Interview: Danielle L. Jensen

Hi fellow bloggers, welcome to my second interview. Yeah I know it’s been a long time since my first interview but I’m working on it, am I not? 🙂 And this time it will worth the wait because the author whom I interviewed is the lovely awesome Danielle Jensen! Who is she, you may ask? Well…where have you been all this time doesn’t know about her? Kidding…she’s the author of the awesome fantasy book, Stolen Songbird. I love it and the sequel is one of books I’m looking forward next year. So without further ado, here are her answers for my questions:

Ask Danielle L. Jensen - Discussion Group

Me: I read in other interviews that Stolen Songbird was inspired by a dream of city buried and a real mountain in Canada. How did you develop it into the setting of Trollus?

Danielle: I thought about it A LOT. I spent months thinking about the world of Trollus before I wrote a single word down. The good thing about being a writer is that what other people call daydreaming, I call working.

Me: After the setting, what did you write/come in your mind first, the story or the characters?

Danielle: It’s hard to separate the development of the two, but I’d say the idea to have the trolls cursed to Trollus and Cecile being kidnapped to break that curse came next. In the first few drafts, Luc was a much more important character than he ended up being later on. He originally kidnapped Cecile to sell to the trolls because he was angry about her turning down his proposal. It’s a bit funny to think about that version of events now.

Me: When I read Stolen Songbird, there were characters that surprised me (Marc and Anais). Do you always know what will happen to the story and the characters long before you finish writing it?

Danielle: I didn’t plot out Stolen Songbird, so a lot of what happens in the novel surprised me as much as it would any reader. Which is a bit weird, given that it came from my imagination. But to answer your question, I do know how the series will end and what will happen to most of the characters.

Me: My friend (Hi Padma!) was kinda hesitant to read Stolen Songbird since it’s quite thick and she has not-so-good experiences with YA fantasy books with pretty cover and intriguing blurb. Stolen Songbird has both intriguing blurb and pretty cover, what will you say to her to convince her to read your book? (I recommended Stolen Songbird to her and she read my review and said that she will try it but if you meet her, what will you say?)

Danielle: Reading a thick book is like watching a television series with a lot of episodes: it isn’t harder, it just takes longer, and if you aren’t enjoying it, you’re probably less likely to stick it out until the end.

A lot of publishers offer the first three (or more!) chapters of a book free online through Amazon and other retailers. If your friend is hesitant about committing to buying the novel, I’d suggest that she read those free chapters to see if they catch her interest.

Me: What do you love about fantasy stories?

Danielle: I love that all the things that are impossible in real life become possible in fantasy novels.

Me: Did you always know that you will be a writer? What did you want to be when you were a child?

Danielle: I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I was well into my twenties. When I was younger, I wanted to be a horse veterinarian, but I ended up getting a business degree and working in finance for quite a few years.

Those are my six questions to Danielle. She actually said that I can ask her five questions but five isn’t enough for me 🙂 What do you think? For those who haven’t read it yet, aren’t you interested reading Stolen Songbird? Since I love it, I’ll definitely re-read it in the future, maybe even sooner than later 🙂

I have a habit to “stalk” the author of the books I love. There are so many ways to stalk Danielle. I hope she doesn’t mind with me or you stalking her.

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Review: The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

13576132Blurb from Goodreads

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

ebook, 416 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Greenwillow Books
edition language: English
series: The Murder Complex
genre: Dystopia, Thriller, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
This is another disappointing dystopian book that attracts me with awesome cover and interesting blurb in the first place. I know I should’ve learn my lesson by now but who can resist that bloody eye-catching cover? Not me, unfortunately.

1. The setting. This book reminds me of Wither by Lauren DiStefano, another dystopian book where there isn’t much clarity in the setting. I need to know how far Meadow’s world takes place from now, because it can determine how advance their technology is and the experiment that her mother did. What happen with Zephyr and The Murder Complex need a very advance technology which I think quite impossible happens in just a couple of years, or even in a few decades. But I feel like it takes place not too far from our time now. How is it possible? And then, it takes place in Florida, I assume the dystopian happens in the US, how about other countries? Are they still exist or not? Again, it determines the main reason The Murder Complex exists. There isn’t any explanation about how and why that dytopian world happens either or the pre-Fall as the characters called. I.didn’t.buy.it

2. The characters. I’m not that impressed with both Meadow and Zephyr. Meadow is a bad-ass heroine. I love bad-ass heroine. But in some part she’s quite naive for a person who claims has been trained to survive for her whole life. And Zephyr, as a dangerous killer machine, he’s nothing compare to Meadow. So if he’s dangerous what does make her? I think he isn’t as dangerous as he supposed to be. There also part when everything seems too easy and too coincidences. I.didn’t.buy.them.either.

