Mundie Moms

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Wrap Up List by Steven Arnston: Guest Post / Book Review / Giveaway

I'm excited to have The Wrap-Up List author Steven Arnston on the blog today. His newest release was recently published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, and can be purchased at your favorite neighborhood book store. Before I share Steven's own Wrap Up List, here's a little bit about his book. 

In this modern-day suburban town, one percent of all fatalities come about in the most peculiar way. Deaths—eight-foot-tall, silver-gray creatures—send a letter (“Dear So-and-So, your days are numbered”) to whomever is chosen for a departure, telling them to wrap up their lives and do the things they always wanted to do before they have to “depart.” When sixteen-year-old Gabriela receives her notice, she is, of course devastated. Will she kiss her crush Sylvester before it’s too late?

Friendship, first love, and fantasy artfully mesh in this magically realistic world that ultimately celebrates life

His Own Wrap-Up List
by Steven Arntson

In the universe of my novel The Wrap-Up List, regular people are occasionally contacted by Death, via letter, a week or so ahead of their demise. High schooler Gabriela’s response to her “Death Letter” is to create a Wrap-Up List of the things she’d like to accomplish in her final days. She’s a little stuck for ideas at first, because death hadn’t really been on her mind. When I was sixteen, I’d have been taken by surprise, too.

Though I wasn’t ready for death, I do recall feeling pretty disillusioned about life during my teen years. I was starting to see through the facade of a few things, and that sense would surely have impacted the items on my list. I hope you’ll indulge me having some fun at my own expense here, imagining what I might have put on a Wrap-Up List back in 1989....


At sixteen I thought Pink Floyd was the greatest band in the history of music. I’d have jumped at the chance to become their new lyricist. We’d go into the studio the same day and compose the most amazing concept album since The Wall. No joke, I really did plan for this when I was sixteen, and really wrote some lyrics for Pink Floyd (though I never tried to contact the band).


Next, I’d become king. It would only take one afternoon, I think, to enact the reforms necessary to create a utopian world society. First, I’d abolish money. Second, I’d … well, I’m sure something would occur to me.


Once I’d reformed the world and been catapulted to fame via the pairing of my insightful lyrics with the massive psychedelic grooves of Pink Floyd, I’d meet a brilliant, disaffected girl who understood me on a deep level. The sun would set while we looked out over a commanding view of the suburb we’d been raised in, and we’d recite lyrics from Dark Side of The Moon....


Lastly, it would turn out that I was right about everything I’d ever been told I was wrong about. Events, word definitions, who-did-what-when, unfounded opinions—all of that stuff. A list would appear on the front page of the newspaper with the headline, “We Were Wrong. Steven Was Right.”


In the world of The Wrap-Up List, Death has a secret weakness, and will give you a clue toward it if you ask. If you guess the weakness, you’ll be let go. I would definitely ask. And because IT TURNS OUT I WAS RIGHT (#4), it would turn out I was right!

It’s been a long time since I was sixteen. I’m almost forty now, but I remember clearly how much I wanted to be a good person, growing up. Issues of morality and ethics were forever on my mind. I wanted to find a realistic rightness, something that wouldn’t crack under pressure and that could move forward hopefully, even when things seemed bleak. When I was sixteen, I tried to use writing as a tool in that effort. I’m still trying now. If I made a Wrap-up List for myself today it might look different in some particulars from the one above, but underneath it would still be animated by my wish to make the world a better place, even in a small way. And joining Pink Floyd, too. I mean, why not?


Thank you Steven for stopping by Mundie Moms today. 

About the Author:
I'm a writer and musician who lives in Seattle, Washington. I was born in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle, in 1973. I've been interested in the arts for most of my life, especially writing and music. I attended Fairhaven College in Bellingham, a school that allows students to create their own majors, where I studied writing, music, and visual art. I later enrolled in the fiction program at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and graduated in 2000. I moved to Seattle with my wife, the composer and musician Anne Mathews, where we live now. I've published two books for young people: The Wrap-Up List (Houghton Mifflin, 2013) and The Wikkeling(Running Press, 2011). I perform music frequently, both as a soloist and with various Seattle-area ensembles. 

