Author Interview: Greg Herren!

Greg Herren is the prolific author of adult mysteries such as Bourbon Street Blues and Murder in the Irish Channel. Recently he has added young adult fiction to his repertorie of books, with his latest, Lake Thirteen, due to arrive in August. Greg makes his home in New Orleans, a place I desperately want to visit someday! When I mentioned conducting author interviews for this site, I was thrilled when Greg agreed to be interviewed. You see, I’ve been a fan of his for years. After reading this, if you aren’t already, hopefully you become one, too!

 

 

Many people will recognize the name Greg Herren and know about the adult mysteries you’ve written. When and why did you decide to jump into the young adult market as well?

GH: Ironically, I was writing young adult fiction before I started writing the mystery series. I wrote the first drafts of three young adult novels during the period 1991-1994. Those novels were (in order of writing) Sara, Sorceress, and Sleeping Angel. After I finished each, I just put them in a drawer and never did anything further with them. I started writing my first Chanse MacLeod mystery in 1996 (I worked primarily on short stories in the years between). A very dear friend started working as a y/a acquisitions editor for a major press in 2007, and she knew I had these manuscripts sitting in a drawer—a Big Six publisher had expressed some interest in 2005, but then Katrina happened and…well, nothing came of THAT because I dropped the ball—and she asked me to do a proposal for Sorceress. They didn’t take it, but a few years later she started her own small y/a press, and she wanted to publish it. Bold Strokes started doing y/a around the same time, so I sold Sara and Sleeping Angel to them! So, in a way, publishing y/a novels was like coming full circle for me. I really enjoy writing them, honestly. I have ideas for so many more…

Compared to your adult novels, how have your young adult novels been received? Do you find your longtime fans are reading them, and that new fans of the YA novels are also reading your older material?

GH: Honestly, I was absolutely terrified—I wasn’t sure if the y/a’s would find an audience, or what teens would think of them. My usual readers seem to be reading and enjoying them, and I think they’re finding a new teen audience as well. I was deeply humbled and honored when Sleeping Angel won a mainstream award—I certainly never saw that coming! I’ve gotten some emails from queer teens that found them and liked them, which is always really nice. I try to write books that I would have liked when I was a teen back in the Dark Ages. I don’t know if the teens are reading the two series—I’m not sure how I’d feel about a teen reading the Scotty books—there’s a lot of frank talk about drugs and sex in them, but on the other hand, at least Scotty is very open-minded about sex and sexuality, so they might be helpful that way.

Your next YA novel, Lake Thirteen comes out in August. Can you tell us a little more about it and what inspired you to write this story?

GH: Lake Thirteen is a ghost story set at a rural resort in the mountains of upstate New York. I do love ghost stories; always have, ever since I was a little kid. The resort is actually based on Garnet Hill Lodge, where the Bold Strokes Books author retreat was held several years ago. I just loved the idea that the lake was Thirteenth Lake, and the road up the mountain to the resort was Thirteenth Lake Road. One of the first nights we were there, we went ghost hunting in a cemetery on the mountain, and I had a very similar experience there to what my main character in Lake Thirteen does—although the rest of it is totally fiction. That experience in the cemetery inspired me, and I really loved the resort. It was so beautiful, and I really wanted to write about it, and the experience I had in the cemetery. I also had the best time there—it was my first time meeting a lot of my BSB colleagues in person; it was an amazing experience, and we’ve all stayed in touch. I’m bummed we haven’t had another retreat.

What would you like readers to take out of your books?

GH: First of all, I want anyone who reads one of my books to feel satisfied when they’ve finished reading. Secondly, I hope they want to read another one of mine! And third, I hope that any teen—gay or straight—comes away from one of my y/a’s with a sense that it’s okay to be different.

Now for the tough question! If you could choose one of your characters to be for a day, which one would it be and what would you do?

