Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: Replication: The Jason Experiment by Jill Williamson

Book Description via Goodreads:

Hardcover, 301 pages
December 27, 2011, Zondervan

When Your Life Is Not Your Own

Martyr---otherwise known as Jason 3:3---is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to 'expire' in less than a month. To see the sky.

Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars.

As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures---the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he's ever known.

Source: Candice & Zondervan! (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Abby Goyer was what I would describe as the closest to perfect: nice, intelligent, pretty and rich. But throughout the book, she kept her feet on the ground and went out of her way to help out other people. Her mother died of cancer and she only had her dad now, who is always busy with work and comes home late. With her cat, Einstein, her friend Kylee and her friend/somewhat suitor who was crushing on her, JD Kane, she adjusted to Alaska fairly well. But her state of almost perfection was about to be ruined because she was about to meet Martyr, a boy from the underground laboratory where her dad worked.

J:3:3 aka Martyr was one of the 50+ clones living in Jason Farms. He was a nice guy with a natural sweetness, protectiveness and concern for everyone. In fact, he got his nickname from his constant attempts to protect the Brokens – the weak close who were unable to protect themselves – from the bullies Iron Man and Fido. His dedication to his friends and brothers, particularly to Baby and Hummer, two of the Brokens, was admirable. But the bad news of his life was that he was about to expire in a few weeks. His last wish was to see the sky before he expires. So when he got the chance to escape, he took it.

Life as a clone was hard especially when their life was not their own. They were used for scientific purposes. They were fed a different kind and flavor of reality – they had no knowledge of real life and the truth beyond the laboratory. For every Jason, their purpose was to expire and to help save the people on the outside world.

After Martyr escaped Jason Farms, he met Abby. At first, Abby was not sure what to make of him but she believed the possibility of his existence since her father was a molecular biologist involved in human cloning activities in the past. Abby kept him away from her father and helped him understand life outside the laboratory. Martyr was a very intriguing and endearing character. He was naturally curious, filled with questions about everything around him. He had a longing for a purpose especially after finding out about Abby’s God. His innocence combined with his curious nature led to funny moments like when he tried to imitate the way Abby prayed before eating. He said ‘thank you, sir’ in the end. It was really intriguing for me to know Martyr’s thoughts. He asked many questions such as why the sky is black during the night, how a baby got in the stomach, what love is and what a wife is. His innocence and purity mixed well with the humor.

Well-written, unpredictable, suspense, and simply addicting, I was not able to put Replication down. Replication blew me away with its humor, twists and turns and a blooming romance. This will keep readers entertained and engrossed. I highly recommend this to science fiction readers! Don’t miss out on this gripping novel!


Also, there's an on-going giveaway for Replication! We included it in Dystopian Domination 2. Join the contest here.

Fun MiddleGrade Angel Book + Author Interview with with SR Johannes

So it’s January 31st today. What’s special about today, you might be wondering. Why mention the date and all when this blogger from Fragments of Life posts on any day of the week? Well, today is different because it’s the publication date of On the Bright Side by SR Johannes, the amazing author of Untraceable (published last year.)

Today, I have her here at Fragments of Life for a short interview. I love angels. I really do. I’ve only ever encountered one middlegrade angel book before – Angel Creek by Sally Rippin. But this novel of Johannes is different. Different how? Read the interview and you’ll see. :)

First of all, where did you get the inspiration for On the Bright Side?

I have an obsession with death. With all the dark books out there, I wanted to write a funny book about death. I thought it would be cute to have a disgruntled angel covering someone she hated when she was alive. It made for good conflict.

So...heaven is not what Gabby thought it would be. Can you describe it to us?

I wanted kids to be able to read this book without worrying about the religious aspect of Heaven and God so it is very different than any religion portrays it. I didn’t want the stereotypical heaven of clouds and rainbows.

I want kids to step away from anything they have heard or thought and allow themselves to explore a new world. So I created a technologically advanced Afterlife with cities that were extremely eco-friendly. Everything is state of the art. I wanted kids to think Cirrus was fun and whimsy yet hip and modern.

Writing from a teen's point of view is not as difficult as writing from a tween's point of view. Is this true? Have you experienced his difficulty? How did you do it?

