as I pulled my hand back and watched my fingers take shape again. I wiggled them at her and grinned.
 
Emma laughed. “Wow.”
 
I shrugged and kept moving. In the background, Billie Holiday crooned The Very Thought of You and somehow managed to put exactly how I was feeling into words.
 
“The mere idea of you. The longing here for you. You’ll never know, how slow the moments go, till I’m near to you,” I sang softly into Emma’s hair. Billie sounded way better of course, but the words felt too right not to say out loud.
 
“You’ve done this before,” Emma said. “I can tell.”
 
“What?”
 
“Danced with a girl.” She ran her palms experimentally over my chest, her skin just a breath away. I ached for her to close that space, but she never did.
 
I tried, unsuccessfully, to steady my voice. “Just once,” I said. “School dance.”
 
Emma smiled and did a little twirl. “What was her name?”
 
I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to think about anything that didn’t begin and end with Emma.
 
“Can’t remember,” I mumbled just as the flash of a girl in pink satin swaying nervously in my arms shook me. I smiled. “She wore a pink dress. I remember that. And I was so nervous, I thought I might throw up.”
 
“Did you love her?” she asked quietly. We stopped moving. Silence swallowed us. Then the crackling hiss of the record sounded and a new tune began.
 
“No,” I said. “No, I didn’t love her.”
 
“Have you…” Emma took a step back and tucked her hair behind her ear. She wouldn’t look at me. “Have you ever loved anyone…like that?”
 
I may not have been able to say the words, but I couldn’t stop myself from moving towards her. Emma looked up at me, the question still lingering in her eyes. With one last spark of resolve, I went corporal. Caged her in with my arms and pressed my fingers into her back.
 
“Finn?”
 
Emma trembled. But I didn’t think she was afraid. No, this was something else. I breathed her in, clutching her to me, dizzy from all of this contact. Our chests pressed together, and I couldn’t stop wondering what it would feel like for our mouths to touch.
 
I had to know.
 
 
Oh, this sounds really good!  So, go on now, add this to your TBR now!
 

About the author:

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Tara Fuller writes novels. Some about grim reapers. Some about witches. All of course are delightfully full of teen angst and kissing. Tara grew up in a one stop light town in Oklahoma where once upon a time she stayed up with a flash light reading RL Stine novels and only dreamed of becoming a writer. She has a slight obsession with music and a shameless addiction for zombie fiction, Mystery Science Theater, and black and white mochas. Tara no longer lives in a one stop light town. Now she lives with her family in a slightly larger town in North Carolina where they have at least three stoplights.

Twitter
Website
Goodreads
 

 

Giveaway

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After a horrific fire claims the life of her mother, seventeen year old Rowan Bliss finds herself in the miniscule town of Ipswich, Massachusetts. It’s here that she meets Alex, a deliciously mysterious boy who holds the key to unlocking her family’s dark secret.

As Rowan falls helplessly over the edge for Alex, the secrets that he insists on keeping refuse to be contained, and the truth that she uncovers challenges everything she has ever believed. Alex is a witch. And now he’s awakened something within her she never even knew existed. But out of all of this, the one thing Rowan won’t accept is the fact that Alex is destined to die.

Now Rowan must unearth the buried power she harbors within to escape a deadly prophecy, defy the very laws of time, and prevent the hands of fate from taking yet another person she loves
(Goodreads)



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Monday, April 16, 2012

SBT12: Guest Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

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Southern Book Tour 2012


Today, we welcome Katie from Magic is in Words with a review of Hourglass by Myra McEntire.  Thank you for stopping by today, Katie!

(If you’re interested in my thoughts, check out my review posted on Bending The Spine.)

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One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut

Hardcover, 394 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Egmont USA
ISBN: 1606841440 (ISBN13: 9781606841440)
series: Hourglass #1
setting: Ivy Springs, Tennessee
(Goodreads)
 

Review:

Ramblings: A good book should hook from the very last line and refuse to let go until a long time after the final word. That is exactly what this book did for me!

Characters: I absolutely loved Emerson! From her fierce name to her kick-butt attitude (literally!) I love that she is a brown belt in karate and can beat up everyone around her. She sticks up for herself and doesn't need anyone's protection--and she knows it! She is just the best female protagonist that I have read about in a really long time. And as for Michael... wow! I think I'm in love (;

Plot: This is such a new take on time travel, and I love the rips! Although I don't think I would ever want to meet one! This is such a fascinating book. The idea of time travel has always fascinated me, but teaming up to go to the past and the future?! Genius! I loved it!

Overall: This is such a great read and I'm disappointed that I hadn't read it sooner! You will seriously love this book, I know that I did!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

(p.s. turn the cover 90 degrees! Blew my mind!)

