Review: Solstice by P J Hoover

 

Title:  Solstice

Author: P J Hoover

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Piper’s world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles which threaten to destroy the Earth. Amid this Global Heating Crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom.

Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth—her very identity….


Review:

When I discovered that Solstice was a post-apocalyptic novel with Greek gods, I was all over it.  I love mythology, and the thought of Greek gods meddling with human affairs during an environmental disaster sounded so cool,  I couldn’t wait to sit down with this book.  Ultimately, though, I was disappointed for one main reason -  I didn’t like the love triangle, and found it trying, to say the least.  Technically I guess it wasn’t even a love triangle, because Reese uses magic to get Piper to love him, so she’s basically a mindless love zombie whenever he’s around.  His scent enchants her, making her believe he’s the sweetest boyfriend in town, which is quite a feat considering that he’s a god of war.  Though I guess if you can fall for a god of the dead, you can certainly fall for a guy who lives for conflict, warfare, and bloodshed.

Piper is a high school student in Austen, amid the Global Heating Crisis.  Temperatures are far beyond the red zone, rain is rare, and deadly heat bubbles threaten to kill thousands.   Raised by her overprotective mother, Piper yearns for her 18th birthday so she can get out from under her mom’s suffocating control.  Homeschooled until recently, they have spent her entire life moving from town to town, hiding from her father, a terrorist.  Her mom refuses to tell her anything more about her father, and she seems to be terrified of him, so Piper doesn’t push the issue.  Much.  When handsome Shayne enrolls in her school, Piper discovers that everything she has believed about herself is a lie, and that her mother has never been honest with her. 

While I loved the premise of Solstice, I didn’t care for the execution.  Most of the major characters knew the truth behind Piper’s background, and none of them would clue her in.  I know, I know, Shayne was bound by a curse to not tell her or they would be condemned to the worst pit of Hell, but still. Every time it came up, it seemed like he was saying Neener, neener, I know what’s going on and you don’t, AKA, I can’t tell you the truth because it’s too dangerous.  Really?  Shayne is a Greek god, for cripes sake, surely he could come up with some clever way to clue her in without breaking the rules of the curse.  Instead, off Piper goes, into mortal danger, to find the answers for herself. 

The other sticky point for me was Reece.  He’s an evil guy, and for the most part, he doesn’t even try to pretend to be nice.  He knows what’s going on, and since it’s in his best interest to keep Piper ignorant of her past, he obviously does his best to keep her that way.  When she repeatedly resists the spell he casts over her to make her love him, he resorts to violence and attempted rape instead.  Ick – not a favorite plot device, so your mileage will vary here.

As far as my feelings for Piper, I liked her a lot.  She wasn’t content to just sit around and be a brainless puppet like everyone expected.  When she wasn’t getting any answers from the people who supposedly loved her, she was taking the bull by the horns and trying to find the answers herself.  This, of course, put her in terrible danger, which gave Shayne the opportunity to prove how brave he was by saving her. And still not telling her the truth. Ugh.

While I found Solstice to be a mixed bag, the beginning and the end made it hard to put the book down.  It’s the relationships that I didn’t care for, but if manipulative relationships don’t bother you, you should enjoy this book more than I did.

Grade:  C+/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

 

Title: The Testing

Author:  Joelle Charbonneau

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust


Review:

When I first started reading The Testing back in April, I just couldn’t engage with the plot.  I set it aside, thinking that I just wasn’t in the mood for a dystopian adventure.  After a few months, I picked it back up, and I’m glad that I did.  Though the book is very reminiscent of Matched and The Hunger Games, I found it an engaging read in its own right – it just took me a while to figure that out.

Cia Vale has been accepted for Testing, and if she passes, she’ll be attending classes at the University.  This is a dream come true for her, and she has worked hard her entire life to earn a chance to go to the University.  She is bewildered and hurt when her father tells her she shouldn’t have been chosen, and she doesn’t believe him when he implies that there is something more sinister than just academic testing going on in the capital, Tosu City.  He tells her that he and her old teacher worked hard to ensure that none of the students from their small colony were accepted for The Testing.   Though his memories have been wiped of his own Testing experiences, he is plagued by nightmares of the ordeal, and he never wanted his children to suffer through the Test.  Cia dismisses his warnings at first, but as she begins her journey to Tosu City, things don’t add up, and she begins to believe her father is correct.  She soon realizes that his advice is something that she can no longer ignore.  Trust no one.

