Tuesday, June 30, 2009

After Review

After - Amy Efaw
*August 11th, 2009 Viking Juvenile

An infant left in the trash to die. A teenage mother who never knew she was pregnant . . .

Before That Morning, these were the words most often used to describe straight-A student and star soccer player Devon Davenport: responsible, hardworking, mature. But all that changes when the police find Devon home sick from school as they investigate the case of an abandoned baby. Soon the connection is made—Devon has just given birth; the baby in the trash is hers. After That Morning, there’s only one way to define Devon: attempted murderer.

Who would do something so terrible? Certainly not someone like Devon—straight-A student, soccer player with Olympic dreams, more mature than her own mother. But desperation and panic drove her to do what most people can’t even imagine. Now Devon ’s in a juvenile detention center charged with attempted murder. If she’s tried as an adult, she faces life in prison.

Does Devon deserve that punishment? Your answer depends on whether you believe her story.

With After, Amy Efaw has created an insightful glimpse into a very real, very tragic event that's repeating itself among today's youth. The media reports incidents of babies abandoned (e.g. in dumpsters or otherwise), and the consequences for the perpetrators, but what about the inciting factors that led this event to take place? What about the motivations that drove these young people to such desperation? This is a difficult subject to deal with, but Efaw does it deftly and insightfully in After.

On the cover, the real Devon and the Devon in the reflection may seem identical; upon closer inspection, the one in the reflection is pregnant. Subtle. And that's what many aspects of After are - subtle. In order to provoke maximum independent, unbiased thought, the story, the characters - everything has to walk a fine line and strike just the right amount of neutrality. In this case, Efaw was successful in generating contemplation.

The tense of this book - present tense, third person - was another subtle touch that got me thinking. This is Devon's story; first person would have provided more intimacy, as there's always an element of removal with third. But then I realized - is this what Efaw wants? A sense of removal from Devon, so that readers can decide for themselves whether "Devon deserve[s] that punishment? Your answer depends on whether you believe her story" (Synopsis). Even so, little details and small quirks endear the audience to Devon regardless. If I had the chance though, I would definitely want to ask Efaw about her choice on tense/perspective.

Characterization of Devon - I would imagine - was a tricky thing to handle. Even intimacy had to be generated to allow the audience to relate to Devon, but enough removal was needed to neutrally judge the situation. For a fair bit of the story, Devon seems a little out of it. But again - is this part of what's needed to complete the story, to create pathos? If so, another brilliant but subtle touch. Characterization in general, especially of the supporting cast, was handled masterfully though. Carefully placed details and quirks added a further realm of depth to the characters. Sure, they weren't always likeable (didn't particularly care for her mother) but more importantly, they were real. And they were credible. It was nice to see Dom outside of the lawyer context. It was interesting to get a first impression of Karma, only to have that change once more was revealed about her past, about her motivations.

"A wise saying from my good friend Anonymous" (Efaw 172).

The various little sayings by "Anonymous" which Karma referred to throughout were an excellent touch. A very unique character quirk. In fact, all the girls at the retention centre, the legal proceedings... these offered a glimpse into a world that we don't typically experience. It offered a breath of fresh air from the shallow guilty pleasures of "literature" that are a common indulgence nowadays. Efaw offers something a little more gritty, a little more raw - but also a little more real - with After. It definitely lends itself to controversial contemplation.

Something about Efaw's writing and diction choices as well - it flows unobtrusively, so as to not get in the way of telling the story. This serves well to augment the severity of the situation, of letting the events here penetrate. The format works excellently in this context. It jumps right into the situation, of Devon being discovered as recently having given birth. And slowly, slowly, the story unravels, the past is revealed, and we find out what happened beforehand with Devon as she begins to remember it herself. Readers aren't some removed party in this sense, sitting back to watch the drama unfurl, knowing either more or less than the main character - nope, here the reader embarks on this journey with Devon together. The flashbacks and present events coincide beautifully.

The subject matter here is definitely hard to take in, hard to digest. But at the same time, this is based on events that are happening for real. Which is why it's important to realize that. In that sense, After is a trailblazer, leading the way in terms of literature regarding dumpster babies in North America. The plot here is something new, something different. It shows the motivations (or perhaps lack thereof) and events leading up to why someone would abandon their baby like that. Oftentimes, we get lost in the post-discovery horror of shocking events; here Efaw offers a glimpse into the psychological aspect of pre-committing the act. The ending - well, I wasn't particularly fond of the way it concluded, but in this case it didn't necessarily affect the overall impact of the story too severely.

