Saturday, June 24, 2017

Author Chat: Carlie Sorosiak, Author of If Birds Fly Back


"Hi! I’m Carlie, and I wrote a book called If Birds Fly Back, which is about missing people and astrophysics and kissing and one completely transformative summer.

Although I grew up in North Carolina, I split my time between the UK and the US, hoping to gain an accent like Madonna’s. I have two polydactyl cats (Google it!) who are my writing companions, but I don’t let them type on my keyboard. Somewhere in my parents’ attic are all three of my degree certificates: one from UNC-Chapel Hill, one from Oxford, and another from City, University of London.

You can find me on Twitter at @carliesorosiak and as carliesorosiak on Instagram." (text and photo taken from Carlie's website
)
 
 
 
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? If not, what pseudonym would you pick for yourself?

I've always wanted to use my own name, because there are so few Sorosiaks - I have to represent!

Besides writing or reading, what is your favorite hobby?

Is cuddling cute animals a hobby? That's my favorite. I have two old golden retrievers and two polydactyl cats at home, and they pretty much make my life.

Do you have any writing quirks or habits?

When I'm on deadline, I write in one-hour blocks. I use the stopwatch on my phone and, every hour, force myself to take a dance break... usually to Taylor Swift.

Who is your favorite character that you've created?

I'd have to say Sebastian in If Birds Fly Back, largely because he's an aspiring astrophysicist and I had the opportunity to learn about the universe.

How did publishing your first novel change your writing process?

Publishing a first novel leads to things like deadlines and heightened expectations. I wrote If Birds Fly Back in an MA program surrounded by friends, and my second novel mostly alone at my kitchen table, with the eventuality that my agent and editors would read it along with a boatload of other people. I'm not sure how much my writing process has changed - I still begin with setting, work my way to characters, and then eventually arrive at the plot - but the writing process for my second book was tinged with more anxiety. Would anyone like my sophomore novel? Was the first one a fluke? Etc., to infinity.

What book are you currently reading in your spare time?

I'm currently reading The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord. I'm in love!


About Carlie's upcoming release, which will hit shelves on June 27:

A sparkling debut about love, family, and the mysteries of the universe.

Linny has been fascinated by disappearances, ever since her sister Grace ran away in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.

Sebastian can tell you how many galaxies there are, and knows how much plutonium weighs. But the one thing he can’t figure out is the identity of his birth father.

They’ve never met, but Linny and Sebastian have one thing in common: an obsession with famous novelist and filmmaker Alvaro Herrera, who went missing three years ago and has just reappeared. As they learn more about the mystery of Alvaro, Linny and Sebastian uncover the answers they’ve been searching for.

With humor and heart, debut author Carlie Sorosiak weaves a story of finding people who leave and loving those who stay, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Emery Lord. (taken from goodreads.com)
 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: If Birds Fly Back

Waiting On Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. It's a weekly post for you to share what upcoming books you can't wait for!

Title: If Birds Fly Back

Author: Carlie Sorosiak 
Release Date: June 27, 2017


A sparkling debut about love, family, and the mysteries of the universe.

Linny has been fascinated by disappearances, ever since her sister Grace ran away in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.

Sebastian can tell you how many galaxies there are, and knows how much plutonium weighs. But the one thing he can’t figure out is the identity of his birth father.

They’ve never met, but Linny and Sebastian have one thing in common: an obsession with famous novelist and filmmaker Alvaro Herrera, who went missing three years ago and has just reappeared. As they learn more about the mystery of Alvaro, Linny and Sebastian uncover the answers they’ve been searching for.

With humor and heart, debut author Carlie Sorosiak weaves a story of finding people who leave and loving those who stay, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Emery Lord. but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her. (taken from goodreads.com)

Why I Need It: 

This might be one of the 2017 debuts I'm most excited to check out. Everything about it sounds wonderful, from the original and meaningful title to the interesting characters. Can't wait to head to the beach and devour this one once it comes out. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys


Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Format: E-Book

Page Count: 393

Rating: 

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (
Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope. (taken from goodreads.com)


“Just when you think this war has taken everything you loved,
you meet someone and realize that somehow you still have more to give."

This is one of those books that I really picked up on a whim. It came available at my library, and I shrugged as I checked it out. I'd always read good things about it, and even a year after its release date, it's still got a strong rating on GoodReads.

