Book Review & Giveway: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

I swear, I went from reading about two contemporary bad ass women in Done Dirt Cheap to reading about bad ass women in at the height of the Roman Empire. Can we just keep these powerful female narratives flowing?  All of them have a reader in me!

In all honesty, I’ve never seen Gladiator.  I’ve never really paid a whole lot of attention this time period in history, so most of my knowledge of Julius Caesar comes from Shakespeare’s tragedy.  So to say that I had no idea of the wealth of information that can be expanded upon in this time is pretty much an understatement, but I learned so much just talking to Lesley and hearing how passionate she is on the subject.  If I didn’t have so many books to already read, I’d probably pick up a few on Ancient Rome.  Although, I feel like there’s probably a Wikipedia spiral on this topic in my future.

Anyway, let’s start with a bit about where Lesley got the inspiration to write about this topic (see the lovely video):

This book gave me life.

Everything about it spoke to me. I have a rough relationship with my sister, Fallon has a rough relationship with her sister.  Fallon is a bit reckless and is constantly wanting to prove herself, I have those same qualities.  I think there is a lot about this book that teenagers will take from this.  That there are always bad ass women in history that have been marginalized or forgotten due to the nature of HIStorical recording, and that women can chart their own paths. I sincerely wish this has been out when I was scheduling the books for my Feminist Book club this year, because I think it can bring a lot of great discussion about the status of women then and how this narrative can showcase the women’s movement today through its story.

Favorite tertiary character in The Valiant is by far Cleopatra.  That’s right, THE Cleopatra.  Now, she’s not in the book a whole lot, but she has one of my absolute favorite lines in the novel, one that, if I’m going to another women’s march, I might put on a sign: “A woman ought to be able to chart her own course in life.” YAS QUEEN. *bows to the queen* Also, according to Livingston, the timeline of The Valiant puts Cleopatra in her early twenties as a young mother since she and Caesar were “very close friends,” which means the narrative takes place around two years prior to the assassination of Caesar and the Ides of March (which, coincidentally, was yesterday).  Apparently this is something to remember because when I asked her about this in regards to the sequel, The Defiant, Livingston promptly started to mumble nonsense instead of answering (Seriously, I love this woman).

Livingston manages to explore the complexities of familial relationships and friendships, but the different aspects of first love and how moving on from heartbreak is hard but necessary. This entire novel is fast paced and is filled with action after action.  You will not be bored and you will fall in love with this book.

5 Bards.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**US and Canada Only**

Paperback Celebration & Giveaway

To celebrate the paperback release of Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey, we are reposting our 4.5 Bard review of this amazing contemporary novel, and we are hosting a giveaway!

Check out the review and enter to win below!

Finding Audrey Paperback Cover

As a reader who devoured Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for her first foray into young adult literature.

Kinsella has expertly tapped into the growing contemporary corner of young adult that focuses on teens dealing with mental illness.  There are a number of narratives out that deal with depression and suicide, but Kinsella takes on the equally complex social and generalized anxiety disorders.

The characterization of Audrey’s family is really a shining point in this story.  I absolutely adore how Kinsella has explored how different parents and children are in relation to technology.  Granted, a lot of this is exacerbated by Audrey’s mother’s obsession with the Daily Mail.  As an American a lot of my knowledge of the Daily Mail comes from my roommate, who is British, and John Cleese.  Both of them hate the Daily Mail and consider it trash news, which is exactly how it is portrayed in this story so it really just firmed up my belief that we shouldn’t read the Daily Mail.  It’s kind of sad that Audrey’s mother is so wrapped up in believing what some article tells her that it dictates what she does in relation to her children, but it isn’t wholly unbelievable or unrealistic.  It makes her a bit ridiculous and endearing at the same time which is why it is brilliant.

Kinsella Jacket Photo credit John Swannell

Audrey is such a wonderfully complex character.  Her voice is distinct and witty, but still reserved at the same time.  In fact, her voice is one of the things that sets her apart and exemplifies her anxiety almost as well as the situations she describes.  I also enjoyed the breaking of the fourth wall in certain parts of the story.  Frank was what I would consider a typical 13 year old boy to be.  He is obsessed with playing a World of Warcraft type of game and aspires to do that as an official job.  I mean, I think that is a dream job for a lot of gamer kids.  He is snarky, stubborn, and just a bit insufferable.  Frank was an excellent character. The other two family members, Audrey’s father and youngest brother Felix, are the least developed, but it definitely didn’t take away from the narrative.  I actually quite enjoyed the father’s befuddled and somewhat absent-minded attitude.

