April 26, 2016

Interview with Mia Siegert | Author of YA LGBT Debut Jerkbait

I sat down (well, I technically didn't sit with her but I really want to!) with Mia Siegert, debut author of Jerkbait. It's a YA LGBT hockey novel that follows two twins and the catastrophic events that occur when one attempts to commit suicide. It tackles so many great topics. Topics include but are not limited to suicide, sexuality, bullying, cyber-bullying, stranger danger online, sibling rivalry and first love. With strong character development and a great story line, this book is sure to amaze readers and encourage diverse books. 
Check out my book review → here

  • From what I've read about you, you're not a twin. Correct me if I'm wrong! Because you aren't a twin, how were you able to translate the relationship of twins so well in the book? What kind of research was done? Being a twin myself, I definitely felt like we weren't being misrepresented and your descriptions about their behaviors were spot on!

You’re right—I’m not a twin! I was raised an only child although now I have two stepsisters.  

I’m not sure about management, which probably sounds like a strange thing to say, but for me it’s natural. Maybe it’s because I went to Goddard College for grad school where we were encouraged to experiment and write fearlessly. And it might sound terrible, but I didn’t do as much research as one would think. I studied cryptophasia VERY closely and the twin telepathy for some ideas/initial drafts, but as it went on, I guess I thought of it more as this bond.

It helped that my editor McKelle George knows a LOT about big families, which was important to convey. We didn’t want twins to be a gimmick.

  • Would you say you're more like Robbie or Tristan? Explain why. 

The book started out as a semi-autobiographical novel where I was Tristan and Heather was my ex-best friend (scary thought, huh?). I see a lot of myself in Tristan with someone who is often overlooked and passive, doing what they can because others want them to do it, and sometimes making very questionable decisions.

However, now that the book is out of my hands, I’m seeing a LOT more of myself in Robbie. I was on an Olympic track for show jumping and competed in the low juniors (was just about to move to the highs/young riders/mini-grand prix when I lost my horse to a horrible colic). As my dream was shattered, I knew what it was like to be on the edge and remembered the end of my career. I remembered what it was like to always have the pressure cooker on, the isolation and loneliness. Although a different sport, I think anyone who’s a professional teen is on track.

  • The book tackles a wide variety of topics that are usually shied away from in books, like suicide prevention, discovering your sexuality, bullying, sibling rivalry, and wow, even the dangers of talking to strangers online. Was it a challenge to incorporate all these sensitive topics and keep the book from being too overwhelming?

YA is very, very new to me. I studied (and exclusively wrote) literary fiction (in omniscient third person with experimental, lyrical prose) for years. My Goddard friends were stunned when I said I wrote a YA, and my new friends in the YA world didn’t believe me when I told them what I normally write.

With the type of literary fiction I wrote, I was very used to storytelling and far-reaching plots, so having the different branches was really natural for me. I never once considered that the story might have too many branches.

I think a lot of amazingly successful YA writers have more straightforward stories that are excellent. These are people who have studied their craft and honed in on it for years. I’m honestly a bit of an outsider, so I think I came into it probably breaking some of the rules because I didn’t know any better.

Also, I think it’s important to say, since it ties into my admission that it started as a semi-autobiographical novel, I actually dated someone I met from the internet who turned out to be an online predator, and now a convicted sex offender. That’s a terrifying after fact. I’m cautious about saying this because I don’t like people making assumptions.

  • In the story, Tristan's parents expect him to love and worship the game of hockey when he clearly doesn't. His focus and passion lies in acting. This is common in society today where parents want their kids to succeed but don't think about what's in their child's best interests. What's your advice to people who have parents that aren't really on board with what they want to do? 

Talk with your parents. It’s hard to do, but calmly explain that your passion is different than theirs and why you want to pursue it. They still might not be supportive, which really sucks, but having it out there will help. What also helps is speaking with a guidance counselor at your school (seriously, that’s their job—take them up on it). I also suggest that you work REALLY hard in school with your courses. That way, as an absolute worst case scenario, you have the option of going to a nice college where THERE you can pursue your passion.

