Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday's Film Adaption: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Summary:
How can a fairy's blessing be such a curse?

In this incredible debut novel comes the richly entertaining story of Ella of Frell, who at birth was given the gift of obedience by a fairy. Ella soon realizes that this gift is little better than a curse, for how can she truly be herself if at anytime anyone can order her to hop on one foot, or cut off her hand, or betray her kingdom and she'll have to obey? Against a bold tapestry of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella's quest to break the curse once and for all and discover who she really is is as sharply funny as Catherine, Called Birdy and as richly poignant as Beauty, and has all the marks of a classic in the making. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.

CHAPTER ONE
     That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift. When I cried inconsolably through my first hour of life, my tears were her inspiration. Shaking her head sympathetically at Mother, the fairy touched my nose. "My gift is obedience. Ella will always be obedient. Now stop crying, child."
     I stopped.
     Father was away on a trading expedition as usual, but our cook, Mandy, was there. She and Mother were horrified, but no matter how they explained it to Lucinda, they couldn't make her understand the terrible thing she'd done to me. I could picture the argument: Mandy's freckles standing out sharper than usual, her frizzy gray hair in disarray, and her double chin shaking with anger; Mother still and intense, her brown curls damp from labor, the laughter gone from her eyes.
     I couldn't imagine Lucinda. I didn't know what she looked like.
     She wouldn't undo the curse.
     My first awareness of it came on my fifth birthday. I seem to remember that day perfectly, perhaps because Mandy told the tale so often.
     "For your birthday," she'd start, "I baked a beautiful cake. Six layers."
     Bertha, our head maid, had sewn a special gown for me. "Blue as midnight with a white sash. You were small for your age even then, and you looked like a china doll, with a white ribbon in your black hair and your cheeks red from excitement."
      In the middle of the table was a vase filled with flowers that Nathan, our manservant, had picked.
     We all sat around the table. (Father was away again.) I was thrilled. I had watched Mandy bake the cake and Bertha sew the gown and Nathan pick the flowers.
     Mandy cut the cake. When she handed me my piece, she said without thinking, "Eat."
     The first bite was delicious. I finished the slice happily. When it was gone, Mandy cut another. That one was harder. When it was gone, no one gave me more, but I knew I had to keep eating. I moved my fork into the cake itself.
     "Ella, what are you doing?" Mother said.
     "Little piggy." Mandy laughed. "It's her birthday, Lady. Let her have as much as she wants." She put another slice on my plate.
     I felt sick, and frightened. Why couldn't I stop eating?
     Swallowing was a struggle. Each bite weighed on my tongue and felt like a sticky mass of glue as I fought to get it down. I started crying while I ate.
     Mother realized first. "Stop eating, Ella," she commanded.
     I stopped. Anyone could control me with an order. It had to be a direct command, such as "Put on a shawl," or "You must go to bed now." A wish or a request had no effect. I was free to ignore "I wish you would put on a shawl," or "Why don't you go to bed now?" But against an order I was powerless.
     If someone told me to hop on one foot for a day and a half, I'd have to do it. And hopping on one foot wasn't the worst order I could be given. If you commanded me to cut off my own head, I'd have to do it.
     I was in danger at every moment.
     As I grew older, I learned to delay my obedience, but each moment cost me dear—in breathlessness, nausea, dizziness, and other complaints. I could never hold out for long. Even a few minutes were a desperate struggle.
     I had a fairy godmother, and Mother asked her to take the curse away. But my fairy godmother said Lucinda was the only one who could remove it. However, she also said it might be broken someday without Luanda's help.
     But I didn't know how. I didn't even know who my fairy godmother was.
     Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.
     Mother rarely insisted I do anything. Father knew nothing of the curse and saw me too infrequently to issue many commands. But Mandy was bossy, giving orders almost as often as she drew breath. Kind orders or for-your-own-good orders. "Bundle up, Ella." Or "Hold this bowl while I beat the eggs, sweet."
     I disliked these commands, harmless as they were. I'd hold the bowl, but move my feet so she would have to follow me around the kitchen. She'd call me minx and try to hem me in with more specific instructions, which I would find new ways to evade. Often, it was a long business to get anything done between us, with Mother laughing and egging each of us on by turn.
     We'd end happily—with me finally choosing to do what Mandy wanted, or with Mandy changing her order to a request.
