interview with author aaron blaylock

hello readers of mine! i understand that my last blog entry was dated october of last year. i guess you deserve an explanation. i’ll try to make a blog post about that soon. instead, we are now interviewing the author of The Land of Look Behind, Aaron Blaylock.

a brief background

Born and raised in Arizona, Aaron is proud to call the desert home. He came of age in the suburbs of Sacramento, California and as a missionary in Jamaica, where 7769270he fell in love with the people and their culture, but he has always been drawn back to the valley of the sun.

He married his childhood crush, and the girl of his dreams, in 2001. Together they are raising four beautiful and rambunctious children. He worked as a freelance sports reporter for The Arizona Republic for nearly ten years, combining his love of writing and sports. In his storytelling he draws heavily on his love of history, adventure, his faith, and his own life experiences.

Source: Goodreads

the interview

1. What are your three most favorite books?
Picking just three is hard and I’m sure to leave out books I love but as I read the question three books came to mind.  First, I love The Adventure of Huckleberrry Finn.  I just love Mark Twain and his two most iconic stories, to me at least, are highly re-readable.  Then I’d probably have to pick a Harry Potter book since I love that series so much, probably the Goblet of Fire as that has so much of what I enjoyed about young Harry’s story.  Third, I’ll throw in one of the last books I finished The Martian.  It was so different and compelling and yet so much fun to read.  That’s quite a feat considering it’s about a man trying not to die alone on Mars.  Shoot, I just realized I didn’t pick a Tolkien or a Dan Brown book.  Dang it.  Picking just three is tough and I didn’t even include The Land of Look Behind.  Is it uncool to pick your own book?  Probably is.  😉

2. Why did you decide to write this story?

This is a passion that has grown over the years.  I was introduced to the culture and history of Jamaica as I lived and served on the island as a missionary.  I love Jamaica and her people so much and found the history fascinating.  When I returned home I studied more about it and wanted to tell their story.  The idea of this modern day adventure as a means of sharing so much of what I loved really thrilled me and I am so happy I finally got to tell it.

3. Which scene did you most have fun writing and why?

Probably when Gideon, Todd and Bigga first meet Tara.  The idea of her character actually came about after I started writing the book and I couldn’t wait to get to their interactions.  Her strength and charm was something that these boys had yet to deal with on their adventure and really changed the whole group dynamic in a fun way.

4. Why did you focus on Jamaican history?

There is so much to draw from in the island’s history, I really haven’t even scratched the surface.  I found these stories entertaining and knew that the vast majority of people would be unfamiliar with them.  Plus there are so many holes found in the history books and it’s fun to be able to make up the details.

5. Describe your writing journey in making this book.
It started as a pure adventure story.  I wanted to tell a contemporary tale of adventure in our time with a historical context.  As the story unfolded, however, the historical narrative became more crucial to the story until they were equal partners in their shared journey.  That was only able to happen through the symbols borrowed from ancient times.  They brought a depth and meaning to the story that I didn’t initially plan for.

6. If you were a historical figure, who would you be and why?
I don’t know.  My first thought is I’d probably want to be a king or a Pharaoh or something because for everybody else life was pretty rough.  I enjoy the modern comforts of life today so it’s hard to romanticize how they really lived when I sit down and think about it.  If I were to allow myself to romanticize the past and forget the rigger of everyday life I’d probably pick someone from the old west.  I love Wyatt Earp but I wouldn’t want to have to fight for my life all the time.  I’d probably pick Porter Rockwell because he was a faithful and loyal friend and also a tough son of a gun who lived life on his terms.

 

the land of look behind

The Land of Look Behind is a historical fiction book, set predominantly in Jamaica. It was just published last month, on the 9th. There are two perspectives, one in present day and the other, centuries ago. The summary in Goodreads goes:

When Gideon discovers a mysterious drawing tucked in an old journal he returns to his mission area in Jamaica with dreams of finding a legendary treasure. Some would kill to keep the treasure secret. This thrilling adventure takes you deep into Jamaica’s treacherous cockpit country and back in time for a spine-tingling mystery you won’t be able to put down.

If you like action, history, adventure and relationships blended into one, check this book out.


thank you for reading and um, bye!

