Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Top Ten with January Black Author Wendy S. Russo

This is not the first time I've had January Black on this blog, nor the second actually - but the third time.  I loved this book, it's a great read for teens and it has a complicated and satisfying mystery, mixed in with a sweet romance.  I hope to re-read this book again soon, because it has all sorts of cools stuff that I'm sure I missed the first time through.

January Black
Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.
More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.

What was January Black?

It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king’s bluff.

Wendy S. Russo's Top Ten Characters in Books!
YAY!  Wndy agreed to give me her top ten favorite characters in books!  And WOW - SO many good ones on this list!  I especially like The Imp, Tyrion Lannister!  :)  I can't even tell you how many times I LOL'd at Tyrion's antics!  Check them all out below!

WENDY says: Ooh, tough. So many good books, with too many great characters. How about I go with a few "stand outs."

1. Mara Jade, creation of author Timothy Zahn for the Expanded Star Wars Universe. Before I talk about her, a show of hands, please. Who didn't want smack Luke Skywalker at some point during the original trilogy? Yeah, there aren't many who loved him so much they'd ignore all of his annoying traits. So, in Specter of the Past, in walks Mara Jade, former Imperial assassin turned a bounty hunter. She's supermodel beautiful, has a heart of stone, and who's the unlucky rebel hero under her cross-hair? That's right. Luke Skywalker. They end up married years later, which makes perfect sense. Anyhow, characters with baggage are usually interesting, and Mara packs like the Kardashian sisters.

2. Tyrion Lannister. For such a diminutive man, he looms large in the Song of Ice and Fire, doesn't he? George R.R. Martin's "half-man" has twice the brains and twice the soul of all the rest of the characters, and in THAT series, it's impressive that any one character can manages to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Tyrion somehow manages.

3. Pollyanna. I'll always come back to that little girl in lists of favorite books and characters. She believed that there was nothing so ugly that she couldn't find a bright side. Of course, there are such things, as Pollyanna herself learns, but by then her brilliant spirit had infected the entire community around her and they were able to return the kindness that she paid forward. She's a great character. I think everyone should read that book at least once.

4. Alice Cullen. I will admit, I never struggled to pick a side between Team Edward and Team Jacob. I'm an Alice fan, straight up. I would LOVE to see a spin-off series for Alice and Jasper. Prequel years, when Alice and Jasper meet and through conversion to vampire vegetarian, maybe ending with meeting Belle. Think about it. Alice has no memory of her life before becoming a vampire, no humanity to reign her in, and that without Carlisle she'd have been a beast. That's what Edward told Belle about her. So, we have hints that the father/daughter relationship between Alice and Carlisle may be different than the other "kids." We know that she's close to Edward. She's stylish. She's funny. And then you have the romance with Jasper, who's already book boyfriend material. I'll be disappointed if an Alice/Jasper spin-off doesn't happen. There's just so much material for Stephanie Meyer to play with, it would be a shame if she didn't.

5. Silas, the albino Opus Dei brother from The Da Vinci Code. He was a pure soul. A believer. A man who had nothing to give God but his blood and willingness to kill to protect "The Church." Though he's a murderer, it is difficult not to pity him in the moment he realizes that he was betrayed. He took lives, he believed, to serve God, but his actions had only implicated the Opus Dei sect in a crime his "teacher" had orchestrated to cast suspicion away from himself. For the man who was seeking absolution from the sins of his youth, the moment he sees the big picture bears a crushing weight. I really wanted to hug the poor guy.

6. Chester, the cat, from Bunnicula. I remember that I loved the book but not much else, EXCEPT that the cat tried to kill the "vampire" bunny addition to his human's family with a steak to the heart. That's not a misspelling. The cat's attempt at bunny-cide was closer to performing chest compressions through a New York Strip than a murder attempt. However the paranoid kitty tried to off Bunnicula, he was unsuccessful. If you haven't read this book it's narrated by the family dog, who is not concerned by the baby bunny's "strange" eating habits.

7. Enoch Root, from Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. He's a reoccurring person in Stephenson's universe, more plot device than character, and he turn the storylines this way and that as he deems necessary. He doesn't age, Stephenson doesn't explain why, giving the character a mystique that allows him to sparkle while occupying a minimal word count. And Stephenson named him "Root," in a book that's heavily laden with techno-babble. He is the base of all things cool about that book.

8. Steerpike, from Mervin Peake's Gormenghast trilogy. Steerpike is as bright as he is underprivileged, and when the opportunity arises to rise within the ranks of the massive earldom's aristocracy, he snatches it. He spends years ingratiating himself to the creepy twin aunts of earling Titus Groan. But Gormenghast is a city ruled as much by rituals that never change, and Steerpike, despite his efforts to steal the respect he so desperately wants from his peers, is never truly accepted by Titus' mother, close allies of the late-earl (whom Steerpike killed), or Titus. Steerpike, however noble his wardrobe, whatever insignias he stitches onto them, he never becomes more than a serving boy except in his own mind. In the moment, when reality breaks through and he becomes aware that he's accomplished very little in all of his years of scheming, he snaps, and he goes to his death believing himself to be a victim to the cruelty of Gormenghast. Mervin Peake is a long-winded but gifted author. Steerpike make my skin craw in every scene.

9. Xylia Morana, from Avery Olive's "A Stiff Kiss." This novel is a stand alone, Young Adult paranormal, that reminded me a bit of the movie Big. Xylia is a strange girl who is obsessed with death. She attends funerals of strangers, sleeps in empty graves, and dresses in all black most of the time, trying to understand death, to make peace with it. One day, while volunteering at the hospital where her father works, Xylia kisses the still warm corpse of a classmate who fell dead on the soccer field. In doing so, she interrupted death and Landon wakes up. At first freaked out, she comes to enjoy Landon's attention as he hounds her for answers, until it becomes clear that his being alive could have devastating consequences. Xylia is a smart, interesting, and also, a very lost teenager. I wasn't into death at her age, but as a teenager I sometimes felt alone, and so I could relate to her.

10. Luka, from Kate Evangelista's Taste. In this underground kingdom of beautiful flesh-eaters (who've been on a special, non-flesh diet for centuries), there are two young men that Phoenix, the main character, meets after having fallen asleep in the library and missing the buss. Demetri, who inspires awe and commands respect from everyone around him, and Luka, who is a casual flirt on one hand and unkempt on the other, can put even Demetri on his knees with a word. Though maddeningly gorgeous, Demetri is heir to the throne, overly concerned with duty, and as such comes stick-in-the-muddish. Luka is carefree and adventurous, and he's very interested in Phoenix. He seems, at first, to be the antagonist of the story. In truth, he's merely an antagonist for Demetri, but when the Luka finally tucks his shirt in and exercises the power he has, he's breathtaking. I found myself hoping that he would steal Phoenix away from Demetri, but as much as he wanted to love her, it's not Luka's style, which I also love about him.

Book Trailer

Author Wendy S. Russo

Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.

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  1. thank you so much, Julie. I love being on your blog :)

  2. You are very welcome, Wendy! :)


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