Thursday, April 29, 2010

Names: One & the Same

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose | by any other name would smell as sweet." - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Character names. Undoubtedly integral aspects of stories, no? Coming up with names can be a pesky business. Sometimes it feels like there are no suitable options; other times like there's an endless sea of possibilities and it's impossible to decide.

But there a few names that I've always sort of connotatively thought of as vetoed - forbidden. The first one, of course, being the [writer]'s own name. From the writing perspective, I've never really been able to bring myself to use my own name for any of my characters. On some level, it just feels a little strange to me, because I think I would find that uncomfortable. And I've always marveled at novels with characters which take the names of their creators.

Recently, I noticed that there's a Lauren in Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver. Another classic example would be Jane Bennet from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Now, I found this one to be particularly striking. Jane Bennet is characterized as the most beautiful, the kindest, etc. Jane and Jane - is that representative on some level?

When it comes to reading, how does it feel to encounter a character with the same name as you? (I happen to have a fairly uncommon name, so it doesn't really happen to me.) What about people you know, is it strange reading about characters with the same name as them? Recently read Kristin Walker's A Match Made in High School, and one of the characters not only had the same name, but a few similar character traits, and a similar hobby as someone I happen to know. It was definitely interesting, and a little hard to distinctly differentiate the two.

I've also been hearing from some people about how they feel uncomfortable naming characters with the same name as people they know (provided that the two aren't meant to be linked/named after). I'm personally like that too. How about you?

I guess now I'll open the topic up to discussion. So, some leading questions to get it started:

How do you feel (from a reader's or writer's perspective) about characters with the same name as the author? With your name? With the names of people you know?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Matched - Ally Condie
*November 30th, 2010 Dutton Juvenile
In the novel, a 17-year-old girl, who has waited her entire life to be told by a group known as “the Society” who her soul mate is, has her world upended when she discovers she’s in love with someone other than the group’s pick. Don Weisberg, president of Penguin Young Readers Group, along with Lauri Hornik, president and publisher of Dutton Children’s Books, and Julie Strauss-Gabel, associate publisher of Dutton Children’s, all worked on the deal, which is for North American rights. Gabel, who will edit the book, said that it “will make readers crave the passion of uncertainty and cherish the power of the written word.” And Reamer, expectedly perhaps, drew the Meyer parallel, saying reading Matched reminded her of the first time she read Twilight.
It seriously seems like things have moved super-fast for this book. Not that long ago, we were gaping over the announcement of the deal in PW (December 7th, 2009, actually), for a number of reasons. Firstly - seven figures for North American rights (that's over a million, people) - three book deal, foreign rights sold as well, and compared to Brave New World and The Handmaid's Tale to boot. Pretty impressive hype, no? Plus, she's represented by Jodi Reamer, agent extraordinaire of the likes of Stephenie Meyer and Aprilynne Pike.

And here we are, mere months later with a release date set for November (less than a year, that's pretty fast) and a cover and everything. (Does the author name font remind you guys of the title font for Teri Hall's The Line?)

In any case, it's dystopian, it's being compared to BNW and THT - how could I resist featuring this one? Plus, is that one gorgeous cover or what? The simplicity/conceptuality of it is pretty cool. Allyson Condie sure seems to be coasting smoothly with this one.

So there you have it - my pick of the week. Your turn now - what're you waiting on this Wednesday?

*WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In My Mailbox [34]

I went to the bookstore today, and it was actually a little bit painful. There were all these great books, books that I really wanted to get. But it was a guilty sort of feeling. Basically, the next month is going to be brutally busy - it's IB exam season. In fact, our English teacher has basically said that we're not supposed to be reading any books that we're not using for our exams until they're over - yeah, she said this a couple of weeks ago, actually. Well, there goes that.

In the end, I ended up getting If I Stay by Gayle Forman in paperback. This was first released sometime last year, back when I first started Lucid Conspiracy. The reviews that circulated about this book pretty much declared it to be amazing, so I've been meaning to get my hands on a copy of this. Man, this book seems to have so many cover variations!

I also received The Line by Teri Hall, which I'd almost thought wouldn't show up after all, so that was nice. Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr showed up as well, which is also exciting. I remember once upon a time, I used to like reading stories about these sorts of things, land of Faerie, magic, etc. I mean, I absolutely adored the Firebirds and Firebirds Rising anthologies (edited by Sharyn November). (Alas, I haven't gotten around to Firebirds Soaring yet.) It'll be fun to get back into that realm.

So there you have it - my week in books. Your turn now - what was in your mailbox this week?