There are a few things about YA dystopian novels that I have a hard time buying into, and I think it’s because I have read so many now.  The first being – what is wrong with all of these adults?  The leaders of these bleak societies think nothing of their children murdering each other to get ahead in life.  Really?  The United Commonwealth has suffered the loss of countless citizens during a horrific period of war and environmental catastrophe, and they are willing to weed out the most cunning and brutal young adults to become the next leaders of the government?  Isn’t this part of the reason that the planet was inches away from total destruction?  There are 108 students in Cia’s Testing class.  108!  Only 20 will be allowed entrance to the University.  While we don’t know for certain what happens to the students who survive all four stages of the Test, but aren’t chosen for the Univesity, we do know what countless numbers of them were killed or murdered during the Tests.  It’s to the point now that I have to be in the correct frame of mind to enjoy stories that revolve around kids being victimized like this.  At least in The Hunger Games the brutality against most of the populace had a purpose, and that was to keep the downtrodden so frightened they would never rebel again.  In The Testing, the candidates who survive have their memories of the Tests wiped, so I’m confused about WHY all of these adults sit idly by while their charges slaughter each other.  These are the brightest and the best that their society has to offer.  I hope it’s explained in the next book, because that was the major stumbling point that kept me from completely enjoying this story.

What’s the second thing that drives me nuts? They talk about food. A lot.  More than I do, and I am a big foodie.  Reading these survival type stories makes me hungry. Except for the possum. Not so sure I would ever want to eat that.

I did love the in your face narrative.  Cia thinks, at first, that it’s a huge honor to vie for a place in the University.   She wants to help revitalize the country, which has been decimated by warfare.  Like the humans, all life in the Commonwealth teetered on the brink of extinction.  Water sources have been polluted and rendered undrinkable, animals have been mutated into scary monsters, and plant life struggled to survive in the poisoned ground.  Cia’s dedication to assisting with the healing of the land is one of her defining characteristics, and it’s an easy one to like.  It keeps her going, even when everything else has become a nightmare for her.  She also resists acting like an animal during the final, deadly stage of The Test.  She was raised to see the value in all life, and she has a hard time killing anything.  To give her a personal challenge, she is constantly threatened with death, so she must re-evaluate her personal ethics.  I loved this about the story, too.  Even though she is good and just, she doesn’t hesitate to defend herself or her friends.  She doesn’t sit around and wait for some guy to save her, either.  Most of the time, she is the one doing the saving.  I thought that Cia kicked butt, and I am curious to see what happens in the next book, when she is in, presumably, less harrowing  surroundings.

With interesting world-building and a heroine who is not afraid to take charge and control of her own destiny, The Testing is a hard book to put down.  I thought that the pacing of the 2nd half of the book was  much better than the first, and read most of it in one sitting.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book!

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Waiting on Wednesday–Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I’m waiting to read Through the Ever Night until Into the Still Blue, the last book in Veronica Rossi’ trilogy is released in January 2014.  Can hardly wait!

Cover image from Goodreads.

 

 

Not available yet

 

What are you waiting on?

Interview with Demitria Lunetta, Author of In The After

Please give a warm welcome to Demitria Lunetta,  She’s visiting the virtual offices to chat about her newly released In The After. 

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

[Demitria Lunetta] I love books, esp. sci-fi & fantasy. I also love chocolate, traveling & big, slobbery dogs. I have 0 survival skills, unlike my characters.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] They hear the most silent of footsteps.

They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.

And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Those three chilling sentences describe the horrific world in which my MC, Amy has to now live. IN THE AFTER isn’t just a horror book, it’s also a book about adapting. It’s about humanity and human nature. It’s about survival.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] I love horror books & movies, especially those that feature scary creatures. Most of these creatures stick to the shadows and use night as a cover…and I thought about taking these norms and flipping them. These creatures (referred to as They) are ravenous, flesh-eating monsters, but they have poor eyesight, making them more active during the day when it’s light out. They also hunt by sound. This means that my MC, Amy, lives in a world of silent darkness. She only goes out at night, making the usual world of frightening shadows her comfort zone. The day becomes a time of terror, when They own the world.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] Survivor. Smart. Determined.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] I think the theme song for IN THE AFTER would be the Marilyn Manson remake of Sweet Dreams. Sweet Dreams makes you feel out of place, in a horrifying dream world that you don’t really understand. It’s perfect for Amy’s first experience of the After, when normality is shattered and all she’s left with is the horror that remains.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] A way to distract the creatures, whether it’s a can of food to throw, a bag rigged with a remote activated car alarm, or simply some poppers she can set off to create a diversion.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] Tic-tacs…they’re way too noisy. ? She wouldn’t carry a flashlight, since the creatures are attracted to the light. She also wouldn’t have money…it would be completely useless in the post-apocalyptic world of the After.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] Amy’s biggest regret is how she took Before for granted. She often thinks of the times she acted out or when she was a brat to her parents, particularly her father. Her regret is mixed up with her longing for the past, remembering the bad with the good.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] There are so many! I love anything YA or anything Sci-fi or Fantasy…and combine them both and I’m done. I used, and as an adult I love THE ABHORSEN TRILOGY by Garth Nix, and the BARTEMAES BOOKS by Jonathan Stroud. I’m always excited for new books and I’ll read anything sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, historical fiction, or anything that’s just plain good!