GH: Actually, I think it would be interesting to be Mouse from Timothy. That book was a lot of fun to write, and I really enjoyed writing from Mouse’s point of view.

I know this is the most unfair question to ask a reader or writer, but if you had to choose a favorite book, which one would it be and why? (Although a top five would be okay if you can’t choose just one!)

GH: It IS hard to choose just one, but I have to say, if cornered, Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier. Timothy is an homage to Rebecca, and I go back and reread it every couple of years or so. It’s just extraordinary, and despite practically knowing the book by heart, every time I read it I take something new away from it; it’s like the book changes somehow between readings. I recently wrote a lengthy essay about it for the Mystery Writers of America newsletter, talking about how the book truly defies categorization.

But I am going to give four more: Double Indemnity by James M. Cain; East of Eden by John Steinbeck; The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett; and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. If I ever got to teach a Modern American Lit class, those would be the five books the class would be reading. (Oh, I know du Maurier was British, but it was a number one bestseller in the US for two years.)

After Lake Thirteen, what comes next? Can you give us some hints as to new YA novels in the works?

GH: Right now, I am writing the sixth Scotty Bradley adventure, Baton Rouge Bingo, and after that I am writing some pseudonymous novels. But I do have another y/a under contract—Mermaid Inn, which I am really looking forward to writing. It’s my attempt to write a y/a noir—very hardboiled—and am very excited about it. It opens with an eighteen year old gay boy arriving at Mermaid Inn, on an inlet off Mobile Bay, to spend the summer working as a lifeguard…but he has an ulterior motive for taking the job. The previous summer, his boyfriend worked there—and disappeared without a trace.

I have ideas for so many more, but one I’ve been itching to write for a long time—I’ve outlined it, and written several chapters already—is a ghost story set in Alabama with ties to the Civil War called Ruins. I have several ideas for New Orleans y/a’s—a ghost story called Voices in an Empty Room, for example, and another whose working title is Maid of New Orleans, about a young girl who hears Joan of Arc’s voices. I also have an idea for a trilogy about a girl descended from a long line of ancient Egyptian priestesses, whose working title is Daughter of Bast—the girl turns sixteen and discovers she can transform into a cat. I haven’t gotten much further than that, really—I have so little free time as it is, but I have so many ideas! I have creative ADD, and when I start work on a new novel my creativity just rages out of control. I don’t know if I’ll ever have time to write all the books I want to!


Many thanks to Greg Herren for stopping by to chat! Make sure you check out his newest YA novel when it is released in August, and if you haven’t done so already, check out his previous novels as well! I’ve read and reviewed Sara and Timothy and loved them both! I know you will too.

Book Review: For Want of a Fiend by Barbara Ann Wright

Description from Bold Strokes Books:

Princess Katya Nar Umbriel’s uncle Roland rose from the grave, kidnapped her cousin, and stripped her of her greatest weapon—her Fiendish power. Without her Fiend, Katya doubts her ability to weather the storm her uncle is brewing. When she lacks what even the children in her family possess, can she even call herself an Umbriel?

In only a short time, Starbride has become the princess consort, a pyradisté, and a member of a secret order in charge of protecting the crown. Even steeped in responsibility, she’s still an outsider. While wading through court intrigue and resisting schemes to break her bond with Katya, Starbride must prepare for a covert war. Roland is waiting, watching, ready for any chink in their armor, and he doesn’t care who knows their secrets.

ARGH. The author did it to me again. I loved this book so much, I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it was without giving away too much.

My favorite characters returned, and they’re even MORE amazing in this book than they are in the first, if possible. If you want to read this book and didn’t read The Pyramid Waltz, stop and go back. Do NOT read this one without it, because you don’t want to miss out on the awesome, and you’ll be confused.

There are so many fun moments in this book tossed amidst the chaos and fighting. And they usually come in two short words. Examples? Stud Hugo. Naked parade. Those two phrases cracked me up so badly for quite some time.