     When Mandy would absentmindedly give me an order I knew she didn't mean, I'd say, "Do I have to?" And she'd reconsider.
     When I was eight, I had a friend, Pamela, the daughter of one of the servants. One day she and I were in the kitchen, watching Mandy make marchpane. When Mandy sent me to the pantry for more almonds, I returned with only two. She ordered me back with more exact instructions, which I followed exactly, while still managing to frustrate her true wishes.
     Later, when Pamela and I retreated to the garden to devour the candy, she asked why I hadn't done what Mandy wanted straight off.
     "I hate when she's bossy," I answered.
     Pamela said smugly, "I always obey my elders."
     "That's because you don't have to."
     "I do have to, or Father will slap me."
     "It's not the same as for me. I'm under a spell." I enjoyed the importance of the words. Spells were rare. Lucinda was the only fairy rash enough to cast them on people.
     "Like Sleeping Beauty?"
     "Except I won't have to sleep for a hundred years."
     "What's your spell?"
     I told her.
     "If anybody gives you an order, you have to obey? Including me?"
     I nodded.
     "Can I try it?"
     "No." I hadn't anticipated this. I changed the subject. "I'll race you to the gate."
     "All right, but I command you to lose the race."
     "Then I don't want to race."
     "I command you to race, and I command you to lose."
     We raced. I lost.
     We picked berries. I had to give Pamela the sweetest, ripest ones. We played princesses and ogres. I had to be the ogre.
     An hour after my admission, I punched her. She screamed, and blood poured from her nose.
     Our friendship ended that day. Mother found Pamela's mother a new situation far from our town of Frell.
     After punishing me for using my fist, Mother issued one of her infrequent commands: never to tell anyone about my curse. But I wouldn't have anyway. I had learned caution.
     When I was almost fifteen, Mother and I caught cold. Mandy dosed us with her curing soup, made with carrots, leeks, celery, and hair from a unicorn's tail. It was delicious, but we both hated to see those long yellow-white hairs floating around the vegetables.
Since Father was away from Frell, we drank the soup sitting up in Mother's bed. If he had been home,      I wouldn't have been in her room at all. He didn't like me to be anywhere near him, getting underfoot, as he said.
     I sipped my soup with the hairs in it because Mandy had said to, even though I grimaced at the soup and at Mandy's retreating back.
     "I'll wait for mine to cool," Mother said. Then, after Mandy left, she took the hairs out while she ate and put them back in the empty bowl when she was done.
     The next day I was well and Mother was much worse, too sick to drink or eat anything. She said there was a knife in her throat and a battering ram at her head. To make her feel better, I put cool cloths on her fore¬head and told her stories. They were only old, familiar tales about the fairies that I changed here and there, but sometimes I made Mother laugh. Except the laugh would turn into a cough.
     Before Mandy sent me off for the night, Mother kissed me. "Good night I love you, precious."
     They were her last words to me. As I left the room, I heard her last words to Mandy. "I'm not very sick. Don't send for Sir Peter."
     Sir Peter was Father.
     The next morning, she was awake, but dreaming. With wide-open eyes, she chattered to invisible courtiers and plucked nervously at her silver necklace. To Mandy and me, there in the room with her, she said nothing.
     Nathan, the manservant, got the physician, who hurried me away from Mother's side.
     Our hallway was empty. I followed it to the spiral staircase and walked down, remembering the times Mother and I had slid down the banister.
     We didn't do it when people were around. "We have to be dignified," she would whisper then, stepping down the stairs in an especially stately way. And I would follow, mimicking her and fighting my natural clumsiness, pleased to be part of her game.
     But when we were alone, we preferred to slide and yell all the way down. And run back up for another ride, and a third, and a fourth.
     When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I pulled our heavy front door open and slipped out into bright sunshine.
     It was a long walk to the old castle, but I wanted to make a wish, and I wanted to make it in the place where it would have the best chance of being granted.
     The castle had been abandoned when King Jerrold was a boy, although it was reopened on special occasions, for private balls, weddings, and the like. Even so, Bertha said it was haunted, and Nathan said it was infested with mice. Its gardens were overgrown, but Bertha swore the candle trees had power.
     I went straight to the candle grove. The candles were small trees that had been pruned and tied to wires to make them grow in the shape of candelabra.
     For wishes you need trading material. I closed my eyes and thought.
     "If Mother gets well quick, I'll be good, not just obedient I'll try harder not to be clumsy and I won't tease Mandy so much."
     I didn't bargain for Mother's life, because I didn't believe she was in danger of dying.