I have a harder time writing tween. Mainly because I am too snarky and I think most characters are sweeter and more innocent. They are not smarty-pants. So nailing the voice is hard. I also wanted to hit the sweet spot of 13/14. That time when kids struggle between being a kid and wanting to be grown up.

Can you tell us about Gabby's voice and personality?
She is not very confortable in her own skin but you would never know because she does stand up for herself. She’s the person who would cry behind close doors. She’s snarky and tells it like it is. She’s definitely kinda grumpy and moody. I adore her relationship with Jessica. I think they are funny together. Kinda yin and yang.

What are the things related to 'guardian angel life/culture' that you maintained in your novel?

I kinda made up everything. I made up why they train, how they train, how they protect, where they go when they don’t protect. That they have to learn to protect. So I would say it’s all new and different.

Which part did you like writing the most: beginning, middle or end? Why?

I love the beginning because I think it sets the stage perfectly – a disgruntled angel counting all the rules that have been broken at a funeral. But I also love the end when GabbyAND Angela redeem themselves in their own way.

About On the Bright Side:

On the Bright Side is a hilarious road to guardian angeldom paved with so much drama and due-paying that it makes middle school look painless.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. Until Gabby finds out she has to protect Angela, her school nemesis, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. Problem is, Angela is now hitting on Gabby's should-have-been boyfriend. (awkward!)

Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (like tripping is a sin?) at the hopes of cooling off the new couple. At first, they seem harmless until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, her Celestial Sky Agent, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, puts Gabby on probation, threatening her eternal future. 

Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Harper Teen Dystopian Prize Pack Giveaway!

Hi everyone! So today is the last post for Dystopian Domination 2, Part 1: Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Novels. Just like last year, we have a prize pack for you guys. One of the most awesome publishers ever, Harper Teen, agreed to be a part of Dystopian Domination 2 and will be sponsoring this giveaway.

But first, before I post the rafflecopter form, what about a round-up of DD2, Part 1?

Harper Teen Dystopian Prize Pack Giveaway!

The prize will be sent by the publisher, so it’s only open to US residents (including anyone who has a US adyy or know someone there who can receive the prize pack for them.)

This form and the form at Amaterasu Reads is one and the same. :) You only need to enter once!

So what’s included in the prize pack?
  1. Finished copy of Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
  2. Finished copy of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  3. Finished copy of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Author Interview with Jill Williamson + Giveaway: Replication: The Jason Experiment!

So guys and girls this is the last post for Dystopian Domination 2, Part 1. Today, I have Jill Williamson with me for an author interview about her book, Replication. It’s a science fiction book – not exactly dystopian – but during my Goodreads research, I found out that lots of people shelved it as dystopian. Tomorrow, there will be a Prize Pack Giveaway. And then after that, there will be Part 2!

How much research did she put in for Replication?

I had to do quite a bit of scientific research when I wrote Replication back in 2007. Then I did some more research when the book sold since technology is always changing. I wanted to make sure everything still made sense. I also did some research on fires for the scene toward the end of the book and interviewed a couple of fire fighters. It was all quite fascinating. 

If you were in Abby's place, what will she do if she finds Martyr?

If I found a clone that I recognized in my house… I probably would have reacted a lot like Pastor Scott. My husband is a youth pastor, and we’ve run into some interesting situations over the years. But once I became convinced I had a clone in my presence, I would do all I could to help. Plus I love teaching, so I’d likely have fun teaching him things he didn’t know.
Who did you enjoy writing the most? Martyr? J.D.?

Martyr for sure! It was so much fun to look at the world through his eyes. To see a cat but since Martyr was never taught about cats, to assume it was a dog because that was the closest logical conclusion he could make. Writing Martyr’s character actually made me reflect on some things I hadn’t thought about in a long time: the beauty of creation, the wonders of technology, and how people treat strangers. Martyr’s dialogue was also lots of fun.

The lesson or message do you want to send to the readers while reading Replication?

You are a one-of-a-kind creation—even if you’re an identical twin with identical DNA! You only get one life on this earth. Don’t take it for granted. Make the most of your time here. Only you can be you and fulfill the purpose you were intended for.