Hugo is sweet in the first book, and he’s really starting to come into his own in this book. He might still be very young, but it’s clear he knows what he must do as a young lord.

Pennynail. PENNYNAIL! Between him and Hugo I kept swooning. I just loved them! And readers FINALLY get to see who Pennynail really is. If that’s not incentive enough to read this book, I don’t know what is!

Two new characters who are pretty badass and climbing the ranks of my favorites are Castelle and Ursula. Castelle is a former lover of Katya’s, but she’s loyal to the crown. For some reason when I picture her, I see a pirate, even though she’s not. She’s a Baroness! And Ursula is the Captain of the Watch for the city, and though she’s skeptical, she is smart and sticks with what she knows is right.

I cannot wait for the next book. There HAS to be because it leaves off on a terrible cliffhanger and I just want to throttle the author for that. But I know it’ll be well worth any way I must endure because Barbara Ann Wright’s books just keep getting better and better!

This book will be available May 2013. You can now preorder the book from Bold Strokes Books.

Book Review: The Plain of Bitter Honey by Alan Chin

From Bold Strokes Books website: Twins Aaron and Hayden Swann are fighting a corrupt government taken over by ultra right-wing Fundamentalist Christians in 2055 America. Each brother fights in his own way, Aaron with bullets, Hayden with words. Then one night their world is turned upside down when they are caught in a government sting and they must both flee north into the badlands between San Francisco and Canada, where the only safe haven is a place called The Plain of Bitter Honey, a refuge where heads of the Resistance operate. But the brothers don’t know that government agents are tracking them to the hiding place of the   Resistance. Can they find the inner strength to survive?

There are some books that are really easy to write reviews for. And there are others that are difficult. Not because they’re not great books, but BECAUSE they are great books. This is one of those. I cannot write my typical spazzing out sort of review for this book because it just wouldn’t do it justice. And this book deserves a lot of careful thought.

The Plain of Bitter Honey takes place in the not too distant future. The America that is painted for readers is very grim. At least for some. For some people, they might like the fact the Christianity has taken over and the States have become a Christian nation. However, it is hell on Earth for many people in the book. If you do not agree with the views of those in power, or if your life and loves are different from what they think it should be, you are placed in ghettos.

I’ll flash back to history here, because what the author has done is draw on the Holocaust. There are many allusions to what happened in Nazy Germany during World War II. It is done masterfully, because it shows just how horrific the world has become.

Aaron and Hayden Swann are identical twins that are part of the resistance. At least Aaron is. Hayden, it seems, is off in his own world of literature. As a gay man, he has to hide the fact that he loves his boyfriend Julian, for fear of either being placed in the ghetto or being treated. While Aaron is very hard and driven, Hayden seems so carefree.

Looks can be deceiving.

What follows is an incredible journey to save the twins, the reistance, and everything they hold dear. There were times when I thought for sure all hope was lost, but the beautiful thing about how is that it’s always within reach if you just keep believing.

The author also weaves in some beautiful moments of magical realism as well, such as when Aaron is training with Twig and he learns to blend into the trees and become a part of them.

The conclusion of the novel is ultimately heart-breaking and beautiful. It is full of hope and you want the characters to succeed. I stayed up past one in the morning to finish because I couldn’t stop, and when I finally came to the conclusion, I put the book down, curled up in the fetal position on my bed, and just cried.

Such a wonderful novel from Alan Chin. He has a way with words that will leave you thinking and praying that this is not the future that we are headed towards. Frighteningly enough, with the current state of our country, it at times feels that way.

I look forward to many more books from this author.

This book will be released in June, 2013, and will be available from Bold Strokes Books and Amazon.

 

Book Review: Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have Madison Parker host a stop on her blog tour here. The topic was Party Games, and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do! It was a fun read, and I’m glad she asked me to participate.

The tour is for her new young adult novel, Play Me, I’m Yours from Harmony Ink Press. I am happy to say that I have read the book and LOVE it.