*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

**Also - don't forget to enter to win a SIGNED copy of D.J. MacHale's Morpheus Road: The Light!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Signed Morpheus Road: The Light Giveaway

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you must've heard of D.J. MacHale. He's the author of the #1 New York Times Bestselling series Pendragon. He has written, directed and produced many television series and movies for young people including the cult-favorite TV show ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK. His work has been seen on Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, HBO, Showtime, PBS, Discovery Kids and the broadcast networks. D.J. lives with his family in Southern California. (Check out D.J. MacHale's website for more information!)

And today? Today is the release of his newest adventure.

Morpheus Road: The Light
Marshall Seaver is being haunted. In The Light, the first installment of this chillingly compelling trilogy, sixteen-year-old Marshall discovers that something beyond our world is after him. The eerie clues pile up quickly, and when people start dying, it's clear whatever this is--it's huge.

Marshall has no idea what's happening to him, but he's soon convinced that it has something to do with his best friend Cooper, who's been missing for over a week. Together with Coop's sister, Marsh searches for the truth about what happened to his friend, ultimately uncovering something bigger than he could ever have imagined.
In celebration of the release, in conjunction with Big Honcho Media, Lucid Conspiracy is pleased to present a giveaway for one signed copy of Morpheus Road: The Light. Contest is open to those with a United States mailing address only. You have until May 4th, 2010 to enter.

So by this point, you're probably wondering how you can win. Entries will be given as follows, and please try to keep them within one comment if possible.

+1 For the first comment
+1 For each place you link the contest (leave links)
+4 Blog posts about Morpheus Road: The Light
+5 Old followers
+3 New followers
+2 For adding Lucid Conspiracy to your blogroll
+1 Total entries: (add them up)

Good luck! :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Interview: Caragh O'Brien

It's no secret that I've recently been doing a fair amount of gushing about YA dystopian novel Birthmarked (March 30th, 2010 Roaring Brook Press). Well, it looks like we've all lucked out, because today we have the brilliant mastermind behind this masterpiece here to discuss a plethora of stuff. And without further ado, presenting: the brilliant Caragh O'Brien!

This has become a bit of a
Lucid Conspiracy
interview opening question tradition - summarize BIRTHMARKED in twenty words while tossing in as many alliterations as you can.

First, let me say thanks, Deltay, for inviting me by to talk a bit about BIRTHMARKED. That’s a real doozy of a question to start with, but here goes:

Catching her quota of kiddos, Gaia gains a ghastly glimpse of a survivalist society. Cells, cyphers and science ensnare her.

Thanks for coming by :) Great summary. Let's get the ball rolling with some general questions first. Words of wisdom - what do you do when the muse has gone on vacation?

I tell my muse to get its sweet little posterior back on the couch and keep working.

Haha, that's the way! Do you have a specific writing ritual or any unique quirks you subscribe to?

I don’t suppose the toy monkey on my head counts as quirky. Actually, there’s no monkey. Now that I’m on leave from teaching, I just sit on the couch with my laptop and write all day. When my fingers get cold, I hug a bottle full of hot water. That’s a little weird, I guess. I forget to eat. Is that weird, too?

Nope, I suppose we'll have to proclaim you relatively normal! If the apocalypse were to come tomorrow and you could only choose three books to keep safe and bring into the "New World," which ones would they be?

I really don’t know. I’m distracted by the specter of the apocalypse and wondering what would be left in the new world. I’m not sure we could read any more with our eyes blasted out. As you might imagine, I had a little trouble with this sort of question when I was a schoolgirl. Still do, I’m afraid.

Ah well, it is a bit of a tough question. Leon's quite a dishy YA guy. ;) Do you have any literary crushes, fictional or author-wise?

I don’t have any at the moment because all of my literary crushes have been unrequited. I try to be mature and get over them. Still, if Fitzwilliam Darcy had a sense of humor, I could be quite miserable. I’m very glad to hear that Leon, in his own twisted way, works for you.

Ooh, Mr. Darcy! Global warming, global cooling, flooding, drought... there have been countless theories about the environment's demise. What made you pick the one you did for BIRTHMARKED?

I drove through the southern states a couple years back during a drought, and it really got me thinking about what climate change would do to our country, politically and socially. A wasteland around Unlake Superior seemed very possible to me, and extreme enough to set up a powerful story of survival and hardship.

It definitely made for a great story! I noticed that throughout BIRTHMARKED, there are countless references to hats. Why hats in particular, and not, say, sunglasses? Is it a thematic element or symbolic motif?

Hats are just so fun, frankly. I love what the British royalty do with theirs. In BIRTHMARKED, the hats and hoods serve a practical purpose in saving everybody from severe sunburn, but I also love the visual effect of all the brims tipping this way and that. The hats were versatile for showing who was classy or coy, guard or prisoner, powerful or shy. How could I not put in hats?

