Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Interview with TBF Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Hello TBF readers,

I have a gift for you today: an interview with Jennifer Lynn Barnes, author of THE NATURALS. (What is this book called THE NATURALS? Check out my book review!)

Miranda Reads: What kind of research did you do when writing THE NATURALS?

Jennifer Lynn Barnes: I think there are two kinds of research that writers do: there's the research you do once you have a book idea, to flesh it out, and there's the kind of research that involves amassing knowledge in your day-to-day life and then using that knowledge down the road, when you're writing a book. The majority of my research for THE NATURALS series was the second kind. I have a Ph.D. in psychology (and degrees in psychiatry and cognitive science as well), so I've basically spent the last thirteen years amassing expertise in the psychology of how we read people and interpret their mental states and motivations. That was, in fact, one of the reasons I wanted to write a series about an FBI think tank that uses teenagers who excel in this arena to catch killers. Going into writing the book, I had a pretty good basis for most of the Naturals' skills: reading emotions (Michael), detecting deception (Lia), understanding numbers and rules-based systems (Sloane), and using behavior to diagnose personality and personality to predict behavior (Cassie and Dean). The one area that I did do some active research on relates to criminal profiling, since my expertise is more in the kind of profiling we all do on a day-to-day basis. For that research, I read memoirs written by real-world FBI profilers, to get a sense for what it's like to be inside a criminal profiler's head.

MR: How many books will there be in THE NATURALS series?

JLB: I get this question a lot, and the answer is that I don't know! I have currently written up through book three. I would love to write a book four, but my publisher and I have not discussed it yet, so I do not know what the future holds!

MR: How would you describe a dinner party with Cassie Hobbes (from THE NATURALS), Spencer Reid (from CRIMINAL MINDS), Patrick Jane (from THE MENTALIST) and Sherlock Holmes (from BBC SHERLOCK)?

JLB: I imagine that it would involve a lot of Cassie, Jane, and Sherlock reading each other, and Spencer missing out on some of the subtext between the other three! Interestingly, I think Cassie might be harder for Jane and Sherlock to read than the reverse, simply because she doesn't fit the "type" that people usually associate with a brilliant crime-solver/profiler type. Jane is charismatic and commands a room. Sherlock sees no reason whatsoever to hide his own brilliance--it's constantly on display. But Cassie--in part because of her personality and in part because she's a teenage girl, which comes with a whole different set of societal pressures and expectations--presents very differently. I think that Sherlock and Jane would probably peg Cassie as being very observant, but I also think they might underestimate her, at least at first!

MR: Let's pretend you're performing in your high school talent show. What's your talent?

JLB: I cannot sing. I used to dance, but it's about thirteen years too late for that one. So I think I'm going to have to go with "reading very quickly." Sometimes I attract that attention of the people sitting next to me on airplanes, because I am tearing through the pages of a book at a pretty high speed. I am also totally okay with idea of going out on stage, and just sitting there, silently reading a book.

MR: Which author are you most looking forward to meeting at the 10th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?

JLB: Everyone, of course! It's always so nice to go to conferences and to get to see author friends (and to make new ones!).

Thank you so much Jennifer! We're excited to meet you in May!

To learn more about Jennifer and her books check out her website. Also be sure to follow her on Twitter.

That's it for today. Come back to the blog for more book reviews, author interviews and more!

Book Review: The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson

Hello, everyone!

I just read The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson. It is the first book in The Atlanteans series, check it out:

In the year 2086, Camp Eden promises summer “the way things used to be,” back before the oceans rose, the sun became a daily enemy, and modern civilization sank into chaos. Located inside the EdenWest BioDome, the camp is an oasis of pine trees, cool water, and rustic charm.

But all at Camp Eden is not what it seems.

No one will know this better than 15-year-old Owen Parker. A strange underwater vision, even stranger wounds on Owen’s neck, and a cryptic warning from the enchanting lifeguard Lilly hint at a mystery that will take Owen deep beneath Lake Eden and even deeper into the past. What he discovers could give him the chance to save the tattered planet. But first, Owen will have to escape Camp Eden alive…

I really loved this book, especially the new take on a dystopian future and the lovable Owen. The world Kevin Emerson created in this book is set in the distant future. The ozone has disintegrated and fresh water is rising and evaporating at a rapid rate. The heat is unbearable and can cause life-threatening illnesses. Global Warming, it’s time to meet your big brother. It is a very unique take on a futuristic dystopian setting. I have not read a novel quite like this before.

In addition to the amazingly crafted setting, the main character Owen is an awkward and sarcastic teenage boy. Finally! There is someone who is not a bad boy or a stuck up genius! Not that I don’t like either of those (Tony Stark anyone?), but it’s refreshing to see that he’s just a kid in a dystopian setting. Throughout the book we get to see him slowly draw strength from within himself and become a leader, an unlikely hero. I just couldn’t help but love him. I absolutely adore Owen and his hilarious commentary throughout the novel.

