Book of the Week: The Scar

The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic Illustrated by Olivier Tallec

Published: 2011 by Candlewick

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I loved what I noticed first about this book – the book is illustrated in various shades of one color: red.

From the first line to the last, this book is full of emotion.

It’s a book that deals with death. The book deals with it in a mature, yet is still child friendly.

I love how this book stresses all the emotions children have when something traumatic happens. It also shows how children react to such situations.

Some of the emotions are: anger, sadness, confusion, denial, and even understanding.

The main character is nameless. I think this makes the book more relatable to the readers.

This book shows the importance of family. I think that’s a really important notion to instill in younger kids.

The main character, the little boy, is sensitive. And really shows that kids no matter how big or small, always want to help in times of need. I think older readers will learn not to stop kids from helping.

I love the fact that this book could be for any age. Death is something the young and old don’t always understand, this book helps in the understanding department.

Even though, both the writing and the illustrations, are subtle, they pack a punch.

I feel like this book can stand on it’s own. The writing and illustrations work together to make a solid story.

Even though this may be thought of a sad story, it has some really positive and uplifting points. The main characters quick wit is charming, as is his innocence.

I think it shows the importance of keeping a loved one who has passed away alive in one’s mind, but more importantly in one’s heart.

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Shootin’ the Breeze With Megan Miranda

After reading Fracture, I had a ton of burning questions.  And lucky for me, and my fellow blog readers, author Megan Miranda agreed to answer a few questions. Most of my questions I did not ask, because answers would lead to major spoilers. And let’s be honest, no one likes spoilers.  But I did ask questions, and Megan Miranda was gracious enough to take time from her busy schedule to answer them.

BookBandit (BB): Could you tell me a little about yourself, and your background as a writer?

Megan Miranda (MM): Sure! I have a degree in Biology and worked in biotech for a few years before becoming a high school science teacher, which I did for a few years before becoming a stay-at-home mom… which is what I currently do. As for my background as a writer, I don’t really have official credentials for it like I do for science and teaching. It’s just something I’ve always done. It was my hobby—that dream I dreamed of doing but thought it was only a dream because that’s what dreams are. It wasn’t until my kids were 1 and 3 (and finally sleeping through the night), that I decided to take a real shot at it—to take my writing seriously and treat it as a job, in the hopes that one day it would become my job. So I wrote every night until I had the first (messy)version of Fracture.

BB: Fracture is your first book correct? What was the best and the hardest part of writing it?

MM: It is my first book, but I wrote it three times before I got it right. I wrote that first version over the course of four months, but it wasn’t working. The best part, actually, was those four months:the feeling that anything could happen, discovering my voice as a writer, developing the characters, letting the adrenaline push me through to the finish line. The hardest part was starting over. Twice. Though the second time was easier, because I had the confidence by then to know I could do it again.

BB: I picked up a copy of Fracture at this year’s BookExpo. The copy’s cover was bear with only the title in bold letter across the front. I’ve recently seen the final cover, and it’s beautiful. I wanted to ask you, as an author and the creator of Fracture, how much of a hand do you have in the cover’s creation?

MM: Not much, which, in my case, is a good thing. Art and I, we are not one with the universe. My publisher and I had a conversation about some ideas early on—I thought their ideas sounded fantastic, and I said as much. Then, when they had a cover concept, they asked for my feedback, and I was all AHH, I LOVE IT. So…I guess if I had reservations, we would’ve discussed it further, but there was no need. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine a more fitting cover. I am so thrilled with it.

BB: According to your “about me” section of your website, you’re a scientist turned   teacher turned writer. How have your previous lines of work inspired your current? How has it shaded and molded Fracture into what it is?

MM: Well, I think who I am colors how I write. I may see things more from that science background ,and I question the why and how and what-if a lot. I’m not sure if it’s my previous work that influences Fracture as much as my passions that influence it. I was, and still am, passionate about science—both what we can explain and what we can’t—just like I am, and always have been, passionate about writing. I hope both sides of me show through in Fracture.

BB: When creating characters, do you think it’s easier to create characters based upon people you know or creating them from your imagination?

MM: Definitely from my imagination. Honestly, though, that’s the part I enjoy the most: developing characters, letting them take over and discovering who they are. The relationships are the most interesting to me, so it’s not so much just creating characters as it is creating relationships. I can’t say I’ve based any character off of anyone I know, though I’m sure there are small elements that make it in.

BB: What was the inspiration behind Fracture?

MM: I’ve always been drawn to the stories we can’t explain—the people who survive what they shouldn’t—the unexplainable, the almost-miracles. For all that science can explain, there is still so much unknown about the brain. People can change after developing a tumor, or after an injury, or they can recover in different ways. Which to me begged the question, how much of us is determined by our DNA? How much of us is something more? I had a lot of questions like that churning away inside of me, and writing Fracture was kind of my outlet for them.

BB: As a young adult author, what are some of your favorite young adult books out there now?

MM: Oh, this could be a very long list. Some of my all-time favorite YA books are: I am the Messenger, Looking for Alaska, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Imaginary Girls, If I Stay, Where She Went, and Before I Fall.

BB: I’m sure readers will want to know, what’s up next for you? If you’re working on a new book, could you share any details about it?

