Alexandra Bracken Interview!!!

It’s no secret that I’ve been obsessed with Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger since I first read it last Christmas.  In fact, it sits prominently displayed on my favorites shelf facing outward so I can admire the gorgeous cover every time I look over at my bookshelves.  What initially piqued my interest about the story was the prospect of time travel and pirates but what truly hooked me were the characters I fell so deeply in love with, Nicholas and Etta.  Alex’s newest book, Wayfarer, continues their adventure as they search for an ancient artifact needed to keep the timeline in tact.  Wayfarer is the conclusion to the Passenger duology and to celebrate its release, I was somehow lucky enough to get to chat with Alexandra about the story!  (Just a warning that there will be mild spoilers below for Passenger – if you haven’t read the first book yet, you can read my review here)

Alex started the call with a synopsis of Wayfarer and gave me some information on her writing process saying “I‘ve been calling this book my problem child in the sense that it was the book that came out kicking and screaming whereas some books just sort of rain down on you from the heavens and explode out of you, and those stories are amazing.  But I am really proud of this book.  I think I managed to accomplish everything that I was going for in it.” And as someone who has read Wayfarer, I can attest that accomplish it, she did!  Stories involving time travel are always some of the most difficult to write because of all of the paradoxes that you can fall into if you’re not careful.  On top of that, Alex had to do in depth research of each location and time period the characters visit in order to ensure her story is accurate.  Luckily, Alex is a history nerd!  According to Alex, “Originally Passenger was just going to be set in 1776 in New York.  I studied Revolutionary War history and 18th century America in college, so I felt very comfortable writing in that time period.  I had a really good grip on what the different concerns were, what the economy was like, what the atmosphere was like.  That’s why I felt weirdly comfortable writing in Nicholas’ voice, then I decided I’ve got to push myself and expand the story so I could make it more inclusiveFor the places that I’d never visited, I never expected this to actually be the case, but tourists, when they walk through places, will actually record themselves walking through the entire site.  It made it very easy to write about the layout of all of those different places.

One of my favorite things about Wayfarer is that we get to know Sophia and Julian a lot better than we did in the first book.  While it did mean the separation of Nicholas and Etta, Sophia and Julian were such fascinating characters that it made it easier to cope with.  Alex said “I really like writing group dynamics, and that was one of the challenges of Passenger, that there wasn’t a big group.  It was only Etta and Nicholas for most of the book.  And so with this one, I had a blast writing different groups and managing everyone’s personalities.”  Speaking of those other characters, I asked Alex which character she would write about if she had another opportunity to write a full length novel in the Passenger world (because she’s already written a Rose Linden short story which is available in the Target edition of Wayfarer) and what she would do with them.  Alex said “I always thought if I wrote another book set in this world, it would probably be about Julian because he doesn’t get as much page time as Sophia and Li Min do.  I sort of have a concept – and sorry, this is a spoiler for the end. At the end of the book, their way of life has sort of been dissolved, and they’re starting to reestablish rules and reestablish a way of life.  And, so Julian I think, would be at sea – not literally, but figuratively – in terms of what to do with himself. I had this image that he would go and work for the Belladonna and go do an errand for her, and kind of have a love story of his own.  I hope I get to write it one day, and rope Sophia and Li Min in as well.

And I obviously had to ask Alex about her plotting process and if she ever considered having any of the characters go into the future or to have anyone from the future come back to visit the characters since Passenger and Wayfarer only cover traveling into the past.  Alex said “Yeah, I thought about it. So Rose ultimately goes on this single-minded path, I guess you could say, to try to prevent the astrolabe from falling into the Ironwood’s hands.  Originally, in my mind when I was plotting out Passenger, it was going to be someone from the future that actually warned Rose about it, and it was probably going to be Nicholas and Etta’s kid, or their grandchild, or something to that effect. But you sort of get into grandfather paradox, where you can’t travel back in time to kill a grandparent or do something that affects a grandparent because it could affect your birth.  So the action cancels itself out.  I tried to avoid that the best I could, and avoid having to explain that over several dozen pages. So I was like, you know what?  I’m just going to keep it a little bit simpler and go the direction I went in Wayfarer.”  And as for what Alex would bring with her if she were to travel through time, “Well, it totally depends on if you’re going into the future or if you’re going into the past… Going into the future, I feel like I would bring a notebook so I could keep notes.  If I was going into the past, I think I would probably bring matches with me.”  Such a writerly answer!

Wayfarer Synopsis

I’ve been orphaned by my time.

The timeline has changed.

My future is gone.