Efaw's After is a striking, thought-provoking piece of literature that could well open the eyes of many. I won't subconciously influence you here as to whether or not I'm in agreement with Devon's story. But this is definitely one you should check out - after all, there's only one way to find out whether you think Devon deserved her punishment. Whether you believe Devon's story. Was it all justified?

(Let me know what you think.) More information about Amy Efaw's After can be found on the booksite at After-Book.com. After will be available on August 11th, 2009, from Viking.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Wave Teenybopper Pop?

Music is a pretty big part of my life; I usually have some sort of music playing in the background, whether it's doing homework, writing, reading, working out, etc. Instrumental music is pretty major too, I played piano intensively for a long time, and dabbled in violin and clarinet.

So, I happened to be cleaning my room today and popped downstairs to check out MuchMusic. MOD was playing, and I happened upon this song:

Justin Bieber's One Time.

It's actually kind of catchy. And then I realized how young he looks. Apparently this kid's only 15 years old. Wow. I feel ... almost grown up in comparison now. I mean, I had a scare a few years ago with those Disney pop "stars", what with Miley Cyrus and Zac & Cody and what not (as it turns out, we were all born in the same year - I was shocked). But now I feel kind of ... old, I guess. But - I will admit that he is kind of cute. :) And he's Canadian (Ontario too!) so bonus points. ;)

Edit: Wow, I kept marvelling over why it seemed like I'd seen him before - and then I realized that I've actually stumbled onto his Youtube page way back before he got signed as well, and had previously listened to his music. Suh-weet.

But see - this got me thinking; when stars came out young, like Jesse McCartney, or Aaron Carter (gosh; feels like so long ago!) did others on the brink of young adulthood feel like this too?

In other news, I stumbled onto this yesterday. I hadn't realized that Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) could sing! Let alone this well! I will admit, I'm quite impressed.

So, whatcha guys think? What kind of music do you listen to?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

YA Swag Giveaway

So Summer has technically started, I've just finished all my "official" exams for junior year, and Shooting Stars Mag is hosting a YA Book Carnival! What better way to celebrate than to host a giveaway of my own? This doubly exciting because it's Lucid Conspiracy's first ever contest. So what's up for grabs for one winner?

~A one-of-a-kind Lucid Conspiracy bookmark
~A Fairy Tale (Cyn Balog) bookmark
~An autographed bookplate (Great Call of China -
Cynthea Liu)
~A Graffiti Girl (
Kelly Parra) sticker
~A signed 5" by 3"
Make a Wish Print
~A Pokemon tattoo & 3 Hello Kitty stickers, just for kicks ;)

I know, it's not a lot, but unfortunately I'm a little broke right now. Contest open to residents of Canada & the United States. Entries must all be put into seperate comments. How does one get entries, you ask? Alrighty -
+1 Entry for the first comment answering the question
If you could bring any fictional character (book, movie, tv, any form of
media really) to life, who would it be, and why?

+1 For following @lucidconspiracy on Twitter
+1 For becoming a follower of Lucid Conspiracy (the blog)
+2 For already being a follower (Just comment twice letting me know, # the two posts)
+1 Per each place that you link to this contest (e.g. Twitter, Blog, etc.)
+1 For adding Lucid Conspiracy to your Blogroll/Link List

To reiterate the key points, each entry must be put in a seperate comment. The first needs to answer the question posed above. Open to Canada & the U.S. Contest ends Wednesday, July 8th. (Give or take - check back to see the winner after that date.)

What're you waiting for? Hop to it and enter!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In My Mailbox [13]

In My Mailbox is a weekly feature brought to you courtesy of Alea and Kristi ...

Ash - Malinda Lo

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, re-reading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

*September 1st, Little Brown

The Hollow Goodies
Awesome swag such as temporary tattoos, stickers, postcards etc.
*Thanks Jessica!

So, what was in your mailbox this week?!

*Hint: If you aren't already following, now might be a good time to start ;)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Interview: Cyn Balog

I'm sure you guys have been hearing lots about Fairy Tale (Delacorte June 23rd, 2009) around the YA blogosphere lately. Today, we have the author of this hotly anticipated read "invading" Lucid Conspiracy to "cause havoc". Let's have a warm round of applause for the magical Cyn Balog!

