Thursday, 26 February 2009

Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine

When the good-looking boy with the American accent presses the dropped negative into Rowan's hand, she's sure it's all a big mistake. Rowan has more responsibilities than most girls her age. These days, she pretty much looks after her little sister single-handedly -- which doesn't leave much time for friends or fun. So when she finds out that Bee from school saw the whole thing, it piques her curiosity. Who was the boy? Why was he so insistent that the negative belonged to Rowan?

This is one of the most original novels I've read in a long time. Jenny Valentine managed to keep me intrigued throughout the whole of the book, and I never once had a clue what the conclusion would be.

All the characters are engaging and real, as well as layered and complex. I particularly liked Stroma, Rowan's six year old sister. She's your typical child, yet she has more maturity and sincerity than a lot of adults possess. Harper, the boy with the negative, is also another favourite of mine. He ends up playing such a huge role in Rowan's life that it's hard not to completey fall in love with him. He's selfless and generous, and is as genuine a character as you can hope to read about.

I highly, highly recommend this book. Not only will it keep you guessing, but it will also make you appreciate everyone in your life. Oh, and good news for anyone in the US: Broken Soup is due for publication in April. Put it on your reading lists... you won't be disappointed!

US Vs. UK: A Northern/Gathering Light Covers

US // UK

Both these covers are really nice, but I just love the US one (thanks to Thao for drawing my attention to it; I'd never seen it before). I prefer the font on the UK one, but the image isn't nearly as beautiful as the US paperback. Also... does anyone know the reason for the title difference?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Picture Post: Twilight Saga Worldwide Covers

This post was partly inspired by Korianne over at Korianne Speaks. We got talking about foreign Twilight covers, and, well... here we are! I find it really interesting to see foreign covers, as some are so different/strange.

These are pics of all the covers I own, minus US/UK/AU/Spanish Eclipse/movie tie-in/collector's editions, as they're pretty much identical when it comes to the covers. You can click on any of the images to make them full-size.

Welcome to my Meyer obsession!


Twilight






[Left-Right:
French, Spanish, German,
Dutch, Turkish, UK original,
Japanese]


New Moon


[Spanish]


Eclipse


[Japanese]


My favourites are the German & Dutch Twilight, and the Japanese Eclipse #2. I love the bite out of the apple, and the German cover is just lovely in person.

Fade by Lisa McMann

Disturbing things are happening at Fieldridge High, yet nobody's talking. When Janie taps into a classmate's violent nightmares, the case finally breaks open -- but nothing goes as planned. Not even close. Janie's in way over her head, and Cabe's shocking behavior has grave consequences for them both.Worse yet, Janie learns the truth about herself and her ability -- and it's bleak. Seriously, brutally bleak. Not only is her fate as a dream catcher sealed, but what's to come is way darker than she'd feared....

I love this series. It's brilliant. I remember finishing Wake, and immediately emailing Lisa McMann to tell her how much I liked it. I must admit, I've got the urge to do exactly the same here.

Fade picks up a short time after Wake, and begins with a new case. A sexual predator is on the loose at the high school, and Janie and Cabel are working to determine his identity.

I love the simplistic narration that Lisa McMann uses, as well as the characters and themes. Janie and Cabel are realistic, and their relationship is intense. I got so wrapped up in their personal lives that I often forgot about the other events in the book, and could quite happily have read another two hundred pages of Janie/Cabel scenes.

Although the sexual predator plot was slightly predictable, the suspense leading up to the conclusion made me read with an eagerness that I don't experience often, and kept me up until 3.30am finishing the book.

I loved reading Martha Stubin's notebook entries, and was completely enthralled by what she'd written. I'm glad we finally know more about dream catching, even though the revelations of what the future holds left me in a stunned silence.

My only problem with Fade is that it wasn't longer. I got so involved in the characters that by the time I reached the last page, I was wishing I'd read slower. I can't wait for the third and final book, Gone, and just wish it was released sooner. February 2010 seems a long way away!

Waiting On Wednesday: Falling

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Falling by Sharon Dogar

* Published by: Chicken House
* Format: Paperback
* Release Date: April 6th 2009 (UK), September 1st 2009 (US)
* On Amazon: here
.

Neesha is afraid - haunted by the fragments of a nightmare about a girl falling, far away and a long time ago. Just when the echoes in her head threaten to overwhelm her, a boy unexpectedly comes to her rescue. Handsome and talented, Sammy finds himself strangely drawn to Neesha - but it's only when they come together, that they begin to realise why. Are they falling in love or being pulled into the past - fated to replay a love affair that ended in blood?

