Monday, July 30, 2012

Open Minds Review and Interview

Publisher:  CreateSpace
Pages:  326
Source:  Review copy from author
Genre:  YA Paranormal

Author Bio and Interview:
Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. She pursued a bunch of engineering degrees and worked a lot of geeky jobs, including turns at GE Aircraft Engines, NASA, and NCAR. Now that she writes novels, her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she doesn't have to sneak her notes anymore. All that engineering comes in handy when dreaming up paranormal powers in future worlds or mixing science with fantasy to conjure slightly plausible inventions. Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as much as she can handle.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I’ve always written stories, starting when I was in sixth grade writing bizarre stream-of-consciousness poems about soldiers returning from the Vietnam War (yup, I was strange even then). But I never considered myself a “writer.” I grew up with plans to be an astronaut, and got a bunch of engineering degrees and worked for NASA, finally landing with a Ph.D. and doing research on global warming (which was an amazing job, BTW). I left science to be an at-home mom (another amazing job), and toyed with being a politician for a while (served for four years on Illinois’ third largest elementary school board). I rediscovered my love of writing almost by accident, sitting down at a keyboard one day to bang out a story for my niece. But the love of it gripped me like an addiction, and three years on, it still hasn’t let go. I figured I better try to make a career out of it.

Are you a morning person or night owl?
Definitely a morning person, although I still require lots of caffeine. Maybe I should try being a night owl. 

How did you choose the genre you write in?
I started out writing stories for my niece (young adult) and then tried my hand at middle grade (so I could read to my boys, who were 6, 8, and 10 at the time). I love the romance and drama of teen novels – they’re just like adult novels, only faster paced and involve a time of life that’s almost universal (everyone has experienced it). But I continue to be drawn to writing middle grade as well, for the pure, fun storytelling. You can play more in middle grade, and it has a sweetness and innocence that I love (as well as being even FASTER paced). I plan to keep writing both, although I’ve only published my young adult novels so far.

What genre do you like to read?  Do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write yourself?
I read a LOT of YA and MG. My adult reading tends to be more non-fiction – industry stuff, biographies, the news. The great thing about reading YA, though, is there is such a huge range – mysteries, literary, chick lit: it’s all there in YA. I think the fast pace of YA and MG stories may have ruined me for slower adult fiction. 

Please tell us in one sentence why we should read your book.
What would you do if you had to mind-control everyone you loved?

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
There’s a small piece of me in every character that I write (which is a little disturbing, since some of my characters are downright awful)! J Being a writer means exploring the human mind – you have to be able to create a complete personality that exists outside your own and then breathe life into it on the page. You can’t do that unless you invest some of yourself in the character. That being said, I try not to create characters that are too much like me. If you’re too self-involved in your character, it’s hard to be objective when your character goes through heck on the page. 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write, write, then write some more. Writing is a craft that you have to wrestle with on a daily basis. No writer is ever “done” learning how to write. So, be patient with yourself and your stories. And remember that you are unique – no one can tell the stories you have inside you. Learning how to let your uniqueness shine in your stories is an important part of your growth as a writer.

Book Blurb:
When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.
Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely loved this book.  I’ve had this book on my to read list for a long time.  The author contacted me about a review and I was thrilled to say yes.  Unfortunately my plans to post a review in February went south when my computer crashed and put me behind on all my reviews.    However,  this is a book I will definitely put on my shelves at school.  We are introduced to Kira who is not like the others around her.  Usually by the time a teen has reached her age they have changed and can read minds.  All classroom instruction is done through mindreading/mindspeaking.  Kira must try to copy the notes of her friend Raf until her mother purchases her a special hearing aide that comes with a mic for the teachers to whisper into. 
It is obvious from the beginning that Raf doesn’t just want to be her friend.  When he tries to kiss her something happens and he hits the desk and ends up with a head injury.  She thinks she has caused the injury but is unsure how.  She meets  another classmate Simon who has the answer to what she has done and how to control it.  The question she must ask is if the knowledge she has is worth the risks.  The book was so full of twists and turns and tension.  Lots and lots of tension.  The characters were well developed.  The writing was so tight that I was propelled along.  I finished the book in about three hours.  I am glad this is a trilogy because I want to find out what will happen next to Kira and her family.  Eventhough the story ended in a fashion that would make it seem complete  if it was the only book you read of the trilogy, you definitely want to read the rest.  I'm not sure I could give this book enough stars.  I look forward to reading the second book Closed Hearts which is already out.  Hopefully the third book in the trilogy will follow soon.

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