Thursday, March 31, 2011

Giveaway: Mind Gap

Fourteen-year-old Jake MacRae''s life is spinning out of control. He''s making all the wrong choices - gambling, drinking, hanging around gang members - and now he''s been asked to make a "special delivery." What should he do? Jake knows either way that his decision will seal his fate, but what he doesn''t realize is that this choice might not only destroy his life but the lives of those close to him.

Before Jake has a chance to make up his mind, he receives a mysterious text message inviting him to a flash party on a midnight subway train. As Jake steps off the platform and onto the ghostly 1950s-style Gloucester car, he has no idea he has just boarded a train bound for his worst nightmare. And what''s more - he can''t get off!

In another collaborative effort with Dundurn, Lucid Conspiracy is pleased to present a giveaway for a copy of Mind Gap by Marina Cohen! More information about Mind Gap can be found on the Dundurn website (including a trailer) or on Marina Cohen's site.

And now for the logistics of the contest:

Open to residents (/mailing addresses) in the US & Canada.
Contest closes April 9th at 11:59 pm EST.
First entry is just for submitting name & e-mail.

Additional entries:
+ 1 per link to the contest
+ 1 for checking out Dundurn's site & commenting with another book you found interesting
+ 1 for blog followers
+ 1 for commenting on any review or interview
+ 1 for totaling up entries

Good luck! (And don't forget to enter to win Accomplice as well!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interview: Beth Revis

Last week, I posted a gushing review extolling the many virtues of Across the Universe. One of the key things mentioned was that it was very thought-provoking. Well, how fitting is it then, that we have none other than the amazing author herself, the formidable Beth Revis, joining us to answer some questions!

Let's kick it off with a question that's become a bit of a Lucid Conspiracy staple: summarize ACROSS THE UNIVERSE in twenty words - include as many alliterations as you can.

A mysterious murder amid mindless men whilst travelling through SPACE!

Well done! Words of wisdom - what do you do when the muse has gone on vacation?

I don't have a muse. I just have a sore butt--because I make myself sit down in my chair and go at it.

Ah, an advocate for the BIC method, I see. If you were aboard the Godspeed, what role would you fulfill/where would you be?

I'd be one of the crazies in the Hospital Ward. Probably like Victria, the writer, although I hope I'd be less bitter than her...

Can definitely see the writer thing happening ;) There are a lot of interesting, philosophical aspects of human nature explored in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. Which concept did you feel was most important to entertain and explore in this novel?

I like to think that I raised the question of nature versus nurture, but that I left it open enough for the reader to answer himself.

If you had to pick a dystopian world to live in, which would you choose? [e.g. the world of The Hunger Games]

Oh! Oh dear, that's very bleak, isn't it? Hmmm... definitely NOT The Hunger Games...I guess I'd pick Veronica Roth's world in DIVERGENT.

Really looking forward to that one - and by the sounds of it, you enjoyed it as well! In the centuries since the Godspeed has departed from Earth, what has happened to our green and blue planet?

Ah! I can't tell you! *evil author grin* I'll quote an awesome Doctor Who character, River Song, and simply say: "Spoilers!"

Mm - I like the implication there! Why did you write ACROSS THE UNIVERSE?

I love to write, and I had what I thought was a cool twist for a story, and this is the result.

And what a great result it is, indeed. Do you think it's scientifically feasible for humans to inhabit another planet or moon?

Yes, absolutely. We grow exponentially every year, both in intellect and population. I think it's inevitable, actually.

Well, if humans are to survive a solar demise, this may be the way to go. Do you think there is intelligent life on other worlds?

I don't know. Space is VAST. But the miracle of intelligent life is so...miraculous. Has it been replicated? I don't know. I think it much more likely (and probable) that there is unintelligent life on other worlds.

Hmm. Do you have any specific writing rituals/particular quirks?

Nope! I just sit down and do it!

Any literary crushes?

Well, it's not from a book, but...I really wish I could either have my own Doctor (Doctor Who) or my own Captain Mal (Firefly).

Worthy choices! Are there any interesting tidbits about future projects / current WIPs that you're able to share?

I'm in the midst of editing A MILLION SUNS, the sequel to ACROSS THE UNIVERSE right now. I can only say one thing: that two things you think are true in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE are actually lies...

Oh boy, definitely very intrigued to see how that plays out. (What a great title for the sequel, by the way :) Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for interviewing me!

And thank you, Beth, for giving me the chance to pick your brain!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Giveaway: Accomplice

Lexie Malton is an average Vancouver teen with fairly typical issues. Her stepmother is far from her favourite person, she has a sister with special needs, and life outside the home is the usual mix of school, friends, and social events.

But Lexie has a secret. Her ex-boyfriend, Devlin Mather, is now a heroin addict living on the street, and only Lexie knows that she's the one who put him there. Guilt makes her give in to Devlin's demands for money time and time again, even though she knows how dangerous his drug use is.

