LIBROPHILE?

Hi, just thought I’d share this awesome thing with you real quick. I found this website called Librophile and it’s the awesome thing. That was aforementioned. Basically, it’s a totally not sketch website that lets you download e-books and audio books for free. I told you it was awesome. Audio books are fab when driving, as reading a real book would likely hinder your driving capabilities. HAVE A GREAT REST OF TUESDAY EVERYONE!

Enjoy this picture I took of Budapest, because why not?

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Not Thursday Thoughts: zeal-filling books

I think there’s a John Green quote from tfios that Hazel says about her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction (which, by the way, doesn’t exist). She’s saying that every no and then you find a book that fills you with this evangelical zeal and you feel like every person in the world must read it in order for the world to keep turning. But at the same time, that book is so personal that it would kill you if anyone else read it. (Apologies if I’m butchering this part of tfios, I am writing from memory).

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because I’ve been reading a lot of truly excellent books. I swear, one of the best things about London is the time I spend on the tube. I have so much killer reading time. Some of the books I’ve read since I’ve been here have filled me with this evangelical zeal. And I need to tell people about them, but at the same time, I’m hesitant to spill the beans. They’re my personal experiences and thoughts. It’s weird how that happens, right? Like we read these books that are written by strangers living in strange, different places. But we feel possessive of the work that they create. That they are, somehow, ours. That’s weird. 

Anyways, I’m choosing to tell you because it would be crazy not to. 

First book I read here was Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. It’s perfect because she’s so raw and honest about the inner-workings of just about any 16 year-old girl you could ever meet. She doesn’t apologize for being truthful about human desires and emotions and fears. It’s so real it could make you cry, and the whole story is set in an alternate universe, completely different from the one we’re living in. 

Then, I read Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, which perfectly expresses what it’s like to be different, and to then be cast out for it. Told through the point of view of a dragon-human hybrid, it hits scarily close to home. Makes me wish dragons were real (not scary evil hungarian ones though). 

Then, I (begrudgingly) read Beautiful Creatures. I admit, I was turned off by the two authors thing and I didn’t want to get dragged into another Twilight-esque teen phenom. BUt I’m glad I read it. What should have been disgustingly cheesy romantic scenes, just weren’t. They were kind of sweetly innocent, in a way that Twilight never was and could never be. There’s hope for us all.

And now, I am reading Just One Day by Gayle Forman. I can’t really talk too much about this one. Nothing I will say will adequately describe its subtle and quiet exploration of a 19 year-old girl. It’s excellent, with passages that make me want to cry just because they are so accurate to the way that we all feel sometimes. She is so good at observing people and their hearts and then transcribing those observations into words. I’ve never read anything like it. It’s seriously so incredible.

Hope you start reading some of these zeal-filling books. 

Author Interview: Toni De Palma

This week, I had the awesome opportunity to interview Toni De Palma, author of The Devil’s Triangle, which I reviewed a couple weeks ago. It was such a fun experience and I am really excited to share it with you guys now!

Book Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

When 17 year old Cooper dies in an attempt to burn down his school, he finds himself in the afterlife. Lucy, the Devil’s sister who has crossed party lines, decides to give Cooper another shot at heaven. The deal? Cooper returns to Earth and has to find a girl named Grace. The rest is up to him.

While Cooper figures out his mission, he’s thrown into the life he’s always wanted. Great parents, a spot on the Varsity football team and a real future are all within reach. But what he really wants is Grace, a feisty girl with an abusive boyfriend who can pound Cooper into pulp if he doesn’t watch out.

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While Lucy plays demonic-puppeteer, clues to an unknown past between Cooper and Grace start to unravel. Cooper discovers that what’s keeping him and Grace apart is far more sinister than anything this bad boy could have ever imagined.

Interview:

When did you know that you wanted to be a novelist?

The first time I decided I wanted to be a writer was when I was eight years old. I was knee deep in the Ramona and Beezus books by Beverly Cleary and I was wowed by how a writer could make me feel about a fictional world. I wanted to do that!

You’ve written books before The Devil’s Triangle. How does your experience writing this novel differ from your ots her novels?

My skills have definitely progressed (at least I hope :), but the process is the same. I don’t start with a firm outline, though I do know how I want my characters to feel and develop by the end of the story. So, just like my first two novels, Under the Banyan Tree and Jeremy Owl, I plugged around in the dark a lot trying to figure it out, until I did.

The idea behind your book is kind of dark, but you seemed to counterbalance it pretty successfully with comedy. Do you think this balance is something that all books, especially young adult books, should have?

While Cooper is sent back to “life” after he dies, I never view this as a dark book. If anything, I feel it is very hopeful and indicative of how human beings want to grow and love and have all the good things in life. As for other YA books, I think there are many neat ways to tackle a story and lots of talented writers who can give their own creative spin to a story. One story does not fit all for sure.

The devil intervening in the lives of two seemingly normal teenagers must have been kind of a big undertaking, especially when you consider that this book is the first in a series. What made you think of this idea?

While the devil is a character in my book, I viewed the mahem that the devil creates as a metaphor for the struggles we all go through in life. Ultimately, this is a story about a boy who has to deal with his own weaknesses and human frailties.

Did you plan on writing a series from the start? If so, how does that affect your writing method?