Film:
Ella lives in a magical world in which each child, at the moment of their birth, is given a virtuous "gift" from a fairy godmother. Ella's so-called gift, however, is obedience. This birthright proves itself to be quite the curse once Ella finds herself in the hands of several unscrupulous characters whom she quite literally cannot disobey. Determined to gain control of her life and decisions, Ella sets off on a journey to find her fairy godmother who she hopes will lift the curse. The path, however, isn't easy -- Ella must outwit a slew of unpleasant obstacles including ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, elves and Prince Charmont's evil uncle, who wants to take over the crown and rule the kingdom.

Release Date: April 9, 2004
Running Time: 96 minutes

Cast:
Anne Hathaway as Ella of Frell. She is under a spell (curse) given to her by a fairy named Lucinda which makes her obedient.
Hugh Dancy as Prince Charmont (Char), son of the late king that was killed by his uncle. He is treated as a teen icon and has his own fan club, though he doesn't agree with this label.
Cary Elwes as Sir Edgar, the Prince's greedy uncle and King Regent who wants the crown for himself.
Steve Coogan as Heston the snake, Edgar's pet.
Aidan McArdle as Slannen, an elf who wanted to become a lawyer.
Minnie Driver as Mandy, a household fairy who was the only person kind to Ella when Peter left. She always has some flaws in her spells.
Eric Idle as The Narrator
Vivica A. Fox as Lucinda Perriweather, a well-meaning but misguided fairy who gave the "gift" to Ella. She never takes back her spells, and always helps at the wrong time.
Parminder Nagra as Areida, Ella's best friend who grew up with Ella for many years.
Jim Carter as Nish, an ogre who eats humans.
Patrick Bergin as Sir Peter, Ella's father who was a vendor of watches.
Joanna Lumley as Dame Olga, Ella's stepmother.
Lucy Punch as Hattie, Ella's stepsister who was obsessed with Prince Charmont.
Jennifer Higham as Olive, Ella's kleptomaniac stepsister who always follows her older sister Hattie and is often mistreated by her.
Alvaro Lucchesi as Koopootuk, a giant who Charmont met at Giantsville.
Heidi Klum as Brumhilda, a giantess who met Slannen in Giantsville and has feelings for Slannen despite his size.
Jimi Mistry as Benny, Mandy's love interest. Turned into a talking book when one of Mandy's spells goes pear shaped.
Johnny Nguyen as Red Knight (uncredited)
Tristan MacManus (uncredited)



Clips




Author Bio:
Gail Carson Levine's first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Ever, a New York Times bestseller; Fairest, a Best Book of the Year for Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, and a New York Times bestseller; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; A Tale of Two Castles; and the six Princess Tales books. She is also the author of the nonfiction books Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly and Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink, as well as the picture books Betsy Who Cried Wolf and Betsy Red Hoodie. Gail Carson Levine and her husband, David, live in a two-centuries-old farmhouse in the Hudson Valley of New York State.


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Forget Me Knot by Ruth Silver

Title: Forget Me Knot
Author: Ruth Silver
Series: Royal Reaper #2
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Summary:
Don’t mess with death.

When Wynter explores his newly developed dark angel powers, regret soon fills his heart and mind. Saving a soul isn’t what he imagined it to be, and it puts the grim reaper he loves in grave danger.

Obligated to take the throne as Queen, Mara must face the truth and unravel secrets she may not be ready to accept.

The second book in the Royal Reaper saga takes you on a paranormal fantasy adventure into a world of grim reapers, dark angels, and undead trucidators.


“Reapers were human once. Young reapers still have their humanity, their innocence. It takes time to adjust to the idea of helping a soul move beyond this world to the next. Do you think it would be easy for a reaper such as your friend Leila to understand that there is a greater evil out there causing death?”

Wynter let out a heavy sigh. Leila. Why did it always come back to her? “So you’re telling me I can’t say anything to Leila about trucidators?” He still didn’t fully understand what they were. How could he tell her anything?

“It would be wise not to scare the woman you care for. It’s not as though she has the ability to see them, like we do. It’s rare for anyone else to see a trucidator.” Juliana gestured for Wynter to follow her into the kitchen. She poured water into the kettle from a jug and placed the pot on a grate above the fire.

