Reader Spotlight: Lydia Thompson

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Name: Lydia Thompson
Age: 19
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Lydia Thompson is my reader today. Please, everyone say hello, because Lydia is awesome. She’s a fan of the Young Adult and Teen Reader group on Facebook. Every few months, this page runs an “Adopt an Author” program. Readers adopt authors for three months and provide help with marketing. They talk about the author’s books, post about blog tours and giveaways. And Lydia adopted me! Didn’t I tell you that she’s awesome?

WSR: What is the first book you can remember reading on your own?

LT: It was called I’ll love you forever and I don’t remember who wrote it though. (Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Sheila McGraw.)

WSR: What is your very favorite book?

LT: My favorite is The Book Thief by Marcus Zuask.

WSR: What are your favorite genres?

LT: My favorite genres have to be paranormal romance, scfi, horror and fantasy

WSR: Do you prefer books with linear storylines? Or do you enjoy flashbacks?

LT: I prefer Flash backs because it lets me know where the characters have been and if they have changed any

WSR. What’s your favorite plot twist?

LT: My favorite plot twist is when the two main characters who are lovers get introduced to old flames or past lovers.

WSR: What plot devices drive you crazy?

LT: I would have to say when the two characters just separate themselves and say their dangerous but goes with them anyway.

WSR: If you could custom order a book, directly from an author, what would it be about?

LT: I would commission Cassandra Clare. The book would be about reapers and cyborgs and  their  fight and alliances between the two very different people.

Thank you for stopping by today, Lydia. I want to read that Cassandra Clare book, too! Dear readers, please comment and say hi to Lydia. Next week, I may have a middle grade reader answer…if her mother says yes, of course. *wink*

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Reader Spotlight: Melissa Parrino

Age: Location: Gonzales, Louisiana

Age: Not Tellin’
Location: Gonzales, Louisiana

I’d like to thank everyone who visited and commented during the January Black release tour and Unofficial Christine Ashworth week. It’s been busy around here, but it’s been tons of fun. Names were drawn. Gift cards were sent. Coffee cups were put in the hands of UPS. And it’s Monday again. Where does the time go? January Black has been out for two whole weeks!

Enough about me and my book for now, because we have Melissa Parrino here today! She’s seriously one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, and she likes books (and therefore, she is awesome.)

WSR: What is the first book you can remember reading on your own?

MP: Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

WSR: What is your very favorite book?

MP: This is a toughie! It’s like asking me if I’d rather Sour Cream and Onion or BBQ chips – it depends on my mood. Today I’ll go with She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. I don’t know what it says about me that I love to read about characters who are deviant and troubled. There were so many points in the book when I felt proud of the character in some of her outbursts, and I thought she and I could be one in the same. But then other areas of the book made me think she’d gone too far and quite possibly needed drugs or a short stint in an institution. The fact that the main character was so three-dimensional and flawed was appealing, and the fact that the book was written by a man totally floored me. The feminist in me applauds Wally Lamb, who went on to work with female prisoners and compile a book of their struggles in Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution (Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters).

WSR: What are your favorite genres?

MP: Horror, Drama and Comedy

WSR: Do you prefer books with linear storylines? Or do you enjoy flashbacks?

MP: Linear storylines are my preference, but I don’t mind flashbacks. It does become annoying at times when the flashbacks take up a large percentage of the book. The previously mentioned author, Wally Lamb, wrote a book titled The Hour I First Believed. Having been a fan of his work, I was prepared to devour this novel but found myself trying to choke down endless flashbacks framed within a thesis paper one of the characters was writing. It took me forever to finish the book.

WSR: What’s your favorite plot twist?

MP: How about this for a twist – I’m not going to answer this question! Mwahahaha! Seriously, nothing comes to mind, so I’m going to make up my own question.

Melissa, what is the most important thing to you when reading a novel?

Wow, Wendy, I’m so glad you asked! Character development in any book is paramount for me. If I can’t develop some sort of insight or emotional attachment to a character, I can’t be bothered to read the book. Even though serious Literature majors may find him to be a joke, I loved Stephen King’s Gunslinger series. Don’t tell my husband, but I may have had a few love affairs with fictional characters, including Roland from the Gunslinger and Shadow from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

WSR: Great question! See, lovely readers. I told you she was interesting. Melissa, what plot devices drive you crazy?

MP: Whether it’s a one-time or repeat offender, I dislike predictability or the use of a constant formula. Every V.C. Andrews book has to include a love interest who, unknown to the main character, is either her brother or cousin. Newsflash: it may have been a surprise in the first Andrews book I read, but by the third one, I wanted to pull my teeth out. Likewise, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code’s mysterious clues were ones that anyone in Art 101 could decipher but his “expert characters” were flummoxed. So, readers like myself were not at all surprised by the methods in which the clues were hidden.

WSR: If you could order a book, directly from an author, what would it be about?

MP: Since I know you were a writer of Star Wars fan fiction back when we were in college, I’m going to request you bring back Firefly! We want Malcolm! We want Malcolm! And I really want to see River kill people with her mind. Can you make that happen?

WSR: [looks thoughtful] I could….

Melissa is a graphic designer and works for a small software company. She lives with her husband of nine years, two young sons, a dog, and a cat.

Reader Spotlight: Matt Paulson

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Name: Matt Paulson
Age: 38 (?)
Location: Rock Springs, Wyoming

It’s Monday! And I am back at the day job today after two weeks on Long Island. I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Here in South Louisiana, we still have a few months to go. The holidays don’t end with New Year’s Day here. There’s Twelvth Night. (For those of you who didn’t know, the 12 Days of Christmas actually ended yesterday.) There’s Mardi Gras, and then the 40 days of Lent, and finally Easter. And THEN we can call the holidays over. Sort of. There’s never a shortage of reasons to party around here.