Now, with a title like Fairy Tale, I just have to ask - what's your favourite fairy tale, and why?

My favorite is Cinderella. That is because I had a very similar nickname growing up and everyone would call me that. I had the Disney movie growing up and I watched it a gazillion times. Though it kind of freaks me out that Cinderella, for some reason, has no toes. OBVIOUSLY she would be the only one who can fit in that glass slipper, if she has no toes. Ew.

Hmm, now that you bring it up, that is kind of disturbing. As you've mentioned on your blog, fairies are an age-old concept. But every author puts a unique spin on these magical creatures. What differentiates your fairies in particular?

I started FAIRY TALE as a spoof of the fairy genre... I really didn't take it very seriously, especially since the whole fairy thing was really just an aside to the main story, which was losing one's first, seemingly perfect love. I have to confess that sometimes I'll read a fairy book and my head will spin because it's too embroiled in the lore. My fairies are fairly simplistic, something that people who aren't into the lore can understand and relate to.

Early reviews of Fairy Tale mention great things about the characterization - and they do all sound so intriguing! If you could meet any character from your book, who would you choose, and what would you guys do for a day?

I think I would like to meet Pip, because he's sweet and gentle and would basically do whatever I wanted to, like even hold my purse for me while I shopped.

Aww, that would be sweet! Speaking of the realm of the fictional - do you have any fictional or literary crushes? (Who?)

Almanzo Wilder from Little House on the Prairie.

Oh, good one! If you could bring any fictional character (book, movie, tv, any form of media really) to life, who would it be, and why?

I'd bring Bella to life, but not Edward, because it would be really hilarious to watch her try to survive without him.

Haha, slightly sadistic, but that would be an interesting social experiment nonetheless. Are there any juicy tidbits you're allowed to share about your upcoming YA paranormal Sleepless?

Um, sure. It features a really hot, sexy sandman named Eron. Sandmen are like, the new fairies. I am soooo sure of it. At least, in my dreams.

That does sound intriguing! You bet - sandmen are definitely going to be in very soon. ;) What do you do when the muse has gone on vacation (i.e. the inspiration is lacking)?

You have to write through it! That's the only way to get over it. I once had writer's block for 10 years, and I know that writing breeds more writing, and when you stop, it's impossible to start up again. Now that most of my work is on deadline, I have to push myself through it. I work really well on deadlines; they make it impossible to have writer's block. It's either, have writer's block and starve, or get over it and eat ;)

Words of wisdom - share a quote of personal significance?

Hmmm... something sticking in my head.... "Hit the road Jack, and dontcha come back no more, no more, no more, no more." Okay, no, that isn't really inspiring, but I went out to eat a few nights ago and that song was playing in the restroom and I now can't get it out of my head.

Now, about the unexpected. What are the best and worst unforseen things that have come along with this whole process (e.g. the planning, outlining, writing, querying, submitting, publishing, etc.)?

The best thing, especially writing for young adults, is that you will have a bunch of teens coming up to you or emailing saying they love your book... and that just plain rocks. They are the best audience a writer can wish for. I don't think adults are as willing to lavish praise on a person, so it's just so nice since this world is getting increasingly cold and unfeeling. Like, I can come home from being cut off in traffic and stepped on in line while checking out at the supermarket, read my mail, and go, Ahhh!

The worst thing is that things can change in a moment's notice. You may think you have a release date, a cover, etc., and then, a couple months before your book releases, find out that all needs to change. The economy is making publishers increasingly frantic, so they're scrambling trying to find the best way to promote their books, which seems to mean that even "sure things" aren't so sure. Until the book is out on the shelf, you just never know what might happen with your book.

Anything you'd like to add?

Um, hit the road, Jack, and don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more?

Thanks for the great interview, Cyn! More information about both Cyn and her upcoming release (one week away!) Fairy Tale can be found at Cyn's home on the web.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

In My Mailbox [12]

In My Mailbox is the brainchild of Kristi , inspired by Alea ...