I hope that’s a last resort though. I hope that initial talk with your parents works and that even if there are tears they realize what’s best for you might not be what their dream is.

  • Not book related but which celebrity (existing) do you think should have a twin?

This is embarrassing to admit, but I actually don’t know a lot of celebrities because I don’t watch a lot of TV, or movies, or anything like that. If Idris Elba had a twin (does he?), who could act the same way he could, that would be really amazing!

Mia Siegert

Mia Siegert received her MFA from Goddard College and her BA from Montclair State University where she won Honorable Mention in the 2009 English Department Awards for fiction. Her debut JERKBAIT will be released May 2016 by Jolly Fish Press. Siegert has been published in Clapboard House, Word Riot, The Limn Literary & Arts Journal, as well as a few other small presses. 

Siegert currently works as an adjunct professor and a costume designer. She enjoys training horses and watching hockey.


Find more here!

April 24, 2016

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller | OH MY MYTHOLOGY!


Title: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Pages: 378 pages
Published: August 28th. 2012
Source: Paperback from Barnes & Noble
Genre: Greek Mythology, Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful— irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice. 


Buy it now!
The Song of Achilles is a book, I believe, all readers must read before they quit reading (because saying die is too harsh). There's something so fascinating about Greek mythology and how there are so many ways one event in history can be explained. Madeline Miller's historic retelling on the events of the Trojan War is fascinating and the story comes from a perspective new to historians and students alike. It's what I like to call, a new way of looking at the Trojan War. What really happened in the battle between the Greek and Troy? Let's find out together!

You'd think that a book about the Trojan War would be told from the point of view of someone very important like Achilles, Odysseus, Menelaus or even Paris. I thought it was especially interesting how this book was told from the POV of Patroclus, Achilles' sidekick. Of course, the relationship and dynamic of Patroclus and Achilles is crucial to understanding the Trojan War, but many people over time have neglected the teachings of this relationship. Even in school, I never read about Patroclus in my history textbooks. He was simply never introduced! There have been ideas that Patroclus' and Achilles' relationship was romance rather friendship. This book explores that idea. Before you think of anything else, yes, this book does include an LGBT relationship. AWESOME-SAUCE, right?

This book sheds light on the events a little before the war and after, but sadly, there is little background information. For readers who go into this book knowing nothing of Greek Mythology or of the happenings of the war, you're in for hell. Fortunately, I went into this one having extensive background on the topic since I'd read The Odyssey and have a big interest in mythology. It can still be read as a story but I think the background in mythology and history would help a ton. For those who have read The Odyssey, this book takes place in events that happen before. I don't know if it's the same for The Iliad. 

The Trojan War is such an interesting battle in history. There's just too many ways and perspectives it can be told from. There are so many he says and she says, but do we actually know what happened during the war? I think it's great that authors contribute to this major part in understanding history. They craft stories around fact to bring interest in the topic and rising inquiry.

The shining gem in this novel was definitely the romantic character dynamic between Achilles and Patroclus. How could two warriors find love in a time of war? Their love was more based on the actual relationship and bond rather than simple attraction. Achilles is the brooding and shining hero in armor who was prophesied to help the Greeks win the battle at Troy. Patroclus was next to nobody, being an exile from his own home and taken in by Achille's father. The budding romance was amazingly well-done and I don't think the author could've done better with that romantic ending (read to find out what happened!). The relationship itself aided in explaining the events that have been known in history. For example, many people aren't sure as to why Achilles killed Hector even though there was a prophecy about how he would die if he killed him. This is explained in the book in reference to Patroclus' relationship with Achilles.
This book has really opened my eyes to the genre of mythology, and I'm sure it will do the same for anyone else who is willing to try this amazing story. I'd recommend to fans of mythology but also to ones that want to learn more. If you like character-driven books, Achilles and Patroclus will sweep you off your feet! Please leave all recommendations for mythology books down below :D Thanks for reading!