Wynter shook his head, growing irritated. “You’re giving me bits and pieces. Nothing that I fully comprehend let alone can do anything with when it comes to knowing how to save a soul.”

“You’re still a child, Wynter. In terms of dark angel years, you were just born. Trucidators are frightening creatures. We barely have the ability to see them, and trust me when I say you don’t want to. They lurk in the shadows; they cause goose bumps in the dark. They’re the reason your hair stands up on your arms or you shiver for no reason.”

“Monsters?” He laughed, finding the whole bit absurd.

“Humans call them demons for lack of a better word. The undead prefer trucidators. They live in an existence between our world and the next plane. They have the ability to travel between the realms, marking lives for death. Usually the lives they mark are deserving of their destiny. Greater evil seeks evil, however, occasionally, trucidators choose a pure soul, and that’s where we come in.”



Author Bio:
Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of the Aberrant trilogy. With a passion for writing and a love of story-telling, Ruth is actively writing two series: Royal Reaper and Orenda. She also writes The Federal Agent Chronicles, an adult romance series under the name Ravyn Rayne for Blushing Books. Her interests include traveling, reading, and photography. Her favorite vacation destination is Australia. Ruth currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois.


Ruth Silver
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State of Vengeance by Summer Lane

Title: State of Vengeance
Author: Summer Lane
Series: Collapse #6
Genre: Dystopia, New Adult
Release Date: June 26, 2015
Summary:
Vengeance is coming.

Monterey Bay, California, has barely survived a brutal attack from the evil invasion forces of Omega, and Cassidy Hart is exhausted. She has lost a friend and gained a new enemy. The militias seem to be weakening, and Omega seems to be getting stronger.

In an effort to recruit more troops, Cassidy travels to the desolation of the high mountains to find the mysterious troops of Sky City, and to eliminate a threat that has long been growing just out of the militia’s reach.

Cassidy is not alone. Old enemies greet her, and the most dangerous person of all just might be the one she trusts the most.

The fate of the free world is at stake. The end is coming.

The militias – or Omega – will have its revenge.

Book #6 of The International Bestselling Collapse Series

To Be Human 
         I understand what it is to be human. To be human is to make mistakes. To be human is to feel pain and loss. To be human is to be jealous, to be insecure. To be human is to be either supremely overconfident or to second guess every decision you make.
To be human is to feel, on an incredible level, the full agony of what it means to live. Of what it means to sacrifice the things that you want – and to lose the people you love the most.
As we walk through the forest, I think of Chris.
For ten years, all he did was fight and kill and lose people he loved. It was such a painful experience that his humanity was removed. He no longer felt anything. He was numb and tired. He existed – but that was all. And then came the EMP, the militias, and me.
And now, he says he is human again.
Me? I feel like I’m getting farther and farther away from my humanity.

Where do you write? 
I write at my desk. I rarely write anywhere else. It is my bubble of creativity, I suppose. I just turn on my music, close the door, and write. Sometimes it takes me thirty minutes – sometimes it takes me seven hours. It depends on what I’m writing. It depends on how difficult it is for me to create a specific scene or convey a certain emotion. If I’m writing an emotional scene, it can take me a long time.

My favorite place to write, though, is in the mountains, in the seclusion of a quiet forest. That’s where imagination really works well.

When do you write? 
Mornings. 7 to 12 is the optimal time for me. Once noon hits, I’m pretty much done for the day when it comes to creative writing. I find that writing at the same time every day is really healthy for a writer. For example, my current manuscript requires a minimum of five pages per day. I can write more, but I certainly can never write less. Setting those little goals is helpful.

Favorite movie? Favorite television show? 
I don’t think it’s possible for me to choose a favorite movie. I like so many! I really enjoy anything that’s action or adventure. I adore superhero movies and animated films – don’t even get me started on Wall-e. The Book of Eli is really cool, and so is any movie with Dwayne Johnson.

As far as television goes, I usually only have time to watch TV during June and July. I love Pretty Little Liars, Gilmore Girls (La, la, la, la!), and I’m positively obsessed – and by obsessed I mean madly in love – with The Walking Dead.

