Possession Series by Elana Johnson Scavenger Hunt!

 photo Elanas-Button1_zpscc8012ab.gif Welcome to the Possession series scavenger hunt! We’re celebrating the release of the third and final book, ABANDON, in the series. You can find out the details of the series scavenger hunt on Elana’s blog. Elana has given us a short excerpt today from Abandon. This is Zenn and you’ll be able to find the city clue in the excerpt. Once you know the city, you can ENTER TO WIN a prize package of signed paperbacks, as well as a $50 Amazon gift card.

Not only that, but there is a series swag package up for grabs every day during the scavenger hunt, which runs until June 14. Be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, onto the excerpt!


Abandon Excerpt June 8

To continue the hunt today, go to My Reading Room. If you get lost, you can always go back to Elana’s blog and click through to the right links.

Happy hunting!

As a bonus, S&S will be lowering the price on the ebook of POSSESSION from June 4 – 11! Grab it for $3.99 while you can!

Interview with Shannon Stoker, Author of The Registry

Please give Shannon Stoker a warm welcome to the virtual offices.  She dropped by this morning to chat about The Registry.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Shannon Stoker] A happy author/researcher who tends to fall in love with something and stick with it. I love writing, reading, the Northern Illinois University Huskies, my family, and my little dog. I’m OBSESSED with the color pink and cupcakes. I also collect Care Bears and their memorabilia. If I ever feel down I put on something pink, hug a Care Bear and eat a cupcake.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Registry?

[Shannon Stoker] The Registry is about a futuristic America where young girls are sold into marriage through an online system. Mia has been picked up by a younger, handsome groom only problem is he is awful. She decides to escape the system with her best friend Whitney and the reluctant Andrew, a farm hand who works for Mia’s father. The three try to make it out of the country without being picked up by federal agents or Mia’s intended. I hope that readers find it an entertaining way to escape into another world for a few hours.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Shannon Stoker] One of my friends refuses to join facebook. She says facebook is evil. I think facebook is far from evil and I really enjoy connecting with my friends and family. In my mind I was kind of like “I’ll show her an evil facebook” and that is how the Registry started.

For the characters I wanted Mia to come off as real. She makes a lot of mistakes and some of them are stupid, but nobody has ever made the right choice every time. Andrew on the other hand is patient and kind with a hard exterior. He is a bit of my “dream boy” so a lot of his qualities are just what make me swoon. Grant is my favorite. I had such a good time writing his scenes. He is pure evil and someone once said true evil is unexplained. I think I tried to weave that in a bit. He’s an enigma, but I hope readers still get a kick out of him. Sometimes I think about doing a novella just on Grant because I like writing him so much!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Mia?

[Shannon Stoker] Impulsive, Intuitive, and Stubborn

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Mia had a theme song, what would it be?

[Shannon Stoker] Around the World by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Mia is never without.

[Shannon Stoker] A mirror. At first it’s so she can look at herself, but by the end it’s in case she needs to start a fire or send a signal.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Mia’s pockets?

[Shannon Stoker] Keys (she’d forget them)

A hair tie

Her hands

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Mia’s greatest regret?

[Shannon Stoker] Not being more patient. Sometimes circumstances forced her into action, but there are moments where if she could have waited a bit longer she would have gotten what she wanted.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Shannon Stoker] My friends, family, and coworkers. I steal a lot of what they say or stories they tell. I have also been known to frequently borrow their names.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Shannon Stoker] Fuzzy socks (I frequently write in my basement and it gets cold!), Tea, and my dog. He always gives his honest opinion and is willing to lend an ear when I get stuck on something.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Shannon Stoker] The Elite by Kiera Cass was fantastic. I always judge a book by how angry I am when it ends. I wanted to keep reading!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Shannon Stoker] I’ve been a huge reader all my life, my parents said I used to throw books at them and scream read before I could even walk. This resulted in bruises on their legs from the corners of little golden books. I make no apologies. The first book I remember reading over and over again was Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz. That led to the Fear Street books which were pretty easy to pick up at any garage sale in the mid 90s. Those were my pleasure reads for sure.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Shannon Stoker] I am a television junkie, I watch pretty much anything. I just finished Hemlock Grove and I loved it! My other favorites are Supernatural, Game of Thrones, Dexter, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Sherlock, Elementary, Law and Order SVU, Criminal Minds, Modern Family, Suburgatory (and the list goes on and on)