 Etta Spencer didn’t know she was a traveler until the day she emerged both miles and years from her home. Now, robbed of the powerful object that was her only hope of saving her mother, Etta finds herself stranded once more, cut off from Nicholas—the eighteenth century privateer she loves—and her natural time.

When Etta inadvertently stumbles into the heart of the Thorns, the renegade travelers who stole the astrolabe from her, she vows to finish what she started and destroy the astrolabe once and for all. Instead, she’s blindsided by a bombshell revelation from their leader, Henry Hemlock: he is her father. Suddenly questioning everything she’s been fighting for, Etta must choose a path, one that could transform her future.

Still devastated by Etta’s disappearance, Nicholas has enlisted the unlikely help of Sophia Ironwood and a cheeky mercenary-for-hire to track both her and the missing astrolabe down. But as the tremors of change to the timeline grow stronger and the stakes for recovering the astrolabe mount, they discover an ancient power far more frightening than the rival travelers currently locked in a battle for control. . . a power that threatens to eradicate the timeline altogether.

From colonial Nassau to New York City, San Francisco to Roman Carthage, imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, New York Times #1 best-selling author Alexandra Bracken charts a gorgeously detailed, thrilling course through time in this stunning conclusion to the Passenger series.

Alexandra Bracken Bio

Alexandra Bracken is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Passenger series and The Darkest Minds series. Born and raised in Arizona, she moved East to study history and English at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. After working in publishing for several years, Alex now writes full-time and can be found hard at work on her next novel in a charming little apartment that’s perpetually overflowing with books.

Official Links

Find out more on UnrequiredReading

Visit the author at her Website

Social Media

@alexbracken on Twitter and Instagram

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Kristin

Book Look OOTD: Passenger

This has been a weird week.  The week preceding the 4th of July is typically a quiet one but several of the fandoms I love turned Monday to Wednesday into stressful days! On Monday I SCRAMBLED to get tickets to the NYC premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them which JK Rowling herself and Eddie Redmayne will also be attending.  That was the most stressful of my experiences this week but more on that later.  On Tuesday I sat at my computer refreshing constantly to get my hands on a Mondo Ramona Flowers figure that had been previewed at San Diego Comic Con last year and seemingly disappeared into the void until they finally announced on Monday that preorders would go live the next day.  Andrew and I both scored one of these so we have an extra if anyone didn’t get one and is in need! And then Wednesday.  Wednesday was the NYCC ticket rush.  This is the first year that I will not be attending as press (I wasn’t able to go last year because I had to attend a wedding – literally a devastating moment for me) and now I have to join in the horrific ticket queue but I’m just happy to be going!  I already have a cosplay planned and I’m super excited that NYCC is adding a BookCon section this year!  The ticket queue was my worst nightmare.  It gave no indication of where you were in line or how long it would be until you were able to buy tickets.  Luckily, I teamed up with my friend Lauren and she got in first so she scored some of the last 4 day tickets before NYCC announced that they were sold out. VICTORY. Now today I’m too mentally exhausted to do a thing- bring on my three day weekend!

Anyway, on to my outfit photos :-) I put this outfit together with Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger in mind.  I was lucky enough to read this book early and I ADORED it (review here).  The conclusion to this duology, Wayfarer is due out in January of 2017 and you can bet I placed my preorder as soon as it showed up online.  I chose to wear my Chopin music note leggings and music note necklace because the main character Etta is a very talented violinist.  I also went with some more classic pieces, like a denim jacket and oxford shoes because Passenger is all about time travel and we meet the other main character Nicholas in early American history.

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Outfit Details: Jacket (Gap – Similar)  |  Shoes (Steve Madden – Similar

Necklace (Alex Woo)  |  Shirt (ModCloth – Similar)  |  Headband (Forever 21 – Similar)

Leggings (BlackMilk)  |  Ring (Kendra Scott – Similar)

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Waiting on Wednesday: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken (Passenger #2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken which is the follow up and conclusion to her Passenger duology.  Passenger was one of my favorite books of 2015 and I am so eager to get my hands on a copy of Wayfarer.  We were left with a major cliffhanger and I cannot wait to see how the story continues and resolves itself! Plus the cover was recently revealed and it is a thing of beauty<3

Wayfarer

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds #1)

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is the first book in a dystoipian trilogy in which, all of the children in the country are infected with a deadly disease called IAAN. Those who survive IAAN contract supernatural powers which are classified by the government by sectioning them off into different colored categories.  Each color is unique to the type of ability and the kids are all placed in camps where they are oppressed by the adults who fear them.  The Darkest Minds was the March book of the month for the TBR Pile Reading Challenge Book Club and I’m going to be reviewing it in a different format than usual.  A list of discussion questions were posted in regard to the book and I’m going to be answering them here.  Before I start, my general feelings about The Darkest Minds were not what I had been hoping for.  It may be that I’ve lost interest in dystopian novels but it took me nearly 3 weeks to read this book (which is a really long time for me).  There were elements that I enjoyed, such as Bracken’s writing but because it took me so long I was unable to form any type of real attachment to the characters.  I did not feel as invested in the story as I might have several years ago which makes me sad.  I can’t decide if I’ll be continuing with the series at this point but if I do, it will be sometime unforeseeable future.