April 15, 2016

YALLWEST is coming to LA ~ April 30th!


I can’t wait to attend YALLWEST again this year!  Its coming up! Saturday April 30, and Sunday May 1st in Santa Monica! So for all my fellow Los Angeles area book lovers…. come and join! It’s so much fun. There are awesome food trucks, and panels, and author signings, and giveaways. It’s a lot of fun and you can still buy tickets! Entry is free, so feel free to just bring your books and walk around and have a great time!! ^_^


What exactly IS YALLWEST? 

Presented by Epic Reads:
YALLWEST Festival is over 100 authors from NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS to LOCAL & ACCLAIMED WRITERS, PLUS ARTISTS, HOLLYWOOD DIRECTORS & CREATORS, AND ONE CRAZY YA COVER BAND.
Two days, plus a Friday night preview event, of panels, book signings, food trucks, bad jokes, rock 'n' roll, killer photo ops & general geeky debauchery.
The majority of the events are free, except for the ticketed events listed below.

(taken from official yallwest website).
The list of authors appearing is just fantastic! I guarantee you, if you’re a YA lover, you WILL see a name (probably 10) that you are in love with! :L Some of the authors I’m looking forward to meeting and getting books signed by are:

Noelle Stevenson
Heather Demetrios
Richelle Mead
Kami Garcia
Margaret Stohl
Melissa de la Cruz
Josephine Angelini
Holly Black
Cassandra Clare

THE LIST GOES ON AND ON… seriously… check out the full list HERE.

Make sure you follow on twitter for all the good stuff @YALLWEST




See the Promo video below!






Are you going?! 
Leave a Comment below! 
Let me know if you are attending so I can met you and we can squee over books together ;) 

April 9, 2016

Stacking the Shelves #35

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga @ Tynga's Reviews

This month really wasn't the 'month' to buy books. I'm still waiting on my spring break to come through so I could spend most days in Barnes & Noble on my computer sipping coffee. I'm also getting my stipend in April, which ultimately means book-buying crazeeeee. But anyways, I did receive some books from publishers and won a few giveaways :D

Books I Bought

   

My review for Kill The Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky --> here

Books I Received for Review

 
I received Run from the YA Teen Author Festival at Books of Wonder in March! I'm so excited to read it because she says it's very different from The DUFF. I also received a box from the Novel Tea Club subsription to review. It's a monthly sub box that caters for the perfect night in. There are usually 5-7 items included, always with a book and some sort of tea package! I loved my March box and you can read my review and get a discount code here

Received as Gifts

   


What books did you get this week?



March 28, 2016

Book Review: Hook's Revenge #2: The Pirate's Code

Hook's Revenge #2: The Pirate's Code by Heidi Schulz
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars :star :star :star
Source: Hardcover (and eARC)
Date of Publication: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Goodreads

Fresh off a fearsome encounter with the Neverland crocodile, Jocelyn Hook decides the most practical plan is to hunt down her father's famous fortune. After all, she'll need the gold to fund her adventuring in the future. (And luckily, Hook left her the map.)
But the map proves to be a bit harder to crack than Jocelyn had hoped, and she's convinced that the horrible Peter Pan might be the only one with the answers. Of course, he doesn't really feel like helping her, so Jocelyn takes the only reasonable course of action left to her: she kidnaps his mother. Evie, though, is absolutely thrilled to be taken prisoner, so Jocelyn's daring ploy doesn't have quite the effect she'd planned for.
Along with the problem of her all-too-willing captive, Jocelyn must also contend with Captain Krueger, whose general policy is that no deed is too dastardly when it comes to stealing Hook's treasure. And with the ever-shifting Whens of the Neverland working against her as well, Jocelyn, Evie, Roger, and the rest of the Hook's Revenge crew have their work cut out for them.

In this rambunctious showdown between characters new and old, Jocelyn puts her own brand of pirating to the test in a quest to save her future and those she loves.