I’ve also been accused of “motherboying” my dog. Nucky is a nine pound terrier mix. He is my little angel and I spend as much time with him as possible. I love dressing him up and he gets so excited when I pull out his little sweaters, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Shannon Stoker] They can follow me on twitter @ShannonRStoker

Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorShannonStoker

Or look me up on Goodreads.

I’d love to hear from everyone!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase The Registry by clicking the links below:

About the book:

The Registry saved the country from collapse. But stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained by the state to fight to their death.

Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year. But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous thoughts. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.

All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.

Interview with Jordan Link, Author of The Sacrificed and Giveaway!

Please give Jordan Link a warm welcome! She’s visiting the virtual offices to chat about her new book, The Sacrificed.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jordan Link] I’m a sophomore in the tenth grade, and am currently contracted with Entranced Publishing for my novel, The Sacrificed, which is due to be released as an E-book on May 6th, 2013. A few months before I was whisked away into long hours of editing, I became the first place winner of the Jack L. Chalker Young Writers’ Contest in 2012 for my short story "The Bubble". I was accepted soon after into the Oh, the Stories They Tell! anthology for my short story "Demon Slayer."

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Sacrificed

[Jordan Link] The Sacrificed is a young adult dystopian fantasy novel. It follows 16- year-old Emerald Hayden as she struggles to survive in the City of Centsia. There are two classes in the city: the winged, and the walkers. For a long time, it seems that the division between the two can never be breached, until Emerald meets Dusk, a winged who is undoubtedly different from the rest.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jordan Link] The concept was really a spur of the moment decision. Often times, for short stories, I brainstorm dystopian plots. The two questions I ask are what type of division is there, and how can that division be penetrated?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Emerald?

[Jordan Link] Persisting, enduring, and rebellious.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Dusk had a theme song, what would it be?

[Jordan Link] That’s a hard question. I’d have to choose Maroon 5 – Runaway. It would work for both Emerald and Dusk, actually.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Emerald is never without.

[Jordan Link] Persistence: throughout her whole ordeal, and despite the many obstacles that threaten her goal, she never loses sight of what she wants.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Dusk’s pockets?

[Jordan Link] You would never find any photographs or trinkets of or from the walkers, including Emerald. In fact, Dusk has to dissociate himself from the lower level completely to keep Emerald safe. But since that answer is rather vague, I’ll list three things that you would always find: a few slices of bread, a note for Emerald or a piece of blank parchment paper, and a small tin of ingredients. You’ll have to read the novel to find out what’s inside!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Emerald’s greatest regret?

[Jordan Link] Emerald has little to regret, but her misunderstanding of the winged is definitely her greatest. For years, she scrounged for food in the winding streets of Centsia, cursing the winged, not knowing what else to think of them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jordan Link] My greatest creative influences are other young authors; people who have struggled or are struggling to get published and who, hopefully, see their dreams fulfilled.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jordan Link] I need a writer’s state of mind, a laptop, and a glass of something delicious.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jordan Link] The last book that I read that truly knocked my socks off was The Selection by Kiera Cass. It wasn’t because of the quality of the writing, or the creativity of the plot. It was very relatable and incredibly hard to put down.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Jordan Link] That would be The Naming by Alison Croggon. The descriptions and details in the book are abundant and dark. While reading it, I truly felt like I was there, in a world filled with the terror and beauty. And to think that someone could create that with words—that was what turned me on to reading.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jordan Link] I love to log in to fantasy roleplaying games, and to flip through the pages of a good book. And when I’m not indulged in those, I’m at a friend’s house, or wandering through the streets of Old Ellicott City.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Jordan Link] Readers can connect with me by liking The Sacrificed’s Facebook page, by reading my blog, or by following me on Twitter at JordanLink3.

