Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Visit From Alexander Gordon Smith, Author of Lockdown and Solitary

A Ghost in the Cell

Hi Carrie, thanks so much for letting me write a guest post for your blog! As this is my first guest post on my blog tour, I wanted to talk a little about the main character, Alex, and the experience of being locked away inside Furnace Penitentiary with him. It was an incredible, life-changing time for both of us.

Alex existed inside my head long before the idea of Furnace came about. He’s me, in so many ways – the me that might have been if I’d taken a few more wrong turns as a teenager. I still think, sometimes, that Alex is a version of me that might actually exist in a different universe. This is why I’m so close to him – we’re twins, inter-dimensional brothers! I wasn’t exactly a bad kid, but I did steal stuff and hang out in biker bars and get into fights. Luckily I had a great family, and they pulled me free before it got out of hand. But the character of Alex stuck around inside my head, the teenage me who didn’t get rescued.

The idea of Furnace grew out of this character, this version of me. I wanted to write a horror story, something genuinely terrifying, and I was struggling to think of an idea that really worked. But Alex was still in my head. Whereas I’d grown up – I was twenty-eight when I started Lockdown – he was still a teenager. He hadn’t had the opportunity to play out his story, to see where his life would lead. I kept thinking about him, this teenager that was locked inside the purgatory of my mind, and eventually I realized that Alex wanted to tell his story. He needed to tell it. As soon as I understood this, the entire book – the prison and the terrible things that happen there – just appeared, almost fully formed. I had my horror story. I’d had it all along.

I started writing. It was incredible, really, as it genuinely felt as though Alex was telling the story and I was merely transcribing it. He was so real to me – a living, breathing person – that all I could do was capture what he was saying. Sometimes it felt like I couldn’t write fast enough to even do that, his voice a torrent, like he’d been waiting to tell this story for so long. It didn’t seem to matter that it was such a brutal sequence of events, that every page brought new horrors. I think the character was just grateful to finally be allowed to live his life, to see where it would lead him.

Like I said, though, it was a life-changing experience for both of us. Not long after I’d started writing, I suffered a personal tragedy. Anyone who’s read the dedication in Lockdown will have an idea of what it was. It was a really, really dark time, the worst in my life. I threw myself into the book as a way of coping with it, a way of forgetting.

I genuinely felt like I was imprisoned inside Furnace Penitentiary, locked away a mile beneath the ground in this hellhole. Like Alex, I had no way out, no way to escape this nightmare. We were both sentenced to rot at the very bottom of the world. I knew that if Alex didn’t find a way out of Furnace, then I’d never get out of this dark place in my own life. We needed each other. We couldn’t survive this alone. I think – I hope – that’s why the book feels so real: because Alex’s terror and confusion and pain and hopelessness were my terror and confusion and pain and hopelessness. It was completely and utterly real to me when I was writing. This is also why the friendships in the book are so important, so powerful. Because I was there, a ghost in the cell, relying on Donovan and Zee and Toby to keep me sane just as much as Alex was. If those guys hadn’t been in Furnace, I don’t know what would have happened to Alex and I don’t know what would have happened to me.

Writing Lockdown helped me get through this tragedy. It helped me to escape. And Alex? Well, I can’t say what happens to him at the end of the book, or the end of the series – I don’t want to give anything away! But I’m so glad he stayed in my head all those years, so glad he wanted to tell his story. Without him, I’d still be inside Furnace, I’d still be a ghost in that cell.

Wow!! Thanks for the awesome guest post! I'm honored to have you visit my blog. Now what are you waiting for reader?! Go pick up Lockdown and Solitary and get reading!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (78) --The Monday Edition: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Release Date: February 8, 2011 from Simon Pulse


The small town of Cryer’s Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn’t that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.
When a second student goes missing—someone close to Kendall’s heart—the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall’s not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she’s losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school—messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there—Kendall decides that crazy or not, she’d never forgive herself if she didn’t act on her suspicions.

Something’s not right in Cryer’s Cross—and Kendall’s about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

I loved Lisa McMann's previous books, so I absolutely cannot wait for this one. It's already a Kindle pre-order.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

Release Date: Available Now from HarperTeen

Source: Personal Kindle Copy


I had a life anyone would kill for.

Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents goodnight? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

From Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars books, comes a riveting new series about secrets, lies, and killer consequences.

Let the lying game begin.

I love the Pretty Little Liars books, they are additively awesome. So, after finishing (what I thought would be) the last book in the series, I had some major withdrawal. I was oh so eager to leap back into the world that Sara Shepard had created. Needless to say, I was waiting for The Lying Game and bought it the day it came out.

I really enjoyed the book. I thought it had some great mystery elements and the characters were interesting, especially Emma. I liked watching this girl who's life has been so tough try to take in a life so different from her own. I though Shepard portrayed these differences really well.

I have to say though, I didn't like it as much as the PLL series. Those books kept me reading well into the night looking for the next twist or surprise, but this one read a little slower for me. Still liked it, but just not as much.

Now, of course, I know that there will be fr more books in the PLL series, which thrills me to no end. I can't wait to see what kind of trouble the girls get into this time around.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody

Release Date: Available Now from Random House Book for Young Readers

Source: Personal Kindle Copy


In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. And for Elspeth Gordie, it is also dangerous. That's because Elspeth has a secret: she is a Misfit, born with mysterious mental abilities that she must keep hidden under threat of death. And her worries only multiply when she is exiled to the mountain compound known as Obernewtyn, where—for all her talents—Elspeth may finally and truly be out of her depth. Then she learns she’s not the only one concealing secrets at Obernewtyn.

So this is the book, the book that made me want to blog again. It's been a long while and here's the reason: I just wasn't enjoying it anymore. I felt overwhelmed by review books and I felt like I was missing out on older titles that I wanted to read, but couldn't find the time. Plus, I have to blame my Kindle. I was one of those who said I would never enjoy and eReader, that I would miss the smell, the feel, of books. Yeah, I was wrong. I love my Kindle. I still read paper books every once in awhile, but I do love that Kindle. So, in order to spend some quality time with my Kindle, I stopped blogging for awhile to alleviate the review book stress. Plus I was writing a research paper, working, yada, yada, yada.

Then a couple weeks ago, I decided on a whim to try out Obernewtyn. I'd heard some good things here and there and I'm always up for some post-apocalyptic action, so I figured, why not? I'm so glad I made the leap.

I loved this book. I have since read two more in the series and I have 3 more to go. This book completely swept me away to another world. I love the characters, the premise, and just the overall feel of the book. I love that Carmody has created a whole new world and yet, since it's merely a what if of our own world, there are all these recognizable little pieces of our everyday lives. She really seamlessly places us in this new world and gives us just enough clues so that we never forget that this is could be our future.

Elspeth is one of the most amazing characters I've read about in a long time. She's one of those heroines who I would strive to me, strong and yet flawed. It's just an awesome read. And thanks to Isobelle Carmody, Elspeth, and Obernewtyn, Carrie's YA Bookshelf is back with a new outlook. I will keep on blogging, read what I want to read and share my love of books with whoever chooses to read.

I've missed you all and hope you're still out there!