There is an adorable first love situation going on in Finding Audrey and it is just everything I wish I could have had at 14.  It’s realistic and awkward and really well done.  The synopsis kind of makes it seem like Linus is the whole reason for Audrey being able to start down the path to recovery, but I think that Audrey just needed that little push.  Linus was just a side effect of the push, a good side effect.  Kinsella did such a good job of explaining how recovery and learning to live with mental illness really is like a jagged graph.  There will be highs, lows, stable days, completely messed up days, and everything in between.

Overall I think that Kinsella kicked off the young adult aspect of her career very strongly, and I hope she will continue to contribute to the genre.

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Giveaway: The Last Star by Rick Yancey

Okay, so the title may be a BIT misleading as there aren’t any advanced copies of The Last Star as it is an embargoed book.  However, Midsummer Reads has teamed up with Penguin Teen in order to giveaway a prize pack celebrating the series ender, The Last Star!

The winner will receive a special edition Tote Bag for The Last Star, a sampler of the final installment, a poster for the novel, AND copies of the first two novels, The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea! So while we can’t give you the new novel, we are giving you just about everything we can.

You can enter a number of ways, so get to it!

Giveaway will end on March 29, 2016 at Midnight.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Celebration Giveaway!

I’m not sure if you all follow Sarah Dessen on Facebook or any of her other Social Media outlets, but she finally released that she is currently writing a new novel.

Now, maybe you aren’t as excited about this as I am, but Sarah Dessen is the reason I even enjoy contemporary young adult literature.  I frequently recommend my favorite of hers, This Lullaby, to those who are asking for contemporary book requests.

SarahDessenSelfie

When I got to interview Sarah Dessen

I am super excited about the fact that she is working on a new novel, so I am giving away 2 Sarah Dessen paperbacks!

You can check out my reviews of some of her novels at the following links and read my interview with Sarah, too!

This Lullaby

Along for the Ride

That Summer

The Moon & More

Saint Anything

Interview

Enter to win these paperbacks now!  The contest ends on Monday, March 14.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

gayle forman books

In accordance with Penguin Teen’s Gayle Forman celebration for the paperback release of I Was Here, I finally read the sequel to If I Stay, Where She Went.  Be sure to check out the giveaway at the bottom of the review, because 5 winners will win a complete set of Gayle Forman paperbacks!

 

It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that this book didn’t bring the feels.  Now, it’s a whole different type of feels than those in If I Stay.  Where If I Stay was full of life and death and first love, Where She Went is full of despair in the midst of success, struggle to move forward, and the hope that something better is ahead.

The novel is told from Adam’s perspective this time, and so the reader gets a lot more information about how the accident and the loss of Mia’s family affected him as well.  He suffers from crippling panic attacks and is increasingly unhappy with the direction his life has taken since Mia ghosted him.  Seriously though, I love Mia as a character, but come on, you ghosted him?  The guy that was there for you through the accident and the aftermath? Turns out she has a decent reason, but I still question that choice.

Fate seems to have a hand in their lives because not only are they in the same city, but are finally both in the same emotional place at the same time.  There are a lot of really heartrending moments in this book concerning Adam’s need to accept and let go of Mia.  She tries her hardest to show Adam all the little formanquoteplaces that make her happy she moved away to New York and never returned to her hometown.  Readers see through Adam’s eyes how Mia has healed and how she has rebuilt her life without her family.  It’s beautiful to see the growth in her, but Forman manages to leave just a bit of mystery in the process so there are enough places for readers to fill in their own details.

The novel is full of Forman-isms (that’s right, I called it that), and they can be applied to everyone in one way or another.  If you haven’t read If I Stay or seen the movie, I recommend picking up the first installment now so you can have the pleasure of reading Where She Went.

4 Bards

fourbards

 

 

 

Enter to win a complete paperback set of Forman’s novels, here!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review & Giveaway: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There’s a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she’ll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she’ll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she’s ready or not.