I love the books Chicken House publish, as they're usually gritty, realistic UK teen fiction, complete with a lovely cover. Falling sounds brilliant, and I can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years for Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment. As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable. But the arrival outside the tower of Saren’s two suitors—one welcome, and the other decidedly less so—brings both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows.

I honestly thought I'd hate this book, purely because it's based on a fairy tale (Maid Maleen by The Brothers Grimm). Instead, I really enjoyed it, and ended up reading it in one go. It was very unusual, yet strangely compelling.

I loved the characters, the diary format, the illustrations and the unexpected twist towards the end. Looking back, I can see that there were a few hints to the twist, but none obvious enough to make me guess the ending.

Dashti was a brilliant narrator, and I enjoyed every minute of her recollections. She was brave, loyal, intelligent, and a true heroine in every sense of the word. Lady Saren, on the other hand, took me a while to warm to. I found her whiny and selfish, and couldn't understand Dashti's dedication to her. By the end of the book, I liked Saren, and sympathised with her situation. She redeems herself in the final few pages, and, thanks largely to Dashti, gains confidence and a place in the world. I also loved khan Tegus, the lead male character. He was well written and endearing, and his relationship with Dashti was sweet and honest.

Shannon Hale has a lovely writing style, and it's one that keeps you reading straight through to the end. The illustrations were also a nice touch, and added a fairy tale element to the book.

The Book of a Thousand Days was very different to anything I've read before, and was a nice change. I may read more of Shannon Hale's books in the future, and would like to thank her for getting me over my aversion to fairy tales. They're not as bad as I thought!

Cool Covers: Week #5

The Maximum Ride series seems to be an acquired taste, either you love it or you hate it (as has been my experience so far). I fall into the first category - I love it! I like all the covers of the books (except The Final Warning, but I won't go there), and The Angel Experiment is my favourite. I really like the wings and the city backdrop, plus the title font and the colours. It's one cool looking book!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby

Quiet, unpopular, non-cheerleading Mia is blissfully happy. She is dating super hot football god Rob, and he actually likes her and asked her to prom! Enter Samantha—cheerleading goddess and miss popularity— who starts making a move for Rob. With prom in a few days, Mia needs to act fast. So she turns to her best friend, Candice, and decides to do a love spell on Rob. Unfortunately, she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class, making herself their leader! At first she is flattered that everyone is treating her like a queen. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up, because in a few days, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, but she suggests that no one wear white to prom, because things could get very messy.


Publication date: March 5th (US)

This book was fast-paced and fun. I'm a vampire girl myself, and have never read any zombie books before, so this was a good place to start.

I have to say, I love all these authors that mention Buffy and Angel. The references in Zombie Queen left me with a huge grin on my face, and I think even Joss Whedon himself would be proud.

I particularly liked the characters of hypochondriac best friend Candice, and tall, dark and loveable Chase. Both were intergral to Mia saving the senior class, and both came through like an honorary member of the scooby gang. I also loved the humour throughout the book, which included witty one-liners that made me think I was watching an episode of Buffy. The dialogue was quick and quippy, which made the story flow at an easy and enjoyable pace.

I'd recommend this if you're a fan of Buffy and Supernatural, or if you just want to read a quick, entertaining book.

Extra: Be sure to check out Amanda Ashby's blog for her party countdown to the book's release. It'll be ten days of zombie fun!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

In My Mailbox #5: New Books This Week

In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren.

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Life, Interrupted by Damien Kelleher (ARC - thanks to Piccadilly Press for this one).

Luke’s world is turned upside down when his mum collapses at the hospital where she works as a nurse. Fourteen-year-old Luke and his football-obsessed younger brother Jesse each cope in their different ways, and, as time passes, they must confront some painful truths.

Honest, funny and deeply moving, this is a story about facing the worst and surviving.


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Perfect Chemistry by Simone Howell

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Read my review here.

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Raven by Allison Van Diepen

Zin dances with fire in every step, speaks in a honey-sweet voice, and sees with eyes that can peer into your soul. Nicole's friendship with him is the only thing that saves her from the boredom of school and the turmoil of her family life. It's no wonder she is madly in love with him. But she can't understand why he keeps her at a distance, even though she can feel his soul reaching out for hers.