Lexie finally gathers the strength to stop enabling Devlin. But when he seeks treatment for his addiction, Lexie finds herself drawn back to him, never guessing what a dark and deadly path she has just chosen.

Devlin relapses, and his desperation leads to an act that will change both of their lives forever.

In conjunction with Dundurn, Lucid Conspiracy is pleased to present a giveaway for a copy of Accomplice by Valerie Sherrard! You can find out more information about Accomplice on the Dundurn website or on Valerie's blog.

And now for the logistics of the contest:

Open to residents (/mailing addresses) in the US & Canada.
Contest closes April 7th at 11:59 pm EST.
First entry is just for submitting name & e-mail.

Additional entries:
+ 1 per link to the contest
+ 1 for checking out Dundurn's site & commenting with another book you found interesting
+ 1 for blog followers
+ 1 for totaling up entries

And away we go, good luck! :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In My Mailbox [47]

Since the last In My Mailbox post, I've received:

`Mercy by Jodi Picoult (courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada - thanks, guys!)
` a Luminous bookmark (courtesy of author Dawn Metcalf - thanks!)

What've you received lately?

*In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Across the Universe Review

Across the Universe - Beth Revis
*January 11th, 2011 Razorbill

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Beth Revis' Across the Universe is one of the best science fiction books I've read in awhile. With brilliant prose, exhilarating characters and explorations of the meaning of humanity, Across the Universe is highly thought-provoking and lingers with you long after the last page has been turned.

Last August, I posted about the trend towards longer books these days in YA. At almost 400 pages and larger than standard size, Across the Universe falls into the heftier category. And like I've said about a lot of longer books - it's unnecessarily so. The beginning was kind of slow and dragged a little. I actually took a break of a few weeks after the first two hundred pages, but then yesterday I picked it back up. And man, were the last two hundred pages ever amazing! It's unfortunate that the beginning didn't quite carry the same momentum.

Honestly, Across the Universe just has so much going for it. To start off with, the silhouette effect and stars on the cover are simply gorgeous. The world that Revis creates is amazingly realistic - the emotions are almost tangible, the descriptions practically transport [the reader] onto Godspeed [the ship] along with the characters. The characters - especially the leading MCs - are very interesting people. Yes, people - because they feel real, and after you finish the book, they feel like people you know, rather than characters made of words on a printed page.

I also absolutely loved the plot twists in Across the Universe. Sure, there were some that a more cognizant reader would be able to figure out (some before the characters do) - but then there are still so many more surprises left over. We, the audience, are like Amy - encountering the strange, contained world on this ship for the same time, constantly discovering new things.

One of the key aspects of truly successful dystopian literature is to be thought-provoking, to challenge stigmas and turn those preconceived notions upside down and inside out. Revis does that phenomenally with Across the Universe. In the vivid world on-board Godspeed, expected norms are challenged, boundaries are pushed and humanity is questioned. There's social satire, there's political critique, there's strategical intrigue...

In short, Across the Universe is a brave read. It isn't afraid to be controversial, to push the boundaries of "acceptability" in society. It optimally utilizes the vessel of dystopian fiction to satirize society today and provoke long and hard thinking.

For those seeking dystopian literature with a little more substance, a little more depth, a little more edginess, Beth Revis caters perfectly with Across the Universe.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Reads for Old Series

Sisterhood Everlasting - Ann Brashares (June 14th, 2011)
I was so excited to discover that there was going to be a fifth book to follow up with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I love Bridget and Lena and Tibby and Carmen and all the secondary characters as well. They're all so real! (In fact, I even signed up for summer soccer - for 3 years, no less - because, hey, Bridget plays soccer!) But most of all, I love Brashares' writing. I love the diction choice, the phrasing, the voice. There are so many memorable quotes that have just stuck with me, even though it's been years.

The Last Little Blue Envelope - Maureen Johnson (April 26th, 2011)
Again, Johnson is another writer who's prose I adore. It's quirky and fun, unique and amusing. And similarly here, 13 Little Blue Envelopes (the first book) is one that really resonated with me. The whole concept of bumming around Europe, just kind of getting off the grid for awhile, living with freedom and gusto, experiencing a boho sort of life ... it really appeals to me. Especially in the past month, while the beginning tendrils of panic about finding something to do for this summer have begun to curl in, I've been thinking a lot about what it'd be like, to have that kind of bohemian freedom. But realistically speaking, even though my parents are very flexible and modern for Asian parents, being a professor and an engineer, they're pretty rational - bumming around for the sake of it without direction the summer after first year university would be still be pushing it.

Live vicariously through books, right?

I think, at the same time, because what little time I have for for-fun reading is spent on dystopian / science fiction / futuristic speculative fiction these days, I don't really read books like [these ones above] any more. A throwback to old times, perhaps - some nostalgic reading in the vein of what I used to, a few years ago.