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

[Demitria Lunetta] The only thing I really need is my laptop and a glass of water…I drink a lot of water and always keep a full glass nearby while I’m writing so I can chug while I’m thinking. Other than that I do like to have a snack handy, something full of sugar like cookies or Twizzlers. Not exactly healthy, but sometimes the sugar rush helps me write!

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

[Demitria Lunetta] This is a tough one, because I read so much and love so much of what I read. Besides sci-fi I also read a lot of historical fiction and IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters really got to me. It’s scary and poignant and just a great story.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] I used to read THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA compulsively as a child. C.S. Lewis’ fantastic creativity inspired me to write.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] Walking my very large slobbery German Shepard. I’m also a movie addict and try to go to as many movies as possible.

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

[Demitria Lunetta] I’m all over social media…here are some links!

Blog: http://demitrialunetta.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @DemitriaLunetta https://twitter.com/DemitriaLunetta
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DemitriaLunettaAuthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12157407-in-the-after
Epic Reads: http://www.epicreads.com/books/in-the-after/9780062105455/

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Purchase link:

About the book:

They hear the most silent of footsteps.

They are faster than anything you’ve ever seen.

And They won’t stop chasing you…until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

Interview with P. J. Hoover, Author of Solstice

Please welcome P. J. Hoover to the virtual offices today! P. J. is here to chat about her debut novel Solstice.  Check out what she has to say.

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

[P. J. Hoover] MG/YA SFF author. Prior Electrical Engineer. Solves the Rubik’s Cube. Practices Kung Fu. Plays Wizard101. SOLSTICE (Tor 2013) & TUT (Tor 2014)

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

[P. J. Hoover] Sure! It’s a YA dystopian/mythology novel aimed at fans of Hunger Games and Percy Jackson. Solstice is set in Austin, in the future, when Global Warming is destroying the earth. It’s about this girl, Piper, who on her 18th birthday opens a mysterious present and all of a sudden this crazy world of mythology starts to explode around her. Her best friend almost dies, Piper has to travel to the Underworld to save her, and there are Greek gods.

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

[P. J. Hoover] I’ve always been a huge mythology buff, so I knew I wanted to do something with Greek mythology. The Persephone/Hades story was one of my favorites, but rather than writing a retelling, I wanted to do more of a “what happens after the myth” take on things. And so Solstice was born.

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

[P. J. Hoover] Rebellious, Overprotected, and Passionate

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

[P. J. Hoover] It’s the End of the World as We Know It – R.E.M.

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

[P. J. Hoover] Curiosity

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

[P. J. Hoover] Dead flowers, a heater, wool socks

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

[P. J. Hoover] Randy Conner’s death

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

[P. J. Hoover] J. R. R. Tolkien, Joseph Campbell, and Homer

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

[P. J. Hoover] Silence from my kids’ chatter, a computer, motivation

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

[P. J. Hoover] I just finished The Madman’s Daughter and loved the story, the characters, and the basis for the novel. I am totally going to watch the Dr. Moreau movie now to compare them.

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

[P. J. Hoover] The Cave of Time (a Choose your Own Adventure Book from my book fair back in elementary school)

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

[P. J. Hoover] Hang with my family, practice Kung Fu, play Wizard101, and spend time with friends

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

[P. J. Hoover] Thanks for asking! Readers can connect to me through the below places!

Website: http://www.pjhoover.com

Blog: http://pjhoover.blogspot.com

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorPJHoover

Facebook Personal Page: https://www.facebook.com/pj.hoover1

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pj_hoover

Intagram: http://instagram.com/pj_hoover

Tumblr: http://pjhoover.tumblr.com

Email: http://www.pjhoover.com/contact.php

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

About the author:

P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing kung fu, solving Rubik’s cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice (Tor Teen, June 18, 2013), takes place in a global warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade novel, Tut (Tor Children’s, 2014), tells the story of a young immortal King Tut, who’s been stuck in middle school for over 3,000 years and must defeat an ancient enemy with the help of a dorky kid from school, a mysterious Egyptian princess, and a one-eyed cat. For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website www.pjhoover.com.

Purchase link:

About the book:

Piper’s world is dying.

Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles that threaten to destroy the earth. Amid this global heating crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom.

Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth.

An imaginative melding of mythology and dystopia, Solstice is the first YA novel by talented newcomer P. J. Hoover.

