Hi guys! I usually post my reading recap on the first Sunday of the month, but because I was so busy the week Fall Break ended, I didn’t have time to get this post up before I left for San Francisco for my vacation. I’ve finished 12 books this past month–yes, TWELVE! I’ve had such a busy and crazy month yet somehow I’ve squeezed in 12 stories from YA post-apocalyptic to MG contemporary. And it has been a great month for books for me–I’ve read 5 books that are 5 stars for me (though 2 are re-reads of my favorite books). I hope you enjoy!
Return of the Continuums by Jennifer Brody (Re-read)
The United Continuums by Jennifer Brody (Re-read)
Earth Force Rising by Monica Tesler
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The Tundra Trials by Monica Tesler
A Stitch in Time by Daphne Kalmar
The Right Hook of Devin Velma by Jake Burt
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan by Gia Cribbs
Finchosaurus by Gail Donovan
Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky
The High Climber of Dark Water Bay by Caroline Arden
Hi guys! I am super excited to present to you all this month’s LILbooKtalk! Two of my favorite authors are here on the blog to talk about their backgrounds in the film industry and how their books are in the process of being adapted into movies! I had my heart being wrenched out in Brittany Goodwin’s YA debut If You’re Gone and in Jennifer Brody’s The Continuum Trilogy, and I cannot wait to see their film adaptations when they come out! I hope you enjoy this LILbooKtalk!
About If You’re Gone
Lillian White was planning for the perfect summer- spending every waking minute at the lake with her heartthrob boyfriend, Brad Lee. But her world is shattered when Brad mysteriously disappears the night of his graduation ceremony- the same night he tells her he loves her for the first time. After law enforcement dismisses the case, classifying Brad as voluntarily missing, Lillian becomes desperate to prove that he couldn’t have just walked away. Not from his family. Not from his friends. Not from her.
Heartbroken but determined to find answers, Lillian begins to uncover secrets from Brad’s past that force her to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship. Will the truth lead her to him? Or are Brad’s lies just the beginning of the mystery?
About The 13th Continuum
One thousand years after a cataclysmic event leaves humanity on the brink of extinction, the survivors take refuge in continuums designed to sustain the human race until repopulation of Earth becomes possible. Against this backdrop, a group of young friends in the underwater Thirteenth Continuum dream about life outside their totalitarian existence, an idea that has been outlawed for centuries. When a shocking discovery turns the dream into a reality, they must decide if they will risk their own extinction to experience something no one has for generations, the Surface.
Questions are in bold
Kester: The first author we have today is the amazing Brittany Goodwin, who is actually a local author from my home state of Tennessee! I loved her YA debut If You’re Gone, and I had the opportunity to meet her at SE-YA last year! Could you describe to us a bit about yourself and your book?
Brittany:Yes, and it was so fun to meet you last year! I grew up in Tennessee and lived here until I was 18, then started traveling around the country following my passion for acting and worked at different regional theaters, on a cruise ship, and eventually ended up in Los Angeles where I worked in some independent films. The whole time I was working on my novel If You’re Gone here and there but was more focused on the film side of things, and when I moved to North Carolina in 2010 I decided to write and direct my first feature film Secrets in the Snow. It was followed by the sequel, Secrets in the Fall, and once the second film released in 2014 I decided I was finally ready to focus on “If You’re Gone. So I spent a year writing the novel, which is a missing persons story about a teenage boy who goes missing, told from his girlfriend’s perspective. It released in June of 2016!
Kester: Your background is so awesome! Thanks so much, Brittany! Alongside her, we have the awesome Jennifer Brody, whose action-packed, post-apocalyptic The Continuum Trilogy is my favorite series of all-time! I had the pleasure of creating the questions for the Q&A that is featured in the back of the epic conclusion The United Continuums! Would you also like to share with us a few things about yourself and your novels?
Jennifer: Of course, and so fun to chat with you! I’m still sad we haven’t had a chance to meet IRL yet.
Kester: I know!!! Hopefully some day though!
