Tag Archives: Miriam Parker

“The Host” by Stephenie Meyer

the host

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged. Most of humanity has succumbed.

When Melanie, one of the few remaining “wild” humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.

One of the most compelling writers of our time, Stephenie Meyer brings us a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the very essence of what it means to be human.

Stephenie Meyer’s life changed dramatically on June 2, 2003. The stay-at-home mother of three young sons woke-up from a dream featuring seemingly real characters that she could not get out of her head.

“Though I had a million things to do, I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream. Unwillingly, I eventually got up and did the immediate necessities, and then put everything that I possibly could on the back burner and sat down at the computer to write-something I hadn’t done in so long that I wondered why I was bothering.”

Meyer invented the plot during the day through swim lessons and potty training, then writing it out late at night when the house was quiet. Three months later she finished her first novel, Twilight. With encouragement from her older sister (the only other person who knew she had written a book), Meyer submitted her manuscript to various literary agencies. Twilight was picked out of a slush pile at Writer’s House and eventually made its way to Little, Brown where everyone fell immediately in love with the gripping, star-crossed lovers theme.

Twilight was one of 2005’s most talked about novels and within weeks of its release the book debuted at #5 on The New York Times bestseller list. Among its many accolades, Twilight was named an “ALA Top Ten Books for Young Adults,” an Amazon.com “Best Book of the Decade … So Far”, and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year.

The highly-anticipated sequel, New Moon, was released in September 2006 and has spent more than 25 weeks at the #1 position on The New York Times bestseller list.

In 2007, Eclipse landed literally around the world and fans made the Twilight Saga a worldwide phenomenon! With midnight parties, vampire-themed proms and more the enthusiasm for the series continues to grow.

On May 6, 2008, Little, Brown and Company released The Host, Meyer’s highly-anticipated debut for novel adults which debuted at #1 on The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. The Host still remains a staple on the bestseller lists a year after its debut.

On August 2, 2008, the final book in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn was released at 12:01 midnight. Stephenie made another appearance on “Good Morning America” and was featured in many national media outlets, including Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, People Magazine and Variety. Stephenie headlined the Breaking Dawn Concert Series with Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October to celebrate the release in four major markets across the US.

The Twilight movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke and starting Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, was released on November 21, 2008. Twilight debuted at #1 at the box office with $70 million, making it the highest debut for a female director.

Stephenie lives in Arizona with her husband and three sons.

Do you want to know a little more about the author?  Here is a Q & A session to find out about the author and the book “The Host”:

1. What inspired the idea for The Host?

The kernel of thought that became The Host was inspired by absolute boredom. I was driving from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, through some of the most dreary and repetitive desert in the world. It’s a drive I’ve made many times, and one of the ways I keep from going insane is by telling myself stories. I have no idea what sparked the strange foundation of a body-snatching alien in love with the host body’s boyfriend over the host-body’s protest. I was halfway into the story before I realized it. Once I got started, though, the story immediately demanded my attention. I could tell there was something compelling in the idea of such a complicated triangle. I started writing the outline in a notebook, and then fleshed it out as soon as I got to a computer. The Host was supposed to be no more than a side project—something to keep me busy between editing stints on Eclipse—but it turned into something I couldn’t step away from until it was done.

2. Did you approaching writing The Host, your first adult novel, differently than your YA series?

Not at all. Like the Twilight Saga (this is probably the only way The Host is like the Twilight Saga!), The Host is just a story I had fun telling myself. My personal entertainment is always the key to why a story gets finished. I never think about another audience besides myself while I’m writing; that can wait for the editing stage.

3. You have referred to The Host as being a science fiction novel for people who don’t like science fiction. Can you explain why?

Reading The Host doesn’t feel like reading science fiction; the world is familiar, the body you as the narrator are moving around inside of is familiar, the emotions on the faces of the people around you are familiar. It’s very much set in this world, with just a few key differences. If it weren’t for the fact that alien stories are by definition science fiction, I wouldn’t classify it in that genre.

4. There is a lot of internal dialogue between Wanderer, the narrator and invading “soul”, and Melanie, the human whose body Wanderer is now living inside. Each character has her own distinct voice and internal struggle. Was it a challenge to have the two characters, who essentially take up one body, stand on their own?

Wanderer and Melanie were very distinct personalities to me from day one; keeping them separate was never an issue. Melanie is the victim—she’s the one that we, as humans, should identify with; at the same time, she is not always the more admirable character. She can be angry and violent and ruthless. Wanderer is the attacker, the thief. She is not like us, not even a member of our species. However, she is someone that I, at least, wish I was more like. She’s a better person than Melanie in a lot of ways, and yet a weaker person. The differences between the two main characters are the whole point of the story. If they weren’t so distinct, there would have been no reason to write it.

5. Did any of the characters surprise you while writing?

I am constantly surprised by my characters when I write—it’s really one of my favorite parts. When a character refuses to do what I had planned for him or her, that’s when I know that character is really alive. There were several characters who caught me off guard with The Host. One in particular was slated for a bit part as the wingman to the villain. Somehow, he knew he was more than that, and I couldn’t stop him from morphing into a main love interest. 

6. Your Twilight series has had a lot of crossover appeal for adult readers, do you think The Host will also appeal to your younger readers?

I’ve had a great deal of interest from my YA readers about the release of The Host. I have no doubt that they will continue to make up a core part of my readership. I love blurring the lines between the different genres and categories—because in my head, a good book won’t fit inside the lines. I hope that The Host continues to do what the Twilight Saga is doing: showing that a good story doesn’t belong to any one demographic.

