Blog Tour: Dig by A.S. King – Author Q&A!!

Cover

Synopsis

Acclaimed master of the YA novel A.S. King’s eleventh book is a surreal and searing dive into the tangled secrets of a wealthy white family in suburban Pennsylvania and the terrible cost the family’s children pay to maintain the family name.

The Shoveler, the Freak, CanIHelpYou?, Loretta the Flea-Circus Ring Mistress, and First-Class Malcolm. These are the five teenagers lost in the Hemmings family’s maze of tangled secrets. Only a generation removed from being Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings managed to trade digging spuds for developing subdivisions and now sit atop a seven-figure bank account–wealth they’ve declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grandchildren. “Because we want them to thrive,” Marla always says. What does thriving look like? Like carrying a snow shovel everywhere. Like selling pot at the Arby’s drive-thru window. Like a first class ticket to Jamaica between cancer treatments. Like a flea-circus in a double-wide. Like the GPS coordinates to a mound of dirt in a New Jersey forest. As the rot just beneath the surface of the Hemmings’ precious suburban respectability begins to spread, the far-flung grandchildren gradually find their ways back to one another, just in time to uncover the terrible cost of maintaining the family name.

With her inimitable surrealism and insight into teenage experience, A.S. King explores how a corrosive culture of polite, affluent white supremacy tears a family apart and how one determined generation can save themselves.

Author Bio

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A.S. King is the critically acclaimed author of many novels for young adults and middle readers, including Still Life with Tornado. Her fiction has earned numerous awards, including an L.A. Times Book Prize, a Printz Honor, and over fifty starred reviews.The New York Times called her “one of the best YA writers working today.” She lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

Author Q&A

All of the characters in this novel are vastly different from one another. Do you take inspiration from people in your life, or are the characters strictly imaginative?

“All the main characters in Dig are imaginative, but I think every writer uses part of their personal experience in order to create their characters. Character is where I feel most comfortable. I have to be, because I have to trust them to tell me their stories. This is how I write all my books—by the seat of my pants and with full trust in my characters to tell me what they need me to say.
Ideas for character traits and action can come from real life. Bill and Jake Marks, for example, are strictly from imagination, however what they do outside schools is based on a pair of brothers I knew and who came to my school (and others) to do that. (Sorry to be vague on that one…spoilers!)
That said, there are a few characters in this novel who come directly from real life. The cashew nut milk lady is a good friend of mine who makes and sells…cashew nut milk. I love the stuff. (But like Gottfried, only the chocolate flavor.) Also, the Shoveler’s neighbor was based on a real neighbor I had in 1991 who loaned me his snow shovel when I didn’t have one. I only saw the tattoo on his arm in summer. There’s a note in the acknowledgements about that.”

Dig does not shy away from societal commentary. This is one of the many reasons I enjoyed this book so much. Did you hesitate to write a book with such a strong opinion like this one?

“I didn’t so much hesitate to write it. When you write by the seat of your pants, the subject matter comes from the characters, and with nine characters it took me a while to figure out how the whole thing would piece together. But I always knew what I was writing about.
I knew I was writing about whiteness, because I set out to write about it, and the Marks bothers showed up right there in the beginning, so I knew I’d be tackling some edgy subject matter. Did it scare me sometimes? Sure. Am I aware that it’s going to make some people uncomfortable? Yeah. Do I care? Not really. If a truthful portrayal of casual, “acceptable” racism based on sound history is something anyone is willing to argue with me about, then I probably have no use in arguing with them. Kelly Sue DeConnick said something once—in response to a question about her work making certain people uncomfortable. She answered, “I am willing to make people uncomfortable so that my daughter doesn’t have to!” I agree with this. I’ve never hesitated to write books about the truth. I know the truth scares people most of the time, but for me, it’s just the truth.”

Sometimes it’s difficult to pick up young adult novels when you’re almost in your mid twenties. What advice do you have for all the readers that don’t gravitate toward young adult novels? Is there anything that you find important that people may not know or understand about young adult fiction?