Jennifer: I’m the author of author of the award-winning Continuum Trilogy. The first book The 13th Continuum sold in a 3-book deal and is being packaged into a feature film. Translation rights to my books have sold in multiple territories, most notably Russia and China. I also began my career in Hollywood. Highlights include working on The Lord of the Rings films, The Golden Compass, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I live and write in LA (so howdy from the West Coast). Though I grew up in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. So I also do both book and film projects. Several of my short stories are also being put together as films. They’re in various stages of the packaging process.
Kester: That’s so rad!!! Thanks, Jen!!! This next question is for both of you! I know you might have already mentioned it, but could you describe to us your backgrounds in the film industry? What inspired you to shift from producing movies to writing stories, and what was the transition like?
Brittany: I was focused only on acting for the early part of my film career, but as I started working on independent films I became fascinated with what went on behind the camera and wanted to tell stories of my own through film. I definitely felt like writing screenplays came easier to me than writing novels, because I knew I would be able to SHOW the audience instead of TELL. So If You’re Gone was a really big challenge for me but it was always in my head and I just knew I had to get it on paper. Then turning it into the screenplay was even more challenging because it had to be cut back a lot, which was tough to go from author to screenwriter. But it was fun. And worth it.
Jennifer: I wanted to take a shot at telling my own stories, not just giving them away to screenwriters we hired. And since I think it’s important right now to be really honest about it, one of the biggest reasons I shifted from Hollywood is related to the #metoo movement. I’ve worked for or with most of the big names in the news. And I got really tired of the bad practices toward women in the business and not being taken seriously for my talent and hard work. But I think there is a rare opportunity right now to have more control and come back into the process with the goal of putting strong content together with female and POC directors.
Brittany: Totally agree with Jennifer on how women and their work are viewed in the industry!
Jennifer: Yes, Brittany! And also that’s why I’m so impressed you directed films. I can’t emphasize how important it is to get more women behind the camera. I always worked as an executive or producer. I’ve never directed, but I’m thinking about it now finally. I’m sure we could trade industry stories.
Brittany: You definitely should! It is one of the most rewarding experiences. And I hope to keep including more and more women on my film crews.
Jennifer: Yes, that’s also so important! I was so excited the female cinematographer from MudBound got a nomination. If I direct, it will be a horror movie. I‘m going to get a few of my projects going with others first and then maybe go for it!
Brittany: Yes!! The first screenplay I ever wrote was a horror film. That’s so awesome. Remember you know a fellow author/actress!
Brittany: Sounds amazing! 🙂
Jennifer: Let’s go make something fun and scary! You’ll have to send me your films to check out or tell me where I can watch them.
Brittany: Definitely, would love to trade work.
Jennifer: Let’s do it! Look Kester, isn’t that cool?
Kester: It is!! I love this so much! It would be great to have you both collaborate on a project — you’d rock at it! Next question: How did your experiences in the film industry affect the creation of your stories? Did you write your books with a movie adaptation in mind? How is writing a novel different from writing a script?
Jennifer: Great question! I think I got two big things from working in development and producing—how to structure a story and also my writing has a very visual component to it. And yes, I always think about the film adaptation, partially because I love movies so much. And it would be a great to make the Continuum books into films. Fingers crossed—the big pitch is going out next week I think!
Brittany: That’s so exciting, Jennifer
Kester: Ahh, that is so awesome Jen!!! I wish you all the best with it!!
Jennifer: Thank you! We have a great screenwriter attached who is getting a lot of traction lately. And producers. So we shall see…
Brittany: I could always picture If You’re Gone as a film as I was writing the novel, and before I really cracked down on the novel I went back and forth between writing it as a screenplay and as a book. And even though I wrote both the screenplay and the novel, they are different in many ways because they translate differently on the page and on the screen.
Whenever I read any book I am ALWAYS thinking about it as a film! I love to read books that aren’t really in the main stream with the thought of turning them into a film myself. I have a stack of books I’ve had for YEARS that I would love to option as films at some point (if I ever run out of my own stories to tell lol).
Jennifer: That’s really cool Brittany! I do that too!