Zin is like no man Nicole has ever met, and he carries with him a very old secret. When Nicole uncovers the truth, her love may be the only thing that can save him from it.

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The Season by Sarah MacLean

Seventeen year old Lady Alexandra is strong-willed and sharp-tongued -- in a house full of older brothers and their friends, she had to learn to hold her own. Not the best makings for an aristocratic lady in Regency London. Yet her mother still dreams of marrying Alex off to someone safe, respectable, and wealthy. But between ball gown fittings, dances, and dinner parties, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get herself into what may be her biggest scrape yet.

When the Earl of Blackmoor is mysteriously killed, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. But will Alex's heart be stolen in the process? In an adventure brimming with espionage, murder, and other clandestine affairs, who could possibly have time to worry about finding a husband? Romance abounds as this year's season begins!

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The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro

Parker Stanhope has played soccer practically since she could walk. And now that she’s a high school junior, everything she’s worked for is finally coming together. She’s paid her dues on the field, and as an upperclassman, she’s a shoo-in for the varsity team. But that’s not what happens.

This year, Coach Hartley moved up every JV player but two—and one of those two was Parker. Now, she’s stuck with the freshmen, her friends are cutting her loose, and her love of the game is seriously beginning to fail. But Parker is determined to get her life back. She has to get on the varsity team, and she has the perfect plan. All she needs now is the right kind of coach.

Read my review here.

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Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her then and her sudden departure now, a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear, a boy in her dreams, five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago, and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does. If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she might just be able to change her future.

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (My friend got me this US edition from New York, as I'm trying to get hold of as many different covers as I can. Three down, two to go!)

Nine-year-old Liesel lives with her foster family on Himmel Street during the dark days of the Third Reich. Her Communist parents have been transported to a concentration camp, and during the funeral for her brother, she manages to steal a macabre book: it is, in fact, a gravediggers’ instruction manual. This is the first of many books which will pass through her hands as the carnage of the Second World War begins to hungrily claim lives. Both Liesel and her fellow inhabitants of Himmel Street will find themselves changed by both words on the printed page and the horrendous events happening around them.

Read my review (from a while ago) here.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Soundtrack Saturday: #3

Soundtrack Saturday idea from Adele at Persnickety Snark.

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For this Soundtrack Saturday, I've chosen a song that relates to Perfect Chemistry, which I read this week and is amazing. There are quite a few songs that could fit with this book and its characters, but this one particlularly stood out: Say When by The Fray.

I see you there, don't know where you come from
Unaware of a stare from someone
Don't appear to care that I saw you and I want you
What's your name
'Cause I have to know it
You let me in and begin to show it
We're terrified 'cause we're heading straight for it, might get it.

Turn around and you're walking toward me
I'm breaking down and you're breathing slowly
You say the word and I will be your man, your man

Say when
And my own two hands will comfort you tonight, tonight
Say when
And my own two arms will carry you tonight, tonight

We're coming close and then even closer
We bring it in but we go no further
We're seperate,
Two ghosts in one mirror, no nearer


Now, every time I listen to this song, I think of Alex and Brittany and their intense relationship. If you've read Perfect Chemistry, do you think these lyrics fit? What would your theme song be?

Friday, 20 February 2009

News: UK World Book Day 2009

The UK's annual World Book Day is coming up on March 5th, and this year, there is a really good teen flip book included in the £1 titles.

Cathy Hopkins and Jenny Valentine are responsible for the 11+ book, with one short story each (Mates Dates: the Secret Story and Ten Stations). I'm particlularly excited about Ten Stations, as it's set in the same world as Finding Violet Park, and is sure to be an excellent read.


Mates Dates: the Secret Story by Cathy Hopkins: Tony has no idea that he is about to fall for the lively, elfin Lucy. But the course of true love never did run smooth -- and reading his side of the story as well as hers is an irresistible treat. At last - what the MATES DATES fans have been waiting for! A sneak peek at the into the full story of Tony and Lucy's romance -- told from both sides!

Ten Stations by Jenny Valentine: Lucas and his sister Mercy have good intentions when they take their little brother Jed and forgetful grandad Norman on a day out in London. It's only ten stations - what could possibly go wrong? A real gem that will make you laugh and cry, featuring favourite characters from the award-winning novel Finding Violet Park.

For more information on World Book Day and the 2009 titles, visit the official site here. I can't think of a better way to spend a £1!