Favorite classic book? 
When I was growing up, I ONLY read classic literature. I really was completely unaware until the age of sixteen that there was such a thing as “easy-to-read stories,” like Twilight or Harry Potter. I remember being so impressed with how fun it was to read a book that wasn’t written in old English (Ivanhoe, anyone?).

My favorite classic books (yes, plural!) are Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Great Expectations and Dracula. In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a thing for stories with dark undertones.

Favorite band? 
One of my currents favorites is Muse. I adore them. They have such good songs! I also like Lady Antebellum and anything with a country sound. I am fascinated with Lana Del Rey and positively enraptured by any instrumental groups like Audio Machine or Two Steps from Hell.

What’s your schedule like as a writer?
I run a publishing business – I handle several different title releases per year. I have to come up with the content, coordinate all of the marketing strategies, edit the content, sell the content and monitor the content. I don’t like taking time off, but I have to. Sometimes! My busiest months are from November to June. I basically have about four to six major deadlines per month.

From July to September, I get a little slow-down in the madness. I work half-days, and I am able to relax my brain a bit so that I can create more content when Fall rolls around again. So right now, I’m just starting to enjoy some of the lazy days of summer – I’m going to Universal Studios Hollywood, Santa Monica Beach, camping in the mountains, and checking out a firework show for Independence Day.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? 
I really like to read. I find it nearly impossible to read while I’m writing a manuscript. I just have to focus all of my attention on the story creation. So I only read when I’m not writing a book – which is usually on the weekends. I love to crochet – I adore it. It’s very soothing.

I think the best thing to do during the summer is to go swimming, watch a movie, and then sit on the tailgate of a pickup truck, smell the fruit in the orchards, and watch the stars. I could do that forever. I guess I’m just a little country girl at heart! I also enjoy cooking. Pioneer Woman is my favorite thing ever. I’m totally serious. Ree Drummond is my hero. She needs to adopt me and teach me her ways.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? 
Here’s where I fess up and admit that I’m a hybrid. I plot out my stories, I know who the characters are, and I know exactly what’s going to happen before I actually sit down and write the book. However, I do not plot out the specific scenes. I have general ideas, but I allow the personalities of the characters and the environments to shape and mold the scene, therefore making it – in my opinion, at least – more organic.

At this point in the Collapse Series, the characters shape their own destinies. In many ways I am just following where they lead – I simply nudge them in the right direction.

Favorite writing snack? 
Tea and chocolate. It’s my favorite combination. During the hot months, it’s iced tea, and during the cold months, it’s hot tea. I literally had a stack of eighteen snickers bars behind my desk. You know. Just in case I got a craving or something.

Upcoming projects? 
Collapse: The Illustrated Guide comes out this summer. The paperback will release first, and then the eBook will be available around August 2015. The conclusion to the Zero Trilogy, End of Day, will release October 9th, 2015. Then I’ve got the next Collapse book coming out in January 2016, Bravo: Apocalypse Mission in March 2016, and another Collapse book in June 2016.

So yeah. When I have downtime, I seize it and don’t let go!

Author Bio:
Summer Lane is the author of the international bestselling Collapse Series and Zero Trilogy. She owns WB Publishing and Writing Belle, an online magazine dedicated to the Art of Storytelling. Summer is also an accomplished creative writing teacher and professional journalist. She lives in the Central Valley of California where she creates her stories and shares them with the world.


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The V Girl by Mya Robarts

Title: The V Girl
Author: Mya Roberts
Genre: Dystopia, Young Adult
Release Date: June 20, 2014
Summary:
***ROMANTIC DYSTOPIA FOR MATURE YA READERS/YOUNG NA READERS***

In post-apocalyptic North America, rape and sexual slavery are legal. Lila Velez, desperately wants to lose her virginity before the troops visit her town, and can take it away by force. She makes plans to seduce her only friend, Rey, the most attractive man in her town. Lila does not love him, but he is the only man who has shown her true affection, an affection she is willing to take as a substitute of love.

Lila’s coping mechanism to her mother’s violent attack is her secret. A secret that will bring her closer to Aleksey F├╝rst, a foreign, broody man that she distrusts because his links to the troops and his rough, yet irresistible appearance. He offers Lila an alternative to her plans, a possibility that terrifies her…and tempts her in spite of herself.

All the while Lila will have to find a way to live in the constant company of death, slavery, starvation, sexual abuse and the danger of losing the people she loves the most.