Just reminiscing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (30)

Wither (Chemical Garden #1) - Lauren DeStefano
*March 22nd, 2011 Simon & Schuster
What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
I've been waiting in anticipation for this book for a good couple of months now. First off, it's a YA dystopian (have I mentioned that I absolutely love dystopian?) - and it's a trilogy. The synopsis sounds highly intriguing, and the cover looks amazing.

I read the first chapter here a few months ago, and was highly impressed with the writing style. Check it out for sure, if you haven't already.

And once you've done that, I'm sure you'll see why I'm waiting on Wither this Wednesday. But what about you, what're you waiting for?

*WoW is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday {5}


She’s a dreamer, a dancer, absolutely divine. She sits at her vanity, back ramrod straight and eyes staring at the reflection in the mirror. Her head turns to the side and thin, tapered fingers reach up drape her head with pearls; a perfectly rounded stud in each ear, a chain around her neck.

She’s a rebel, a reveller, absolutely ravishing. She runs a brush through her pink hair, the fluffy comfort of bubblegum and cotton candy. Her luscious lips blow out a lazy plume of smoke, arching through the air; they twist and flex like biceps and triceps, muscles corded with strength.

She’s a social butterfly, a fragile beauty. She picks up her Blackberry and taps out an e-mail, fingers flying quickly, mind on autopilot. I love you.

She’s a liar.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Shore Thing Review

A Shore Thing - Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi
*January 4th, 2011 Gallery Books

It’s a summer to remember . . . at the Jersey Shore.

Giovanna “Gia” Spumanti and her cousin Isabella “Bella” Rizzoli are going to have the sexiest summer ever. While they couldn’t be more different—pint-size Gia is a carefree, outspoken party girl and Bella is a tall, slender athlete who always holds her tongue—for the next month they’re ready to pouf up their hair, put on their stilettos, and soak up all that Seaside Heights, New Jersey, has to offer: hot guidos, cool clubs, fried Oreos, and lots of tequila.

So far, Gia’s summer is on fire. Between nearly burning down their rented bungalow, inventing the popular “tan-tags” at the Tantastic Salon where she works, and rescuing a shark on the beach, she becomes a local celebrity overnight. Luckily, she meets the perfect guy to help her keep the flames under control. Firefighter Frank Rossi is exactly her type: big, tan, and Italian. But is he tough enough to handle Gia when things really heat up?

Bella is more than ready for some fun in the sun. Finally free of her bonehead ex-boyfriend, she left home in Brooklyn with one goal in mind: hooking up with a sexy gorilla for a no-strings-attached summer fling. In no time, she lands a job leading “Beat Up the Beat” dance classes at a local gym, and is scooped up by Beemer-driving, preppy Bender Newberry. Only problem: Bella can’t get her romantic and ripped boss Tony “Trouble” Troublino out of her head. He’s relationship material. Suddenly, Bella’s not sure what she wants.

The cousins soon realize that for every friend they make on the boardwalk, there are also rivals, slummers, and frenemies who will do anything to ruin their summer—and try their relationship. Before July ends, the bonds of family and friendship will be stretched to the breaking point. Will the haters prevail, or will Gia and Bella find love at the Shore?

Okay, okay - I know what you're thinking - you're judging right now, aren't you? Don't judge! Sure, Snooki's A Shore Thing may not be heavy on the literary, or particularly academic reading material, but at the same time, it's very Jersey Shore. It's the kind of book where it's just a fun, shallow story that doesn't require a lot of thinking. (Which is definitely a more relaxed contrast to the heaviness of say, Marx, Weber, etc.)

The whole book is very definitively "Snooki", from characters, to names, to plot. From the get-go, MCs Gia & Bella are introduced with nicknames in quotation marks, following the Snooki-model to a T. In terms of actual book content, a lot of it seems to mirror aspects of Snooki (& co.) from Jersey Shore. For example, hair poufs, fuzzy slippers, pickles, lack of bowel control, nicknames, etc.

The ending did seem a little abrupt and didn't seem most fitting, considering all the drama that went into the lead-up. But at the same time, it ends in such a way that it seems, like the rest of the novel, very Snooki-esque.

Although not deep nor philosophical, A Shore Thing is a guilty pleasure sort of read in the exact same vein as the hugely popular Jersey Shore.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

An Update

Ahoy, all - long time no see! Alas, it's been awhile since [Lucid Conspiracy] has had a real update, and I apologize for that and for being MIA the last couple of weeks.

Mid-term season has been pretty brutal, but things are expected to slow down a little for the next couple of weeks before we get to Finals. And hopefully, in that time, Lucid Conspiracy will come back, thriving & fighting :)

As you can see, Lucid Conspiracy's gotten a new look make-over. With a new & improved structural foundation, here's to the content following being also of the new & improved genre. Cheers!

PS - Any opinions on the new look?
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