In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
Last week I began a new blog theme, “Pull up a chair, it’s a Saturday Book Share, any other book bloggers want to join me?
I decided to feature ChinAlive on this Saturday’s post since it was a book I enjoyed taking my time reading…. Please note, I know this author and received a review copy of this self-published book.
ChinAlive by Bob Jonas – For middle school/high school readers who love an excellent action thriller.
I like how this book’s preface features a folk tale… and then begins officially with a kidnapping. I appreciate how you have a great glimpse at the life of an expat living in China. Bob Jonas knows how to keep up the pace through a book that has tricky twists and turns introducing his fictional account of three teenage boys who are drawn into a dark yet hopeful organization with a mission to change history for what they believe to be better. For a little while, I was quite curious about the time period but then it was clarified since there is the activity of the 2008 Olympic Games in China in connection with the book. There are many dark elements throughout this book and it is long enough that a sixth grader who is a fan of Alex Rider series would enjoy this book. It was fascinating to read about cultural traditions, political issues, and many other topics that naturally came up through the book. The book reminded me of Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith and the Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz… This is a story that certainly feels real, makes you anxious, and is quite the page turner…
I had a few favorite pieces of the book that gave me “aha” moments, here those are:
“Expat is short for the word expatriate. And that refers to any person who lives temporarily, or forever away from their home country.” Charlie liked it. In addition to being an American, he was now an expat. Expat Charlie, Charlie the expat. It sounded cool.”
“Guanxi was a Chinese custom. The literal translation meant connectedness- who you know or how much power your family had to get things done- legally or not.”
“I have a chance to do something more important with my wealth than I had ever dreamed. This project, in various forms, has grown for many years, threading itself in an accelerated way over the Internet. The key piece that had been missing was the communications link- the best way to bring everyone together.”…
Goodreads Summary: “Charlie Evers is a tenth grade student at an international school in Shanghai, China. He will never finish his last research assignment. Ignoring all warnings about Chinese Internet censors, he navigates to sites that look informative, but shred the government on politically sensitive issues. As a teenage American student he thinks he is safe.
The illusion of safety is ripped away when Charlie is taken. Imprisoned on board an old river boat, a seven-day journey up the Yangtze River catapults him deep into China’s turbulent past, to a buried mountain fortress. This is the headquarters of ChinAlive, a Democracy movement he never imagined, with a mission the world thought long dead — the overthrow of the Chinese government.
The life Charlie Evers took for granted is over. His new life — that of a conspirator, terrorist, and refugee–is certain to earn him a date with the executioner. But the bullet will not be free. If Charlie’s family wishes to recover his body they will be charged–-but only if they are is still alive.”
Thanks to Bob Jonas for taking the time for an author interview, I just had to know more and more after enjoying ChinAlive:
What was your favorite childhood book memory?
When I was twelve I found a paperback copy of Studs Lonigan, by James T. Farrell in a wastebasket. It had a lurid cover, a surefire new addition to my extremely bland library. Unfortunately, my mom found the book before I could read it. Not realizing how strongly I was attracted to the book, Mom was derelict in hiding it well. Unfortunately, my book hiding skills were as bad as hers so again the book disappeared. This game of lost and found continued for weeks until one day, I was dragged to a daytime bowling league to which my mom belonged. It was an in-service day for teachers at my school so for some reason–can’t remember why–I had to go. When it was Mom’s turn to bowl, I spied the book in the bottom of her bowling bag, badly warped to the shape of the ball. I grabbed it and ran to a secluded spot for a quick read. After a few chapters I found that the book didn’t hold the promise of the cover. One lasting lesson I learned was how to use the card catalog to find books with similar subjects by searching either the title or the author. Authors like DH Lawrence, Henry Fielding, and Tennessee Williams, soon became new favorites. Another lasting lesson: if you tell a kid he can’t read a book, there is no way to prevent that book from being read. Read it yourself, share it with your kid, and have a conversation to express how you feel.