Kester: How do you think of your “dream cast” with your books? I know it’s popular for book bloggers to make them (I don’t have that talent though haha), but I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Jennifer: For The 13th Continuum, we plan to break new talent on the teen leads. My only hard ask is that we cast the roles with diverse actors (which is how they’re written in the books). Especially Myra—she has to be POC or biracial. I picture Octavia Spencer as Maude and Kevin Klein at Professor Divinus.
Brittany: That’s a really good question… honestly I can’t remember if I had a dream cast in mind before I actually started casting the film! Coming from the Indie side of things, I always have realistic expectations of budgets, etc, so I don’t think I ever thought Jennifer Lawrence would star in If You’re Gone or anything haha. But I do know when I saw the actors I ended up casting in If You’re Gone I knew immediately that they were right for the roles!
Jennifer: I’d love to work with Tessa Thompson again. My short story “200” is being adapted and directed by a really cool female screenwriter. I think Tessa could be perfect!
Jennifer: Yes, I can’t say who the writer is yet. But I can say that she’s one of the top writers in the industry right now. And she wants to direct, so she will make this her debut. It’s Philip K. Dick style SF.
Brittany: I will say, for the new screenplay (and novel) I am working on I definitely picture Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars as the lead female! Maybe it could happen! 🙂
Jennifer: Oh nice choice! Netflix wants to do a lot of films and teen stuff right now. And they have a low budget division and lots of money. My old boss just produced #realityhigh for them.
Brittany: That’s awesome! I’m sitting here racking my brain on who your writer could be… heheh.
Jennifer: Well, she’s usually the only women in a lot of male writing rooms on big studio films lately. They just announced the one she’s writing now two weeks ago and it trended on Twitter. 😉
Brittany: I’ve been dying to leak the trailer for If You’re Gone and my producer says I can’t. So I’ve been good! Easier said than done though hehe.
Kester: It must be tough! I’m still happy for you, though, Jen! The movies are going to be epic!
Jennifer: Thanks and excited for the trailer Brittany!
Brittany: Thanks! Hopefully soon!
Kester: Brittany, what was the biggest challenge of turning a character-driven novel into a film, and how did you overcome it?
Brittany: The novel was all told from Lillian’s perspective, so the reader always knew exactly what she was thinking and because it is a faith-based novel there are several instances where she is silently praying. That was one of the trickiest things for me to figure out how to convey on screen without having a cheesy narration going on throughout the film. I had to choose the most important moments and figure out which silent thoughts needed to become dialogue and what could be told visually.
Overall, the film is a little darker than the book because of the style choices we made, but the story still comes through and I’m SO happy with how it is turning out in the editing room. So I think it worked!
Kester: That’s so great to hear, Brittany!!! I am super excited to hopefully see the movie come out in the future!
Brittany: Thank you!
Kester: Jennifer, what is it like writing a trilogy, and what are some of the challenges you faced?
Jennifer: The best part of a trilogy is getting to tell such an epic story and watch the characters grow and change. The hardest part was the third book The United Continuums. I was writing on deadline, and had so many POVs. I had to pay everything off and raise the stakes. I really didn’t want to write a bad third book. I’ve personally been disappointed by so many series as a reader. I didn’t want to deliver that experience.
You were one of my first readers, and that’s why it meant so much that you loved the book. It was so fun to have you do the Q&A. When my editor suggested adding one, you were my first thought.
Kester: Aww, thank you, Jen! I’m so happy that I got to read it and do your Q&A! It was so fun, and certainly it was both my pleasure and honor to do so!
Jennifer: You asked great questions and made it easy.
Brittany: Kester you are making quite a name for yourself!
Jennifer: He sure is.
Kester: It’s all thanks to all the love and support from authors like you! Before we end this LILbooKtalk, would you both like to share any advice to young readers and writers or even screenwriters and filmmakers who are viewing this discussion?
Brittany: For all the young people who want to write or get involved in film… just go for it! Write a short story and film it on your smart phone, do whatever you can just to make it happen! It can be a little scary to get started, especially if you’re self-taught like I am, but there are some amazing books out there you can read to learn about screenwriting, directing, etc. And never think you’re too young to try!