Description from Goodreads: Fairy Tate. Twinklefingers. Lucy Liu. Will the taunting ever end? Lucas Tate suffers ridicule because of his appearance and sensitive nature. When he’s not teased, he’s ignored, and he doesn’t know which is worse. He feels unloved by everyone, but the one comfort in life is his music. What he wants more than anything is to find a friend.


Much to his dismay, both his mom and a schoolmate are determined to find him a boyfriend, despite the fact Lucas hasn’t come out to them. His mom chooses a football player who redefines the term “heartthrob,” while Trish pushes him toward the only openly gay boy at Providence High. But Lucas is harboring a crush on another boy, one who writes such romantic poetry to his girlfriend that hearing it melts Lucas into a puddle of goo. All three prospects seem so far out of his league. Lucas is sure he doesn’t stand a chance with any of them—until sharing his gift for music brings him the courage to let people into his heart.

I adored Lucas in this book. There were so many emotions and so many wonderful characters that I loved and loved to hate. Seeing all of the characters grow throughout the novel made me feel as if I knew them personally.

Mason, Lucas’s younger brother, doesn’t like that his brother is gay because of the torment HE receives. It’s not that he’s gay. It’s just the bullying he faces because of his brother’s sexuality. But over time he grows and becomes a supporter of his brother.

Alex is wonderful. I had wanted him and Lucas to end up together, despite him being straight, but he’s a young man who is comfortable in his own skin and becomes a great friend to Lucas. The two bond, and not even harassment from Alex’s other friends will tear Alex from Lucas.

Trish is kind of one-track minded at first, but she also experiences growth when she realizes how she’s been treating Lucas. She and Alex make a great pair.

I wish I had gotten to know Zach more, though. I loved the poetry he wrote in class, but I wanted to see more interaction with his mother while Lucas was there. And what happened between him and David? I would have loved more of that tension. Maybe a sequel or something?

A wonderful novel that will simultaneously break your heart and make you feel good inside. You can buy the book through Amazon.

Blog Tour: Play Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker

Play Me, I'm Yours Blog Tour - Madison Parker

Kissing Games

If you’ve read a number of young adult novels, you’ve likely encountered party scenes. Let’s face it—young people like to party. And no one likes to party alone, so even those who aren’t fond of parties often find themselves dragged along by their friends. Writing a party scene can be a lot of fun because it opens the door for all sorts of potential conflict:

  • Characters who normally wouldn’t hang out with each other may find themselves engaged in conversation.
  • Parties almost never have adult chaperones, so characters can get away with doing or saying things they wouldn’t be able to in other public settings, like school.
  • If there’s alcohol involved, characters may behave in highly unpredictable ways.

And if you’re a fan of angst, what better way to make two seemingly mismatched characters who’ve been denying their attraction for one another come together in the awkwardest possible way, than with a kissing game?

Madison's DareOne of the most popular party games (often used with smaller groups of people) is Truth or Dare. Truth or Dare has been around forever. Well, at least since the early 1700s, when it was called “Questions and Commands.” The photo on the left shows me sticking my foot in a toilet, a dare given to me by my friends at a slumber party. Do people still play Truth or Dare? Yes! In fact, check out this Truth or Dare phone app and take the game with you wherever you go. For a list of sample questions and dares, click here. Traditionally, both questions and dares frequently have sexual undertones. I’ve read many novels where teen characters play Truth or Dare. It’s a great way to force a character to reveal his hidden fears or desires and/or do things he would never otherwise do on his own. There’s also a version of the game called Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Kiss, Pash, or Torture:

Truth: You must answer a question truthfully
Dare: You must complete a dare
Double Dare: You and the person describing the dare must both complete the dare
Kiss: You must kiss someone or something in the room
Pash: Similar to kiss, but much steamier (tongue-kissing, groping, etc.)
Torture: Everyone in the room pounces on you and tickles you

Another popular party game is Spin the Bottle. There are many variations of the game, but it’s most interesting if players are not allowed to respin when the bottle lands on a same-sex partner. This video shows a game in full swing. In “Extreme” Spin the Bottle, each time the same pairing is chosen, the couple must kiss for an increasingly longer duration, and if the bottle lands on the person who spins, that person must remove an article of clothing.

