Tag Archives: Andrew Smith

The Human Experience: Stick Review & Giveaway Winners

Review by Nōn Wels: Check out his writing/political/philosophy blog, A Thousand Screaming Rabbits.

I’m drawn to stories about family-life. Stories so lush with genuine character that I start to use the framework of the story to emphasize, or explain, or dramatize aspects of my life, my story. I live within the story, however fabricated. As readers, we love this. We live for it.

At the end of the day, we yearn for the relatable, the real, the story that will speak directly to us. Whether that’s within the world of fantasy or science fiction or romance or contemporary fiction, it doesn’t matter. They all—the lot of them—in one way or another, and on varying levels, hold some invariable truth that is uniquely relatable and salient to us as humans—readers, bibliophiles, book junkies.

Andrew Smith’s books take this concept to an entirely new level. Not only do they provide the reader with characters to love and to relate to, they also inspire us to think differently about the world.

In Stick, Smith’s most recent novel, the world he creates is very much our own. It’s recognizable. And the characters themselves, they are people we know, or apt representations of people we know of.

Stick, the main protagonist of the story, is disfigured. His ear is a mess of mangled cartilage and dulled hearing. And he lives with it. It’s part of who he is. Bosten, Stick’s older brother, is the more raucous of the two. And he loves his brother, and would do anything for him. Emily is Stick’s best friend, the two of them sharing an important bond. The rest of the story is replete with both the highs and the lows: characters that support and provide care for the protagonists and characters that hinder and harm.

It’s these latter kind that inspires Bosten to leave home. And it’s his absence that inspires Stick to find him. Over the course of the story, the brothers take part in their own unique journey—to escape the pain caused by parents that either relish in or pay no mind to said pain, and experience something that will build character out of the goodness and joy and revelation.

We know this world. It’s here, it’s there. It’s us and it’s those people there. It’s a world in which people exist as unique individuals, journeying to find out what it means to overcome, what it means to glean, what it means to live.

Readers, Stick is the type of book we live for. It is the human experience. In these words and these characters, we learn and we relate and we love.

Bosten and Stick know this. They lived it.

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And the winners of the Andrew Smith Giveaway are:

Doppelganger – Stick

AnnieMooreBooks.com – Ghost Medicine

Charles DeMoss, Charlesthereader.blogspot.com – In The Path of Falling Objects

Winners were chosen randomly using Rafflecopter. Please email your mailing addresses to ReadSchmead at Yahoo dot com. If I do not hear from you by December 15th then a new winner will be chosen. Thank you so very much for all of the love and support.

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Filed under Giveaway Schmiveaway, Nōn Talbot Wels, Young Adult Books

Giveaways are Crazy – Andrew Smith

Thank you to all that participated in the last Giveaway Schmiveaway!  Now it is time for the new one!!!

This Giveaway is a doozy:  Win a signed Andrew Smith book!!

This contest allows for three winners who will be picked randomly.  Enter into the contest by being a subscriber and get an additional entry by posting a comment (or comments) from now until December 10th!!!  The more comments the more entries!

Check out Non’s review of Ghost Medicine and soon there will be a review of Stick.  If you haven’t read anything by Andrew Smith then you are seriously missing out on some amazing storytelling.  Now is the time give him a try.

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You Want Character? Read Andrew Smith. A Review of Ghost Medicine

Review by Nōn Wels: Check out his writing/political/philosophy blog, A Thousand Screaming Rabbits.

I read recently that Andrew Smith simply doesn’t “write the same thing twice.” After reading The Marbury Lens, and following that up with Ghost Medicine, he couldn’t be more spot-on. The Marbury Lens is a different book than Ghost Medicine in regards to its tone, pace and plot. And that’s a good thing.

But like all Andrew Smith books (or, rather, the Andrew Smith books that I’ve read, which are the two aforementioned), character drives the story. Rich, relevant character development that inspires, nay, compels the reader to recognize and consequently discover ways in which they relate to the character(s). This is, for me, Smith’s greatest strength as a writer. He not only knows how to write/develop the characters in meaningful, profound and unique ways, but he also creates characters that one can glean from, be impassioned by, and find tidbits of themselves in.

In Ghost Medicine, Troy, Tom and Gabe find out what it means to come-of-age in simultaneously the most subtle and harshest of ways. Troy, the lead protagonist, is seventeen. He works alongside Tom as a ranch hand, both employed by Gabe’s father. Throughout the story, the three of them, both individually and as a whole, are faced with obstacles of varying degrees and contexts. In their struggle to fight through it all, they develop as individuals and as friends, in regards to their philosophy, emotional cognizance and mental fortitude. Specifically, as a reader, it is the way in which they react to the obstacle and how they fare on the other end, positively or negatively. This is one of the great values I glean from Smith’s books.

Overall, I really quite enjoyed the book. It is a methodically-paced, coming-of-age, morality tale. The tone is perfect. The use of the landscape within the narrative is quite lovely, and reminded me, at times, of The Return of the Native, one of Thomas Hardy’s bests. Alternatively, the way Smith jumps back in time by use of snippets in Troy’s memory, reminded me of the powerful, yet devastating, Trick is to Keep Breathing, by Janice Galloway.

Thank you, Andrew Smith, for another wonderful read. You kicked my ass, once again. For that, I want to express my gratitude. I look forward to reading both In The Path of Falling Objects and Stick.

Check out Nōn’s review of The Marbury Lens!