Thanks for the interview!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase links coming soon!

About the book:

Emerald Hayden lives in the City of Centsia, a half-winged among the other walkers. She has no family, friends, or food: only a grim future filled with tiresome labor in the upper level’s factories. But everything changes when she meets Dusk, a winged from the place that she previously scorned. He opens her eyes to a new possibility: the possibility of the unity of winged and walkers, of freedom, and of love. Together, they decide to challenge the upper level’s supreme, winged council. But when a friend betrays them, they must choose whether to sacrifice their beliefs and save their own lives, or to remain along the thin line that divides the city in two. Success could mean liberty; failure, death

Book Trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WLLg5o7DY0

Buy Links:

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1046612598?ean=2940016756509

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacrificed-ebook/dp/B00CNGDNAI/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367776017&sr=1-3&keywords=jordan+link

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Sacrificed/book-tYFtmdDLUECLOQUsZghL-A/page1.html?s=Sz8W4PbBMkWKtBl3_hXMFQ&r=1

About the Author:

Jordan Link is currently contracted with Entranced Publishing for her novel "The Sacrificed", which will be released on May 6, 2013. She won first place in Jack L. Chalker’s Young Writers Contest of 2012 for her short story “The Bubble”, and attended Balticon 46 last year. She earned an honorable mention on December 3rd for the Young Voices Foundation Short Story Contest and will be published in their anthology "Oh, the Stories They Tell!" which will be available on Amazon. Her early love of reading inspired an equivalent passion towards writing, and she plans to continue doing so.

Author Links:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheSacrificedNovel?ref=hl

Author Blog: http://jordanlinkwriting.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6965780.Jordan_Link

Twitter: @JordanLink3

Giveaway Code:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt:

Slowly, ever so slowly, she dropped to her knees and peered around the corner.

There was a winged boy standing there, muttering something to a few walkers. It was impossible to distinguish the color of his eyes, or even his expression from her sheltered position, but his features were still rather shocking. His hair was a creamy white, a pigment that Emerald had only ever seen on the heads of other winged. His skin was pasty and faded. She wondered between pounding heartbeats how the winged remained so pale when they spent so many days in the sky above Centsia, arcing near the curve of the sun and circling back around again as they went to and from their duties. The boy’s wings, however, were by far his most striking feature. The feathers seemed to form intricate pictures as they fluttered in the midnight breeze. Emerald continued to stare as the boy withdrew something from his pocket.

It was bread.

Review: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

 

Title:  Maggot Moon

Author:  Sally Gardner

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

In Sally Gardner’s stunning novel, set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing. What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the "train-track thinkers." So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big…One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.


Review:

Wow!  I was stunned and breathless when I reached the last page of Maggot Moon. I should have picked up from the book’s title that things are not happy in Standish’s world, but whoa, I wasn’t expecting something quite it dark.  Standish’s voice is compelling and haunting; here is one young boy who has seen too many things that he shouldn’t have.  Poverty, repression, violence against himself, his family , and others.  Standish’s world is dark and disturbing, and not a place that I ever want to witness first hand.

Standish is dyslexic, which on it’s own is enough to make him a social outcast.  To make his life even more difficult, he has different colored eyes as well.  In his oppressive society, he should have been sent away, to a school for those with impurities, or worse, to be maggot meat.  Instead, his parents enroll him in the school where they work.  Because he is different, he is mercilessly bullied, which only gets worse after his parents are vanish.  Alone with his grandfather, Standish just tries to keep his head down and not draw any more unwanted attention to himself.  Being at the bottom of the social ladder, that’s not really too tough.  It’s only after Hector and his family move in next door that Standish’s world is tilted on its axis.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, so I’m trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum.   This is a fast-paced read, with explosive bursts of violence and action.  Standish is passive and takes his beatings without much of a fuss, until after Hector and his family are also taken away.  Then he’s had enough and all he wants to do is save his best friend.  When he learns that the government is pulling the biggest history in the history of hoaxes, and that if they succeed they will be an indisputable world power, he is determined to do something about it.  I loved this about Standish.  He realizes that he is David to a powerful, corrupt, and deadly Goliath, but he doesn’t care anymore.  He is going to find way to throw his stone and topple the monster that threatens the entire world.