Jennifer: This probably sounds cliche, but don’t give up on your dreams. You will hear NO a lot, but believe in yourself and tell the stories you want to tell. Read a lot and watch a lot of films. Seek out other people with similar interests and classes and workshops so you can learn from the best. Don’t give up.
Kester: Brittany, Jennifer, thank you so much for taking part of this LILbooKtalk!!! I really appreciate everything you have done, and I definitely had such a fun time chatting with you both!
Brittany: Thank you for thinking of us, Kester!
Jennifer: Thanks Kester! This was a lot of fun.
As a screenwriter and author based in Nashville, TN, I am proud to have written the screenplays for two nationally-distributed films, Secrets in the Snow and Secrets in the Fall, both of which have been awarded five (out of five) Doves from the Dove Foundation.
I love to read and create stories with elements of faith and friendship, particularly ones with realistic female protagonists. At a young age I was drawn to the work of writers who added a slightly glamorized twist to the day-to-day lives of teens- Francine Pascal, John Hughes, and Ann M. Martin to name a few. I always found elements of myself in the characters these writers created and felt inspired by them. If Andi could fall in love with a boy from the other side of the tracks, I could find a prom date. And if the Babysitters Club could solve mysteries, so could I! The characters in my stories are meant to emulate the same emotions from readers. Even the most average protagonist can accomplish something extraordinary.
I live on a mini-farm with my wonderful husband, John, and our ever growing plethora of house pets (current count: 3 canine, 5 feline). With a cat on my lap and a dog at my side, I enjoy watching anything on Investigation Discovery Channel, web sleuthing via missing persons websites, DIY projects, and movie trivia.
Jennifer Brody is the award-winning author of the The 13th Continuum. Her book sold in a 3-book deal and is being packaged into a feature film. The book is a Gold Medal Winner (Young Adult – Sci-Fi/Fantasy) from theIndependent Publisher‘s Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Return of the Continuumsand The United Continuums complete this epic trilogy. Translation rights to her books have sold in multiple territories, most notably Russia and China. Her short fiction appears in the From the Starsanthology and Common Deer Press’ Short Tails. She is a graduate of Harvard University (magna cum laude), a creative writing instructor at the Writing Pad, and a volunteer mentor for the Young Storytellers Foundation. She’s also a board member for the non-profit writing competitions the Roswell Award and the Tomorrow Prize. After studying film at Harvard University, Jennifer began her career in Hollywood. Highlights include working for Platinum Dunes and New Line Cinema, most notably on The Lord of the Rings films, The Golden Compass, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. She also produced the feature film Make It Happen starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Tessa Thompson. She lives and writes in LA, where she’s hard at work on her next book.
She is represented by Deborah Schneider (Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners), Josie Friedman (ICM) for TV/Film, and Curtis Brown for UK and foreign rights.
Thanks so much again to Jennifer Brody and Brittany Goodwin for agreeing to do this LILbooKtalk! I hope you all enjoyed this online discussion panel, and if you’d like to talk about any aspect or question of the discussion, please comment below!
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!
Hi guys! This will be the LAST post of 2017! Can you believe it already? 2017 has been a great year for me personally and the blog–I’ve had so many amazing opportunities over the past few months, met a ton of amazing people (both bookish and non-bookish), and achieved many milestones. To our readers, thank you so much for all the love and support you have given us over the year; we wouldn’t be here without you! To celebrate the year’s end, here is a Top 10 List of my favorite books from 2017 (plus a few honorable mentions) and why they made the list! I hope you enjoy!
10. Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder
We’re starting off this list with one of the most emotional books from this year. I read Be Light Like a Bird in an entire day back in March right after the Southeastern Young Adult Book Fest, and I loved it so much because I found myself connecting so much with Wren, the main character. Wren’s childlike voice was so simple, yet beautiful, and her innocence yet loneliness stunned me. I fell in love with the book from page one.
9. 14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop
Another amazing Middle Grade novel I had the lovely opportunity to review this year! 14 Hollow Road is probably the best MG fiction book I’ve read not just this year, but for all-time. Here’s why: it was so powerful and so emotional that it had me tearing up at times. It certainly surpassed all my expectations and blew me away (*tornado pun not intended*). This is a novel that will change your perception, regardless of whether you are a child or an adult.