It's one of the great key details that contributes to awesome world-building. That, and the symbolism there too. One of the distinguishing factors of a society is its language. How did terms such as "Mabrother" and "Masister" come about?

I was playing around, trying to find a term that would suggest respect, sound possible, and also work ironically. I liked how “Masister” was a bit like “my sister,” but by making it formal, I undermined what should be a term of endearment. Similarly, “Tvaltar” combines “TV” and “altar,” suggesting the worship of TV. When I hit upon “advanced” for the babies, I was beyond thrilled. It’s just what we want for our children, normally. (Evil laugh.)

I like that! Of all the potential consequences of inbreeding there were to choose from, why hemophilia?

I didn’t have to go far to find heartbreak when I did research on human inbreeding. Hemophilia and infertility were the obvious problems for the Enclave.

Let's play around with hypotheticals for a moment. If Gaia's world was real, would you be inside the wall or outside? What would your profession be?

At risk of answering a heavy question quite seriously, I must say we already inhabit Gaia’s world. I could not live in a more privileged society, with more advantages, while others just outside the wall have nothing. I’m a writer.

Put like that, we do, don't we? BIRTHMARKED is set up perfectly for a sequel(s). Will this be a series?

Yes. I am so thankful to my publisher, Roaring Brook Press, for asking me to write two more books. I’m in very good hands with my editor, Nan Mercado, who has an uncanny way of asking the right questions.

So it'll be a trilogy! I do love me some trilogies ;) That's very fortunate for us readers as well, then. Are there any juicy tidbits you're at liberty to share with us about upcoming books/WIPs, by any chance?

Funny. My mom just asked me this same question. I can tell you I was worried that Gaia had grown so much in BIRTHMARKED that there wouldn’t be anywhere more for her to go, but she’s surprised me. Book 2 involves more research about biology and infertility. That much is certain, and I’m completely obsessed with this draft.

That's great to hear! I really enjoyed the scientific aspects of Birthmarked. If there is one main message in BIRTHMARKED that you'd want to make sure every reader understood, what would it be?

Oh, dear! Not a message! Isn’t it enough just to have fun reading?

Thank you so much, Deltay, for having me by, and for these mind-boggling questions. I really appreciate your kind review of my novel and all your support. Lucid Conspiracy is great.

Thank you so much for dropping by, Caragh, and taking the time to answer my behemoth mass of questions! :)

Friday, April 16, 2010


Haven't done a music feature in awhile, so figured it was about time for another one. Tonight, we're going with B2ST, also known as BEAST. (Apparently the former stands for "Boys to Search for the Top", while the latter is an acronym for "Boys of the East Standing Tall". Where did the "A" go? Although as it is, you could also say it looks like "BEST" ;) Which fits, because their first [mini?]album is titled Beast is the B2ST.) They're a South Korean band that debuted on October 14th, 2009 under Cube Entertainment.

I'll admit - the first time I'd seen their first single Bad Girl I hadn't been particularly impressed. In fact, I think I started out favouring MBLAQ, which I've featured back in November. But then their music grew on me. They're a pretty slick, pretty suave group. Live performances are pretty sick, and the vocals of some of the members are fairly amazing.

Plus Yo Seob kind of reminds of an adorable little monkey ;) I've got a soft spot for monkeys, what with being born in the year of the monkey and all. Basically, the entire group is pretty awesome. The members are: Doo Joon, Hyun Seung, Jun Hyung, Yo Seob, Gi Kwang (AJ), and Dong Woon.

Recently they've released a second EP, Shock of the New Era. Promotions of this started out with Shock, which is a pretty decent song. A few days ago, however, they released the MV (music video) for another song off of that album - Say No (Take Care of My Girlfriend) - and I must say, it's pretty beautiful. There's something very simplistic about the video, the muted, almost b/w tones, the raw emotion of the aching ballad. The vocals are pretty epic on it as well.

So in any case, I'll leave you guys off with the music video for Say No (with English subtitles, of course ;)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Birthmarked Review

Birthmarked - Caragh O'Brien
*March 30th, 2010 Roaring Brook Press

After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested.

Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned.

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, BIRTHMARKED explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

Caragh O'Brien's Birthmarked is the best book of 2010 thus far. I've been letting my thoughts sit and simmer for a few days, in the hopes of being able to churn out a more coherent review. Even so, it looks as though this will be a pseudo-review in the style of my review of The Hunger Games from awhile back. Which is oddly fitting, actually. See, I have all my favourite books, in hardcover, placed in a cluster on my bookshelf. Birthmarked is the latest addition amongst the likes of Willow (Julia Hoban), The Hunger Games & Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins).