This book was meant to be a standalone, but my editor suggested there might be more to the story. Once I signed my name to the contract, I was ready to move onto another story and another character. I wrote a YA contemporary after DT and, once that was done, I started thinking about Cooper and Grace again. Cooper is especially appealing to me. Out of all of my characters, he is believe it or not, most like me 🙂

I have to be honest, when I read the synopsis of your book, I was a bit scared! I’m quite skittish around scary stories and movies. In the end, I’m glad I read it, as I enjoyed it so much, but what would you say to other people who might also be skeptical of scary stories?

I don’t like scary stories and the last scary story I read was Silence of the Lambs. I’m also turned off by violence. That said, while there might be some dramatic or tense scenes, I don’t think of this book as particularly scary.

Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?

As I write about a character, they sort of become like one of my kids and I attach a hope for them. What I hoped for Cooper is that he could find his worth and believe in himself. And, of course, I wanted him to find love.

What books have influenced you the most? Can we see that influence anywhere in The Devil’s Triangle?

I love books and writers who create characters that are as multifaceted and intricate as a human being is. I’ve loved many books and many characters. Two of my favorite books are The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Sold by Patricia McCormick.

If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why? 

Tough, tough question. So many of my favorite characters are struggling so I don’t know if I’d choose them as much as I would choose my own, Lucy, the Devil’s sister in The Devil’s Triangle. She is a saucy, naughty girl, who gets to do whatever she darn pleases. I’d like to be her for a day!

Thanks again to Toni De Palma and Christine Attardo for making this interview happen! Now, go and read this book, it’s awesome!

Let me rant for a sec

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.”
― Roald DahlThe Witches

This quote. I was browsing the “Quotes” section on Goodreads instead of doing my creative writing homework and I stumbled across this.

I’m probably just in a weird mood, but this sentence really ticks me off. Like, you’re nothing if you’re not loved? That kind of sucks for all my single ladies out there. I mean I like Roald Dahl, and I’ve never read The Witches, so I am probably understanding this out of context.

But, come on. I want to know that what I do and what I want matters without the act of someone else making it matter. Does that make sense? FEMINISM! (Not really, but if you add feminism to the end of a rant, it sometimes sounds halfway educated).

February Favorites

Today marks my official two months on London and I can’t believe it! Seems like I only got here last week. Cue anxiety about impending end to English fun times. Here we go.

1. Kinder Eggs! So these things are the bomb for real. They are these thin shelled milk eggand white chocolate eggs (dreams come true) with a wee prize inside. They used to sell these magical eggs in the US, but staying true to our nature, they were made illegal as too many people got too excited and ate the prize inside. Damn Americans and our love for hasty food happiness!

2. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. I picked this book up because it is set in London and it is about this American girl who moves there to study. So I was like, story of my life. I also needed to check and see how realistic it was. Holy crap, was I surprised. THIS BOOK IS FREAKING SCARY. Word of advice: DO NOT READ THIS WHEN IT IS NIGHT AND YOU ARE RIDING HOME ON THE TUBE BY YOURSELF. You will be convinced that a ghost posing as Jack the Ripper is coming after you to slash you up. AND RUNNING WON’T HELP BECAUSE HE’S A GHOST AND YOU budaARE A MEAGER HUMAN BEING. Caps were necessary. Otherwise, it was a really good book and I totally love it. Also, the sequel just came out, so celebrate.

3. Budapest. I went to Budapest a couple weeks ago as part of my Euro adventure and it was such a cool place. Also, Hungary, who knew? I didn’t. It was beautiful and historic and full of delicious food and super smart people. Definitely worth a visit (though every time I took public transport I was convinced I would be raped and slashed).

4. Skype. While abroad, I have no access to thou most sacred and blessed iPhone, so

Izzy the pug skypes

Izzy the pug skypes

Skype is my most reliable form of communication with those that dwell overseas. I use it almost everyday to talk to my family, and I got to say, it is particularly useful if you wish to have a deep heart-to-heart with your pug.

5. Waterstone’s. This is basically the Barnes and Noble of the UK and it is so awesome because it has wifi and 2-for-1 books. Which I desperately need, because I ride the tube for like an hour and a half a day. PRIME READING TIME, YA’LL. I have seriously read so many books since I have been here. It is bliss.

6. Kensington. This is the super-posh, super-beautiful, super-historic area of London that I bridgeabsolutely love. It is where Kensingon Palace (Queen Victoria’s once-home) and the best crepe place ever are located. It is also my favorite area of London. I am quite taken with it and with its glorious charms.

7. Indian food. Everyone’s like, ‘yo, London has the best Indian food’. I’m like ‘Sure’. Yeah, it is the best Indian food. I got some tikka masala, some rice, some nan. I ate that food like I was about to see dear Lord baby Jesus. That’s how delicious it was.

8. Tower Bridge. Basically the most beautiful structure in the world (beats out Cinderella phonecastle, easily). As far as I’m concerned, we’re in a relationship. I’m dating the bridge.

9. Portobello Road. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to be Julia Roberts and get Hugh Grant to fall in love with me. At least that’s what I pretend every time I go to Portobello Road.

Hope you had a ballin’ February! I sure did. If you’re interested, check out my hip travel blog. It’s hip.