“Young adult fiction has so many different genres within it. Just like adult fiction. Non-readers of YA often talk about YA as if it’s cookie-cutter stuff. It’s not.
My books are often referred to as crossover novels, and I think that’s accurate. I set out 25 years ago to write books that would help adults and teens understand each other and themselves a bit better. And most would agree that my novels are for both audiences. Since the first published book, half my fans have been adults. Dig certainly has massive adult reader appeal. But that’s not what you asked.
The misunderstanding of YA lit may lie in how we undermine teenagers (and anything they like) in this culture. You mentioned ‘almost-mid-twenties’ in your question. I am nearly 50, so to me almost-mid-twenties and 18 are really not that different. But I know that it’s very different when you are there. All to say: our culture promotes often underestimating and disrespecting those younger than us. The eye rolls are audible. It’s expected, then—the minute your age doesn’t start with the number 1 anymore—to be “grown up” or adult…and to look down on teens (and the things teens like, or narratives about teens) the same way as “adults” do. But maturity has nothing to do with age. I know a lot of kids who are still in high school that are more mature than some 50-something-year-olds I know.
Maybe there’s a “I won’t relate to that teen story” problem. I say: so you only read books about people your own age/gender/race/religion that reflect only similar experiences to yourself? That’s probably not good for your brain. What’s wrong with seeing the real lives of teenagers? It’s pretty interesting stuff, and if you ask me, crucial. Maybe if lawmakers (and voters) read more about what it’s really like to be a teen these days, they’d have greater decency in their votes when it comes to things like common sense gun laws, adolescent mental health, and education in general. Otherwise kids are still seen and not heard, right?
But most of all, I think quality young adult literature can be a sort of way to look back at our own childhoods and teen lives and figure out some stuff. You do know that takes a whole lifetime, right? Why not speed up the process by revisiting it? Are we too embarrassed to admit we were once teens? Isn’t that what the eye-rolling does to us? So maybe reading quality YA lit can actually help you live a more fulfilling life as an adult. I truly believe it does. If that isn’t incentive, I don’t know what is.”

The potato is definitely a mascot for this book. What came first when writing the novel, the symbolism of the potato, the characters, or the plot?

“Characters first, potatoes second (because the characters kept mentioning them), and plot always comes dead last, but somehow magically unfolds itself often without me knowing.”

Thank you again for answering my questions! I really appreciate it. These are the last two that I have for you. Have you ever considered writing non fiction? Has it ever crossed your mind when thinking of what to write next?

“Yes, I think about writing non-fiction in weird ways all the time. Never straight-up non-fiction. Usually it’s a kind of memoir/think piece combo about one specific idea/theme. Much like the way Dig works out. I’ve been [veeerrrrry slowly] working on a graphic-format project in this vein, but I haven’t had much time to write outside of my contracted work. Contracted work pays the bills, so it’s a priority. But one day, I will make time and space to branch out in the ways I’ve wanted to for decades.”

Thank you so much for having me on the blog today and for reading Dig. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it. You rock! –Amy


This was such an honor to be part of. I’ve never done anything like this, or even had the chance to take part in something like this. I loved learning about what she thought about the Young Adult genre, and how she came up with some of her characters. Thank you to her for taking time out of her day to answer my questions. I really do appreciate it. Also, a big thank you to Penguin Random House for allowing me to read the book, and participate in this blog tour. It’s been such a great experience!

Down below is the schedule for the other participants in the blog tour! Definitely go check out their content. I’m looking forward to seeing all of it.

Blog Tour Schedule: 

Week One:

March 25 – @ramblingandreading – Creative Instagram Picture

March 26 – Mel to the Any – Author Guest Post: Who was her favorite character and why?

March 27 – We Live and Breathe Books – Review + Other

March 28 – Ex Libris – Review

Week Two:

April 1 – Lorrimagination – Creative Instagram Picture

April 2 – Passionately Perusing – Author Q&A

April 3 – Gladiator Glory – Playlist + Creative Instagram Picture

April 4 – Just About Write – Author Q&A


If you want to see my thoughts on this novel, head on over to my Goodreads!

If you enjoyed this, then give it a like, and follow my blog. Be respectful, and happy reading!

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Monthly Wrap up! (January 2018)

I can’t believe January is already over! I had a great reading month. I read a few books that could possibly make it to my top books of 2018. Any title that has a link goes to any review I have of it, whether it be on my blog or goodreads. I also added what I did not finish and what I am currently reading.

