Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Playlist + Giveaway: A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

Hi guys! I miss you and I miss blogging. But things have been busy in real life. I just had my third anniversary at work (I feel so Adult). I started taking Japanese classes every weekend. I also had a bit of an accident with a street cat. But all things considered, I think I'm doing good. I slid back to my blogger mode last weekend when I met the author of All the Bright Places. I have giveaways coming up soon, watch out for them. But for the meantime, I want to treat you to this special feature for one of the debut authors that I wasn't able to include in Celebrating Debutantes due to the time frame.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison Annotated Playlist by Samantha Mabry

“Separation Anxiety” by Faith No More
The album that this song is on, Sol Invictus, came out last year, which was well after I’d finished the bulk of A Fierce and Subtle Poison. Still, this song has relevance to the story. It sort of starts off and grabs you, and gets more and more intense as it brings you into some spiraling breakdown. My main character, Lucas, gets broken down, broken down, built up, broken down, so, in a way, it reflects his state of mind. Also, Faith No More was my absolute favorite band when I was his age, so there’s that.

“My Mathematical Mind” by Spoon
This is another song that descends into chaos as it nears its end. I do like how the lyrics have to do with a mathematical mind (maybe, sort of, there’s also stuff about the apocalypse in there), which is supposed to be tidy and systematic, but the music eventually gets weird and discordant. There are several things in A Fierce and Subtle Poison that are supposed to be tidy and straightforward that end up being a big messes.

“Disparate Youth” by Santigold
There’s a good portion of the novel that takes place on a scooter on rural Puerto Rican roads. This song is the soundtrack for those scenes. It sounds to me like movement and sun and anticipation.

“Willow” by Israel Nash
This song is also pretty recent and was released on last year’s Silver Season. But it’s been one of my favorite songs ever since I first heard it. Like “Disparate Youth,” it reminds me of being outside. The tempo and steel also give it a bittersweet, yearning tone, so typical of really good alt-country. And that chorus is so soaring and sad and lovely, which I think is what good magical realism does, too: soar while hitting a bittersweet, yearning tone.

“I’m Afraid of Americans” by David Bowie

Right from the start of A Fierce and Subtle Poison there’s an obvious tension I tried to establish between native Puerto Ricans and “invaders.” Some of that tension is underlying, but a lot of it is overt. This song captures that very overt wariness (to put it mildly) that the people of San Juan in my story have toward Lucas, his dad, and Dr. Ford.

“Future Starts Slow” by The Kills
The chunky, delay-heavy guitar in this song just knocks me flat. And there’s just something so dark, gloomy, and groovy about this song that syncs up with the moody, gloomy, mysterious but also very powerful nature of the character of Isabel. And then this line: “If I ever give you up, my heart will surely fail.” Just reading that, it may seem overwrought, but in the context of the song it’s perfect. Like the stagger-stutter chug of the guitar is an irregular heartbeat. I have no idea if that’s what The Kills intended, but it would be cool if the lyrics reflected the music that way.

“Use Once and Destroy” by Hole
This song came out on the album Celebrity Skin, which was released when I was a senior high school. Like “Future Starts Slow,” it’s also very groovy and chuggy and rhythm heavy, which I love, probably because I played the bass when I was in high school and have always kept an ear for that. Lines in the chorus are perfect for A Fierce and Subtle Poison. Like, there’s this rough-as-all-hell journey to rescue someone (in the song, it’s just “you”), and I imagine the “rescuer” kicking through brambles and clawing through mud to get to the person, despite all the pain it might cause. And that’s Lucas.

“Bodysnatchers” by Radiohead
Sort of like the Faith No More song listed above, “Bodysnatchers” has that frenetic pace going on and that sense of things coming undone (so much distortion!). There’s also that line, “I’ve no idea what you are talking about,” which matches up with a lot of what Lucas’ relationship is like with Isabel. Lucas really wants to understand Isabel –what caused her to be the way she is, what makes her tick –but she doesn’t make it easy for him. This song (the melody) also just sounds like someone trying desperately to tear of his or her own skin, which I think parallels Isabel’s frustration with her body.

“Strange Pleasures” by Still Corners
The first time I heard this song was at the movies. I was at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Dallas, and they were using it to promote a month of programming made up of Steven Spielberg films. So, along with this song were clips of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, and E.T. All of movies are so otherworldly, about our world and something out of our world colliding in beautiful and/or frightening ways. This song is so entrancing; has that lovely, otherworldly quality. And I’ve so hoped in my book to capture that collision point between our world as we know it and something out of our world.

“Peace in the Valley” by Dawes
This song is beautiful, but at the same time, to me, it’s another song about frustration, about a frustrated young man. The last line is, “If I don’t find peace in the valley, then I’ve got no place else to look.” Like, he’s hoping that this one place will bring him comfort and solace, but he’s very uncertain if that will be the case. Lucas shares that same sense of uncertainty and restlessness. It’s like, he loves Puerto Rico and feels most at home there, but –even despite that –the island doesn’t love him as much as he loves it. It won’t give up its secrets. Until the end. When maybe it does. A little.

Thank you for sharing, Samantha!

About the Author:

Samantha was born four days before the death of John Lennon. She grew up in dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books.

She spends as much time as possible in the west texas desert.

A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON (Algonquin Young Readers, spring 2016) is her first novel.

Follow Emily: Website | Goodreads | Twitter 

Book Description:

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Algonquin Young Readers

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the señoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers--and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.


Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers and Jacquelynn for this giveaway!
What's up for grabs: 3 copies of A Fierce and Subtle Poison
Scope: USA

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Book Signing with Jennifer Niven - May 29!

Hi fellow bookworms! I wanted to remind you that we have another author visiting the Philippines this weekend. Jennifer Niven is heading out to Cebu and Manila. :) See you there.

When: May 29, 2016 at 2 p.m. 
Where: Second Level Mega Atrium, SM Megamall
Registration starts at 10 a.m

Book Description via Goodreads:

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Knopf

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: October 4th 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.