Another Faust - Daniel & Dina Nayeri
August 25th, 2009 Candlewick

One night, in cities all across Europe, five children vanish — only to appear, years later, at an exclusive New York party with a strange and elegant governess. Rumor and mystery follow the Faust teenagers to the city’s most prestigious high school, where they soar to suspicious heights with the help of their benefactor’s extraordinary "gifts." But as the students claw their way up — reading minds, erasing scenes, stopping time, stealing power, seducing with artificial beauty — they start to suffer the sideeffects of their own addictions. And as they make further deals with the devil, they uncover secrets more shocking than their most unforgivable sins. At once chilling and wickedly satirical, this contemporary reimagining of the Faustian bargain is a compelling tale of ambition, consequences, and ultimate redemption.

What was in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Twitter"view: Sarah Ockler

As you may or may not know, last Friday (the 5th) there was a "Twenty TWEET Summer" Twitter Party hosted by the fabulous Sarah Ockler in honour of Twenty Boy Summer's release. I've compiled the questions I asked and Sarah's answers here as a mini-"twitter"view of sorts. Phew - adhering to that character limit was quite the feat! Anyway, for more information, check out my review of Twenty Boy Summer, or visit Sarah's website. Without further ado, enjoy:

If you could choose any 1 book to add to the high school cirriculum as mandatory reading what would it be & why?
mandatory book for HS curriculum? I say JELLICOE ROAD. Complex developed characters, themes, incredible story.

Any plans for your next project, or just taking it easy for now in wake of TBS release?
Book 2 called Fixing Delilah Hannaford comes out spring/summer 2010. Also working on 3rd book now.

Premise sounds great! Secrets, Scandal... Nothing will be the same. ;) Will you come to Canada?! :D
I might come to Canada - Buffalo is close! Well, to eastern CAN anyway!

If you could meet any of your chacters from TBS, who would it be, why, and what would you say/ask?
I would love to meet Aunt Jayne. We don't see too much of her in TBS and I woudl want to talk about her exp.

What's your writing process like? (e.g. by hand or typed 1st drafts? Special writing conditions? etc.)
Writing process is - draft on Mac laptop in Scrivener. Classical music & incense while writing. Then...print out for revisions. then revise w/ agent & editor. sometimes write in coffee shop. mostly in home office.

Do you have any crushes on any fictional characters - if so, who?! ;)
fictional crush=Edward Cullen, Wes & Owen from @
sarahdessen, J Greggs in JELLICOE ROAD, Angel in RED GLASS.

If you had the magical abilities to bring any fictional character (movie, tv, books, anything) to life, who?
I would bring to life... um... Dobby. I would love a house elf!

If you could pull a Freaky Friday (movie) body switch with anybody, would you, if so, who, and why?
Oooh good question. Um... wow I don't know! Maybe Obama so I could go to Egypt! But I wouldn't want his job!

What brand of makeup does Frankie use? Do Sam & Anna ever meet up again?
Probably MAC cosmetics. Something expensive. Whatever is trendy at the moment.

Was the sea glass/mermaid's tears symbolic for how Anna (&Frankie) felt, kind of lost @ sea and tossed outof ctrl?
Yes, more symbolism! Definitely!

Are there 2 versions of cover with either black or white font on title? Which do you prefer?
ARC and final cover had diff. fonts. Then they made FINAL final cover w 3rd font b/c 2nd was hard to see. :-)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

In My Mailbox [11]

In My Mailbox was inspired by Alea and is hosted by Kristi ...

North of Beautiful - Justina Chen Headley

It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper.She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body.But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father.When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

So, only one book this week, and a repeat at that, but - this is one amazing book, so it's all good. You can see my review here!

So, what was in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Interview & Award(s)

Have you ever wanted to know more about me? Well, as luck may have it, I've recently had the great fun of being interviewed by the awesome Steph of Steph Su Reads for her blog, as the tenth Friday Featured Blogger! Pop on over to check it out, or just check out Steph's fabulous blog.
The super sweet Dahlia of Dahlia's Eclectic Mind has recently bestowed the Literary Blogger Award on Lucid Conspiracy, which is pretty exciting. Thanks a bunch, Dahlia!

The Literary Blogger Award acknowledges bloggers who energize & inspire reading by going the extra mile. These amazing bloggers make reading fun & enhance the delight of reading!
The Rules:
1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

And without further ado, I nominate...

