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Monday, July 11, 2011

Shelley Workinger Guest Post & Review

Shelley Workinger is the fabulous author of the YA series Solid, who grew up in Maine and has had the fortune of living in other areas around the country, including New Orleans and New Jersey. One of my favorite things about Shelley is that she uses her locations in her books, which gives them a very real feel to the reader, especially when I haven't been to any of the places in the books!

In addition to providing me with ARCs for the first two books in her series, Solid and Settling, she was up for providing me with a very interesting list of some of her favorite music. Music plays a serious part in Settling, making this a coincidentally appropriate post - I requested the list out of curiosity before I received my copy of the book and read it!

A big thanks to Shelley for participating on Royal Reviews like this! And for anyone who is interested in following her work, please visit the Facebook page for the series :)

Without further delay, take it away Shelley:

I think songwriters are the most under-appreciated artists; they tell a story you can sing, speaking to an audience on multiple levels and making it feel effortless. I recently heard John Rich – whose songs, I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t know before he went on Celebrity Apprentice, but I will now be queuing up – talking about the difficulty of expressing a huge idea in just a few words. I don’t think it’s until you actually attempt it yourself that you see how gifted are the writers who’ve perfected it. Darius Rucker whittles down the evolution of a father’s love for his daughter over a lifetime to just a couple dozen lines and, in 2 minutes, makes me cry as hard as Steel Magnolias did. Conversely, I had 50,000 words to tell my “Solid” story, and I couldn’t wrap it up; I can barely keep it at 3 books, and it only covers 1 summer!

Obviously, I love and appreciate music…which is why I instantly regretted offering to do a Top 10 Song list. It is truly an impossible task. I eventually managed to narrow it down by choosing based solely on lyrics, but it still took me longer to do than any other post on this tour. So much so that I had to tack on a music-based Top 10 to illustrate my point about how vital lyrics can be. (You’ll see how very different the two lists are.)

Looking at my lyrics list, you may see a large number of bye-now-and-I-hope-the-door-does-hit-you-good-and-hard-on-the-way-out songs and think that means I must be bitter over a bad breakup. While that couldn’t be further from the truth (I’ve been happily married for almost 9 years), I can clearly remember the pain/hurt/anger of one, and I never could’ve polished those raw emotions into tender songs! Here, the real stand-out of those anthems is “The Letter,” which caused me to do a double-take and stop mid-manic final draft of “Settling” to play it again. And again. Henry O’Neill is a Carnegie Mellon-trained singer and musician and his song opens with some beautiful piano work…then takes an entirely different direction that I never saw coming. To say more would be a spoiler alert – who knew there could be such a thing in a song? – but my hat goes off to him for it, and to all of these other brilliant writers who make me laugh, cry, and sing along at the top of my lungs.

TOP 10 SONGS (By Lyrics)

“Ticks” – Brad Paisley
“Belief” – Gavin DeGraw
“Stuck With Me” – Joe Cameron
“Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts
“Love of My Life” – Cowboy Mouth
“Mean” – Taylor Swift
“Take A Bow” – Rihanna
“Lizzie and the Rainman” – Tanya Tucker
“It Won’t Be Like This For Long” – Darius Rucker
“The Letter” – Henry O’Neill *

*This is an adult song – do not play in front of children

TOP 10 SONGS (By Music)

“Water’s Edge” – Seven Mary Three
“I Alone” – Live
“Better Man” – Pearl Jam
“Ants Marching” – Dave Matthews Band
“Never Think” – Robert Pattinson
“City of New Orleans” – Arlo Guthrie
“Fins” – Jimmy Buffett
“They All Ask For You” – The Meters
“The Second Line” ** “The Star Spangled Banner” **

**Bottom 2 by any performer


As a music reviewer myself, I can echo Shelley's comment about top ten lists being a lot harder than you think. I dare you to try one yourself!

Title: Settling
Author: Shelley Workinger
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 9781460981726
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 242
Rating: 4 Crowns

Synopsis: At the beginning of the summer, Clio Kaid was one of a hundred teens brought to a secret Army installation. But it was no ordinary camp and they weren’t ordinary kids…

Soon after learning they were the products of a secret genetic experiment, the teens began developing super-abilities ranging from bounding lightness to blocking heaviness; blinding brilliance and the ability to vanish. These same gifts made them targets of a psychopath in officer’s clothing, and they found themselves fighting for their lives.

Picking up where “Solid” left off, Clio and her friends realize that they aren’t ready to go home; they’re determined to stay on campus and continue their journey of self- discovery. But someone doesn’t feel the same way and will do anything to drive them away – even kill.

Friendships will be tested, abilities will evolve, and more secrets will come out as the teens race to stop the killer before he sets his sights on one of them…

My Review: What a fabulous follow up to Solid! This novel picks up pretty much where Solid left off, which is great since these kids have had a whirlwind of a month and you almost *need* to see them right away. It's like a reunion with some old friends! After the end of the last book, the kids opt to stay on campus and continue learning more about their abilities and each other, but they quickly learn things aren't as safe as they would have thought...

This is a fast paced, interesting read that does a great job of furthering the story, yet leaving you with more questions that will likely be answered in the third installment, due out next year. And just like the last book, I wish there could have been more pages because I was so wrapped up in the story, I just didn't want it to end. I'm sure you'll feel the same!

After spending this time with Clio and her friends, I do wish these were actual kids I could know and work with. Wouldn't it be cool to be a councelor or something for a group of kids with rare abilities? Plus, I'd have a fabulous time talking music with all of them, I have a feeling Jack could put me onto a few bands I'd love and just haven't heard of yet.

Since Settling builds on the foundation set in Solid, I'd definitely say you should read the series in order, but I highly recommend picking it up as soon as you can, because you're going to really love this one!

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