Have you read any children’s literature books recently? This is any easy one. As a school librarian I seldom recommend books to a kid I have not read. How many books are piled up next to my bed–too many to count?
What was a favorite genre you read as a child? How have your tastes changed as an adult? There was no such thing as YA lit when I was a kid, but sci/fi and books with action by authors like Jules Verne, HG Wells, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Jack London were my friends. I now read all over the place. I read anything that looks interesting, fiction or non fiction.
Do you have a key writing tips for kids? Or adults? Read, read, read. Disconnect from the Internet when you write. Read aloud when revising.
Do you have a new book being released in the next year? Yes. Another YA thriller set in another exotic locale where I have worked–Saudi Arabia. This one frightens me to think about, but I have to write it.
How do you feel about the development and growth of the e-Book industry? I have mixed feelings. I have serious doubts that an ebook will turn a kid into a reader. A kid with a developed reading habit, no sweat. With all the studies out about how easily distracted kids are these days, and how difficult it is for so many students to focus, I think the ebook is another way in which this distraction will play out. For me, I love the real thing. I sit in front of an electronic screen too many hours already. I have worked over seas for seventeen years and I have never been without a book in my hands. I don’t know too many people who read more than I do. If I have to carry books in a suitcase, I carry fewer clothes.
What truly influences you as a writer? 1) Great writing, and 2) I love to see the world through the eyes of kids going to a school in a foreign country. What an eye opener for an adult, but for a kid? Whooooo ahhhh.
If you weren’t a writer, what occupation would you be working in? I’m lucky to already being two things I love to do–writing and being a school librarian.
*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza? (in honor of my husband who thinks it would be cool if I collect a list of author’s favorite pizza “You can learn a lot about a person from the pizza topping they like.”) – Mushrooms, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, shrimp
The best advice I’ve received for my profession was…. In a recent blog post by Laurie Halse Anderson, about believing in yourself, she begins her post with this quote by Hans F. Hansen-“People inspire you or they drain you, pick them wisely.” This is a must read post: http://madwomanintheforest.com/wfmad-day-9-dangerous-parasites/
The habit I never break for my writing practice is…back up, back up back up. I broke this habit once. Once was more than enough.
If someone had told me…a grade seven kid I didn’t know, would come up to tell me that his German grandfather was reading and loving ChinAlive, a book I had written, in a small college town in Bavaria, in the year 2013…or that in the past seventeen years, I would have worked at six international school on four continents, traveled twice around the world, and visited forty four countries…or that one day I would get caught up in social media…
Why do people always assume…it would be easy to return home to the US to find work as a teacher or school librarian.
Debbie, you forgot to ask me… if I have any upcoming author visits. Next week for example, I see kids in grades first through fourth where I work at The Franconian International School, and the next week? Same. I have a great built in audience, not to mention school community, from which to share and get inspired. After ChinAlive came out, I was asked to do a number of Skype visits. Can’t wait, hope there are many more.
And the next adventure overseas… A trip to Frankfurt next week to the Frankfurt International Book Fair. The size and scope of this hundred-year-old fair supposedly makes any other book fair or conference look small. Hope I don’t forget to eat.
Thanks again Bob for answering these interview questions! 🙂
About Pull up a chair, it’s a Saturday Book Share: I’ve had many books I review that I just want to feature. Simple and easy, celebrate a new book encounter. So that’s what Saturday Book Share is about for me, celebrating books! Perhaps some days I’ll share the book with a short reading of a portion. Or perhaps other days I’ll just share a glimpse of the book.
Want more book ideas and reviews? – Yes, I’m quite brief, but a prolific reader! Please visit me at Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1941055-the-styling-librarian Also, please follow this blog through email updates – (do so to the right of this blog post), my Facebook page, comment, or meet up with me on Twitter. I appreciate all of the support, makes my day! Honored by all the wonderful followers.
What book treasure will you find?