If there's a chance, will you write a sequel for Replication? Or will you leave the story at that?

I had two more book ideas for this series, so if the opportunity comes along, I’d love to write them.

Giveaway: Hardcover of Replication by Jill Williamson

When Your Life Is Not Your Own

Martyr---otherwise known as Jason 3:3---is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to 'expire' in less than a month. To see the sky.

Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars.

As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures---the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he's ever known.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review: On the Fringe by Courtney King Walker

Book Description via Goodreads:

Paperback, 272 pages
October 19, 2011, Lands Atlantic Publishing, LLC 

Claire is struggling to overcome the murder of her childhood friend and secret crush, Daniel. Everyone else seems to be moving on with their lives, but she's still trying to cope. The fact that she finds herself alone and drowning on her 16th birthday isn't helping.

Neither is thinking she sees Daniel's face in murky water as she mysteriously resurfaces. But something happened during those four and a half minutes that will make her realize it was not just her imagination.

As Claire and Daniel try to grasp a possible reconnection, other grudge-holding beings have plans of their own. Now, the two of them have to decide if their fleeting relationship is worth the possibility of Claire being trapped on the fringe forever.

Beautifully told, On the Fringe intertwines fresh ideas about devotion, revenge, and the consequences that come with life and death.

Source: Courtney King Walker (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Claire was still alive although she died for a little while on her 16th birthday. She was still in the phase of mourning for the death of her childhood friend and love, Daniel. I was amazed with the depth of her emotions for Daniel. But I knew what it was like to have someone’s face and someone’s voice in your head for a very, very long time so I could relate to how she was feeling. When she realized that Daniel could possibly still be on earth, Claire started to hope.

Daniel was dead. But somehow he hasn’t moved on to the other world. He was attached to Claire but mind you, he barely remembered or even realized this, not until he was dead. Daniel’s experiences as a ghost were intriguing. I liked how the creativity and imagination that the author showed through her concept of traveling and reliving memories. It was a common idea that when people die, they see a flashback of their life surging in their heads. Walker took this idea to the next level by integrating it to ghost life. Daniel was living ‘on the fringe’ and there, not every ghost was as harmless as him.

They were a cute couple albeit an unconventional one. Their relationship was fueled by the second chance to be together. For them, every minute was important. It was justifiable since the two have been friends since childhood and they knew each other well. They have seen each other’s best and worst and I suppose that made it easier for them to be close. Their relationship was a combination of the sweet and nostalgic quality behind the relationship of Grace and Daniel from The Dark Divine by Bree Despain and the complication of Amelia and Joshua’s relationship from Hereafter by Tara Hudson.

The author did a good job with the action, scary scenes and tension-filled scenes in this novel. The flashbacks and the jumping from past to present were smooth, vivid and well-done. Overall, On the Fringe was enjoyable but I felt that there’s still room for improvement on the thrill and unpredictability department.

On the Fringe is what I imagine would be the baby of The Dark Divine by Bree Despain and Hereafter by Tara Hudson. Bittersweet, tragic, imaginative and against-all-odds, On the Fringe will appeal to paranormal romance readers! I recommend this!


Character Interview with Faris + Giveaway: When Copper Suns Fall by KaSonndra Leigh!

Hi everyone! So…you’ve noticed that the past posts have been guest posts and author interviews. For today, I’m switching back to character interviews. And oh man, I have a very interesting interview for you guys. Girls make sure that you read this. I have a feeling you’ll like it. Today I invited Faris, a rather intriguing guy who lives 55 years in the future, back to our time for this interview.

Can you introduce yourself to us?

Name’s Faris. Faris Toulan. I’m a Caducean, a demon slayer. There isn’t really much else to say. **Glances at me with a set of intense gray eyes that shimmer inside the irises. I wonder if they’re really gray, or could they be silver** People around you might not understand why my skills are necessary in this day and time, but they will. You’ll be glad you had this interview with me.

In what way are you connected to Chela? 

Hmm. **massages the back of his neck as he thinks about this** Our connection is, well…difficult to explain. You see, if I tell you about it, then you’d be at risk. **I’m dying to know what he means. Before I can say anything, he continues.** That means I’d have to take a part of your memories. I can do that, you know. **I suck my breath. Did he just read my mind?** I’ll do anything to protect Chela. Our connection is beyond words.

What can you say about your life? 

 I told you, there isn’t really much I can say. But I will tell you to be happy with what you’ve got today. Your blue skies, clean air. **he glances toward the window beside us, staring at it a long moment** Are those birds outside? 55 years in the future, that would be in this world after the Tidal Years, there are no birds. They’re gone. Poof. Vanished. You have robots. Big, black, ugly crows with cameras for eyes. They’re looking for me. Or rather, people like me. I’m an outcast according to the new leaders. They blame the Caduceans for what happened in the past: wars, earthquakes, hurricanes**A distant look clouds his eyes. I want to know what they’re seeing**

What do you think of the present world?

 You’re lucky. Very lucky. See my last answer if you need proof of that.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen here so far? Why?

Everything about this world seems strange since the last time I was here. In my world, you get used to seeing dark stuff everywhere. Black waters, black beaches, gray skies.  **I wonder what he means, but I’ve learned to be patient with him.** I’ve been here before, you know. How is that possible? I can hear your thoughts so easily. **He smiles a drop-down-dead-gorgeous smile with one dimple on the left cheek. My cheeks are probably blushing tomato red** You’ll have to read about my story to see how I got here. And your outdated cellereaders crack me up. **He means my cell phone lying on the desk beside us. He’s giving it a look of pure pity. I tell him this is the 4G version of the latest Droid. And I’m kinda mad because I used six months worth of my wages to buy it.**  The screen doesn’t have enough pixels. You can’t even read thumb imprints with that thing. Anybody could steal it and use it. **again, he has a point. Sigh sigh**

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve seen here? Why?

As I said, I’ve been here before. But I don’t remember hearing so much laughter.  What surprises me is all the happy-smiley people you have here. In the future, smiles are an endangered species. Enjoy them while they last.

If you had a chance to choose between living in our world and in yours, which one would you choose? Why?

 The mirrorlands, that’s what we Caduceans call your world, can’t touch mine. Ours is older than yours. I don’t mean to sound conceited. But it’s true. My world Bardonia is on the other side of the doorway. It’s parallel to this world. The skies are clear. The waters are sapphire blue and jade green in some places. There’s even this island where the waterfalls flow toward the sky. No pollution. No disease from contaminated waters. So tell me. Which one would you choose? **Does he even need to ask?**

Can you name one thing, event or custom that reminds you of your world?

Bonding. That type of connection Chela has with me, it’s the same way at home. But the thing is I’m not at home. I can’t go back to Bardonia. I’m exiled, cursed to live in the mirrorlands. And not a pretty little place like your 2012 world. In the future, I’m hunted like an animal by the humans. And targeted by our enemies, the Tainted. I guess the answer could be violence, too. That really hasn’t changed much over time. **he sighs deeply, lowers his head, and stays quiet**

Giveaway: When Copper Suns Fall by KaSonndra Leigh (Signed Paperback and Ebook)

There will be two winners. One will win the signed paperback (US) and the other will win the ebook (International). 

In fifteen-year-old Chela Prizeon’s city, alchemy is forbidden and angels hide among the mortal. With a deadly virus ravaging the globe, Chela’s nightmarish memories compels her to experience a past riddled with gloom, and now her brother is infected.

Chela’s only hope is the Caduceans, slayers sworn to protect the last seven Light Keepers and the ancient memories they share. A group led by the sometimes elusive, sometimes infuriating boy who intrigues Chela. But can she trust this boy with the mysterious past, someone who can influence her memories?

With the Caduceans aid, Chela races to defeat her rivals, to unearth dark family secrets, desperate to find a cure…only to discover the glutovirus is far more than a simple disease.

In this haunting debut, KaSonndra Leigh offers an escape into a world as intriguing as The Mortal Instruments and a story as chilling as Enclave. Full of celestial creatures, fascinating villainy, high-stake choices, and a secret romance, When Copper Suns Fall, is a fresh and original urban fantasy—with a dystopian twist—that will take readers on an unforgettable adventure.