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in which the month ends // september + august 2015

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here’s an up to date wrap up. proud of me yet?
 
i didn’t write an august wrap up for a couple of invalid reasons (procrastination, mostly) and for a couple of valid ones (exhaustion, school, family).
 
unfortunately, i didn’t remember anything in august except it was a month of  “doing nothing” for me. i was far away from my usual goals, didn’t do my habits and my progress in writing my novel was shorter than my pinky finger. i’m not sure how this happened but it did.
 
come september, i still have those negative habits with me. after my birthday (sept 17 anyone??) and MIBF (my post is coming up soon!) i decided to go back to my usual habits and then i became productive again. yaaaaay!
 
anyway, enough talking. here’s what happened in august and september!

in which i show you the books

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in which i show you a detailed version

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A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki // Adult Fiction, Culture: Japan (review)
long story short: before our main character kills herself, she plans to write about her Buddhist grandmother
rating: (4.5)
 
Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan // Adult Magical Realism (review)
long story short: a guy finds this bookstore and the books there are magical
rating: 
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V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd // Graphic Novel
long story short: in an alternate universe, England was taken over by fascism.
rating: 
 
And Then There Were None by Agatha Cristie // Adult Crime
long story short: 10 people are in an island, one by one, they are killed
rating:  (4.5)
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The Humans by Matt Haig // Adult Science Fiction
long story short: an alien comes to Earth for an important mission. although, he has to disguise as a human. soon, he learns why humans are such beautiful and terrible creatures.
rating: 
 
Escape From Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden // Nonfiction (review)
long story short: a story about a North Korean who flees his country
rating: 
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Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan & John Rocco (illustrator) // Greek Mythology, Middle Grade
long story short: a funny guy tells you the greek myths in an understandable way
rating: (3.5)

in which i blogged

4 POSTS EACH MONTH HELL YEAH (although most were scheduled BUTS STILL)


in which there are random topics

okay, maybe i went overboard with the Syrian problems but GUYS! that picture of the Syrian boy really made my heart shatter into a million pieces.


thank you for reading and um, bye!

goodreads // bloglovin // tumblr

in which the month ends // july 2015 + august goals

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if you’re wondering, yes, i am still alive.

i have somone -rather a lot of someone’s – to blame. they are called school. my school likes to burden their students with projects just one week before their exams. isn’t that wonderful?
i did not have time to sleep much less blog – i’m working on that now, time management or whatever – so that explains the lack of posts.
but let’s stop talking about me and let’s get on with the books!

in which i show you the books:
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in which i show you a detailed version:

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Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel // Apocalyptic 
long story short: a huge plague kills 99.99% of the population. there’s also this actor who has a large part of the story (although idk why).
rating: 
Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman // Short Story, Story Book
long story short: lots of adventure
rating: 
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The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey //  Zombie Apocalypse 
long story short:
“Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie is a very special girl.”
rating: 
Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey // Magical Realism
long story short: a childless couple makes a child out of snow. the next day, they see a kid running through the woods.
rating: 
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14 by Manix Abrera // Philippine Mythology
long story short: a graphic novel without any words, philippine mythological beings have a story to tell
rating: 

  in which i blogged

one post and it was scheduled a long time ago. i will stop talking about this now.

in which the world has news


thank you for reading and um, bye!

goodreads // bloglovin // tumblr

odelia reviews: this is what happy looks like by jennifer smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like
by Jennifer Smith
Standalone
YA Contemporary
★★ [1.61]
Goodreads

(from my rating system: it’s like you’re begging me to hate you)

I think I have a better name title for this book.

This is What Cliché Looks Like.

And no one would notice the difference.

Pretty girl who doesn’t care about a celebrity? A friend who does?

Hot teenage celebrity eventually falls for the pretty girl?

Love in first sight?

Not to mention the fact that they met through email. Attachments much?

But that’s not it. After that accidental message, they both continue sending more.

Of course, they still wanted to make it even worse. They both sent their effing age and effing location. If this were a crime novel, they’d both be dead.

AND TO TOP IT ALL OF, BASTARD ELLIE DECIDED TO THINK OF THE WORST SENTENCE EVER.

“Most girls probably tiptoed around him, but she wasn’t one of them.”

The “Most Girls” sentence. Are you kidding me? Most of the female population?

If you think this is going to be a cutesy and fluffy contemporary, you’re wrong.

Cause all you’re going to get is

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odelia reviews: the maze runner by james dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
1/3 The Maze Runner
YA Dystopia
★★★ (2. 58)
Goodreads

(from my rating system: ranting side is switched to intense. trying to be less harsh but it’s hard.)