Completed: 9

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King

  • Rating: 2/5 stars

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

  • Rating: 5/5 stars

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

  • Rating: 3/5 stars

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

  • Rating: 2/5 stars

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (ARC)

  • Rating: 4/5 stars

Ringer by Lauren Oliver

  • Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Bending the Universe by Justin Wetch (Netgalley ARC)

  • Rating: 2/5 stars

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • Rating: 4.75/5 stars

All We Can Do Is Wait by Richard Lawson (ARC)

  • Rating: 3.5/5 stars

DNF: 2

Batman: Nightwalker by Maries Lu

Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman (Netgalley ARC)

Currently Reading: 2

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

  • 200 pages

Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • 121 pages

If you have read any of these books let me know what you thought. Are any of these on your TBR? If you enjoyed reading this post give it a like or follow my blog for future posts! Be respectful and happy reading.

 

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Ringer by Lauren Oliver: Mini Review

Ringer (Replica #2)

By: Lauren Oliver

528 pages (Hardcover)

ISBN: 9780062394194

Published: October 3, 2017 by HarperCollins

Rating: 2.5/5

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Like its ambitious companion novel, Replica, this far-reaching novel by powerhouse bestselling author Lauren Oliver digs deep into questions of how to be a human being in a world where humanity cannot be taken for granted.

In the world outside the Haven Institute, Lyra and Caelum are finding it hard to be human—and neither of them knows where they belong or who they can trust. When Caelum leaves without warning to pursue the dream of a place he belongs, Lyra follows him, convinced that together they will hunt down a cure for the illness that’s slowly consuming her mind. But what they uncover is a shocking connection to their past—even as their future seems in danger of collapsing.

After discovering the uncomfortable truth about her connection to the Haven Institute, Gemma struggles to return to her normal life. But when she learns that her controlling and powerful father has new plans for Lyra and Caelum, Gemma and her boyfriend, Pete, leave in the middle of the night to warn them of the danger they face.When an untimely accident derails them, they are mistaken for the escaped replicas and seized by strangers hired to capture them. The Haven Institute wasn’t destroyed after all, and now Gemma is the one behind the walls.

Lyra’s and Gemma’s stories can be read separately—with either story first—or in alternating chapters, but no matter which way you turn the book, the two distinct stories combine into one breathtaking experience for both heroines and readers alike.


“You built your life into meaning, you transformed it into liquid faith, again and again, like a web; you did it blind, by instinct, because to not do it would be to stop living.”

I truly did not enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first one. I wanted more of the science aspect to shine through in this one. We do learn a lot more about Haven and what actually went on, but I wanted all the science all the time. I was yearning for it and it let me down.

The thing that really threw me off was the romance. It was so cringe worthy I wanted to vomit all over the book. That’s the only way to describe how bad it was. On top of that, I listened to the audio book as I read along and that made it worse. The narrator whispered the romantic scenes. I just about couldn’t handle it.

Then the cherry on top was the characters. They just seemed like blank canvasses. It was the same in Replica but I felt like I could connect with them a little more in that book. I wanted to know more about them. Ringer just made me hate them. If I had to choose the character that bothered me most I would have to say Caelum. He was a whiny little baby and I couldn’t handle him. Just suck it up buttercup.

Overall I will admit that it was a very fast read. I basically read half the book in one day, and it’s not that hard to remember all the information from it. If you want to read this because you also read Replica then be my guest. Otherwise I personally wouldn’t waste my time if you’re thinking it’s going to be better than Replica. You might end up loving it though. Who knows? I don’t recommend it though.

If you read this book let me know what you thought of it in the comments. Have you also read Replica by Lauren Oliver? If you enjoyed reading this post give it a like and follow me for future posts. Be respectful and happy reading!

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Library Book Haul!

Hello everyone! I wanted to do a library book haul since I haven’t bought many books in the last few months. I have, however, recently been hired as a circulation attendant at my local library so here we are. It’s a fantastic job if you love to read. No, I do not sit and read all day because I know that’s everyone’s misconception of librarians. A lot more goes into the job than you think. Anyway, here are the 7 books I have checked out from my local library.