Release Date: August 18, 2015

When Penguin said that this book would be good for fans of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, they weren’t kidding.  Both books have this ethereal quality to them while they are set in reality…the literary community deems these as Magical Realism: “painting in a meticulously realistic style of imaginary or fantastic scenes or images.”  A classic example of Magical Realism would be Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, 100 Years of Solitude.  But anyway, while We Were Liars focuses a little on a possible mental and physical trauma that could have caused these imaginary consequences or scenarios, The Accident Season has a whole separate set of rules.

The whole idea behind this novel is that for one month out of the year, their family is cursed with accidents.  Immediately Fowley-Doyle leaves the narrative for a ton of questions.  Is this caused by some sort of curse on their family?  Is it all just a coincidence?  Is it just because they all dabble in believing in the impossible?  Are they all delusional? SO MANY QUESTIONS.  I firmly believe that books like this have to be done in a very specific way in order to excel, and I really think that The Accident Season does.

The narrative is a quick one that takes place over the course of thirty-one days and while the writing styleaccident is a bit discombobulated at times, as it should be for a story like this one, it flies by.  I read this novel in a matter of hours and still really wished I could have had more.  All of the characters are lovably flawed in their own ways: Bea functions outside of reality and is a story-teller, Sam is haunted by the actions of his father, Alice is unhappy in her relationship, and Cara lives in her imagination for much of the story.  Yet somehow all of these characters fit together so easily, and they were so close.  There is the mystery of Elsie, the enigmatic abandoned house, the forest full of strange objects, and the disappearing costume shop that just adds to the magical aspect of this narrative, and I could not praise that more.

While I absolutely adored the disjointed narration and the magical realism of The Accident Season, I can definitely see where it might not appeal to all young adult readers.  However, I encourage you to give it a try.  You can also enter to win a copy of this book below!

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hello, I Love You Blog Tour: Excerpt/Review/GIVEAWAY

helloiloveyouGrace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

 

katiestoutAbout the Author

Katie M. Stout is from Atlanta, Georgia, and works for an international charity that sends her to fun places like Spain and Singapore. When she’s not writing, you can find her drinking an unhealthy amount of chai tea and listening to Girls’ Generation, Teen Top, and all her other favorite K-pop tunes.

Connect to Katie on Social Media:

Goodreadsǀ Twitter ǀ Tumblr ǀ Website ǀ Pinterest

 

Excerpt

We finish our study session around eight and head out of the library together. He unlocks a bike from the rack as I make to head back to the dorms.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I say. “Wait, are you walking back?”

“Well, I’m not sleeping at the library tonight.” He doesn’t take the bait. “I’ll give you a ride.”

I imagine what it would feel like to sit behind him on the bike, my arms wrapped around his waist. That now-familiar heat radiates through my body again. How is it that Jason has turned me into the blushing type of girl?

“Don’t worry about me.” I wave my hand in dismissal. “I’ll be fine.”

He straddles the bike’s frame. “I don’t mind. Get on.”

I hesitate a moment, but when I see that he isn’t budging, I step up to the bike. “Uhh . . . how am I supposed to ride this thing?”

He pats the metal rack on the back of the bike, made for hauling inanimate objects.

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“I’m not going to kill you. Just trust me.”

Trust. Such a small word. Which implies so much. I lost my trust in boys when Isaac cheated on me, then lied to my face about it.

Jason’s gaze softens just a hair. “Come on, you’ll be fine.” Biting my lip, I straddle the bike, stomping down any fear

that threatens to grow in my chest.

Jason turns around to look at me. “Sit sideways, like riding a horse sidesaddle. More comfortable.”

I follow his instructions, not sure how I’m going to balance myself. When I rode with Sophie, I was more afraid of falling and cracking my head open on the pavement, but with Jason, my fear lies more in my body’s response to being so close to him.

Blowing out a slow breath to ease my nerves, I settle onto the metal rack behind his seat and pull up my feet. I knot trembling fingers in the fabric of his T-shirt, which hangs away from his body. But when he pushes the bike into motion, on instinct, I grab onto something more substantial. My eyes snap closed, and it takes me a good thirty seconds to realize my fingers are digging into his sides.