Where was I? Oh, yes. A reader spotlight!

Today, we have Matt Paulson.

1. What is the first book you can remember reading on your own?

I remember reading a Flintstones book way back in the day, probably second grade or so.

2. What is your very favorite book?

I have two favorites: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the Book of Mormon.

3. What are your favorite genres?

My favorite genres are science fiction and technothriller, depending on the day.

4. Do you prefer books with linear storylines? Or do you enjoy flashbacks?

I prefer linear storylines. Helps me keep track of everything better. If you want me to know backstory, get it over with at the start of the book.

5. What’s your favorite plot twist?

This may sound contrived, but my favorite twists involve bad guys suddenly becoming good, or vice versa. Don’t let me see it coming, though.

6. What plot devices drive you crazy?

Flashbacks. Shoot me.

7. If you could custom order a book, directly from an author, what would it be about?

If Douglas Adams were still alive, I would have him write about the current affairs of things. He always had a very satirical and cynical eye that I always appreciated.

Thank you, Matt, for providing your readerly perspective. My lovely readers, you can stalk Matt on Twitter and Goodreads.

Join me next Monday for a sit-down with … from ….

Reader Spotlight: Leila Marston

LeilaMarstonToday, I am beginning a new series on the blog called “Reader Spotlight.” I’d like you to meet my very first victim volunteer.

Name: Leila Marston
Age: 33
Location: Winnipeg, MB, Canada

1. What is the first book you can remember reading on your own?

The first that I can clearly recall is J.D. Fitzgerald’s The Great Brain. It sticks in my mind because my family nicknamed me “the great brain” after seeing the title, and I remember wondering if they had read the book; Tom, the title character, is a brilliant but devious boy who uses his knowledge to swindle everyone around him.

2. What is your very favorite book?

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  Huxley’s creative vision is so comprehensive and erudite, pensive and intimate, juxtaposing actual history with a nightmarishly plausible future.  I am ever astonished at each new reading, amazed that a human mind could invent a story so complex yet convey it so clearly.

3. What are your favorite genres?

I prefer religious studies, spirituality, and ancient history, and also enjoy science fiction and fantasy novels, collections of short stories and poetry, and books on anthropology and alternative medicine.  The only genres I usually avoid are romance, self-help, and books pertaining to hobbies I don’t pursue.

4. Do you prefer books with linear storylines? Or do you enjoy flashbacks?

I like both, provided that flashbacks are incorporated smoothly into the book and actually enrich the tale.  Sometimes, it seems that authors write flashbacks as a shortcut, to get the boring character histories out of the way so they can move on to the plot.  When a “vision” or “memory” is introduced to cover up lazy, impatient writing, it usually shows.

(Huxley’s novel exemplifies the flashback used to its greatest advantage. The first chapter alternates several characters’ voices with a history lesson about the gruesome past that fashioned the “brave new world.” There’s a pointed contrast made between the carefree conversation of two young women, the mental ruminations of a man uneasy in himself, and the detached descriptions of a horrifying genocide. In only a few pages, Huxley conveys crucial knowledge of the back-story, while encouraging somber reflection about whether a pleasant, passionless world is really the perfect solution.)

5. What’s your favorite plot twist?

(I’m omitting the series name deliberately.)

The best plot twist I’ve ever read came near the end of a fantasy series, in which the “good” characters are pursuing certain artifacts, in response to an ancient prophecy.

This prophecy specifies that certain magical objects must be found and united, in a time when evil forces are rising.  So the main characters undertake long, harsh quests, to recover these items from the beings (or places) which guard them.  At last, in the final book, our heroes race towards a fateful meeting, hotly pursued the entire way by servants of darkness.

And then, the scholar makes a devastating realisation; all along, the heroes have been reading the prophecy the way they wanted to believe it. They interpreted the words to mean that their actions would oppose evil.  But all the prophecy actually says is that the objects must be joined.

They figure out that the artifacts were actually crafted to open the door to darkness. The prophecy had been cast by an evil sorceror.  And their only “accomplishment” was to make the dark leader’s job much easier, by finding everything he needed and bringing it right to him.

That was a bold and gripping blow for the author to deal the reader!  He told an engaging story, sped it to a logical climax, and then tore it apart right before the expected culmination. I found it quite admirable; that is, after I picked up the novel from the floor, where it had fallen after I shrieked, “Nooooooooo!” and hurled it against the wall.

6. What plot devices drive you crazy?

It tweaks my nerves rather fiercely when a main character is captured, and the captor leaves him/her alive for no real reason.  (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBrcn1JGgbA for a perfect example.)  This is especially irksome when an elabourate kidnapping happens mid-novel, since there’s no suspense at all in it.  We already know that the book isn’t going to tell the story of “How our hero laid open his thoughts and feelings in the preceding pages, then was shot in the face halfway through the quest, and turned the narration over to someone else.”

7. If you order a book, directly from an author, what would it be about?

I would love to read a work of historical fiction narrated from a woman’s perspective, and set in an ancient kingdom of which little has been written (like Mitanni or Hatti).  Ideally, the novel would convey the imagination of Mika Waltari in the poetic style of William Buck.

Thank you, Leila, for providing your readerly perspective.

Anyone who wants to learn more about Leila can friend her on Facebook or follow her blog. Join me next Monday for a sit-down with Matt Paulson from Rock Springs, Wyoming.