Monday, March 25, 2013

Celebrating POISON by Bridget Zinn

Probably the most exciting time for authors is the day their debut novel launches. You might have heard of Bridget Zinn, whose debut novel POISON was released this month, but if you haven't, you can read more about her on her website.

2009 was an eventful year for Bridget--she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, found a fabulous literary agent after years of writing, and got married. Sadly, she lost her cancer battle in 2011 and isn't here to celebrate her book's publication.

But she has tons of friends and fans who are spreading the word about POISON. Publishers Weekly has a great article about Bridget and how people are helping to launch the book, and The Chicago Tribune just ran an article about her yesterday.

Since POISON was originally planned to be a 2012 release and Bridget was a member of The Apocalypsies, we had a recent post on the blog for her release date, "One Last Apocalypsies Debut," written by her friend E.M. Kokie.

Here's a description of the novel from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

I got my copy of POISON as soon as it was released and wasn't sure I'd have time to read the whole thing before doing this post, but I couldn't put it down. I like to sleep in whenever I can, but one morning I woke up at 5:30 and after a few minutes of trying to get back to sleep I thought, "Ooh, I can read more!" and read in bed until I got to the end of the book. And then I might have hugged it. It must be really difficult to write a book that's funny and suspenseful at the same time, but Bridget pulled it off. I adored the characters and had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen to them. (I kept doing that "just one more chapter...ok, I'll read one more chapter" thing).

Young adult novels are often considered either "upper YA" or "lower YA," since what's age-appropriate for a 17-year-old might not be age-appropriate for a 13-year-old, and the book that a 13-year-old loves might not be of interest to an older teen. But POISON is a book I'd give to a young adult fan of any age. Kyra's a strong and clever heroine, and the storyline is exciting enough to keep readers turning the pages. There's some pining but no wallowing for the love interest, Fred (and some admiring of his abs).

One sign of a great story is that you still think about the characters after you've closed the book. Days after reading, I'm wondering how Kyra, Fred, and even Rosie the pig are doing, and I'm sure I'll be thinking about them for a long time. I wish we could look forward to more books from Bridget, but I'm thankful that this one made it out into the world.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Guest Post: How You Can Help Elephants

Today we have a special treat--a guest post from the folks at World Elephant Day, who last year brought us the documentary Return to the Forest.

Now they're at work on a new documentary, Elephants Never Forget, which explores the lives of working elephants (like Nandita in CHAINED), along with other issues like poaching and habitat loss that threaten the elephant population.

So now I'll turn things over to the World Elephant Day organization, with some ways to help elephants and more information about their current project:

Elephants are becoming extinct. Each region has its own elephant issues, ranging from the escalation of poaching and illegal trade, to habitat loss, to human-elephant con´Čéict and captivity issues. In order to conserve these magnificent animals we need to come together and raise awareness of these issues with a powerful global voice. If you are eager to help but don’t know how, here are several ideas:

Become Elephant Educated
Learn about the deeper issues behind the threats facing elephants. In order to find a solution, we need to create alternative, sustainable livelihoods for people who have traditionally relied on elephants.

Support Elephant Organizations
Support organizations who are working to protect habitat for wild elephants, finding solutions for human-elephant conflict, and preventing poaching.

Only Visit Eco-Tourism Operations
If you wish to experience elephants in their natural environment choose eco-tourism operators who support local elephant conservation projects and who treat elephants with respect and dignity.

Support Awareness Projects
Donate and share about projects that are working to raise awareness of the elephant’s critical plight. An advocacy film is currently doing just that and raising money through Indiegogo to complete their project.

The issues facing elephants are complex and involve many different stakeholders. In order to ensure their survival we need the masses to unite and each do their part.