Though the wind that blows against us chills my skin, I’m so hot I feel I might spontaneously combust. Every time I attempt to let go of him, the bike teeters to the side.

“Hold on tighter,” he says over his shoulder.

I spend the entire ride in my own personal Hades, torn be- tween fear of falling and fear of Jason.

When he pulls up to my dorm, I jump off the bike so fast I stumble. He grabs my arm to steady me, and it takes an excruciating amount of effort not to rip myself away from his grasp. Memories of us dancing, of him leaning against me in the limo, flash through my brain, and a fresh stab of longing cuts through my chest. Seeing him sitting there, it seems like Saturday night wasn’t even real.

“Grace?”

My heart sprints. “Yeah?”

He picks at one of the bike’s handlebars in one of those rare instances of discomfort. “Do you want to go with us to the music video shoot next Friday?”

“What?”

“I’m sure Sophie would have asked you, anyway,” he adds. “But I just thought you should go. So we can work on the song some more.”

“The song. Right. Umm . . . sure.” I wait for the fog to clear from inside my head, but it lingers. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow in class. For the test.”

“If my legs can get me home. You were heavy to carry here.” I gape at him until I realize that was his idea of a joke. Jason

just told a joke.

He gives an awkward wave. “Good night, Grace.”

“Wait a second.”

He pauses with his foot ready to peddle. “What?” “Does this mean we’re . . . friends now?” “Friends?”

“Yeah. You tutoring me, and me helping with the song. Going to the shoot next week. Are we friends?”

Why does my breath hitch at the thought?

The scowl I’ve come to associate with him reappears on his face, and arrogance drips from his voice when he says, “I’ll think about it.”

But even in the dark, I can see his scowl has transformed into a smile.

 

Review

There is a such a huge push for diversity in young adult literature that I feel like Hello, I Love You will attract a fair amount of readers.  The entirety of the novel takes place in South Korea, most of it at a isolated private school, but some of the narrative involves the characters visiting the capital city of Seoul.

I’m going to go ahead and address something that I’ve noticed is being brought up in most of the reviews I’ve read so far for this novel: racial and culture insensitivity.  I understand that there are those readers who feel that Hello, I Love You is just a basic example of a snobby American going to a foreign country and looking down upon their customs, food, traditions, etc.  I want to challenge this because they are not taking into account the metaphysical journey that Grace goes through over the course of the narrative.  At the beginning Grace really is just a basic spoiled American teenager, and yes she does “turn her nose up” at the seven types of formality in Korean language, eating pigs feet, and KPOP, but she also learns to understand and accept these things.  I feel that this is exemplified well during the chapters where Grace’s mother comes to visit and she is forced to realize how inappropriate her behavior was when she first arrived.  Grace’s story  is one of growth and I think that her adaptation to life in South Korea and her increasing knowledge of the culture over the course of the novel is an excellent example of how to show readers how to NOT react in a new environment.  It’s a form of adaptive teaching in a narrative. Anyway, that is my peace on that. Back to the rest of the novel.

Grace has suffered a lot.  Sure, we don’t exactly know what she has been through or what the exact details are concerning the reasons she decided to leave her cushy life in Nashville behind, but she is a very convincing narrator and stubborn to boot.  I think one of the other strengths that readers will find in this novel is how strong Stout’s characterization is of the cast of characters as a whole.  Even the secondary characters, like the members of Jason’s band, have distinct personalities and backgrounds, which is something I adore in a good novel because it really helps round out the storyline.

I think another really good aspect of Hello, I Love You is the use of music as a whole.  Not only does Stout use American classic rock and a shout out to our favorite country turned pop star, Taylor Swift, but she goes into a few different genres of Korean music as well.  I honestly had not listened to any KPOP or Korean rock music prior to this, but I went on YouTube after finishing the novel to get a taste of the music!  I found the love story to be somewhat predictable in this book, but it didn’t make it much less enjoyable.

Overall I think that this was an excellent debut novel and I look forward to seeing what else Stout has to offer.

4 Bards.

fourbards

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Stop & Giveaway: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

findingaudreybanner

 

Audrey can’t leave the house. she can’t even take off her dark glasses inside the house.
Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start.And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to the real world seems achievable.

Be prepared to laugh, dream and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you feel like you have lost yourself, love can still find you . . .