3. I wonder can I have a dystopian story without 16 years old characters whose have to face the test/trial kind of thing? I know in real life, in our present time, in some countries 16 years old means can take a test in order to get driving license. But it doesn’t mean that in the future, in dystopian world, it turns out to be a nightmare test, right? Don’t get me wrong, I love The Hunger Games and Legend series but after so many trials/tests in dystopian books, it’s just like the same old new story. It doesn’t that interesting anymore.

4. The Insta-love. What’s wrong with giving time for the characters to fall in love? I don’t find it’s appealing reading characters who declare their love only within days after they met for the first time. I barely know the characters but in only a few pages, within hours in their time, they have already known that they’re in love, feels like they know each other forever, and can’t live without each other. Well…again I.don’t.buy.it.

5. There are a lot of (sort of) foul languages here. I personally don’t mind with it. But it just feels ridiculous reading new one when it doesn’t sound like foul language. Maybe it’s created to make the story feels in the future. Language, just like human, is changing. What exist now might not exist in the future, I get that. The thing is when bitch, bastard and hell can survive from the extinction, why didn’t shit, fuck and butthead? Why didn’t make up all of the foul language or don’t change it at all if it sounds ridiculous. So here I got flux instead of fuck, skitz to replace shit and chumhead is a new word for butthead. There are also a lot of words/terms that don’t explain what all those mean.

As the blurb mentioned this book is action-packed, blood-soaked story. Yes, it’s indeed full of action and blood-soaked scenes. Maybe it’s the only thing that true from the story. However, I want something more than that. I want to believe that what I read is believable with reasonable reason and so much clarity that I didn’t have to question it, though I have to admit that the idea of the story is quite interesting and I liked the twists. Still it couldn’t make me buy it.

Since I’m kinda confused with all the terms/words that don’t have any explanation. I try to understand it in my own description. Here they are:

ChumHead = Butthead
Creds = Dollar; A currency
Dark Time = Curfew
Essential = A very important person; A VVIP
Flux = Fuck
A Graver = A riffraff
The Initiative = (some kind of ) The government
Leeches = The military
Night Siren = Alarm signal
Perimeter = The border, wall that surrounds the Shallows and (maybe) separate the Shallows from other place/countries.
Pin = Chip
Plague = Some kind of disease
Pulse = Electricity; Power-current
Rations = Amount of food and drink for the citizen
Sellout = An institution/agent which is under the Leeches’s authority
Shallows = A place where the story takes place
Skitz = Shit
Stars = Just a random word, (might be) similar with skitz but in positive meaning

Result: 2 out of 3 stars

Review: New York Leopards #3, Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr

20645592Blurb from Goodreads

Tamar Rosenfeld has been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since they were twelve years old. She’d always considered it destiny that they’d end up together…until Abe was drafted and she professed her feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and it’s nothing she’ll ever forget.

Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a reporter for one of New York’s premier athletic websites. Determined to stop being the safe, boring girl she’s felt like for most of her life, Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.

But destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar’s decided to move on, Abe’s realized she’s the only woman for him. When he confides the truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a chance on the very man who’s been holding her back all these years.

Kindle Edition, 237 pages
Published April 14th 2014 by Carina Press
edition language: English
series: New York Leopards
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
My Thoughts
Just like other New York Leopold books, I really liked the way it’s written, especially the place setting part. Allison Parr has a way to make places in her story sound beautiful and makes me feel like I was there with the characters even when I don’t know about most of the places. And she did put more place setting in the story, more than in Rush Me and Running Back.