A word of caution; while I loved this book, it might be too intense for younger readers.  Maggot Moon is a bleak story, with a bleak ending. Despite the affection and support from his Gramps, Standish’s life hadn’t exactly been a happy one.  Everyone he knows and cares about has either been taken away by the government or is in immediate, mortal danger.  It’s scary.  It’s overwhelming.  And at times, it will leave you just as numb as Standish has become to all of the brutality around him.   I wondered where Standish kept finding the courage to keep going on. This book was impossible to put down, and  I gobbled it up on a Sunday afternoon.  Standish’s voice will be with me for a long time to come.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Cover Shot! The Registry by Shannon Stoker

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

The cover of The Registry doesn’t really stand out much for me, and I think it’s very similar to the cover of Kimberly Derting’s The Pledge, but the premise hooked! 

In stores June 2013

 

The Registry saved the country from collapse. But stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained by the state to fight to their death.

Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year. But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous thoughts. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.

All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.

Interview with Paula Altenburg, Author of The Demon’s Daughter and Giveaway!

Please welcome Paula Altenburg to the virtual offices today.  Paula dropped by to chat about her new release The Demon’s Daughter, and she brought along a digital copy for one of you to win!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Paula Altenburg] Easy! I’m an obsessive/compulsive couch potato with (remote) control issues.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Demon’s Daughter?

[Paula Altenburg] The Demon’s Daughter is a dystopian demon western, set on Earth in the not-too-distant future. The story theme involves prejudice, and it’s about a young woman’s search for a place to belong in a harsh world that doesn’t welcome her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Paula Altenburg] I always come up with the characters first. Hunter and Airie’s first meeting was the first scene I had in my head. I wanted Hunter to be a bounty hunter at first, which is how he got his name, and I really saw him in a western/desert setting. He morphed into a demon slayer. Airie started out as a half demon bandit. I’d meant for her to be more of an outlaw, but as she grew, it was obvious her personality was much more innocent and gentle. She has quite the temper though, and Hunter finds that out the hard way. The story world grew up around the two of them with a little prompting from my editors. I’m all about the characters and have a little trouble remembering that the reader doesn’t “see” my setting if I don’t put it into words.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Airie?

[Paula Altenburg] Innocent, kind, and passionate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Hunter had a theme song, what would it be?

[Paula Altenburg] We Will Rock You by Queen.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Airie is never without.

[Paula Altenburg] Fire. It’s a significant part of who she is, kind of like breathing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Hunter’s pockets?

[Paula Altenburg] That’s a great question! Hmm. 1) Pretty stones, or anything someone else might pick up out of curiosity and want to save. He’s not a collector. 2) Bullets. He’s not much into guns either. 3) Hair ribbons. That seems like it should go without saying, but the guy has seven sisters so it’s not too much of a stretch. He hasn’t seen them in years, but he still really loves them and thinks of them often.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Airie’s greatest regret?