Hmm. Before, I genuinely did like this! Except for some flaws, I didn’t understand why people hated this book. Then I read other people’s reviews. My eyes were opened. Why? 1.) WTF characters. Thomas, our main character is a robot. He had no character development. He was just … there. Aside from being smart – where did that come from – he had no personality. He wasn’t funny, harsh, kind, self-less. He could’ve been obnoxiously arrogant and I would’ve liked him better (okay maybe not) instead of being this machine where answers suddenly popped out of nowhere. Also, let me add that his decisions confused me:

Chuck shrugged. “Nothin’ I say’ll do you any good,” he said. “I’m basically still a Newbie, too. But I can be your friend –”

“I don’t need friends.” Thomas interrupted.

Okay then. *some pages later*

Thomas hated these people. He hated all of them. Except Chuck. “Get me away from these guys.” Thomas said. He realized that Chuck might actually be his only friend in the world.

Oh wait. There’s more.

Thomas loved asking questions. He is basically a robot who kept on asking questions. I would understand – if your memory was wiped out and suddenly you’re trapped in a maze with a bunch of other kids, you most probably have a lot of questions.

Thomas had more questions. Lots more. Chuck and everyone else around the glade never wanted to give him answers to anything. And here was Zart who seemed perfectly willing. But suddenly Thomas didn’t feel like talking anymore.

2.) What kind of romance is that?! Here’s another episode of Insta-Love, with special guests Thomas and Teresa!

I mean, seriously. After seeing Teresa, Thomas constantly thought about her. The girl in the box here, the girl in the box there. Why.

Thomas hadn’t thought about it. His mind had been occupied with … now Teresa.

For some reason, the girl had popped into his head again, out of the blue …

Thoughts of the girl crashed around his mind.

And the worst:

The staff put Teresa up in a separate room, shuffling her away before she could even say goodbye. Thomas missed her desperately three seconds after she was gone.

Why.

Yeah, yeah. I know that <SPOILER> Tommy and Teresa had a relationship before the maze, but hey. We didn’t get to see it. We didn’t get to have character development.</SPOILER> Because of that, I disliked their relationship immediately.

3.) The most why-did-I-even-read-this moment: <SPOILER>Telepathy.Please tell me where did that come from. Maybe it would be more elaborated in the next books, but I’m not in the other books. I’m in the first book. And that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell the readers why there’s effing telepathy between the most infuriating characters.</SPOILER>

Over-all, I’m interested in the world. But the characters? Gosh, no.

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odelia reviews: miss peregrine’s home for peculiar children by ransom riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
1/3 of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
YA Fantasy
★★★★ [4.33]
Goodreads

(from my rating system: usually the books i wished i liked more. it had some events/ characters that really irritated me.)

This is not horror.
I repeat: This is not horror. Get it?

Just so everyone knows: This. Is. Not. Horror. It’s not scary. Fine, the pictures are creepy but aside from that, it’s just a well-written fantasy novel.

Actually, no. It’s not just a well-written fantasy novel. It’s an extremely well written fantasy novel that has epic (and real) pictures. Have you even seen the pictures?! They are creepy yet so … mysterious. It makes you wonder what is the real story behind them.

Okay, let’s talk about the romance. Almost every YA book I’ve read has romance, why would this be an exception? It isn’t. Thereis romance in this book, but quite … disturbing. Obviously his love interest would be Emma. But consider this: <SPOILER>[Emma was Jacob’s grandfather’s lover. So… Jacob would be technically dating his grandfather’s ex. Okay then. But is Emma actually in love with Jacob for being himself or for being her old lover’s grandchild?]</SPOILER> Also, instalove, why must you appear everywhere?

Anyway,

Miss Peregrines’s Home for Peculiar Children? More like “Mister Riggs made my self-esteem fly out the window by his writing.”

“Stars, too, were time travelers. How many of those ancient points of light were the last echoes of suns now dead? How many had been born but their light not yet come this far? If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize we were alone? I had always known the sky was full of mysteries—but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was.”

I was also terribly confused with the loop parts. I needed to reread the paragraph again and again but I still didn’t get the full grasp of it. I only started understanding it fully, maybe, halfway through the book.

This might sound like a negative review, but hey. Look at my rating. That is high. I think what won me over was the characters. I love how Enoch irritated everyone, how Olive was such a cutie and how Bronwyn was the epitome of sweetness.

Over-all, I enjoyed this. I don’t think my time was wasted whatsoever.

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