8. As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
I love novels that make you think–that’s why so many thought-provoking books are on this top 10 list. As You Wish turns the common cliché of “Be careful what you wish for” into a gripping, elegant, character-driven novel that sheds a new light onto what we want versus what we really need. Out of both of Sedoti’s novels, I would have to say that this one trumps The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett (which is very beautiful and heart-breaking), and Sedoti is now one of my favorite authors ever.
Hi guys! I have some exciting news! I did an interview that is going to be printed in a book! Yes, an actual book! A few months ago, Jennifer Brody (who is super amazing) asked me to do the questions for the Q&A that will be featured in the back of The United Continnuums, which is the last installment in her award-winning The Continuum Trilogy, which is also my favorite series (and TUC is the best book and one of my top 3 favorites!). The United Continuums releases tomorrow July 11th, 2017, and I urge you to get it or enter the giveaway for a signed copy below! I definitely recommend reading all three books because they are so awesome! If you need reasons why to read them, check out my three reviews below! Now, to celebrate the release of TUC, Jennifer, her publisher, and I have agreed to release this exclusive interview excerpt, along with a giveaway of her book!
And thank you so much, Jennifer, for letting me do these questions and featuring me in your book. It is certainly a dream come true and an amazing honor to do the interview for The United Continuums, which is one of my favorite books of all time. I’m so happy for you that the series is finally complete!
Warning: There are some spoilers in a few of these questions below, so I will give a *SPOILER ALERT* before these questions!
About The United Continuums
In the epic conclusion to the award-winning Continuum Trilogy, Aero leads a group insurgents from the Second Continuum to overthrow his rival Supreme General Vinick and unite his space colony s military forces, while Seeker takes on a secret mission back to her home colony to reinforce Earth’s defenses and defend the First Continuum against an even greater threat. Meanwhile, Myra s nightmares have become a reality as the Dark Thing hurtles toward Earth with designs on eradicating the planet s fledgling populace. The only thing standing in the way are the three Carriers and those who would join them to fight against a second coming of the Doom.
Originally, I came up with the idea during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I was sitting at home and watching the TV news coverage of the oil spreading over the top of the ocean and suffocating birds and fish. As I stared at the dark sludge, feeling horrified, I started to wonder what would happen if we couldn’t live on the surface anymore. I couldn’t shake the idea. I kept asking myself more and more what if questions. In this way, the idea for the Continuum Universe started to form in my mind. At first, I thought of having underwater colonies, but quickly realized that we would build Continuums in multiple environments to maximize our chances for long-term survival—underwater, underground, and in outer space. In this way, the idea kept growing bigger and bigger, until I knew the story needed to expand into three books.
Your books take place throughout many of the Continuums, and each one had a different history and culture to it. How did you build each Continuum so uniquely?
Exactly, the original concept involved putting different societies into extreme isolation and exploring how they evolved differently. I had the idea for the underwater Thirteenth Continuum first (due to inspiration from the BP oil spill). I’ve always been fascinated by the deep-sea environment and how we know more about the surface of Mars than our own ocean trenches. Often when I’m worldbuilding, I rely on historical allegory to guide me. In this case, I based the history of that colony on the Dark Ages. I was interested in exploring how we went from a pinnacle of civilization with the Roman Empire and fell into a dark age, losing knowledge and technology. I also wanted to show how a democratic society modeled on the United States of America could devolve into a totalitarian state ruled by an oligarchy named the Synod. That’s why I included the constitutional amendments in the beginning of the first book.
For the Second Continuum—the lone surviving space colony, or so we think—I wanted to make them a military colony ruled by discipline and order, very different from the religious, superstitious Thirteenth Continuum. So, I turned to ancient Sparta for guidance on how to build that colony’s world. I realized along the way that while they had advanced technology and remembered their history, they still suffered in a different way. Their overreliance on logic and systemic organization led them to suppress their emotions and revile romantic love.