MM: I’m currently revising my second book, due to come out early 2013. It’s another standalone, kind of in the same vein as Fracture in that it walks the line a bit between science and paranormal. But it also walks the line between the real and the imagined. It’s a psychological thriller, it’s about memories, and it’s about friendship…and that’s all I can say at the moment!

BB: What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Advice that you wish someone would have given you before writing Fracture?

MM: I’d tell people to embrace what makes them different. I believe that’s what’ll make you stand out. And also, the delete key is not your enemy.

***

THANK YOU to Megan Miranda for answering some of my burning questions. I loved Fracture and hope that all of you will when you read it (because I know you will)! For more information on author Megan Miranda check out her website. And don’t forget to get your own copy of Fracture (due out January 2012)!

Fracture

Fracture by Megan Miranda (will be released January 17, 2012)

When Delaney Maxwell falls through a frozen Maine lake, sinking deeper and deeper into the bone chilling water she knows she’s a goner. So do all of her friends struggling to save her. And for a whole eleven minutes Delaney was clinically dead. Until boy next door and best friend Decker pulls her out, and saves her life.

But something isn’t right. Delaney may be alive, physically, but she can still feel death settling in all around her, causing a spine tingling sensation to race through her body – pulling her in every direction. She’s not sure what’s happening to her  and neither are her doctors. Does anyone know what’s going on?

There’s one person who knows what’s going on. Unfortunately for Delaney he’s a stranger who believes this new-found gift is a curse that only death can bring to an end.

Fracture, debut novel by author Megan Miranda, is a startlingly realistic read that will not let down. Attention will be captured within only a few short pages, and by the end reader’s will find themselves biting their nails. Everything that readers could want out of a book is packed into Miranda’s solid novel: romance, thrills, and even a bit of mystery.

Besides a strong plot that was wonderfully executed, what made Fracture such an impressive read was that it was character driven. Each character from Delaney to Decker are real, openly honest, and written with lots of emotion. Readers will instantly connect with them, especially Delaney, and by the end will feel as if a close friend is retelling their own, often scary story.

Readers will find it hard to pull themselves away from this read. Author Miranda has demonstrated that she’s a skilled writer and will leave readers anticipating her next book.

Book of the Week: Annie Hoot and the Knitting Extravaganza

Annie Hoot and the Knitting Extravaganza by Holly Clifton-Brown

Published: 2010 by Andersen Press USA

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

The end papers are balls of yarn. And as I look at it, it makes me think “Boy! Wouldn’t a cat love to get his/her paws on those!”

I love owls! And main character Annie is an owl.

I love how Annie is described as “scatterbrained”. I instantly related to her.

This book shows the importance of being creative, and thinking outside of the box.

Not only are Annie’s knits bold, but so is she. She’s not afraid to be different. In fact, she embraces it.

This book is full of character.

Annie Hoot takes her knits on the road … or rather air via (knitted) hot air balloon. She visits some exotic places like the Rain Forest, the plains of Africa, and even the Arctic.

I loved how this book is a geography lesson wrapped up in a colorful package. Not only geography, but readers will get the chance to learn what animals are native to these exotic places. This book isn’t just fun, it’s educational.

Annie is one crafty bird! She’s a girl after my own heart.

This book shows the importance of individuality.

Some of her creations include: knitted umbrellas for the birds of the rain forest, super longs scarves for the giraffes (not going to lie, I laughed a little at that sight), and even polka-dot pull-overs for the penguins of the Arctic.

Even though the animals often find that Annie’s knits aren’t practical for their life, they don’t discourage her from keeping on. I think this really shows the importance of having people that are supportive in your life.

I love in the illustrations Annie is seen perched on an elephant’s trunk, and a walrus’ back.

This book shows that everyone, big or small, needs and wants to feel needed.

The writing is perky, and solid. But what makes Annie Hoot such a hit is the illustrations. Even though it’s subdued, it fits the personality of the character and the plot.

This book features knitting – a craft that may be viewed as old school, but is swiftly making a hip comeback! And it makes me want to knit.

Annie Hoot is a real inspiration. I think she shows readers how to take control of your dreams, and make them come true.

Anya’s Ghost

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya’s life is far from perfect. Her annoying six-year-old brother insists on burying her jewelry in the front yard, her only friend is more insulting than friendly, and her mother tries to force greasy, fatty food upon her. As if all that isn’t bad enough, Sean, her crush, already has a girlfriend, and not just a girlfriend, a perfect one.

There has to be a way for Anya to escape her life and her thoughts, even just for a little while. Anya runs, without a direction, straight into an abandoned well. Could it get any worse?

Yes, much worse. Down there, Anya meets the ghost of a girl long dead, who’s looking for a life of her own. Soon, she becomes, not only a friend, but Anya’s Ghost. Written by illustrator/author Vega Brosgol, this first graphic novel, packs a real punch.

Different elements and genre’s blend to make an unforgettable read. It’s realistic yet full of mystery. It’s witty yet full of suspense. But at its core, Anya’s Ghost is a very traditional ghost story, using the intricate black and white illustrations to instill a sense of foreboding into readers.  Slow and steady, Brosgol’s writing is solid, and really does thrust the story forward.

Full of twists and turns Anya’s Ghost will leave readers feeling satisfied, yet scared. Just how they want to feel after reading a true ghost story!