[If anyone's interested, I'll be giving away a couple of these books on WBD. It'll be a worldwide contest, as all you people in the US should have the chance to read Jenny Valentine - she's brilliant!]

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

Sigh. I'm in love with yet another fictional male character: Alejandro Fuentes. As a Mexicano gang member with a desire to make something more of himself, he's your typical bad boy trapped in a life he doesn't want. Enter Brittany Ellis: head cheerleader with a seemingly perfect life, who ends up falling for Alex against her better judgement.

Could I put this book down? Even for five minutes? No, I could not.

I'm a sucker for epic, forbidden love stories, so it's no surprise that I loved Perfect Chemistry. It's like a modern Romeo & Juliet, only with gangs and high school. Simone Elkeles has a brilliant writing style that hooked me from the first page, and there's no way for me to describe it other than compelling and addictive.

I love Alex and Brittany, and I seriously didn't want the book to end. I even liked the epilogue which was a bit cheesy, yes, but oh so satisfying. The classic love story is one we've all seen before: two people from different worlds meet, and, against all odds, fall madly in love with each other. Elkeles has mixed this one up a bit, and has added depth and intrigue to her characters, making them both immensely likeable and realistic.

Perfect Chemistry touches upon some important messages and themes, including race, disability, and acceptance. Each character confronts their imperfections, learns what it means to be in love, and how to deal with the consequences and sacrifices that inevitably accompany it.

I can't think of anything else to say here, as I've still got that 'wow' feeling you get after reading a great book. If you're a fan of the romance genre, I highly recommend you get yourself a copy of this. You won't be disappointed!

News: Catching Fire Summary

I was just pre-ordering Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, when I noticed that a product description has been added to Amazon.

Warning: Includes THG spoilers.

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

A rebellion? Capitol revenge? Could this book sound any better?! Release day is September 1st in the US, and you can pre-order here.

US Vs. UK: Chosen (House of Night) Covers

US // UK

I know these covers aren't drastically different, but the changes are interesting. I prefer the title font/design on all the UK House of Night covers, as I think it suits the series better. As for the images used, I'm having trouble deciding. The UK one would probably stand out more, whilst the US one represents the story better. Hmm, tough choice! Which would you go for?

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro

Parker Stanhope has played soccer practically since she could walk. And now that she’s a high school junior, everything she’s worked for is finally coming together. She’s paid her dues on the field, and as an upperclassman, she’s a shoo-in for the varsity team. But that’s not what happens. This year, Coach Hartley moved up every JV player but two—and one of those two was Parker. Now, she’s stuck with the freshmen, her friends are cutting her loose, and her love of the game is seriously beginning to fail. But Parker is determined to get her life back. She has to get on the varsity team, and she has the perfect plan. All she needs now is the right kind of coach.

The ABC's of Kissing Boys is short and sweet, with a lighthearted subject matter and enjoyable characters.

Parker ends up learning a lot about herself, who her real friends are, and that the boy across the road just might be the one for her.

I think the whole premise of the book would make a great teen movie, and I can easily imagine it in the same vein as 10 Things I Hate About You or She's All That. It's one of those fun forbidden love type dramas, with some sports and a family feud added in for extra depth.

I love that the titles of each chapter are about kissing, and that each one starts with a letter of the alphabet. I honestly never knew that so many different kisses existed, so Tina Ferraro must have done her homework!

I'm going to read more of Ferraro's books, and I'd recommend The ABC's... to anyone looking for a light, entertaining read that is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face.

Waiting On Wednesday: The Ant Colony

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine.

* Published by: HarperCollins
* Format: Paperback
* Release Date: March 5th, 2009 (UK)
* On Amazon: here
.

Number 33 Georgiana Street houses many people and yet seems home to none. To runaway Sam it is a place to disappear. To Bohemia, it's just another blip between crises, as her mum ricochets off the latest boyfriend. Old Isobel acts like she owns the place, even though it actually belongs to Steve in the basement, who is always looking to squeeze in yet another tenant. Life there is a kind of ordered chaos. Like ants, they scurry about their business, crossing paths, following their own tracks, no questions asked. But it doesn't take much to upset the balance. Dig deep enough and you'll find that everyone has something to hide!