[Paula Altenburg] Airie never got to say goodbye to the priestess mother who raised her. That bothers her because rituals that should have been carried out had to be abandoned, and her mother was left without a proper burial.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Paula Altenburg] It doesn’t take much to get me going. My imagination’s pretty active. I’m big into “What if” scenarios, but I’m an abstract thinker and not visual at all. At some point I’d like to write a story that’s kicked off by Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” though. A song, an image, or a movie can all inspire me, but it’s usually an emotional reaction to one specific thing about them. In Hallelujah, it’s the line “He saw her bathing on a roof.” From there, an entire storyline jumps into my head.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Paula Altenburg] Quiet, coffee, and an idea. If I don’t have my scene in my head, my day is ruined.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Paula Altenburg]  I only read books that knock my socks off. Life is too short to read anything else. I will totally toss one aside if I’m not wowed by it because there are plenty more out there waiting to amaze me. Having said that, I have a bit of a love affair going with George RR Martin and his Game of Thrones series. He’s an author who does everything well.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Paula Altenburg] I was reading before I started school, so I’m not really sure what got me started. Johanna Spyri’s Heidi sticks in my mind. So does Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. My mother tells me I read the original versions. She’s a former English teacher and alternates between horror and fascination at my reading choices. As long as the writing’s good, I’m okay with it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Paula Altenburg] I’m a reader. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. Next up comes watching movies. I also like to run. I enjoy traveling too, but overall, I’m quite boring. (Notice that travel placed last on that list?) My husband’s European and we go often, but I’ll take my Kindle and sit on someone’s couch while he visits with family. His sister and I went to Paris and Brussels together a few years ago and visited every museum and art gallery we could find because we both love history. I talked her into taking a tour of the sewers in Paris and she hasn’t forgiven me yet.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Paula Altenburg] Through my website at www.paulaaltenburg.com, on Facebook, and Twitter @Paula Altenburg. I swear I will friend and follow, and respond to all e-mails!

Thanks for having me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Giveaway Time!!

You can win a digital copy of The Demon Hunter’s Daughter by filling out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. Open Internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can order The Demon’s Daughter from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

 

About the book:

Hunter is the only man capable of killing the demons that left the world in ruins. But when he’s hired by a notorious priestess to bring a thief to justice, the Demon Slayer gets more than he bargains for.

Airie was raised in an abandoned temple as a priestess’s daughter, having no idea of her true origins. In a time when any half-breed spawn of a demon is despised by mortal and immortal alike, not knowing the truth is the only thing keeping her safe.

Forced to flee her home in the wake of disaster and discovery of who she is, Airie must place her trust in a man who believes she should never have been born. And when a demon uprising threatens lives he has sworn to protect, Hunter has to make a choice: abandon Airie to an uncertain fate, or overcome his own personal demons and love her for who she truly is.

Interview with Sherri L Smith, Author of Orleans

Please welcome Sherri L Smith to the virtual offices today!  Sherri is the author of the recently released ORLEANS, as well as Flygirl.  She very graciously agreed to chat about her books and let us get to know her better.  Check out what she has to say!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Sherri L Smith] I am a writer who likes to eat chocolate chip cookies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Orleans?

[Sherri L Smith] ORLEANS is set in a not-to-distant future in the former city of New Orleans.  After a series of man-made and natural disasters give rise to the deadly Delta Fever, the U.S. Government builds a quarantine wall from Florida to Texas and abandons the region to its fate.  In old New Orleans, now called Orleans, the survivors have gone tribal.  The story follows Fen, a sixteen-year-old girl in this world, as she tries to save the life of a new born baby.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sherri L Smith ] My mom was a New Orleans native and Katrina survivor.  The initial idea for the story came from my experience in getting my mother out of New Orleans after the storm.  Fen popped into my head one day and just started talking.  I left myself a voicemail with her words, and went from there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Fen?

[Sherri L Smith] Strong, loyal, fierce.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Daniel is never without.

[Sherri L Smith] His datalink, even when it can no longer help him.  How many of us carry around cell phones long after the batteries have died?  It’s like a security blanket.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Fen’s pockets?

[Sherri L Smith ]Paper money, lipstick, cell phone.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Fen’s greatest regret?