`Liyana of LiyanaLand
`Steph of Steph Su Reads
`Iryna of A Garden of Books
`Marie of Cupcakewitch
`Yan of Books By Their Cover
`Carol of Bookluver Carol
`Liviania of In Bed with Books


From Hey, Teenager of the Year!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

North of Beautiful Review

North of Beautiful - Justina Chen Headley
*February 1st, 2009 Little, Brown and Company

It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper.She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body.

But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father.

When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful is just beautiful, pure and simple. The plot, the characters, the themes... all these seperate aspects come together to form the perfect collage of a story.

Diction choice is lively, quirky, and even humourously wry at times. Something about Chen Headley's narrative style flows beautifully; it sounds so natural in first person past tense from Terra Cooper. This is one strong female protagonist whose voice transcends exceptionally; all at once cynical, but naive - pretty, but harsh - "jolie laide". It really draws the reader in. Somehow the small, seemingly insignificant details offer deeper insight into the story, the characters, their lives, tearing down another barrier between reader and character to bring the two closer.

Appearances versus reality is a pretty integral running theme in North of Beautiful - True North and Magnetic North, masks and one's true face, costumes and one's true personality... appearing beautiful on the outside, and the true beauty inside. In today's society where a lot of emphasis is placed on outer beauty, North of Beautiful provides a refreshing glimpse past the superficial into the underlying real beauty. Even more magical though, is the fact that [the book] doesn't outright define beauty - through the journey which readers take with the characters, the audience is able to derive one for themselves. To each their own; after all, beauty is all in the eye of the beholder.

The characters here are portrayed majestically. Small quirks and imperfections add realism, aspects with which we can all relate. Terra is an intriguing leading lady; a bit of an overachiever, trying to finish high school a year early and the likes - but on a psychological level, she's trying to compensate for her flaws (namely her birth marked face). Haven't we all felt that way at one point or another? Insignificant, lacking, insufficient... it's truly amazing to watch her journey from cowering in fear of her father, of wanting to stand up for her mother but being unable to, to a
strong, independent young woman. And even more amazing to see is her mother's own transformation from a meek housewife under the iron thumb of her husband to becoming her own person. Their relationship portrayed here is one of the most beautiful and precious out there - the bond between mother and daughter.

Jacob, oh, Jacob. What can I say? He's awesome, and it would be so cool to know someone like him in real life. The characterization as a whole was done exceptionally well. Even the minor characters felt realistic, relatable to. The only thing is one minor character seemed a little different than what was expected from descriptions in the start of the narrative, but then again, we discover aspects of people we hadn't realized all the time, especially at this age. Her father - oh, what an aggravating character!

That's how you know an author's got the golden touch though; if it elicits an actual emotion towards a fictional character, then the job's been done. The names are ingenious, all fitting in perfectly with the whole map/cartography theme. In fact, running metaphors to maps and the craft thereof are carried throughout the entire book very successfully, which is more than can be said for most attempts. And finding out about geocaches was pretty exciting too. In fact, that's when I realized - wow, I'm actually learning some stuff about maps and geocaching in here - and voila! Another successful aspect of North of Beautiful; it manages to be educational without the reader initially even realizing it.

The plot - such an incredible journey! Such wonderful descriptions of the setting, of the events unfolding. The realism really pulls you into the story, carries you along with the journey. There are books you'll stay up late into the night to read, checking the clock every once in a while, promising yourself, "just one more chapter!" With North of Beautiful, I checked the time - only 11 o'clock pm. The next time I looked at the clock, it was almost 1 in the morning. Chen Headley's prose is simply captivating.

Terra Cooper's collages are unique; she is an artist. North of Beautiful is like a collage, bringing together so many seemingly unrelated elements - self discovery, Goth boy, geo caching etc. - and making them fit around a focal point. Justina Chen Headley has pulled off something of True Beauty here. North of Beautiful is more than just a story; it's a piece of art.

Memento Mori.

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Moon Official Trailer & Posters

What are your guys's thoughts on:
-the trailer as a whole?
-the birthday party scene?
-Jacob's wolf transformation/animation?
-the whole scene with Laurent?


Now, I know that the official The Twilight Saga: New Moon movie poster has been released, but since there are so many gorgeous fan renderings out there by talented artists, I figured I'd share a few of my personal favourites. (By the way, who else agrees that the title is... quite a mouthful?)


Any thoughts on the new layout?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...