And last but not least, there’s Seven Minutes in Heaven, where a chosen pair is locked in a closet for seven minutes, during which time they’re expected to make out. Have any of you ever played kissing games at parties? Let me know in the comments below! In Play Me, I’m Yours, Lucas finds himself at a party where the game is being played, and he’s terrified that he’ll be picked. Not only does he fear drawing attention to himself, but he’s never kissed a girl before, and he’s not sure he’d be able to go through with it. The excerpt below sets up the scene:

EXCERPT:

“Attention! Attention everyone! It’s time for our first party game.” Several whoops and hollers rose from the crowd as Brian Kim yelled, “Listen up! We’re playing Seven Minutes in Heaven. I’m sure you all know the rules. Ladies, if you want to play, put your name in the jar.”

One of the football players walked around handing slips of paper to all the girls. Lucas watched Trish draw little hearts and a butterfly around her name, kiss the slip of paper, and then drop it into the collection jar.

Donovan groaned. “This game sucks. Like I want to make out with some girl. At least with Spin the Bottle I’d have a decent chance of getting some man-on-man action.”

Trish laughed. “You could always put your name in the jar, D. But I doubt any of the guys here would have the balls to spend seven minutes in a closet with you.”

“Their balls should be so lucky,” he said.

Trish turned to Lucas. “What about you, Boo?”

“Yeah, Lucas,” Donovan said. “Are your balls brave enough to spend seven minutes in the closet with me?”

Everyone in the group turned to look at him. He gulped. He could feel the heat in his face, and knew he was turning red. “Um… I don’t know.”

Donovan snorted. “I’ll be back. Gotta drain the main vein.”

Trish wrinkled her nose in distaste, then dragged Lucas away from the group of kids they’d been talking to. She lowered her voice as she spoke. “I wish you-know-who were here. I would die and go to heaven for seven minutes alone with him.”

Zach Teagan? Lucas would too.

Brian Kim shouted to gain everyone’s attention. “Last call. Everyone have their name in the jar? I’m going first.” He retrieved the jar from somewhere in the crowd and pulled out a name. He waited until the noise died down before reading it aloud. “Lisa Scott!”

The crowd cheered, and Trish said, “Lucky bitch. Brian’s hot.”

Lucas silently agreed, remembering what Brian looked like in swim shorts.

As Lisa and Brian entered the closet, several kids crowded outside the door, trying to hear what was happening inside. Lucas heard laughter and teasing from the crowd but paid little attention to it. His mind raced. Would he be expected to play? He quickly scanned the room, looking at all the girls. Whose name might he draw? What if she refused to play with him? He’d be humiliated. What if she didn’t refuse and he had to go in the closet with her? God, that would be just as embarrassing. He’d never kissed a girl before. What if he was bad at it? Would she tell everyone? What if he went in and then chickened out?

“Trish?” He tugged on her shirt sleeve. “How do they decide which boys are gonna play?”

“The guy who comes out of the closet gets to pick the next guy. Then he chooses a girl’s name from the jar.”

“Oh.”

“What’s the matter? Are you nervous? Maybe you’ll pick me,” she said, laughing.

Lucas’s eyes widened.

“Don’t worry, Boo. You don’t have to play. You can pass.”

He breathed a sigh of relief.

“If you decide to pick a name, though, you have to follow through with it. Them’s the rules.”

Lucas considered hiding in the bathroom to avoid being chosen, but he was afraid he’d run into Donovan, and he didn’t want to leave Trish standing by herself. He’d have to wait. He didn’t think Brian would choose him anyway. Brian had never given him trouble before.