I also liked Tamar and Abraham and their relationship. Despite the unpleasant turn down from Abe after Tamar told him she loves him, they can be friend again and being honest to each other. On their second chance relationship, there isn’t any misunderstood or whatsoever. It makes it less drama in the story than its prequel but it also shows that they are committed to each other and put their relationship on their top priority. That’s what I liked about their relationship. They’re honest and trust each other.

However, I felt first half of the book is really slow. And since I can see what will become the climax of the story, I kept waiting when Tamar will publish her story that can “rock” her relationship with Abe. And when it finally happens, it felt too short for something big that Tamar caused. I hope it will continue in next book of New York Leopold series, because I think Tamar is a whisleblower in this big NFL case.

This isn’t my favorite story from New York Leopold series. Rachel and Ryan is still my favorite, but it’s still an enjoyable reading. I can’t wait for other Leopold story, Dylan maybe?

Result: 3 out of 5 stars

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

7896527Blurb from Goodreads

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
edition language: English
series: Throne of Glass
genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
Among so many genres in the story, fantasy is what I love the most. Throne of Glass is a fantasy story that captured my attention since I read its blurb. I liked the setting, the plot and loved the character names. It might be a tiny thing but I always pay more attention to character names, especially in fantasy story. It seems fantasy story often has unusual names because it is a fantasy story. I don’t mind of those unusual names as long as it suits with the story. Characters in this story have names that more that suit with them. It feels like they belong to the story. And for that I loved all of those names. But somehow I can’t say that I really enjoyed the story.

It was hard for me to believe that Celaena is a great assassin. She cares too much about her look; pay more attention to her clothes, hair and whatnot and craving people attention and want people’s approval that she is a great assassin. I think there is nothing wrong with all of it if she also proves me that she indeed is a great assassin she keeps telling me and everyone talk about, as she claims. It just she seems too busy talking about clothes and hair rather than acts like a true assassin. No wonder her competitors don’t pay attention to her, I don’t believe her myself. Yes, in some part there are things that proof she’s a notorious assassin but it’s mostly only her talk. Again, I need proof with her action, rather than only her talk. Let’s say I need her to talk less do more.

Hence, it made the story kinda boring. It couldn’t glue my attention and I felt a sleep so many times while I read it. However, once the magic started in the story, it got more interesting. It’s like the story needs the magic to make me finish it. And a couple chapters through the ending are what made it interesting. And in the end, I’m curious enough with Celaena’s past, Chaol’s future, Nehemia’s next story and Dorian’s role to read the sequel, for sure.

Result: 3 out of 5 stars

Review: A Shade of Vampire #6, A Gate of Night by Bella Forrest

18967087Blurb from Goodreads

Welcome back to The Shade…

Derek and Sofia are finally enjoying a well-deserved break. Staying at a resort with good food, sun and sea, Sofia is thrilled to witness Derek’s re-introduction to the human world.

They would almost be mistaken for a normal young couple, if it were not for the red-eyed monster lurking in the shadows and watching their every move, waiting for his signal to pounce…

Kindle Edition, 229 pages
Published March 11th 2014
edition language: English
series: A Shade of Vampire
genre: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
When I first met Sofia and Derek more than a year ago, I couldn’t help not to fall in love with them and their story. And since then, I really enjoyed reading the series and it’s always on my top reading priority. But after 6 books I’m not sure anymore.

It’s because I don’t know what the main focus in this series anymore. And there are always new bad guys in each book. First there were Lucas and Gregor Novak, and then Borys and Ingrid Maslen. Next was Emilia, a daughter of The Elder. Now there are another Elder’s children, Kiev and Clara and later there are more villains reveal for next book. As the antagonists change, the focus of the story is also changes. The problem is the protagonists don’t know what and who they have to face. Thus, I don’t know either. It’s like they (and I do too, as a reader) keep in the dark. I actually don’t mind being don’t know what will I read in order to get surprise along the story, but in this book it’s just dragging and in some part I’m bored. I also have problem with the way some of the characters tell their POV. They talk the same thing over and over.

However, I liked the twist at the end of the book. I think it is good enough for me to keep reading this series, though I’ve changed my priority now. It isn’t on my top reading list anymore. Not after this dragging and kind of boring story.

Result: 3 out of 5 stars

Review: Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

22324898Blurb from Goodreads

For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.