***GIVEAWAY BELOW***

As a reader who devoured Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for her first foray into young adult literature.

Kinsella has expertly tapped into the growing contemporary corner of young adult that focuses on teens dealing with mental illness.  There are a number of narratives out that deal with depression and suicide, but Kinsella takes on the equally complex social and generalized anxiety disorders.

The characterization of Audrey’s family is really a shining point in this story.  I absolutely adore how Kinsella has explored how different parents and children are in relation to technology.  Granted, a lot of this is exacerbated by Audrey’s mother’s obsession with the Daily Mail.  As an American a lot of my knowledge of the Daily Mail comes from my roommate, who is British, and John Cleese.  Both of them hate the Daily Mail and consider it trash news, which is exactly how it is portrayed in this story so it really just firmed up my belief that we shouldn’t read the Daily Mail.  It’s kind of sad that Audrey’s mother is so wrapped up in believing what some article tells her that it dictates what she does in relation to her children, but it isn’t wholly unbelievable or unrealistic.  It makes her a bit ridiculous and endearing at the same time which is why it is brilliant.

Audrey is such a wonderfully complex character.  Her voice is distinct and witty, but still reserved at the same time.  In fact, her voice is one of the things that sets her apart and exemplifies her anxiety almost as well as the situations she describes.  I also enjoyed the breaking of the fourth wall in certain parts of the story.  Frank was what I would consider a typical 13 year old boy to be.  He is obsessed with playing a World of Warcraft type of game and aspires to do that as an official job.  I mean, I think that is a dream job for a lot of gamer kids.  He is snarky, stubborn, and just a bit insufferable.  Frank was an excellent character. The other two family members, Audrey’s father and youngest brother Felix, are the least developed, but it definitely didn’t take away from the narrative.  I actually quite enjoyed the father’s befuddled and somewhat absent-minded attitude.

There is an adorable first love situation going on in Finding Audrey and it is just everything I wish I could have had at 14.  It’s realistic and awkward and really well done.  The synopsis kind of makes it seem like Linus is the whole reason for Audrey being able to start down the path to recovery, but I think that Audrey just needed that little push.  Linus was just a side effect of the push, a good side effect.  Kinsella did such a good job of explaining how recovery and learning to live with mental illness really is like a jagged graph.  There will be highs, lows, stable days, completely messed up days, and everything in between.

Overall I think that Kinsella kicked off the young adult aspect of her career very strongly, and I hope she will continue to contribute to the genre.

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***US AND CANADA ONLY

MMSAI Tours Presents: Memory of Water by Emmi Itaränta

blogtourheader

 

A Midsummer Night’s Read is proud to be a (sudden) part of the Me, My Shelf and I’s blog tour for the award winning debut novel from HarperCollins, Memory of Water by Emmi Itaränta!

About the Novel: 

memoryofwater

The award-winning speculative debut novel, now in English for the first time!

In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria’s father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander . . . and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line.

Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom.

Praise for Memory of Water: 

  • “Where Itäranta shines is in her rejection of conventional plots and in her understated but compelling characters. The work is a deceptively tranquil examination of a world of dust and ashes where the tenacious weed of hope still survives.”
    — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Poetic and melancholy” –The Guardian, Best Science Fiction of 2014
  • “Memory of Water is a wonderful young adult novel that captures both the helplessness and hopefulness of youth, juxtaposed with the harsh realities of an all too plausible future. In a quirk, Itäranta wrote the same novel independently in Finnish and English rather than translating it.”—Tor.com (Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2014)

Today’s stop on the tour features an interview with the Author, Emmi Itaränta!

 

1) One of the main plot points of Memory of Water is Global Warming. How much research did you do before writing the novel? What new information did you learn from your research?

My research focused mainly on the impact of climate change on freshwater resources, which includes things like sea-level rise and changes in rainfall patterns. I had not realised, for instance, that sea-level rise would probably contaminate a lot of freshwater resources that are currently near the shores. I also now know more or less what the world would look like in the extreme scenario of sea levels rising by 50-60 meters – basically, a lot of the ground we now live on would be underwater – and I have a long list a drought-resistant crops somewhere.

2) What was the inspiration behind the tea master, an occupation that holds great value in Memory of Water?