“10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! 4! 3! 2! 1!”

The closet door flung open and out stumbled a disheveled Brian and Lisa. They both had smiles on their faces and were wobbly on their feet. Was that because they were drunk or because they were coming off an endorphin rush?

Brian waved his arms in an attempt to hush the crowd. “Okay, next up… my man, Alex!”

As Lucas and Trish looked on to see who Alex would choose, Donovan returned. “What did I miss?”

“Brian and Lisa,” Trish said, filling him in. “It’s Alex’s turn to pick.”

“And I have to watch? Oh fate, thou art a heartless bitch. If he picks you, I’m never speaking to you again.”

“I should be so lucky,” Trish said sarcastically.

Donovan licked his lips. “I bet I could make that boy come twice in seven minutes.”

Lucas drew a quick breath. No one would do that in the closet, would they?

Across the room, Alex reached in the jar and pulled out a name. He held it under his palm, laying it flat against his chest while he waited for the crowd to settle.

“Ladies! Ladies! Prepare yourselves.” He wiggled his eyebrows and plastered on a goofy smile. Then he looked at the name, and his face fell.

Lucas could tell he’d picked someone he didn’t like.

The murmurs grew louder as people looked around the room, speculating.

Alex scanned the crowd. “Lucas?”

Play Me, I'm Yours by Madison ParkerPlay Me, I’m Yours by Madison Parker
Published by Harmony Ink Press

Fairy Tate. Twinklefingers. Lucy Liu. Will the taunting ever end? Lucas Tate suffers ridicule because of his appearance and sensitive nature. When he’s not teased, he’s ignored, and he doesn’t know which is worse. His one comfort in life is his music; he feels unloved by everyone. What he wants more than anything is to find a friend.

Much to his dismay, both his mom and a schoolmate are determined to find him a boyfriend, despite the fact Lucas hasn’t come out to them. His mom chooses a football player who redefines the term “heartthrob,” while Trish pushes him toward the only openly gay boy at Providence High. But Lucas is harboring a crush on another boy, one who writes such romantic poetry to his girlfriend that hearing it melts Lucas into a puddle of goo. All three prospects seem so far out of his league. Lucas is sure he doesn’t stand a chance with any of them—until sharing his gift for music brings him the courage to let people into his heart.

Click here to read the first chapter.
Purchase Links

Visit Madison Parker’s Website at www.madisonparklove.com for bonus materials including character sketches, piano covers, music videos, and lyrics for songs referenced in the novel.

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Enter to WinTo celebrate the release of Play Me, I’m Yours, Madison Parker is hosting a giveaway. Enter to win your choice of a free copy of Play Me, I’m Yours or a $10 gift certificate from Rainbow eBooks by leaving a comment below along with your email address. For multiple chances to win, comment at each stop along the tour. Click here for the complete tour schedule. Winners will be chosen randomly on April 23.

Rainbow Book Fair

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Rainbow Book Fair in NYC. Though I didn’t have a chance to read, I did hang out at the Bold Strokes Books table and met some amazing readers and other authors! I was thrilled to FINALLY meet Jeremy Jordan King, whose book, In Stone I loved. I also met YA author Nora Olsen whose novel Swans & Klons comes out next month.

I was thrilled to sell a copy of Andy Squared to one woman in particular. She is older and her grandson is in the sixth grade. This is my favorite story from the even, and possibly my favorite reader ever. She purchased a copy of my book after deciding she would buy it, and give it to her grandson as her way of coming out to him. She said she had waited too long to do it, and he should know.

I am so honored that she is using my book to do this. I wanted to sit behind the table and cry afterwards. I did not catch her name, as she wanted to personalize the book to him herself, but I wish her the best of luck and if I could meet her grandson, I’d tell him what an amazing grandmother he has.