But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.

Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him.

Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.

Whether you were charmed by Celeste in Flat-Out Love or are meeting her for the first time, this book is a joyous celebration of differences, about battling private wars that rage in our heads and in our hearts, and—very much so— this is a story about first love.

ebook
Published May 24th 2014 by Flat Finn
edition language: English
series: Flat-Out Love
genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
One does simply fall in love with Celeste Watkins and Justin Milano
I first met Celeste Watkins in Flat-Out Love. She isn’t the main character there, but she catches my attention. I think she’s one weird character who has problem that needs professional help. Yet I love her weirdness or eccentricities as Matt Watkins always says. Now she’s a young adult with her eccentricities still. She’s much better now, at least she doesn’t have to rely on Flat Finn anymore but she still speaks with such formality. It’s like she is an old lady, instead of a senior high school student. And yet, I still love her.

And then enter Justin Milano, a sophomore college student who also has his own eccentricities. From the first time I met him, I know that he is as weird as Celeste. He’s so funny he doesn’t even realize it. I can’t help not to love him when I read his emails to Celeste. Basically they are perfect for each other.

There are many moments and lines I love from Justin and Celeste. Some of it reminds me of Matt and Julie, but it doesn’t mean that what Justin and Celeste have are less appealing, far from it because they tell it in a different way. Hence make it their story.

I also love that Celeste is still true to her personalities in Flat-Out Love. The way she thinks and her word choices are still unusual, and she also doesn’t use the contractions most of the time. That made me believe that she is the girl I knew from Flat-Out Love. But as a character she also grows up along the story. She tries hard to live the life she has dreamed and fight for it. I can see her changes. And it made me love her more as a character.

Just like Flat-Out Love, there are so many emotions while I read this book. I think it’s funnier than Flat-Out Love as Justin is really a funny guy with his non-stop rambling

“What? My keys. Damn, thank you! Okay, now I’m ready. Remind me that I have to get milk at the store. Forget I said that. It’s not your job to remind me to get milk. I don’t know why I asked you that. My study group is at three today, so I’ve enough time. Wait, what time is it? It’s not even nine; what am I worried about?”

But it’s also romantic,

“You’re a life saver, Celeste,”
“No, you are my life saver, Justin”

adorable,

“I’m nervous. Is that weird? But you make me nervous. I mean, in an awesome way. But you make me nervous,” he said.

sad,

“I am sad because of me. I am embarrassed.”

hopeful,

“I understand that. There are battles, some greater than others. But they are worth getting through.” He held her tighter. “This is the fight, Celeste. You’re in the middle of it. I feel that.”

and I feel sorry for the characters but at the same time I know there’s hope in them, they aren’t hopeless

“I think we need to make our own hinges now.”

In the author acknowledgements, Jessica Park said that her son said she should think about writing something else. But for me, I still can’t get enough of Flat-Out characters. That’s how I love Justin, Celeste, Matt and Julie.

Result: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

15749186Blurb from Goodreads

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
edition language: English
series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
Actually I really enjoyed reading this book. I liked the characters, Lara Jean the MC; her sisters, Margot and Kitty; Margot’s ex-boyfriend, Josh; Lara Jean’s so-called boyfriend, Peter and even Lara Jean’s friend, Chris. I think they are funny and interesting characters. I also liked the way Lara Jean wrote her letters. It wasn’t cheesy kind of love letters. It’s more hello-goodbye love letters, her way to tell her crush that she has crush on them but then (sort-of) not anymore. And I especially liked the Song girls’ relationship. I can understand Lara Jean feels regarding their sisterhood easily since I also have two sisters.

However, in some part I find it was quite hard to believe that Lara Jean is 16 years old. She can be immature and naive for her age. I wish she can grow up along the story knowing that she’s in charge of the household now after Margot leaves for college. Reading she makes the same mistakes a couple time were quite frustrating me, especially regarding her role as the older sister for Kitty. I understand she feels like Margot overshadow her but I just hope she takes in charge and responsible with her actions, instead of run away and lie again and again.

Although the story is predictable, it’s also quite engaging for me. It makes me glue to it and can finish it in one sitting. I’m going to read its sequel, for sure.

Result: 3 out of 5 stars