Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Author Spotlight: Susan Shaw

Susan Shaw



I was born in a log cabin in Illinois - no that wasn't me!

I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, grew up outside of Philadelphia with two parents, along with a wild assortment of brothers and sisters and cats and dogs. I did things like take music lessons and play relievo or baseball in the sideyard with the neighborhood kids. Went to school, which I really hated, but somehow managed to get through anyway. I was smart, but, boy, you couldn't tell it by my grades.

Well, maybe I didn't do my homework, but I read. If it didn't move, I read it. Chances are, I wrote about it, too, in the diary I kept all through my childhood. I've heard that that's called taking notes.

Eventually, despite engaging in various activities called play that periodically involved knocking myself out, I grew up. This much amazed my grandmother who said I lived a charmed life.

After graduating from Radnor High School, I attended Temple University, graduating with a music education degree. During my college years, I met my husband, a young man named John with a cute smile and a wonderful sense of humor. I married him quick before he had a chance to get away. Ah, young love! Since that time, we've had one adventure after another together, raising children, one daughter and two sons, and our love is still young. Despite John's gray hair, he still looks twenty years old to me.

What do I do when I'm not writing? Visit friends, ride my bike, sometimes with John, sometimes not. Hiking. I love to attend plays, too. Some of my recent favorites: Doubt, The Drowsy Chaperone, Eggs.  (from Goodreads.com)


Black Eyed Suzie

Twelve-year-old Suzie needs to feel safe and worthy of love. Suzie's stay in a mental hospital helps her tear down the walls of a devastating psychological prison she calls "the box."  (from Goodreads.com)


Safe. To Tracy, safe means having Mama close by. Years after her mother's death, Tracy still feels her presence. But the moment Tracy is forced into a car as she is walking home from school one day, safe is ripped away. In the aftermath of an unspeakable crime, thirteen-year-old Tracy must fight her way back to safety and find comfort in her mother's memory once again.  (from Goodreads.com)

The Boy From the Basement

For Charlie, the cold, dark basement is home. Father has kept him locked in there as punishment. Charlie doesn't intend to leave, but when he is accidentally thrust outside, he awakens to the alien surroundings of a world to which he’s never before been exposed. Though haunted by hallucinations, fear of the basement, and his father’s rage, Charlie must find a way to survive in his new world. He has escaped his past, but his journey has just begun.  (from Goodreads.com)

One of the Survivors

Joey Campbell experiences them all, even though he knows what he should really feel is lucky. Lucky to have survived the fire that burned Village Park High School to the ground. Lucky that his best friend, Maureen, also survived, when no one else in his freshman history class managed to make it out alive.

Writing in a journal provides some solace, but Joey knows that redemption lies with the living. If only the living students and parents didn't blame him for the fire...

Startling, relevant, and honest, Joey's story is simply unforgettable.  
(from Goodreads.com)

Tunnel Vision

On her way home one evening, Liza has to force her way through a group of men in a train underpass. She doesn't think anything of it, but when her mom is shot dead moments later, Liza’s world turns upside down. Even worse, Liza was really the target. Only hours after her mother’s death, Liza is nearly killed again and she and her dad are placed in the witness protection program. Leaving everything she's ever known behind, Liza and her dad pick up and move, never staying in one place for long. It's too big of a risk--and Liza's worst fear is realized when she gets recognized. The would-be killer is still on their trail, so all Liza ad her dad can do is keep running. Unsure whom to trust and where to go, they're just trying to stay alive.  (from Goodreads.com)

I've read all of Susan Shaw's books, except for "Tunnel Vision".  She has a distinct writing style that takes the impossible subjects she writes about and makes them easy to relate to.  You are transported into the main character's head, and the main character is normally the "victim".  It is powerful and heartbreaking.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Insurgent

Title:  Insurgent
Author:  Veronica Roth
Series:  Divergent [2]
Rating:  5/5


One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.


I loved this book, but not as much as the first one.  It moved really fast, and I enjoyed that we traveled through the other factions with Tris, but there was so much turmoil between her and Tobias.

The only part I really got stuck on was the last 50 pages or so (which was where the biggest action was).  It took me a week to read just those pages, but I think it was due to my own lack of interest in reading in general, not so much a gap in the storyline or interest.

One thing that was bad about visiting all the factions was all the names thrown at us readers.  I love getting more characters, but there's a limit, especially when there will be mass dying.  Personally I had real trouble keeping Johanna seperate from Jeanine and who Evelyn was in general.  Then with Lynn and her sister, and Marlene... I just got really confused and stopped trying to keep some of them straight after a while.

I LOVE and HATE how this book ends though!  That has to be the biggest cliff hanger I have read in a young adult book in a long time.  I won't say what it is here, but I will say that I am desperately waiting for the final book to come out (which isn't until October of this year).

Recommended to those with dystopian love!