You can catch Steven on his: Website | Twitter | Facebook 

My thoughts on the book:

This is a book that caught my attention based on it's synopsis alone. Yes I am totally intrigued by YA books that have death as a character. I don't know what it is about that, that intrigues me, but it does. More interesting in this story is that Death doesn't just unexpectedly come calling. No, you know when you're being requited, because you get a lovely read envelope in the mail with a letter telling you when your departure from life with be. Our story starts when 16 year old Gabriela gets her letter. 

What would you do if you received your departure notice, aka death letter? Well I'd hope if I got something like that and knew I had one week left I would be like Gabriela and create a Wrap Up list. A short list of things I'd want to have accomplished so see happen in the week I had left. That's exactly what she does. I loved her list. Being sixteen Gabriella's was mostly about first kisses. For her, for her friends, and then of course a pardon. Because who wouldn't want to be excused from Death. Despite Gabriella only have 7 days till Death comes, I loved that Gabriela was determined to continue living. She enjoyed all the little moments with family, and friends. She didn't give up, but treasured all the priceless moments more, as well as plotted how she was going to get out of her departure, not something easily done. 

Here's the thing about this book, though it does talk about death, this book is anything but dark. Steven Arnston added the right amount of light humor to this story to make it both funny, and slightly moving at times. That really worked for this book. Okay well that and the fact that Gabriela is a bit of a spunky girl, and she's not one to take her impending departure lightly, so she comes up with a plan to out smart Death. The combination of having those realistic moments with family and friends, combined with the right amount of humor made this book a quick, fast paced read, when it easily could have gone down a darker road that wouldn't have been very enjoyable to read. I also liked how Steven was able to give his YA debut both a contemporary and slight supernatural feel to it. 

Gabriella has a great cast of characters who support her. From her parents, to her friends, and even her crush, Sylvester. My biggest compliant with this story is that I didn't feel like I really got to know any of them. I'm a reader who is character driven, and I want to feel like I either got to know the characters or at least connect with them on some level, and I didn't feel like I got either of these with this book. Don't get me wrong, this was still a good, quick read, but for me personally I wanted more than just the surface of each character. Over all, this was a good read, and it's one I'd recommend picking up if you're looking for a good read. 

The Giveaway:
Thank you to the publisher, I've got 1 copy of The Wrap Up List to giveaway! To enter, just leave me a comment below! Standard giveaway rules do apply. Good luck!

Clockwork Prince Read Along Day #23: Tessa's England & Clockwork Prince Extras

5 more days till Clockwork Princess is out!

Welcome to Day 23 of the Clockwork Prince Read Along. You can follow the entire read-a-long and find each of the day's posts here. Remember there's no right or wrong way to participate. Your comments can be as long or a short as you'd like them to be. You can answer 1 or each of the questions asked, it's totally up to you, BUT, in order to be entered into the CP giveaway (which you also had to sign up to win), you do need to be actively participating in the read-a-long. 

Today's discussion is about: Tessa's England & Clockwork Prince extras (i.e.. Will's letter to his family)
  • I LOVE, love, love the historical references and feel to Cassie's The Infernal Devices series. I loved reading her notes on Tessa's England. I'm always amazed at how much time and research goes into a book that relies on a real place / historical references. Cassie has done such an amazing job at bringing Tessa's England to life. For me everything about the setting is real, especially while I'm reading the book. While reading these notes I was fascinated to learn that some of these places weren't real, what places inspired certain things in Cassie's book, and what places you could find while in England. Have you read Cassie's notes on Tessa's England? Did anything particular stand out to you? What do you think of Cassie's historical references through out the series?
  • Will's Letter To His Family: This letter is a little heartbreaking and a bit reassuring at the same time. I liked getting to understand Will a bit more in this letter, but I wonder what his comment at the very end means when he says, "... perhaps I could have saved Ella's life. Perhaps I could have saved my own." What do you make of his comment? 
  • Extras: Varies stores had their own "extra" content with Clockwork Prince. Which content did you get and what did you like about it? I had Will's inscription to Tessa in A Tale of Two Cities. There's a part in this inscription that stood out to me on this read through, that gives me hope as to what Will might do in Clockwork Princess. He says, "I felt the most complete despair and envy of Sdney Carton. Yes, Sydney, for even if he had no hope that the women he loved would love him, at least he could tell her of his love. At least he could do something to prove his passion, even if that thing was to die." Then he signs the note, With hope at last. There's something about Will having hope that makes me believe he'll keep himself out of danger/trouble. I just hope he holds onto that hope in Clockwork Princess. 
Please DO NOT POST SPOILERS. There's some fans who are joining the read-a-long who are reading Clockwork Prince for the first time. 