[Sherri L Smith] Not being able to save her tribal leader, Lydia.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Sherri L Smith] Other books, my dreams, people’s personal stories.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Sherri L Smith] A computer or notebook and pen, a cup of tea, a snack.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Sherri L Smith] Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made by Alan Eisenstock, Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos.  I went to film school with Eric, but it wasn’t until years later that I found out he and his best friend from childhood had spent a decade of their lives remaking “Raiders of the Lost Ark” shot for shot.  They started at the tender ages of 11 and 10.  This book tells the story of that adventure.  It’s incredible, honest, and very funny.  I’ve seen the movie—it will make you cheer.  So will the book.  The “how will they do that?!” factor is insane.  (how do 10-year-olds make a giant rolling boulder?)  What surprised me the most was the wraparound story.  Eric and Chris are from Ocean Spring, Mississippi.  The book starts in the aftermath of Katrina.  It really struck home for me, seeing the destruction and then traveling into their childhood to learn exactly what these ruined houses once were, and how they formed the foundations of their lives. That was an unexpected angle that brings such bittersweet depth to an otherwise raucous romp.  Well, there’s more heart strings being pulled than that.  Suffice it to say, it was wonderful.  Definitely check it out.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Sherri L Smith] Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White.  I read it over 100 times as a kid.  I know I read little books before that, but Wilbur and Charlotte are burned into my memory as true friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sherri L Smith] When I’m not writing, I like to read.  A lot.  And I love to travel.  I like to cook.  I bake a lot of cookies.  Oh, and let’s not forget sleep.  I love that.  To sleep, perchance to dream! 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sherri L Smith] You can find me through my website, www.sherrilsmith.com and my blog, The Middle Hundred (www.middlehundred.blogspot.com).  I’m also on Twitter, @sherri_l_smith, and there’s a Facebook page where updates are posted.  But don’t try to contact me through Facebook.  I’m generally too busy writing to check it.  I do respond to email if I can.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Sherri L Smith] Thank you, Julie!  It was fun.

You can purchase ORLEANS or any of Sherri’s other novels from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.

After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.
Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.
Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page

Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

 

 

Title:  What’s Left of Me

Author: Kat Zhang

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

I should not exist. But I do.

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t. . . .

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable—hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet . . . for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.


Review:

Wow, wow, wow!  This is one of the most original YA books I’ve read in a long time.  The narrative is tense and compelling, and the setting, which is revealed in small, teasing snippets, is thought-provoking.  I admit that when I first picked this up, I was skeptical about it holding my interest.  Eva, the narrator, is the less dominate soul, and she shares her body with Addie.  Addie has complete control of their body, and Eva, at first, just seems to be along for the ride.  As they make two new friends, however, Eva is given the hope that someday she might have some control back over the limbs and voice she shares with Addie.  Once the government discovers that Eva still exists, however, she and Addie are imprisoned in a medical facility where the evil Mr Conivent promises their parents that Addie will be “cured.”  Using their ill brother’s medical treatments as the bait to take custody of the girls, Eva and Addie discover a sinister plot to cut one of the forbidden souls from the hybrids the scientists are experimenting on. 

Addie and Eva are deviants in their society.  Everyone is born with two souls, and by the age of ten, most of the lesser souls have “settled,” leaving only the dominant soul behind.  Eva and Addie never settled, but after being shuttled from doctor to doctor, they have learned to keep Eva’s continued existence at secret.  They pretend that they have settled because they realize how important it is to be considered “normal.”  They are tired of doctors, tests, and examinations, and they are afraid of what will happen if it’s discovered that Eva’s soul still very much entwined with Addie’s.

When Addie and Eva form an uneasy friendship with Hally, their secret is exposed, and they are confined to Nornand, a government institution.  They discover the terrible truth about the fate of the children who they have been told have gone home.  With their lives on the line, they desperately seek a way to escape the institution.

I liked both Addie and Eva.  They are scared to death, but they take frightening risks to find a way to freedom, not just for themselves, but for all of the hybrids at Nornand.  In order to learn more about what’s going on, they do some things that had my heart pounding.  Sneaking around and learning the secrets of Nornand, when it’s obvious that the doctors and nurses, and later, the review board, don’t care about their health, safety, or well-being, had me on the edge of my seat.  I hated having to put the book down to go to work!

I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t want to give away any spoilers.  I loved the main protagonists and the the secondary characters, and I completely bought into the plot.  I found What’s Left of Me to be a suspenseful, exciting read.  This book lived up to, and even exceeded, all of my expectations.  I enjoyed the time I spent with Addie, Eva, Hally, and Devon, and hope to spend more time with them in the future.

Grade: B+/A-

Review copy obtained from my local library