The first one I have to talk about and have started reading is Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson. This book is about a young female protagonist named Lee “Leah” Westfall, who has the ability to sense gold. This novel is set during the Gold Rush so you could see how this ability is a blessing and a curse. Her life then starts to fall apart and she makes her way west to California.

I am about 140 pages into the novel and I am loving it. It’s full of all these hardships that our main character goes through and there is never a dull moment for Lee or the reader. Rae Carson does very well writing the novel to seem like it was written during those times. Sometimes I do feel like she tried to hard to make it sound authentic but other than that it has been a fantastic read. I will keep everyone posted on my thoughts when I am finished reading it.


An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin is the next novel I checked out from the library. Yes, the author is the Steve Martin. This novel is just a fiction book that is “written” by a man named Daniel Franks that follows a woman named Lacey Yeager. This is a girl he just can’t seem to get out of his head. Lacey is ambitious enough to take on the art world of New York City. She works in a Sotheby’s, the worlds largest brokers of fine art as well as other fancy artifacts. As she climbs the social ladder it shows just how dark the art world becomes from the 1990’s and so on.

I have also started this novel and I am a little over 60 pages in. Can I just say that I never expected Steve Martin to write such a beautiful novel, especially about art! The words flow smoothly and the story is interesting. As a person that took art every year and every semester in high school I enjoy this book. If you want to know about art and you are just starting out I’m not sure this book would be for you. If you know a lot about art and just want to know a little bit more, this book is great. That said, if you just want to pick it up because it seems interesting to you, then all the power to you! It’s a beautiful book so far and I will also be doing another review on this book when it is finished.


Attachments by Rainbow Rowell is a book I checked out because I have heard mixed reviews about it. This is one of Rainbow Rowells adult books. This novel is about two women Beth and Jennifer that work for a newspaper. They are aware their emails are monitored but they continue to gossip over email. Lincoln O’Neill then becomes one of the internet security officers and ends up reading Beth and Jennifer’s emails. He realizes he starts falling for Beth but it may be too late to even say anything to her.

I have not started this novel, but I am excited to get to it. The good thing about working at the library is I get an extra week to have the books!


Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is a historical fiction book about President Lincoln’s son Willie who falls ill and dies. George then twists the story to show Willie in purgatory or the “Bardo.” It’s a transitional state before deciding where he goes. Willie comes across ghosts that gripe and mingle so to speak.

I have also started this book and I have only reached page 18. I don’t know if I’m ready for a historical fiction, but I just couldn’t get into it. I couldn’t understand what was happening even after reading the synopsis. I may put it down and pick it up sometime down the road. As of right now, not a fan. If you’re into historical fiction then I recommend picking this up.


The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom is a young adult novel that follows Gwendolyn Bloom. Her father disappears and she decides to change her identity and find her father. It takes place in a world with a fair amount of spies, assassins  and criminal masterminds. It’s all about her journey.

I have not started this book but I am excited to go along with Gwendolyn on her bad A journey!


The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti is about a young twelve-year-old male protagonist named Ren. Ren has lost his left hand but has no idea how or why. He is abandoned at an orphanage for boys and goes on a journey to find out who his parents are and what his life was like before. Benjamin Nab then enters his life claiming to be his brother and tells him a story of his parents. Ben convinces the orphanage to let Ren go to discover himself. It follows Ren and his adventure with scammers, thieves and even grave robbers!

I haven’t started this but it sounds like a novel that I haven’t really read before. This was a novel my boyfriend picked up at the library and asked me to read it so lets see where this goes.


Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor is a novel that follows multiple friends of a man who winds up dead in an abandoned apartment. It is all of their stories pieced together. It deals with drugs and distress. They live in a parallel world where they are out of reach from the outside world. When they all suddenly die they realize they were treated with more respect that when they were living their short lives.

This story sounded odd and when I was looking for one of his other books I came across this. I haven’t started it but I am very excited to see what that synopsis even means. I’ll definitely keep you all posted.


The last novel I checked out from the library is a recommendation from my co-worker, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. This is a fantasy that follows Kate Harker and August Flynn. Kate wants to be ruthless but she was in boarding school for five years and now that she’s released she wants to prove she can be just as ruthless as her father. August wants to be human but he’s stuck as a monster that steals souls with songs. The city they live in is divided and they are the only two that can understand both sides. They are the only two that can do anything about it.