*THIS DISCUSSION CONTAINS SPOILERS*

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1) If you contracted IAAN, which category would you want to be in? (Red, Fire;  Orange, Mind Control; Yellow, Electricity;  Blue, Telekinesis; Green, Intelligence)

I really feel as though I would fall into the Green category as I’m often commended on my memory sans a newly contracted ability.  Plus, I’m a Ravenclaw so Green would have to be the best fit.

2) What were you initial impressions? Do you like the writing style? Did the prologue pique your interest?

As I stated in my intro, while I did enjoy the writing style, I wasn’t ever fully invested in the story.  The prologue definitely did pique my interest as it began with an action scene and left me wanting to know what the sound was and why Ruby was effected.  I think The Darkest Minds had a very strong start but it wasn’t until the near end that I got that same sense of wonder.

3) Thoughts on Ruby wiping Liam’s mind? Is it for the best?

I’m really torn on this one! Part of me feels like it was a betrayal of trust but the other part can understand why she did what she did.

4) What do you think about the government’s way of “dealing” with the kids with special powers? Why did they send them to work camps where they were mistreated and abused, instead of trying to understand/study their abilities, or even training the kids and use their powers?

I think the government’s way of dealing the special powers is completely unacceptable.  It’s obvious that the adults are terrified of the unknown and they came up with what they believed would be the safest way for them to preserve the society they’re familiar with instead of trying to learn about the abilities and work together to create a safe future for everyone as opposed to a limited group.  I don’t think it’s right to separate children from their parents and haul them off into a prison-like atmosphere when they are just beginning to learn about themselves.

5) Ruby is very scared, naive and distrustful (which is completely understandable after what she’s been through). Do you find her to be a believable character? What did you think about her character development? 

I never felt any real connection to Ruby which could partially be due to the wall she’s built around herself.  I saw definite redeeming qualities within her and I can understand how she would be appealing to other readers, she just didn’t totally resonate with me. As for how believable her character is, if anything, I’m surprised she wasn’t even more distrusting and unwilling to set out with Chubs, Liam and Zu.

6) How did you feel about the relationship between Ruby and Liam? Did you think it was rushed?

I didn’t totally understand how their relationship formed so quickly.  I didn’t feel any chemistry between them at all and I was surprised at how much Ruby liked him by the end of the book.

7) Do you think the story line is bullet-proof or did you have any issues with the plot-line and the logic behind the world-building? 

I did have some issues with the story and the world-building but with most YA I go into it suspending most disbelief because stories are just that- stories.  While they’re engaging and it’s fun to fall into a different world, I find that there’s rarely anything that’s perfect.  Not even our own world!

8) Do you think Chubs is okay? Do you have any predictions for how things will turn out for him? 

I have to say that I am quite worried about Chubs.  He is the character I came closest to developing concern for, especially in the latter half of the book.  He seems like such a nice introvert and I hated how he was being treated by his original squad.

9) How do you think things will turn out for Zu? Why do you think Clancy approved her group to leave in the first place? 

I think Clancy approved for Zu’s group to leave solely to get her out of the camp.  I think he wanted to tear down as many of Ruby’s allies as possible because she’s the only real threat to him when it comes down to it.

10) What are your opinions of Clancy? Is he redeemable? Do you think he really would have run?

In my eyes, Clancy is not redeemable.  I thought he was shady the moment he appeared on the page and I never trusted him at all.  Things were too controlled and too perfect for him to have been a good person.

11) How do you imagine things panning out for Ruby and Liam? Will he ever get his memories back? Do you think he’ll hold it against Ruby when (or if?) he finds out? 

If I had to guess, I would hypothesize that Ruby will learn how to restore Liam’s memories and while he’ll initially feel betrayed by her, he will ultimately end up forgiving her (probably sometime in book 3) and they’ll end up together.

12) How did you react to the end? Did you cry? (Jess BAWLED. For a considerable amount of time. Like, at least half an hour.) Do you plan to read the next book–and if you do, will you jump in soon, or are you going to give some time in between because the end to this one was so traumatizing? 