7. How do you feel about the enormous success that you’ve had with the Twilight series? How has it changed your life?

I am continually shocked by the success of my books.  I never take it for granted, and I do not count on it in my expectations of my future.  It’s a very enjoyable thing, and I’ll have fun with it while it lasts. I’ve always considered myself first and foremost a mother, so being a writer hasn’t changed my life too much – except I do travel a lot more and have less free time.

8. What adult authors do you read?

I’ve been reading books for adults my entire life. Growing up I was an avid reader—the thicker the book, the better. Pride and Prejudice, Gone with the Wind, The Sword of Shannara, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, etc. I’m a huge fan of Orson Scott Card, and Jane Austen– I can’t go through a year without re-reading her stuff again.

I haven’t had the chance to read this book yet but I certainly can’t wait for the chance.  This is a fantastic writer and while I wasn’t a big fan of the movie adaptation of “Twilight” (I know, I know), I am a huge fan of her work.  Have you read it?  If so, shoot me off the link to your review and I will include it on this post.

Thanks again so much to Miriam at Hachette for this awesome opportunity!

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Love and Other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas

love-and-other-natural-disasters

Eve is eight months pregnant and in the middle of a Thanksgiving celebration when she discovers that her husband Jonathan has developed an intimate relationship with a woman over the past year.  Jonathon asserts his innocence (an affair involves physical intimacy, and he didn’t have any), while Eve feels deeply betrayed by the emotional connection he shared with someone else. What Jon has done seems so terrifyingly out of character that Eve finds herself questioning her entire reality.  Did she ever really know Jon at all?  Was their happiness together a lie?  Is emotional intimacy more forgivable than sexual intimacy?  And can their marriage survive?

Eve and Jon seem to have it all, a wonderful son, Jacob with a baby due in a few months time.  But, when Eve overhears Jon on the phone during Thanksgiving dinner her whole world crumbles.  Laney happened.  Eve makes everyone leave and confronts Jon, who admits to having an “emotional” relationship with Laney over the past year.  He doesn’t see this as cheating because it never once got physical, although he “has love” for her.

This book was very thought provoking.  My husband and I discussed it, and I was with Eve’s friend Lil.  I thought that an emotional relationship was worse than a physical one, and it would be harder for me to forgive.  I was happy with the ending and how the author brought you to it.  She also left the possibility of a sequel – I for one would love to know more about what happens with Uncle Charlie.

This is the first book that I have read by this author, but I really enjoyed it.  Once again I want to thank Miriam Parker of The Hachette Book Group for sending this to me for review.

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The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

When Truly Plaice’s mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother’s death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of femine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated–Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.

Serena Jane’s beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book–containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers–has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly’s biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.

When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly’s brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as a result, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling–the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques–hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan’s family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly’s reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.

After reading the back of this book, I really wasn’t sure what to expect when reading it. This book centers around Truly Plaice. When Truly’s mother is pregnant, the whole town places bets as to how big the boy is going to be, and the guesses are high due to the enormous size of her belly. When Dr. Robert Morgan examines her, he notices a lump in her breast, a lump she keeps secret, even though it will kill her. When her water breaks and contractions start, Dr. Robert Morgan tries to help her through the delivery to the best of his ability, but the size of the baby proves to be too much. When he asks her what name she has chosen the last word she utters is Truly. Thus is the beginning of Truly’s existence.

Truly is destined to be miserable. Her sister Serena Jane is beautiful by anyone’s standards, and not only is Truly homely, she is enormous besides. Her father blames her and the doctor for the untimely death of his wife (even though she would have passed from cancer shortly after her birth) and refuses to seek medical attention for his daughter, even though it is obvious there is something wrong with her.

After the death of their father, the girls are separated. Serena Jane, who is treated as a princess by most of the town, but especially by Amanda Pickerston, is welcomed with open arms into their home. But there is no way they are going to take in something as homely and huge as Truly. Instead, truly is sent to the Dyerson farm, a home of outcasts where she is bound to fit in.

The girls continue to meet weekly, but grow apart even more…not that they were ever really close. They both fall into a pattern with their new families. And Truly continues to grow.

She does have a friend in Amelia, the daughter of the Dyerson’s, who becomes like a sister to her. She also catches the eye of Marcus, even if he is the smallest boy in the class, he is full of knowledge and love for Truly, something that get exploited by Bob Bob Morgan, the son of Doctor Morgan, and a boy destined to be the next town Doctor, a tradition that goes all the way back to his great-great-great-grandfather, and his wife Tabitha, who it was rumored was a witch. Bob Bob also has his eyes on Serena, and one night he finally gets her where he wants her, a union that prompts a swift marriage due to her unexpected pregnancy.

Serena and Bob Bob move away and Truly doesn’t hear from them for quite some time, with only the occasional letter and picture of her nephew Bobbie. So, when they move back to town she is hopeful that things will change. They don’t. That is until Bob Bob (who is now called Robert) comes to tell her that her sister has left and wants her to help him raise Bobbie.

This is the beginning of a fascinating relationship, and a story full of love and incredible deceit. I found the story to be excellent, and truly loved the way the author described the characters. I went through a full range of emotions while reading this, and although it had a happy ending, it was really bittersweet when you realize everything that led to it. Highly recommended!

Tiffany Baker lives in Tiburon, California with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.

Thanks so much to Miriam Parker, of The Hachette Book Group for sending me this ARC to review!

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