Honestly, I could keep going on and on about this book, but you guys really just ought to go and read it for yourselves. It’s fabulous and Kevin Emerson really wrote a unique and clever story shrouded in the myth of Atlantis. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this awesome series! I would recommend this book for people who like dystopian and mythology based novels done in a unique way with loveable characters. 

I hope you guys are enjoying a great new year and new books!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

HUGE Author News

Happy Wednesday TBF readers,

I have some VERY exciting news for you all today: Sarah Dessen is coming to TBF 2015! Yes, the Sarah Dessen! She is the author of best-selling author of That Summer, Someone Like You, Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth About Forever, Along For the Ride, Just Listen, Lock and Key, What Happened to Goodbye, The Moon and More and Saint Anything. Her newest book, Saint Anything, will be released May 5th!

Let's hear you're excitement with all of our TBF 2015 authors by using the official TBF hashtag: #ROCTBF2015

That's it for today! Make sure you come back to the blog for more author interviews, book reviews and more!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Matched by: Ally Condie

    Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
    The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

If you enjoy romance, crazy dystopian worlds, dynamic characters, intrigue, and mystery then you will love Matched by Ally Condie. Personally, I loved this book! The world-building in the society Cassia lives in is phenomenal. Condie has managed to create a dystopian novel with distinct elements that make this novel a unique and wonderful read.
The government structure of Matched is one of a kind. In fact, it scarily reflects our worst fears on censorship and absolute authority.  The “Officials” control every aspect of a person’s life. There are rules on what to eat, when to be outside, where you can work, what you can read, and most importantly, who you can fall in love with to marry.
However, it are these strict rules that Cassia unwittingly begins to question, after being incited to question authority with a ground-breaking, quite illegal poem. Overall, another great aspect of this book were the characters. I adored Cassia’s evolution from a devoted follower of all of her society’s rules into a perceptive young woman on the path to becoming a great leader. However, none of her actions would be possible without the power of love, which is truly what makes this novel a joy to read. Condie expertly demonstrates the transformative influence of young love through the complicated love triangle between Cassia, Ky (the forbidden boy she may be falling in love with), and Xander (the boy she destined to marry, otherwise known as her perfect match). Although, readers do not fear! There is no cliché forbidden romance triangle, but rather a relatable examination of love through the eyes of growing teenage girl. You’ll enjoy Xander’s incredibly sweet personality, while also admiring Ky’s intellect and deep sensitivity.
          If I could advice you all to do one action, it would be to read this coming-of-age dystopian novel! The characters are positively swoon-worthy, the plot is well-developed, and the issues discussed in this novel will stick with you even after you finish the last page. So, buy, check-out, or borrow Matched by Ally Condie today, and once you finish reading this book don’t forget to read the rest of this exciting series.

Book Review: The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

Hi guys!

I just finished reading The Night She Disappeared by April Henry. The cover and content are both great! Check it out:

Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. 

She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete’s Pizza. One night, Kayla—another delivery girl—goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can’t move beyond the fact that Kayla’s fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete’s. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn’t dead—and to find her before she is.

Shivering yet? And I don’t mean from the cold winter weather outdoors.

I can’t really say what I was expecting when I opened this book, but it was definitely not this thrilling, mysterious adventure, which is absolutely okay because I love this book. This spine-chilling mystery continually changes point of view between Gabby-the rich good girl with two always gone surgeons for parents, Drew-the boy trying to make enough money to survive with his drug addict mother, Kayla-the kidnapped pizza girl, and the kidnapper himself. Of course, there is always the variety of pieces of paper (fortune cookie fortunes, articles, evidence tags, and the occasional notes from your kidnapped pizza girl) that appear throughout. 

This book is fast paced and the chapters are short. It will keep you on the edge of your seat. I loved the story; the characters really strike a chord within me. Gabby, Drew, and Kayla are great characters; I loved watching them develop over the course of this mystery. Tragedy really does bring everyone together. As you read, you get to see how three different people, all with separate lives from each other, grow closer and develop friendships with people they would normally never associate themselves with because of one event that changed everything.

 I would recommend this book for anyone who wants a fast-paced mystery filled with ideas about friendship, family, and how to keep believing when everyone tells you that you’re wrong (and maybe an excuse to get pizza too).

I hope you give this great book a chance.

Author News

Happy New Year readers!

I have some exciting news: Chris Pallace and Kevin Serwacki are coming to TBF 2015! They are the co-authors of JOEY AND JOHNNY, THE NINJAS: GET MOONED. This exciting graphic novel will be released March 31st!

That's it for today! Be sure to check out the blog again for more book reviews, author interviews and more!