The first 50 pages or so confused me quite a bit. The point of view constantly switches, and you barely have time to understand who is speaking and what is happening before you're whipped into the next narrator's chapter. My guess is that Sepetys is trying to convey the confusion and disconnectedness of war through this storytelling method, but honestly, it made me take longer to really get into the book. Finally, the characters come together, and I rubbed my hands in glee thinking, "Oh yeah, now it'll get really good."

I don't often read historical fiction, but when I do, I always enjoy it. Perhaps I should be giving it a shot more often. Sepetys does a neat job of folding historical accuracy into her story. I found myself double checking facts or researching towns that she mentioned, and to me, that is a sign of a well-written historical novel.

I have read several World War II novels before, but most of them focus on Jewish families or concentration camps. Sepetys' novel, on the other hand, focuses on refugees who have not been captured. Her characters are German, Polish, and Latvian, and it was interesting to read about their differences and their pasts. I think it is easy for us to forget the huge scope of World War II and the millions of people who were impacted by political invasions and violent battles. Sepetys covers a large range of topics, from Hitler's obsession with stealing famous art pieces to the issues of class differences in Germany.

Obviously, the book's most predominant historical reference is to the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, which apparently was the largest shipwreck in known history. It was difficult to learn about the characters and their struggles, knowing all the while how things were going to end. Still, if you're fearing a tearful and unsatisfactory ending, then take heart in knowing that Sepetys weaves a little bit of a happy ending into the tragedy.

The story wasn't stellar, in my opinion. There are really not any huge reveals or inventive plot ideas. However, I don't think the point of this novel was to wow audiences with an original story. It was to document the fears and struggles experienced by many real people decades ago. Sepetys' characters helped her to tell the story she hoped share, and I am glad to have read Salt to the Sea because I have learned more about an influential time and event in history.

This is definitely not a lighthearted read, so maybe don't pack this one in your beach bag or anything. If you are in the mood for a sober (and saddening) look at history, then I do suggest that you give Salt to the Sea a shot at some point. It's well-written and informative, and you'll finish the novel feeling as though you've really spent some time in the shoes of WWII survivors.
 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: Scythe by Neil Shusterman


Title:
Scythe

Series: Arc of a Sycthe #1
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Format: E-Book

Page Count: 435

Rating: 

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own. (taken from goodreads.com)


"The killers are rising to power... and if they do, the days of this world will be very dark indeed."

This is such an original read, and it's executed perfectly. Bravo to Shusterman for this stellar futuristic story.

I first picked Scythe up at the recommendation of a friend, and I was surprised that I hadn't really heard of it before. Despite having done fairly well with critics and some bloggers, I can't help but feel that this 2016 release has been sadly overlooked. I, for one, plan to change that by advising everyone I know to enjoy this twisted, moving novel.

Shusterman's premise is truly fascinating. His too-perfect future rings with authenticity, and I found myself nodding at his descriptions of humanity and our quest for perfection. Unlike many YA dystopian novels, Scythe strikes me as a potential classic for years to come. I see no reason why it shouldn't eventually join the ranks of 1984 and other novels that tackle questions concerning the end of humanity. Its unique concept of "enlightened" death bringers instantly caught my attention, and I found myself racing through the novel and constantly thinking about it.

I was surprised by how much Scythe reminded me of The Book Thief. It's not really as if the two novels are similar: one is set in WWII Germany, the other in a futuristic America where no one dies naturally. However, something about the omniscient narrator and candid descriptions of human nature struck me as familiar. Shusterman tackles B-I-G themes for a YA novel, and his overarching questions are more than a little terrifying.

There's a dash of romance, but just enough to make things interesting. Citra and Rowan's relationship is so much more than a simple fling, and there are so many more important themes than their small romance. I was much more fascinated by the world-building, which is incredibly subtle yet effective. Everything from the Thunderhead to the traditions of the scythes is meticulously described, as though Shusterman doesn't want us to see too much of what is going on behind the curtain. I appreciated the simplicity of this new world, as well as Shusterman's ability to constantly pique my curiosity.

This high-stakes novel was easily one of the most intriguing books I've read this year. Although I think Scythe could probably be a stand alone, I've heard that Shusterman plans to release the sequel sometime next year, and I'm definitely interested to see how the world of death and scythedom has shaped our two protagonists. The ending of the first book gave me chills, so I'm anxious to see what new horrors and characters will enter the next installment.