Also, if you are interested in purchasing any of the books mentioned in this post then click on their names.  The link will take you to Indiebound.org where you can pick an awesome independent bookstore to shop from that is in your area!  Support brick and mortar bookstores!!

Age Group: 13 and up (Contains some violence)
Genre: Young Adult / Contemporary Fiction
Themes: Family, Friendship, Loss
Publisher: Square Fish (imprint of Macmillan)

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Book Festivals are Exhausting, but Oh So Awesome

This weekend was fantastic.  Exhausting but fantastic.  Saturday I was selling books at the Mission Viejo Book Festival.  (Side note: Latitude 33 Bookstore closed at the end of August, but I have been adopted by another wonderful bookstore located in Irvine called A Whale of A Tale Bookshoppe.)  I was able to meet Cornelia Funke, author of Dragon Rider, the Inkheart Trilogy, Igraine the Brave, and many other great titles.

Cornelia and Me

Cornelia in her amazing dress and Alex (owner of A Whale of a Tale)

My Enthusiastic Face

At the OC Book Festival myself and Non helped out Robyn Hawk (Check out her blog Reading it All) with the YA/Teen Stage.  It was a hot day but the line-up that Robyn put together was just so cool.  (See how I did that–hot and cool.  I’m a dork).  The event started with a Tween Panel moderated by the ever so funny author of the School of Fear series, Gitty Daneshvari.  It featured the following authors: Greg Taylor – Killer Pizza series, Helen Stringer – Spellbinder and Midnight Gate, Greg van Eekhout – The Boy at the End of the World, Mark Jeffrey – Max Quick series.

The Tween Panel

Me and My BFF

Gitty was a fantastic moderator and I utterly adore listening to her talk.  She is just the funniest and I like to imagine we are best friends who exchange witty, self-deprecating remarks about our imagined illnesses and ridiculous fears.  We laugh and then we cry and then we check our WebMD Apps.

Following the panel were authors Frank Beddor (Looking Glass Wars series), PJ Haarsma (Softwire series), Lisi Harrison (Monster High series), and the very likeable Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of I’ll Be There.

Frank Beddor and PJ Haarsma

Me and Holly Goldberg Sloan

The Teen Lit (Keeping it Real) Panel featured:  Jessi Kirby – Moonglass, Kirsten Hubbard – Like Mandarin, Lindsey Leavitt – Sean Griswold’s Head, and the awesome Andrew Smith with his new novel, Stick.  The portion of Stick that Andrew read made me so eager to read the entire book.  He truly has an amazing narrative style.

The Teen Lit Panel

Me, Andrew Smith, and Non

The rest of the day was filled with paranormal/supernatural lit.  The Paranormal Panel included:  Emma Michaels – The Thirteenth Chime and Anasazi, Inara Scott – Delacroix Academy, Cindy Pon – Kingdom of Xia series, Gretchen McNeil – Possess, Jeff Mariotte – Dark Vengence.  Kami Garcia, co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series, and Heather Brewer, author of the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series and now her new series The Slayer Chronicles, drew large crowds.

Kami Garcia

The Paranormal Panel

Heather Brewer

The final two authors, Nancy Holder and Amber Benson, rounded off a great day at the festival.  I purchased Amber’s series, Calliope Reaper Jones, and can’t wait to start it.  Amber’s writing style is so smart and funny that I know it will be awesome.

Me, Nancy Holder, Amber Benson, and Non

Amber Benson

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Do You Have The Marbury Lens?

Review by Nōn Wels: Check out his writing/political/philosophy blog, A Thousand Screaming Rabbits.

Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens is an intense, terrifying, poetic and redemptive ride. And it’s certainly a ride worth taking. Again, and again, and again.

The story opens with the teenage Jack and his best friend Conner attending a party one would typically find kids of their age. A few hours into it, after some level of drunkenness and boredom settles in, Jack finds himself wandering home, wherein he encounters a stranger. Curious, slightly cautious, but mostly too inebriated to find the clarity, Jack accepts a ride from the strange man.

Hours later, Jake wakes. Distraught, frightened for his life, traumatized.

Wishing to escape the traumatic experience, Jack takes off on a previously planned trip he and Conner had been planning. A trip to England. A trip, in Jack’s mind, that couldn’t have come at a better time. So he says goodbye to Conner (he would arrive one week later) and his uncle and aunt, and sets off across the pond.

It is at this point in the story when the intensity increases ten-fold. After meeting a curious man named Henry Hewitt, Jack finds himself with an equally curious pair of glasses.

Without saying much more about the plot, I will say that The Marbury Lens is every bit as eloquent and dynamic in its storytelling as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. It is well-crafted, both structurally and in regards to its character development. It is a perfect mélange of grungy science fiction, of inter-relational study, of serious examination of trauma and the way in which one reacts to, and heals from said trauma.

Overall, I was blown away by this story. It is affecting and impactful. And you should read it too.

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Note from Jessica: I have not seen Non speed through a book like he did this one (well, not since the first Hunger Games). In fact he hardly put it down. Check out the author’s blog, Ghost Medicine— I particularly like his blog post about categorizing children into age groups for books. I am doing this for my blog, but it can be somewhat problematic– Scary Smart Kids

Age Group: 16 and up (Contains bad language and teenage/adult content)
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction
Themes: Science Fiction, trauma, social issues, mental health
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (imprint of Macmillan)

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