The Clockwork Princess Teaser Tour: Stops 2 & 3

On Monday we kicked off Simon & Schuster's Clockwork Princess Teaser Blog Tour which featured two new artwork pieces from Cassandra Jean, as well two new Clockwork Princess teasers. This 5 day tour will be featuring two new artwork pieces, along with two new teasers each day. Since our post, our friends over at Novel Novice and Good Choice Reading have both posted teasers and new artwork, and I've featured them below.

Please note, there are TEASERS. If you don't want to be teased, please stop reading here. ;)

Here is Tuesday's feature over on Novel Novice:

1) Tessa, glancing quickly from side to side to check for traffic, dashed across Blackfriars Bridge.

2) He tasted like snowflakes and wine, like winter and Will and London.

Over at Novel Novice they have up two of the teaser images/text snippets from Clockwork Princess my publisher will be releasing in the week leading up to the release.
Both the pictures and the text are spoilers. I am going to tag anything spoilery for Princess with cp2spoilers from now for the next 3 months so for the Angel’s sake, tumblr savior it if you don’t want to know! And don’t hit the read more!
All the art by Cassandra Jean! Don’t ask me why Tessa’s wearing modern clothes or who she’s with — I cannot say.

Wednesday's stop was on Good Choice Reading:

“’I am not good with words, so I wrote how I felt about you in music,’ said Jem.”

“Gabriel Lightwood leaned against the wall inside the Institute doors, his jacket gone, his shirt and trousers drenched in blood.”

What do you guys think so far? I can not wait for Tuesday!

Wondercon and The NEW Mortal Instruments Theatrical Trailer & Poster

Earlier this week both The Mortal Instruments Movie and Cassie Clare shared some exciting news about The TMI movie for those attending Wondercon. Here's what they shared: 

Per Cassie:
Check out the video from Lily Collins here! :
Hey guys it’s Lily. I’m so excited to tell you that we’re going to be in Anaheim California for this year’s Wondercon where you will get an exclusive sneak peek of The Mortal Instruments and you’ll get to see our new trailer and poster. I hope to see you there.
So 1) yes, Lily, Jamie, Harald, me, and perhaps others :) will be at Wondercon in Anaheim this year, doing a panel, answering questions, and most of all — debuting the new theatrical trailer and the new poster that will go up in theaters!
2) While it would be absolutely awesome if you could attend Wondercon to see us, if you don’t: this is still very good news since what it means is that there will be a new theatrical trailer and a new poster ready to go out into the world at the end of March. Wondercon is just a way of saying “THESE ARE READY TO GO!” (And trust me when I find out exactly when our Wondercon panel is and which movie the trailer will be attached to, I will post about it RIGHT HERE. I have been asking myself almost every day.)
3) Wondercon website:
Are you going to Wondercon? If so, we'd love to hear what you thought about the new trailer. 

Shadowhunter Tarot Cards

More Shadowhunter Tarot Cards!! Earlier this week she posted a couple more Shadowhunter Tarot Cards, which can find the first two posted here. I love this first one....

“Hi Cassie! Are you going to post more of Cassandra JP’s shadowhunter cards soon? I think they are so awesome. I check your blog everyday to see if you have posted anymore. I am also super excited for Clockwork Princess. — wordsearchesaremything”
They are lovely! Cassandra is very talented. Here is the rune suit (taking the place of Cups) — Will and Tessa take the Two of Cups/Recall-Menomosyne rune and Camille, Woolsey and Magnus take the three card and the rune Ludus which means “love played as a game.” (From the suite of Love runes by Valerie Freire.)

You can find all of the Shadowhunter Tarot Cards here