Thanks for letting me participate on this book tour--it means a lot! This author is from Nashville.. lucky! I can't wait to read more from her. I hope that everyone has a really fantastic day! :D

What makes this Southern?

Myra McEntire is a Southern author.  She lives in Nashville, TN.  Hourglass is set in Ivy Springs, TN (a fictional town based on Franklin, TN).  Find out more about Ivy Springs here.

About the blogger:

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I'm a high school student from a small town. With nothing to do in my town, I find my escape in books. I love reading and always keep a book with me wherever I go. My parents complain that I buy too many books and say that I should spend my money on other things, but hey! What are you gonna do? You can't break every habit(: You can always find me with my nose in a book and I spend more hours reading than I do probably anything else.
  You can find out more about Katie on her About Me page.
 

About the author:

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Myra McEntire knows the words to every R and B hit of the last decade, but since she lives in the country music capital of America where her lyrical talents go sadly unappreciated, she chose to channel her mad word skills into creating sultry Southern timeslip novels.
 
But if you catch her at a signing, she can probably be convinced to rap with you anyway.
(From Myra’s Website)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

SBT12: News and Updates

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Southern Book Tour 2012


Hey, y’all!  I hope you have been enjoying the guest posts, reviews, and that you’ve entered the giveaways!  I have some amazing news to share! The Southern Book Tour originally began as a month long event, for April only.  But, due to the awesomeness of authors and bloggers,

I have had to extend the tour into MAY!

That’s awesome, right?  I’m so excited!  So, stick around for more exciting posts, awesome giveaways, and some interesting reviews!

Get to reading,
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Friday, April 13, 2012

SBT12: Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Southern Book Tour 2012


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Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Hardcover, First Edition, 313 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Dutton Books
ISBN: 0525478817 (ISBN13: 9780525478812)
(Goodreads)

Review:

If you saw my Tweet the morning after staying into the wee hours of the morning to finish reading The Fault in Our Stars, you know I hate John Green a little bit for writing this book.  Just a little.  He’s some kind of evil genius or something.  I have read books that are sad, but I can’t remember the last book I read that made actual tears form in my eye, that made my heart ache, that made me mourn with the characters for the lives they could have lived.  I HATE YOU JOHN GREEN!

My wife fan-girled all over this book, and even preordered it so she could be one the thousands that got signed copies.  She also said she thought I would enjoy reading it.  I’ve read other Green books with very little reaction to them more than, “heh, that was ok.”  So, begrudgingly I began TFiOS.  Adam at Hitting on Girls in Bookstores said in his review, that “[he’s] never had such an emotional response to a book before.” (see his review).  After seeing that, I was a little bit more optimistic.

Reading TFiOS was like stepping into a fantasy land, sort of.  It was a world most of us will not experience.  One that involves the daily chore of just living.  Cancer is wreaking havoc on Hazel Grace, and simple tasks are difficult for her.  I’m not going to give away too much, but this is such a plot driven book, that I just can’t tell you too much.  Somehow, Greene made me feel Hazel Grace’s pain, to become one with her emotions, to understand what' she’s going through.  But in the end, it  just all seemed so unfair!!!

I didn’t particularly like Augustus at first, but he quickly became my favorite character in the book.  His outlook on life, and even the metaphors he was so fond of finding in everything made him all the more endearing.  Life is hard, and he knows this, and even through it treats people with cancer normally.  There’s something refreshing about his character.

I cannot fathom what level of heartache Green must have experienced in writing this book.  I don’t want to.  My reaction to just reading was too great.

I think only an evil genius can create a fictional literary work (and make me want to read it) that impacted two teens in such an amazing way.  I agree with others, that Green needs to write An Imperial Affliction and publish it.  I would read it.  There was a little bit of mystery surrounding An Imperial Affliction.  And there were a few times that this mystery was what kept me plugging through.  I needed to know what they wanted to know, too!

This is not my best review ever written.  I’m still emotionally raw from reading TFiOS.  So, you’re just going to have to trust me, if you haven’t read this yet, you need to.

treetreetreetreetree
5 Trees: Hate John Green with me and read TFiOS!!

Get to reading,
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What makes this Southern?

John Green, according to Wikipedia, went to a boarding school in Birmingham, AL.  Also, he grew up in Orlando , FL.

About the author:

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John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. The film rights to Looking for Alaska were purchased by Paramount in 2005. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller. He also coauthored a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
 
In 2007, John and his brother Hank were the hosts of a popular internet blog, "Brotherhood 2.0," where they discussed their lives, books and current events every day for a year except for weekends and holidays. They still keep a video blog, now called "The Vlog Brothers," which can be found on the Nerdfighters website.
(Goodreads)