I haven’t started this book but I have heard mixed reviews about it. I decided I would pick it up soon and give it a read. I will keep everyone posted!

Sorry this is a long post, but I wanted to give insight about the books I read. If you want to see other books I’m interested in you can visit my goodreads account as well as all my other social media. They are all linked at the top of my blog page.

Thank you for reading and don’t be afraid to tell me your opinions. No spoilers on any of these novels please!

We are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

This is my first book review so be nice please!

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Image result for 4.5 out of 5 stars

Genre:

Young Adult Fiction

Summary:

This is a novel about the male protagonist, Henry Denton. He was supposedly abducted by aliens and told that he had 144 days to decide whether he wanted the world to end or not. It all came down to this button that he was either going to push or leave alone. Through the course of those 144 days he deals with love, loss, and figuring out who he is. He meets Diego Vega, an aspiring artist from Colorado that he doesn’t know much about, who could possibly change his mind about the world. It’s an emotional journey that deals with relationships between family, friends and possible love interests. Trigger: Towards the end of the novel there is a mention of possible rape. If that bothers you just know that going into the novel. It’s not a huge part but it is mentioned. There is also suicide mentioned quite a bit in the novel. 

Narration:

This novel is written in first person narrative which is not so reliable in the end. Henry is in high school and because he’s dealing with a mother that smokes and is trying to keep the family from falling apart, a brother who dropped out of college and is planning on being a father, a grandmother who is losing her mind, and a boyfriend that has committed suicide. All of these different aspects of his life has made him go a little crazy and for awhile he wonders why it would matter if the world ended. We are never for sure if he is actually abducted by aliens or if it is just him trying to give an excuse to end his life as well. Therefore, we only see what he is thinking and how he supposes others are feeling but his mind is too jumbled. 

Setting:

The book takes place in Florida where Henry lives. He is mainly at school or at home but there is a plethora of other significant places he takes us here and there. The setting is not much of a driver for the story but there are certain places such as, his boyfriends old bedroom, that starts becoming important later in the story. It basically just shows that he is in high school and that gives the reader a hint of the struggles that happen in high school especially for a boy that has so much going on in his life. Other than that there is not much description about where he lives and goes to school. 

Theme:

We are the Ants shows the reader just how large the universe is and how our actions ultimately don’t matter in the end. If are worried about grades in school, what has happened in the past, or what happening now we shouldn’t be because it doesn’t matter all that much. 

Evaluation:

This book was fantastic. It deals with possible problems that any person on the Earth could deal with in their lifetime. The writing definitely proves that the narrator is a high school student. Henry is easy to relate to but also impossible to understand. I enjoyed the relationships between him and his friends, family and Diego Vega. You learn about each person slowly throughout the book which was nice. I didn’t have to learn about this person with all these experiences in one page. I gradually got to know them like it was a real life interaction. 

Henry Denton was not my favorite character in the novel. I found him to be quite annoying at moments. He could never decide what he wanted from a person at any given moment. He compared Diego to his former boyfriend that had committed suicide. I don’t fancy comparing two people because human beings are all different. I do realize he is in high school trying to find himself but his personality wasn’t my cup of tea. 

Throughout the story there were facts that were made up by Henry and it was interesting to see what he had come up with. They were some of my favorite parts of the novel. They often dealt with serious issues that were going on in the world but it had a twist that probably would never happen.

The writing style was very simple which made it a bit of a faster read, which I did enjoy. 

One of the issues I had that brought my rating down was the romance in the novel. I’m not big on cheesy romance and it happens quite a bit. There are some raunchy parts as well mixed in. I do understand that he was trying to find himself but it wasn’t for me.

Overall:

I would encourage anyone to read this novel. I will definitely try to read other novels by Shaun David Hutchinson. I borrowed this book from the library so I would buy it for my shelves. I believe this book has made good points about what life really is about. We really just are the ants in the grand scheme of things. It is a great message and I think if you read this book more than once you will probably learn something new every time. Give this novel a chance. 

Thank you. 

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