Interview with Polly Holyoke, Author of The Neptune Project and Giveaway!

Please welcome Polly Holyoke to the virtual offices today! Polly is here to chat about her book, The Neptune Project, and afterwards, she has a signed copy and swag to give to one of you!

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

[Polly Holyoke] I’m a short, cheerful, energetic writer/reader/mom with a great imagination and a good sense of humor. I’m also an excellent teacher and a terrible cook.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about THE NEPTUNE PROJECT?

[Polly Holyoke] THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is set in a future where global warming is out of control. As people fight over scarce resources like food and water, a group of desperate scientists genetically alter their own children to live in the sea. Nere Hanson, a shy dolphin trainer, suddenly finds she has to give up her entire future on land and lead her companions on a dangerous journey to her father’s undersea colony.

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

[Polly Holyoke] I’ve always thought that if we mess up the land of our planet too much, we might be forced to live in the sea someday. THE NEPTUNE PROJECT grew out of that basic premise. What would it be like for a group of teens to suddenly give up everything they know to live in beneath the waves?

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

[Polly Holyoke] Shy, brave, determined

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

[Polly Holyoke] Her dolphin family.

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

[Polly Holyoke] Well, since she lives in the sea… matches, paper and a cell phone!

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

[Polly Holyoke] That her mother died before Nere could tell Gillian that she did forgive her for putting her through the Neptune transformation.

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

[Polly Holyoke] I think the fantasy authors I read as a kid still influence me today. I loved books like Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series and THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA which transported me to other worlds, worlds that were so vividly described that I almost believed they existed.

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

[Polly Holyoke] Quiet, my computer and a good cup of tea (with lots of milk and sugar, thank you very much!) I usually have a couple of cats supervising me, too.

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

[Polly Holyoke] I’m still thinking about Maggie Stiefvater’s THE SCORPIO RACES. That book definitely took me to a different reality with such a haunting premise (horse-lover that I am) that I can’t forget it. A book about mythical man-eating horses just shouldn’t work, but of course, this one does brilliantly.

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

[Polly Holyoke] THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON by Johann David Weiss was one of the first books to turn me on to reading. My father and grandmother had to read it to me several times because I couldn’t get enough of the story of a young Swiss family shipwrecked on a deserted island and all the clever ways they found to survive. When my family got tired of reading this book to me, I picked it up and realized I could read it to myself!

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

[Polly Holyoke] I love to read good books, watch good and some not-so-good movies with my kids, and take long walks. When I can get back to my home state of Colorado, I hike, camp and ski in the high country.

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

[Polly Holyoke] They can send me a tweet at @pollyholyoke or leave me a message on my website: www.pollyholyoke.com.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Ready for your chance to win a signed hardcover of The Neptune Project and a dolphin necklace/bookmark?  Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following.  US addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can order a copy of The Neptune Project from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is set in a future where the seas are rising and global warming is out of control. Nere Hanson and her teen companions are shocked to learn that they have been genetically altered by their desperate parents to live in the sea. Protected by her loyal dolphins, shy Nere leads the rest on a perilous journey to her father’s new colony. Fighting off government divers, sharks and giant squid, can Nere and her companions learn to trust each other before their dangerous new world destroys them?

Polly’s social media links -

http://www.pollyholyoke.com
http://www.goodreads.com/PollyHolyoke
http://www.facebook.com/PollyHolyokeAuthor
http://www.pinterest.com/PollyHolyoke
@Polly Holyoke

Cover Shot! Contagion by Tim Lebbon

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?

I am enjoying Tim Lebbon’s Toxic City series.  The third book, Contagion, is slated to hit stores in November 2013.  I like these covers, with the characters in the foreground, and the devastated city sprawling out behind them.  Are you reading these? What do you think of them?

 

Jack and his friends are in a race against time to save the remaining inhabitants of a postapocalyptic London from a nuclear bomb.

Two years after London is struck by a devastating terrorist attack, it is cut off from the rest of the world, protected by a large force of soldiers (known as Choppers) while the rest of Britain believe that their ex-capital is a toxic, uninhabited wasteland. But that’s not true. Jack and his friends know that the truth is very different-and incredible: the few remaining survivors in London are changing; developing strange, fantastic powers; evolving. And the Chopper force guarding London is treating the ruined city as its own experimental ground.

Now, Jack’s powers are growing. His friend Lucy-Anne’s powers are developing too, and Nomad-that mysterious woman who started it all-is close by. But the Choppers have initiated their final safeguard-a huge nuclear bomb that will wipe out London, and everyone still within its boundaries. Jack and his friends must spread the news of the bomb and save everyone they can. Before that can happen, Jack must face his father, the deadly Reaper, in their final showdown.

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