With each colony, each new environment, came a chance for me to build a different society. The underground Seventh Continuum devolved significantly, living in complete darkness with no technology. In their desperation to survive, they even turned to cannibalism. Influences included Lord of the Flies and also Gollum from the Lord of the Rings (who is also a devolved hobbit). This aspect of the trilogy that involves the different colonies really makes it stand out.
Hi guys! I have this amazing, wonderful, super awesome book that I finished reading… and I don’t have any words to describe it other than it blew me away! It’s probably the best ever book I’ve read, and I am so glad that I was one of the first ever readers of this book! This book is so amazing because…. I’ll tell you in the review below! 😉
DISCLAIMER: I received a free uncorrected ARC proof from the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.
Goodreads Summary: In the epic conclusion to the award-winning Continuum Trilogy, Aero leads a group insurgents from the Second Continuum to overthrow his rival Supreme General Vinick and unite his space colony’s military forces, while Seeker takes on a secret mission back to her home colony to reinforce Earth’s defenses and defend the First Continuum against an even greater threat. Meanwhile, Myra’s nightmares have become a reality as the Dark Thing hurtles toward Earth with designs on eradicating the planet’s fledgling populace. The only thing standing in the way are the three Carriers and those who would join them to fight against a second coming of the Doom.
Rating: 12/10 Stars
Oh my goodness! This book is officially my favorite book of all time! I devoured- and I mean I just could not stop reading this book- in 3 days, with 80% in just 2 days! That’s 360 pages in 2 days! I’ve never done that until The Continuum Trilogy. It exceeded my expectations so much! I loved every single minute of reading it! IT’S SUPER AMAZING!!!!!
The author sucked me into the story so much that I cried both internally and externally when I got to certain parts. It felt like an action movie at times that I would forget that I was reading a book. I literally could not put this down! Whenever I had a little time to read this, I always took up the opportunity. I finished nearly 60% in a single day! I rarely do that- and if the book was in print, that would be the equivalent of 270 pages. The author made me step into the shoes of the characters, actually become them, and see their sides of the story, thrusting me so much into the book that I cried and became worried and anxious whenever something bad happens to someone I liked. I truly felt the emotions of each one and became more sympathetic with them, and this made me love each and every one of them even more.
Jennifer packed so much action, adventure, thrill, suspense, and almost every single literary element you can think of in this book and molded it in a perfect way. Everything was thrown at me, and I loved it, like eating an entree that was packed with so much spice and flavor. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and there was so much tension in the air that there was a time that I did not feel it. The cliffhangers and plot twists made me crave to know more, making it harder for me to resist not reading it. I devoured this book, yet I savored every second of it. It truly sticks out from the regular YA dystopian novel, and it definitely beats The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver, and The Maze Runner combined!
The strongest element of this story is the plot. Although it has wonderful characters and character development and fascinating world building, the plot is probably the most memorable aspect of it. It’s so unpredictable that you can’t figure out what will happen next! There are so many surprises planted all throughout the book that you will go “What just happened?” at least a few times. The plot never dragged but never went too fast- a really nice pace- and all the ends were tied up. I could not find any holes or loose ends in the story, which led me to no questions, and that is a good thing! The only questions I had were just “What happens next?” questions. It gave me the right amount of storyline for me to be both content yet wanting more at the same time. The ending (no spoilers here) is an “left to the reader’s imagination on what happens next” ending. I want to know more, yet I feel sad that this is the finale to the trilogy. It truly was an amazing adventure to be on.
There is literally nothing wrong I have seen with this book although there were a few isolated spelling errors- but this is an uncorrected proof so I understand. The United Continuums was so good that it is officially my newest favorite book of all time! If I had to re-read a book, I would choose this one! You will not be disappointed with this book. It’s so awesome that I had no words to describe my reaction to the entire story. I was speechless.
Recommendation: 1000% Yes! I will definitely recommend this to anybody! (But you have to read the first two first, so get them!)
What are your favorite dystopian novels? What are you looking for in one? Comment below your thoughts, and we’d love to chat with you! And make sure to check out the giveaways for Marie Silk’s Davenport House and Melanie Ifield’s The Age of Corruption! You won’t be disappointed with them! Hurry now for a chance to win!