***Due to strong language, violent scenes and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 17.***


     I get up and rush toward the door. I don’t get to take two strides before my back slams harshly against a hard surface. His palms are pressed against the wall, and somehow my head ends up enclosed between them. Looking furious, he kneels on one knee erasing our height difference. We’re face to face now.
     “Lila.”
     The hoarse sound of his voice makes me shudder. Nobody’s ever said my name like that, with that breathy, lustful quality. I don’t want to admit that I love the way my name sounds on his lips.
     Please say my name again.
     My mind reels into a hazy state. Right now, the sedatives aren’t letting me think clearly. All I want is to hear him say my name.
     I try to escape, but I find myself caged up in the prison of his strong arms. Eager anticipation courses through me. Something is about to happen. I want it to happen, but Gary’s voice replays in my mind. He’s a soldier and a rapist. Gary lied about everything that day.  I’ll believe he was lying about him, as well.
     “Let’s start your training.” Gary’s voice evaporates completely from my mind. The way his breath caresses my face sends bolts of electricity all over my body.
     I’m trembling. “I … uh … swords training?”
     A coy smile appears on his face, and I realize what kind of training he’s referring to. I shiver.
     “Don’t be nervous.”
     “I’m not nerv—” I gasp when he puts his hands to both of my hips and roughly presses them against his hardness. Rubbing. Grinding.
     The sensations threat to overwhelm me. I shove at his chest, trying to put distance. "Let me go."
     He ignores me.
     I try to use one of my self-defense moves, but he dodges easily and traps my wrists firmly with one enormous hand. I use all my strength to try to free myself and I can’t.
     His voice caresses my ear.  It makes my skin ripple up in goosebumps. "Breathe, Miss Velez. Inhale,” he inhales against my neck greedily. “Exhale.” He blows his cool breath in my ear. “Even an aroused little girl like you can do that.”
     A mixture of desire and anger makes my body tremble. Is he mocking me? I insult him with every swear word I can remember and push him. Does he really want me or is he just playing games?
     I shiver when he nips the lobe of my ear gently. He sucks, nibbles, and pulls. I try to conceal my enjoyment, but my traitorous body squirms under his touch. He is smirking against my neck. He knows what’s he’s doing to me, and he’s enjoying it.
     His tongue trails from the hollow of my throat to the side of my neck. Aleksey is acting as though he knows he’ll get what he wants and is taking his time to savor his prey.
     He places soft kisses all over my collarbone, my jaw, neck. When he nibbles my sensitive flesh softly, I realize I’m panting. The nibbling becomes harsh. He doesn’t care if I end up marked. I don’t want to admit that I love his animal touch and the way it makes electric currents sweep through me.



Ebook vs. Printed books
Today I wanted to share with all of you my opinion about a dilemma that every bookaholic faces once in a while. The never ending debate: E-books vs. Printed books.

Some believe that e-readers are going to dominate the reading world.  A more conservative group of people think that the traditional book will remain the favorite choice among a huge portion of book lovers.

As recent as four years ago, I was an enthusiast part of this second side. I used to believe that a book, to be “real” had to come to life in printed form.  The flipping of pages, the smell, and the texture were all irreplaceable for me and a huge part of what my reading experience have to include. And who doesn’t love to take a look at shelves full of books?

Eventually, I discovered the advantages of e-book readers. Portability; more books, less money,  you can read covertly when you’re not supposed to do it (let’s say a boring lecture). E-books have advantages that I never thought I’d enjoy since I was so reluctant to change the way I have always read.

You are not less of a book lover if you prefer e-books over printed books. Recently I saw a video in which Kat O’Keeffe  from  Katytastic admits she prefers e-books. Kat, owns the most beautiful shelves I’ve ever seen, and even so she prefers e-books.  Plenty of booklovers , who have a kind of physical impediment will prefer e-book, too.  And carrying a thousand books with you wherever you go, has its advantages.

Why not combine the two? I read in electronic format the books that I think won’t be among my favorites. When my favorite authors have a new release, I end up buying the same book twice. I order the e-book the day of release and even so I order the printed version.

As a book addict who enjoys her addiction, I’ll always want more books in whatever format I can get them: Electronic, Audio, Paperback, Hardcovers, etc. I want them all. The format doesn’t demerit the value of a book. A great book will always be great not matter what format meet our eyes. And whether your book collection is nicely stacked on shelves or available to you with just a few clicks on your e-reader, the very fact that we have options to choose is something to feel grateful for. It means more reading opportunities to discover our next favorite reading.