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura was a major source of inspiration. It discusses the Japanese chadō, or Way of Tea, which is a life-long path of learning the art of tea-making. Okakura’s book talks about tea masters, choosing the right water for the tea and the connections between Asian tea cultures, Zen Buddhism and Taoism. I created a fictional version of tea masters and the tea ceremony in order to emphasise the importance of water, but Okakura’s book provided some great insights into the subject.

3) Were any of the characters, settings and/or scenes in your book drawn from real-life experiences?

I’m worried that if I say yes, my friends and family will start looking for themselves in the book! So I’ll opt for saying that I think most authors use real-life material to some extent, sometimes unaware they are doing so. If any scenes in Memory of Water were inspired by real-life experiences, they appear in such highly fictionalised form that they may as well be a product of my imagination.

4) Do you think that the political aspect of Memory of Water, mainly China ruling over Europe, is possible in the future? What made you include this in your book?

I don’t know how probable it is, but I do think it’s possible. I wanted to create a fictional world that is fairly far in the future, yet credible. It made sense to me that cultures would have blended into something different from what we know today. Noria’s home village is a mixture of Nordic and Asian influences. This happened organically, because I envisioned a family of tea masters who relocated from Japan to northern Finland and did their best to retain their culture while inevitably also adapting to the new locale. In terms of world-building, everything in the book grew from the premise: if I had a tea master in northern Finland, then northern Finland must have some Asian influence, and if there was an Asian superpower, China – or some imaginary future version of it – was the most likely candidate.

5) What weird or quirky writing habits do you have? For example, you can’t write when the moon is full.

I’m not sure if this counts as quirky, but I usually want to write in complete silence. Any noise or music, even music I like, is a huge distraction.

6) Which of the characters in Memory of Water would you say is like you the most?

Noria. She spends a lot of time inside her head, is quite idealistic and seeks knowledge, which are things I recognise in myself. She is not intended as a self-portrait, but I had to get inside her skin while writing the book, and I think something of my own personality filtered into her.

RANDOM ROUND

1) Fictional boyfriend/girlfriend:

Can I pick one of each? Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks and Kaylee from Firefly.

2) Which country would you like to live in and why:

All of them, for a little while. I enjoy new languages and cultures, and there’s nothing like staying in a foreign country to give you perspective on your own background. Living in England for seven years has made me look at Finland in a different light, in good and bad both.

3) How you take your coffee:

I’m more of a tea person – green, no sugar.

4) Least favorite holiday jingle:

I could live without most of them, to be honest.

5) Last thing you read:

All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry, which I found original and gorgeously written.


Emmi Itaranta ap1_thumb[1]About the Author:

Emmi Itaränta leads a double life, working mornings in an office at the University of Kent in the UK, and spending her with fictional characters in imaginary worlds.
Web: www.emmiitaranta.com/
Twitter: @emmi_elina

And now…a Giveaway! 

1 Winner will get a copy of Memory of Water + a $25.00 Gift Card to the eTailor of their choice!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top 14 of 2014: Day 7

top14of14

Instead of taking a week off after the Christmas holiday like I have every year since A Midsummer Night’s Read opened, I am joining forces with Krista from Krista’s Dust Jacket and Kim from Kimberly Faye Reads to host a Top 14 of 2014 meme!

Not only are you able to participate in this meme, but we will each be hosting giveaways on our blogs including extra entries if you participate and add to our links! Feel free to use the graphic above in your posts.

Today’s topic is:

Top 14 Books of 2014….and a GIVEAWAY!

1. Unhinged and Ensnared by A.G. Howard
I know that TECHNICALLY Ensnared shouldn’t count since it doesn’t come out until 2015, but I read it in 2014 so I put it on this list!

2. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

3. The Jewel by Amy Ewing

4. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

5. Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

6. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

7. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

8. Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

9. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

10. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

11. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

12. The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

13. My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter

14. TIE: Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele and Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler

memelistThese are MY personal top 14 reads of this year, and I know there are still a ton of books in my TBR from 2014 that I didn’t get to yet!  Thank you so much for participating and be sure to enter my Top 14 of 2014 giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Visit the other blogs participating in this meme!

Follow
Get every new post delivered to your inbox!
Join our other followers!
Powered By WPFruits.com
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers