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Friday, January 30, 2015

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Woven by Michael Jensen & David Powers King

I was lucky enough to be able to be a part of Michael Jensen and David Powers King's Blog Tour for their book Woven. You can check out of my review of that here, if you guys haven't checked it out already. I have some goodies for you guys today such as a brief Q&A, a giveaway directly from the authors (see below), and some great info about the book. Hopefully, if my review didn't get you to go get this book this will help you!

 About the Authors:

David Powers King (left) was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to become a writer. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He now lives in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Photo credit: Katie Pyne Rasmussen


Michael Jensen (right) is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s prestigious music, dance, and theater program. Michael taught voice at BYU before establishing his own vocal instruction studio. In addition to being an imaginative storyteller, Michael is an accomplished composer and vocalist. He lives in Salt Lake City with his husband and their four dogs.

Photo credit: Michael Schoenfeld


Praise for Woven:

"It’s not often that you read a fantasy that feels as epic and original as Woven by King and Jensen. Clever, well-paced, and full of intrigue, it’s a superb read. Highly recommended."
— James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner

"WOVEN reads like a lost classic that was somehow just rediscovered. It has the feel of a comfortable, familiar blanket that's somehow been newly-made of the brightest, most original material possible, and it is pure pleasure to read."
 James A. Owen, author & illustrator of Here, There Be Dragons

"The worldbuilding is dynamic, original and intriguing … and the characters, appealing. A sure bet for high-fantasy fans." — Kirkus Reviews

"This brisk adventure from first-time authors Jensen and King is a charming quest tale in classic fantasy tradition." — Publisher’s Weekly

Book description from Goodreads:

WOVEN by Michael Jensen and David Powers King, published by Scholastic

Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

Available now wherever books are sold


Q&A with both Michael Jensen & David Powers King about Woven:

Is Avërand based on a real place?

We drew some inspiration for Avërand from medieval Scandinavian influences. Some of the names like Tyra and Lars were common in that region.

Are all of the characters in Woven purely from imagination or are they based on people either of you know?

There are some character elements that we drew from people we know. Since this is a collaboration, and neither of us have the same social influences, the characters really took on their own identities.

Which character do you most identify with and why?

Michael: Like Nels, I want to make a difference in the world and sometimes I feel powerless to do so. That's when I have to remember to be myself and let others assist me on my journey. I've also been in Tyra's shoes. Comfy as they were, I had to get outside of myself and stop waiting for my handsome knight to take my responsibilities from me. Sometimes the common people in your life can be the ones to help you trust your abilities.

David: I saw a lot of myself in Nels in the early drafts of this novel, an all-around good guy who is happiest doing right in the world and treating others with respect. Would this change if I had died and became a ghost? This idea led to some unexpectedly wonderful character development, and personal discoveries for myself.

Do either of you have a favorite scene or moment in the book? If so, which and why?

Michael: As a teacher, I can't help but get a little giddy whenever my students have those discovery "ah hah" moments. Woven is full of those moments. I think one of my favorite is when Tyra dances with the Vagas and discovers her true feelings about Sir Arek—more so about herself and why she's made some poor decisions.

David: I’m very fond of the dance scene as well. There is a moment that chokes me up every time near the end (hard to explain without spoiling). It resonates with me since I experienced a loss in my family. The banter between Nels and Tyra is exquisite, too. They steal the show when they’re together, as they should.

Rafflecopper Giveaway Link (One of 5 copies of Woven – signed by both authors):

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Bucket List: Matilda by Roald Dahl

There are books in your life that you come across and you know you have to read them. They can be old, they can be new but before your time runs out you have to find time to read them. Welcome to my Book Bucket List everyone!

Synopsis: Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she's knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she's a super-nerd and the teacher's pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda's world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there's the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. ("The") Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.

This one has been on my TBR list for many years. I love Roald Dahl and its film adaptation is one of my favorite movies growing up. So, why haven't I read it?  Well, it's because of what I just said, its film adaptation is one of my favorite movies. Therefore, I know that I won't judge it properly. My mind will be playing the movie in my head while I'm reading and I'll be laser focused on the the differences and seeing them in a negative light. Also, there is a special feeling you have when you have a favorite book or film from when you are a child and I'm afraid that the book will harm that feeling somehow. I'll have to push myself to get to eventually. Maybe when I have my own kids haha. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Extraction by Stephanie Diaz Review *Spoiler Alert*

1/5 Stars
Details of the book:
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Synopsis: "Welcome to Extraction testing."
Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too. 

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

With intense action scenes and a cast of unforgettable characters, Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender's Game and leave them breathless for more.

I have had a hard time deciding how to review this book. I really wanted to like it but there were so many factors that prevented me from just that. There were a lot of details that were so similar to other YA books I have read such as Divergent and a bit of The Hunger Games. Aside from that, Clementine (our main character) is in this all-or-nothing world where you either get "Extracted" and you get to live the good life or you fail and are forced to work as a slave until the government decides you are worthless and kills you via gas chamber at the age of 20. That sounds extreme and like something that should make you feel terrible, right? Yet somehow I didn't feel anything. I felt like I was being told to feel things. In theory, I could understand how things were terrible or sad, or both, but the way it's written didn't evoke those feelings fro me naturally.


1) I really liked the premise of the book. It sounded very interesting and had a lot of potential.

2) There are a couple of nice quotes.

3) I really love Logan. He's such a sweet guy.


1) Clementine, of course, is Extracted because she's really smart and she learns to fight extremely quickly, putting her at the top of her class. I have to say that for someone who is extremely intelligent and a fast-learner, she makes a lot of foolish decisions. I understand that stressful situations could cause a person not to be able to act and thinking clearly, but I can't give her that excuse. Why? Because Clementine knows that she is making the wrong decisions at the time she's making them but she allows herself to make these bad decisions even though she knows the outcome will be counterproductive to what she needs to accomplish.

On a side note: Clementine doesn't know how to swim. Then boom, the first time she's in the water ever she can deep sea dive.

2) I didn't feel anything throughout the entire book. Not scared, sad, or angry. The story tells you the exact moments when you should be feeling a whirlwind of emotions but it does nothing to manipulate the reader into actually feeling any of those things.

3) The romance was lacking. Clementine and Logan are together before the start of the plot so we don't get to see their relationship develop. Then they are also separated for the majority of the story so we don't get a feel for their relationship. There are several instances where the book makes the reader question their relationship. At the beginning, Clementine says that she willing to give up everything in order to move to Core, including Logan. Second, Clementine constantly thinks about how Logan doesn't want a better life for her, and talks about how angry he probably is that she left him. Logan's actions and words contradict that completely but the way Clementine thinks about these negative things makes you wonder how strong their relationship really is. If they were really in love, she would know that he wants what's best for her.

4) The setting details didn't make a lot of sense to me. Basically, the people live on the layers of the Earth. There is the Surface, Crust, Mantle, Lower, and the Core. The Surface being the worst place to live because the moon is leaking acid onto the planet (which apparently is done by a generator that an enemy planet has put there) and the best place to live is the Core. In my imagination, the Core of Earth seems like a pretty inhospitable place, so this doesn't make sense to me.

5) The similarities between Extraction to other books like The Hunger Games and especially Divergent is a huge problem for me. I have come to expect in YA novels that a lot of them are going to have a similar plot and a lot of the same characteristics, but this book was pushing it. Let me show you.

Similarities to Divergent:

a) Everyone in the Core is given injections so the government can control them to be a mindless army.

b) The injection doesn't work on Clementine. "Their injection," I say. "The one that makes everyone submissive. It didn't work on me."When its explained to her as to why the injection doesn't work another character says: "They try to make us conform, but we fight them and don't give in." The wording is even similar. Although I think this wording comes more from the film version from Divergent but you get what I'm saying.

c) Sam, a character that hates Clementine because of how well she does when she goes into training. He makes several attempts at killing and raping her. This is pretty much Peter in a nutshell except that Sam doesn't ever try to turn things around.

d) Clementine in her training is forced into a simulation (that is very similar to a fear-landscape) where she is forced to hurt the person she loves the most? Why? Because Commander Charlie was testing her loyalty to her new home. This is one of Tris' biggest fears that she'll have to kill someone from her old home.

Similarities to The Hunger Games:

a) Logan has a weak leg and walks with a limp.

b) We have a President Snow in the character of Commander Charlie. He is the one behind the Extraction test that decides who is welcomed into higher society and he keeps all of the other citizens in separate sections of the Earth where they live in poverty and work in positions that can have them killed.

c) They have a scientific beautification process that takes away all of their flaws. This is only meant for the Core citizens so they are easily recognizable in comparison to the citizens of the other layers.

Favorite Quotes/Moments:

1) "I wonder what it feels like to sit up in there in one of those pods and know the woman on your right is your mother, and the man beside her is your father, and the kid next to you is your little sister or your older brother. I wonder what it feels like to know you belong without having to ask."

2) "You know, it wouldn't be your fault," Logan says.


His fingers slip through mine and close gently around my wrist. His other hand tangles in my curls, sending trickles of fire across the skin of my scalp. My breath falters on my lips.

"If they picked you, and you had to leave me," he whispers, "it wouldn't be your fault."

Rocks fill my throat, and my eyes grow watery. I blink fast. Moonlight trickles onto the street, over the skyscrapers.

"I might be back soon," I say. The instructors might eliminate me during the final processing, even before the announcement, like they eliminated Logan early this year. If they eliminate me, I'll be back with him in minutes. This will all be over.

"I hope you won't be," Logan says, a sad smile playing around the edges of his mouth.

3) "Promise me you won't do anything crazy." Please don't kill yourself, I mean. He knows what I mean; I can see it in his eyes.

But he doesn't answer. I wonder if I was right to bring up that option. Now, even if he says it won't be the one for him, I won't know if I believe him. I'll always worry that he'll wake up one more and decide he's done fighting.

I swallow hard. "Please promise."

"I promise I won't," he says quietly. "As long as there's any chance I might see you again, I won't."