What was the first seed that sparked the story that would become The V Girl?
I was doing research for another novel, when I came across testimonies that made my skin crawl because they described the cruel reality of mass rape.  The one that disturbed me the most came from a woman whose country was invaded by several foreign armies. She was fourteen or fifteen at the time. When the Army of her own country was about to regain the control of her town, her mother made provisions so both of them could avoid rape, even though the girl didn’t think this was necessary. Mother and daughter prepared themselves for the soldiers’ arrival by shaving their heads, and the girl acted the role of a very sick girl, hoping the soldiers would spare her. When the soldiers finally came, it turned out the mother had been right all along. Their schemes worked and the soldiers didn’t rape this girl, but they raped other girls. How did the mother know that certain precautions were needed? It was clear to me that abuses from the troops were not only known, but also expected. The fact that the mother knew that this would happen;  the fact that they did not make these provisions around the soldiers of the foreign army, but around the soldiers of their own country, had an impact on my emotions. I thought, Wouldn’t the girl try to lose her virginity to a guy of her choice as part of her preparations? That was a story that deserved to be written, and I wanted to write it myself.

Did you have trouble writing any of the scenes (the action scenes or the most emotional ones)?
Writing the action scenes is extremely hard and I’m rarely satisfied. I write them, discard them and rewrite them repeatedly. Another challenge is putting my characters through such dramatic events and situations. I’m emotionally attached to all of them, even the antagonists, and writing their suffering becomes uncomfortable. During certain scenes, their level of anguish and pain is so high that their emotions rub on me. I also had trouble writing Chapters forty-eight and forty-nine. At the same time writing those chapters was cathartic because I had a similar experience when I was ten years old. I never told anyone until I became an adult, and by writing a scene like this, I was able to have some kind of closure.

How did you manage to balance the disturbing themes with the romance or the dystopian sense of pushing for freedom in an unjust society?
The romance wasn’t central in the earlier drafts of the book. But my readers, my editor and my own heart responded well to it, so I ended up increasing the time for the romantic storyline. I love YA dystopian books that present a romantic subplot, but more often than not I finish the book thinking: I need more romance. The first draft was brutal and violent, and there wasn’t a romantic counterpart to create balance. But I added more pages of the romantic and emotional attachments. That allowed me to develop the characters more, and to add a bit of humanity to this disturbing world. I like it better this way. I had the chance to add swoon-worthy moments and a little bit of comic relief, by presenting a love story limited by the circumstances of the war,.

How long did it take you to get the plot rounded and what kind of message did you want to convey?
It took months to get the plot rounded. Lila’s storyline ends in The V girl, but the political context was so intricate that I’ll need more books to develop the world building and give resolution to the war storyline. The ending was extremely difficult to write because the book was going to be published in two parts, and I took out around fifty thousand words from the original draft.

I tried to convey the feeling that even under the darkest, most difficult circumstances we can allow ourselves to hope and love. No matter how dire the situation is, there’s always some level of hope. The V girl world is so bleak and at times it seems that everything is lost, but if we don’t lose our humanity, we can find the motivation to hope and love.

Did you have to do any research and what kind?
I looked “rape during war” up in Google, and found eighty-seven million results. I had plenty of material to read. Besides, I read plenty of books and saw documentaries about the topic. Mass rape is something that if you don’t see it, you don’t believe it exists and yet it has been an unfortunate occurrence since forever. I also found useful information in RAINN.org, a site for rape survivors. I dedicated the book to them.

Do you plan to write more stories based in the same world, maybe continue the timeline?
I’m writing more books based on this world featuring different characters as we speak.  Some of The V Girl characters are secondary characters in them. What I’ll write first will depend on the readers feedback. I want to know what they’d love to see in future books.

Can you see yourself as not being a writer in the future?
No. Reading and writing are part of who I am. I'll always write stories even if I decide to keep those stories to myself and never publish them.

Author Bio:
I am a bookaholic and regret nothing.

I spent years trying to become a contemporary dance choreographer. Eventually I realized that I enjoyed writing my stories rather than creating dances for them.

I am obsessed with books that present damaged characters, swoon worthy guys, controversial topics and happy endings.


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