One of the integral aspects of dystopian lit is world-building. The writer, and in turn the persona, has to be a segway for the readers into a new realm, an introduction to a world so like our own, yet so grotesquely unlike at the same time. Something that's a satirical hyperbole of our society, but at the same time, credible. The world building in Birthmarked is pretty phenomenal. O'Brien's attention to minute detail is what really brings Gaia's world to life. The specific lingo (mabrother, masister, Tvalter, etc.) is unique really shows the development of linguistics since our time. "Unlake Superior" is a clever play-on (and doubly cool because the city I live in is located on Lake Superior's shores). The hats were a great quirk specific to this new, imagined future. And of course - there's the code.

Another aspect that I respect in YA literature is having a strong leading lady. Gaia Stone fulfills that role admirably. There's no damsel-in-distress in Birthmarked, waiting around passively to be rescued. Gaia goes out there, and she gets it done. She brings the action, she forwards the plot, and she makes it happen. Sergeant Grey... hehehe, what can I say? He's pretty dreamy, yeah. :) Probably one of the best boys of YA, and all that jazz, no big deal or anything. (Subliminal message = read Birthmarked!)

I'll admit - I was getting a little worried at the very beginning in regards to Gaia's initial reactions, and it was a little hard to suspend disbelief at that point. But once you get past the beginning exposition (which is kind of inevitable, considering the world-building needed for sci fi - and besides, relatively speaking, that section is quite miniscule), WOW. Just wow. And yeah, there were some plot elements that were a little predicatable, but the plot just worked here. It just meshed with the story, the characters...

One of the other great things about Birthmarked is simply how smart it is. The technology in it, the science behind it... it really adds an extra layer of depth, which is great to see. In case you can't tell from my review thus far - basically, I loved Birthmarked.

These meager words here hardly do Caragh O'Brien's Birthmarked justice. This is one to move to the top of the TBR list, a must-read. A dystopian masterpiece.

Caragh O'Brien | Goodreads | IndieBound

*Luckily, it looks like Birthmarked will have a sequel! Which is awesome, because the ending sets itself up perfectly for more to follow - the story's not over yet :) If you've reviewed/read this, drop me a comment?

**Also - stayed tuned, because we've got an interview
with the formidable Caragh O'Brien coming up in the near future! :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

In My Mailbox [33]

Another brilliantly fun week this time around! First, I got Starlighter by Bryan Davis, which was another great surprise. The cover is pretty cool-looking.

And then I got two packages on the same day. First up was the prize pack I won from the awesome Kristin and Lauren through a contest on Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf (her blog's great fun, so check it out :) And this prize pack consisted of an autographed copy of A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker, pencils, gum, bookmarks, a ring, sticky notes, a t-shirt, and a megaphone. The swag is so creative - everything has A Match Made In High School on it, which is really cool. I'm thinking I might wear the t-shirt to school on Monday ;) Thanks so much, Lauren and Kristin! :)

My So-Called Afterlife by Tamsyn Murray was another prize, won from Rhiana Reads. Aren't the cover colors beautiful? And it's signed too, to boot! Thanks so much, Rhiana and Tamsyn!

So there you have it - my week in books. What about you - what was in your mailbox this week?

*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

PS - If you're not following Lucid Conspiracy yet, might want to start soon ;)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
*October 1st, 2010 HarperTeen
Sixteen-year-old Evie's job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone--or something--starts taking out the vamps, werewolves, and other odd beasties she's worked hard to help become productive members of society, she's got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal.

Normal is so overrated.

I think I first saw this one on Goodreads awhile ago and added it to my GR to-read/want lists [bookshelves(?)]. At that time, it had simply been a blank image - and now it's got a cover! Woohoo.

There's something a little off about her (on the cover) upper half/torso, but it's an interesting cover nonetheless. And the premise sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

And with the combination of those factors, couldn't resist featuring it for Waiting on Wednesday this week. So how about you - what're you waiting on this Wednesday?

*WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine

Saturday, April 3, 2010

In My Mailbox [32]

This week was quite brilliant, if I do say so myself. The very epitome of quality over quantity. First I got Caragh O'Brien's Birthmarked, which I have been super-super-excited about. (Pretty much devoured it - expect a review soon :) Thanks!

And then I also got an ARC of
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (which I featured for WoW awhile back) from a contest hosted by the awesome Tina over at Fantastic Book Review. She also tossed in bookmarks of The Iron King (signed!) by Julie Kagawa, who's also very sweet, and Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus. Thanks for the awesome stuff, Tina!

So there you have it - my week, as told by my mailbox. Your turn - what was in your mailbox this week?

*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.
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