Stay tuned later this week for a guest post by author Madison Parker whose new books, Play Me, I’m Yours has just come out through Harmony Ink Press!

Book Review: Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

Blurb: The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

For those who are too young to remember, or for those not yet born, September 11, 2001 might seem like some date in history. Maybe they know about it because their parents or older siblings talk about it sometimes. Or maybe they know about it because every year on that day their school does something to remember those who died. But for someone like me, who was just a year younger than the characters in the book, I remember all too vividly what happened on that terrible day. Reading this novel brought back every single emotion I felt on that day. Like Claire, I was mesmerized yet terrified by what happened. I may have been a state away in Connecticut, but it still shocked me to my core. In this book, author David Levithan has perfectly recreated those confusing days in the eyes of teenagers who experienced it.

The novel follows Claire, Peter, and Jasper. All three are loosely connected to each other. Claire and Peter go to school with each other, Peter and Jasper met at a party and were supposed to go on a date, and Jasper finds Claire on the street where she remembers him from that same party where he met Peter. Because of their shared experiences on 9/11, they form an unbreakable bond, and the book follows them in the days, weeks, months, and years after the events.
What I liked most about the book was how the characters always asked other people “where were you when it happened?” or “what were you doing?” For those that lived through this day, it’s a phrase that was heard often. I even tell my own students my story when they ask about it on September 11th every year: I was a junior in high school, gym class had just started, and we were getting ready to go outside to play tennis. We heard from someone who had heard from someone else who had heard it from a teacher, and of course we thought it was a joke. The teacher announced outside that a second plane had hit and we went back inside. I was in art class when the towers fell and I watched them on the television. I have never heard our school grow so quiet or felt more terror at one time in my entire life before or since.
Let Claire, Peter, and Jasper take you through that day, through their eyes, and from those around them. See how others grieved and started to move on. Like them, become a part of the history. Even if you weren’t there for it, even if you weren’t born yet, you can still get a taste of the horrors through this masterfully crafted novel from David Levithan.
You can purchase this book from Amazon.

Book Review: Swans & Klons by Nora Olsen

What does it take to survive in a world built on lies?

Sixteen-year-old Rubric loves her pampered life in the Academy dormitory. She’s dating Salmon Jo, a brilliant and unpredictable   girl.   In their all-female world, non-human slaves called Klons do all the work. But when Rubric and Salmon Jo break into the laboratory where human and Klon babies   are   grown in vats, they uncover a terrifying secret that tears their idyllic world apart.

Their friends won’t believe them, and their teachers won’t help them. The Doctors who rule Society want to silence Rubric and   Salmon   Jo. The two girls must flee for their lives. As they face the unthinkable, the only thing they have left to believe in is their love for each other.

Imagine a world where men do not exist. Women not only run society, but they ARE society. As in the only members. In the distant future, male children are born with something wrong with them that ultimately causes them to become what the women call “Cretinous Males.” They are physically and mentally weaker to a large degree, making them giant children essentially. In this future society, women do not even give birth anymore. All children are created and raised in giant tubes until they are able to be born. And in order for humans to have a more meaningful life free from menial labor, Klons are created.

This book has a wonderful plot that takes readers on a journey of self-discovery, and shows what happens when the basic principal you have been taught all your life turns out to be a lie. Rubric and Salmon Jo do not find anything wrong with their world until they see something that makes them question just how Klons and Humans are created. They begin to wonder, what makes someone human? Even though this book is set in the distant future, it is a plausible world and when you consider genetic engineering that is done, and the creation of highly advanced AI, you have to wonder what DOES make someone human? What does it mean to be human?

I can easily see this as the first in a series, because the book leaves off at a place that could be the end, but also the beginning of another grand adventure. I’d love to see more of Rubric, Dream, Salmon Jo, and everyone else. There is a lot of potential here with what the author could do.

This book will be available from Bold Strokes Books on May 1, 2013. You can preorder your copy here.