I definitely didn’t shed a tear.  Again, as I stated in my intro, I’m definitely taking a break from this series because I’m just burnt out on dystopian fiction and I don’t have any strong desire to find out what’s going to happen to the characters.  I’m not going to look up the ending online in case I decide to go back to it at some point, but right now, it’s just not something I see myself reaching for anytime soon.
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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (Passenger #1)

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken was my most anticipated ARC at BEA (and I managed to get it!) but after finding out there was an updated draft I made an executive decision to wait until the finished copy… until, an updated ARC was printed.  I was lucky enough to receive one and the moment it appeared in my mailbox I was so ready to dive in!  I’m very happy to say that Passenger did not disappoint.  The story is full of time travel and pirates (two instant selling points for myself) and it follows Etta and Nicholas who embark on a journey through time to recover an artifact that could destroy the time stream completely if it falls into the wrong hands.  From the moment I started reading until the moment I finished I was completely enthralled with the story and the characters.  Passenger is a truly gripping read.  You still have time to enter my Passenger giveaway too!

A big part of why I loved Passenger so much is because Alexandra Bracken’s imagery made me feel like I was time traveling along with the Etta and Nicholas.  I found it took me longer to read Passenger than it has to read other books of a similar size and I think it’s because I was so overtaken by the story.  I felt like I had to read at a slower pace to absorb each and every detail.  Time travel stories can often feel confusing or convoluded but when they’re done correctly, like Passenger,they’re one of my favorite types of stories.  The way in which all of the rules of the world were described made complete sense and makes the story approachable to those who aren’t accustomed to reading science fiction.  The story is complicated in the best kind of way and I already began planning a re-read before I finished the first time.  The race for this mysterious artifact had me HOOKED.

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I love both Etta and Nicholas separately and together I ship them so much!  Etta is a violinist from modern day New York set to debut at The Met when she’s thrust into this life that her mother never explained to her yet she manages to take everything in stride and quickly adapt to her situation.  She’s driven by love and the desire to do what’s right and she won’t let any male or female get in her way despite the century she happens to be in.  Etta challenges social issues from earlier times that she doesn’t agree with and I love her quick wit.  Nicholas’s polite and calm demeanor balances out Etta’s impulsive whims.  I particularly love his way of fighting back civilly during the Voltaire conversation despite the other character not deserving any of Nicholas’ time or attention.  He’s a man who’s always been dealt an unfair hand due solely to his race and I want nothing more than for him to move to the current century with Etta and live happily ever after but that ending remains to be seen.  I really need the second book in the duology, Wayfarer, as soon as possible.  I also really enjoyed learning about Ironwood and the way he has been controlling time traveling families for years.  He is a prime example of someone whose had a taste of power and will never be satisfied.  He is out for his best interest despite how the consequences will effect anyone else.

Final Thoughts:  Passenger by Alexandra Bracken is the first book in a time travel duology that is a must read for anyone with a penchant for pirates and / or historical fiction.  The world that Bracken has built is an enchanting and enhanced version of our own.  The main characters Etta (from present day) and Nicholas (from the past) are the perfect pair to recover the astrolabe before our villain gets his hands on it and destroys the time stream for his own benefit.  I ship them together so much (and I especially love using that phrase in regard to Passenger because pirates).   It was so hard to keep this review spoiler free because I want to talk about every story element of it with everyone!  Please read this book!

Rating 6

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

GIVEAWAY: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

I discovered Passenger by Alexandra Bracken in the weeks leading up to BEA last May and I’ve been eagerly awaiting it’s release ever since.  As I said in this video, two of the main factors that really drew me to this book are 1) time travel and 2) pirates.  I had been hesitant to read the ARC I waited in line for (for hours I might add) because I heard that an updated draft had already been completed that would make many changes to the book’s final published story.  I decided to table it and wait until I could read the book Alexandra Bracken intended the reader to read.  Little did I know that an updated copy would be showing up at my doorstep a couple of months early!  Passenger is my most anticipated read of 2016 and I feel so blessed to be afforded the opportunity to check it out in 2015.  But the most exciting part of this story is that Disney Hyperion is also allowing me to giveaway a copy of Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger to one lucky blog reader!

If you’re like me and you feel like you can’t wait until January 5th for the official release, Disney has been kind enough to provide us with an e-book sampler to tide us over until then.

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About the Book

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles, but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods–a powerful family in the Colonies–and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick must ensure she brings it back to them–whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

GIVEAWAY

One (1) copy of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken will be given away.  Prize is provided by Disney-Hyperion and will ship early January following the release of the book.  Open to US addresses only.

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PRE-ORDER LINKS

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Learn More

Learn more at un-requiredreading.com

Visit AlexandraBracken.com

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Kristin