I loved Jenny Valentine's debut novel, Finding Violet Park, and am really looking forward to her third offering. Her books are always clever, and usually have an unexpected twist that is hard to predict. The cover art is also colourful and unusual, which is a good thing!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Everybody has to make choices. Some might break you. For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend decisions might seem tough, but they're all about a future full of music and love, a future that's brimming with hope. But life can change in an instant. A cold February morning ...a snowy road ...and suddenly all of Mia's choices are gone. Except one. As alone as she'll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.


Publication Date: April 2nd, 2009 (US), May 7th, 2009 (UK)

I have a feeling that If I Stay may be one of those books that sells millions of copies, wins numerous awards, and inspires people to pick up a pen and tell a story of their own.

It starts off with a lighthearted chapter that showcases the close relationship Mia shares with her Mum, Dad and younger brother Teddy. I instantly fell in love with these four characters, as they reminded me very much of my own parents and sister: happy, fun, and more like friends than family. However, by page eleven, the tone of the book shifts, and everything has changed.

Mia is left staring at her broken body, while her family lie sprawled around her. She finds herself in a kind of limbo, a limbo where she can see, hear and touch, but can't feel anything. From here she must make the difficult decision of staying on Earth and living, or dying and hopefully seeing her family again. This has to be one of the most difficult decisions anyone could ever be faced with, and I applaud Gayle Forman for writing about it so eloquently and vividly.

I loved how the past was interweaved with the present, as this allowed us to get a glimpse into Mia's life before the accident, and to really get to know her. Mia is a strong and appealing character, and one which I think a lot of people will identify with. I also have to mention Adam, Mia's boyfriend. He's caring, thoughtful and the kind of person that we should all get to meet at some point or another. In fact, I think he might be my favourite part of the whole book.

'Just Listen', Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

The above sentence is one of my favourites. To imagine that anyone's voice could sound like shrapnel has to be one of the most effective ways to describe someone dealing with unimaginable grief and fear.
If that doesn't make you want to read more, I don't know what will.

If I Stay is moving, touching and beautifully written. It's so gripping that you have to read all two hundred and seven pages in one go, and is sure to be one of the year's most talked about releases. With brilliant characters that easily come to life, as well as a story so memorable and meaningful, I'd say that Gayle Forman is well on her way to Alice Sebold-like superstardom.

Cool Covers: Week #4


I think this US cover for Jellicoe Road is one of the nicest book covers out there. I know the image is really simple, and is only a flower, but there's just something about it. I haven't read the book yet, so I don't know what significance it has to the story. I just know that it's the reason I bought it in the first place. Plus, how cool is that title font?!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Author Interview: C.K. Kelly Martin

Today is a cool day, as I have my first ever author interview!

C.K. Kelly Martin, author of the amazing novel I Know It's Over and the upcoming One Lonely Degree (published on May 26th), very kindly answered some questions for me, which I've posted below...


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Q. How did you become a writer? Was it always something you wanted to do?

Writing stories is something I’ve done on and off since I was seven. I’m not sure exactly when I figured out that I wanted to write as a career but definitely by my later years in high school it was something I’d come to assume that I’d get around to doing eventually. For quite a few years I just didn’t feel ready somehow and looking back I don’t think I was emotionally prepared to make that commitment. In university, where I was a film major, I watched (and analyzed) tons of amazing movies and after I graduated I flew over to Ireland and hung out there for years. Those just felt like the right things to be doing at the time – and that the writing would wait. It wasn’t until I was on the verge of moving back to Canada that I started writing my first YA novel. From then on it was lots and lots of writing, querying and waiting for a breakthrough.

Q. What are some of your favourite YA books? Do you have a favourite author?

My list is so long! There’s just so much great YA stuff out there that I virtually never read anything twice. I could go on and on but here are a bunch of YA novels I really love The Perks of Being a Wallflower - (Stephen Chbosky), Before I Die (Jenny Downham), Tyrell (Coe Booth), Boy Toy (Barry Lyga), Sweethearts (Sara Zarr), Let’s Get Lost (Sarra Manning), Cracked Up To Be (Courtney Summers), Life As We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone (both of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s asteroid novels), The Parallel Universe of Liars (Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson) and How I Live Now (Meg Rosoff). I admire pretty much everything by E.R. Frank, Sarah Dessen and Joyce Carol Oates too but I can’t stay I have one favourite author. I will admit, though, that I’m in serious awe of Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan and that I liked A History of the World in 10½ Chapters by Julian Barnes so much that when I went to a signing I could barely say two words to him.

Q. Is any part of your debut novel, I Know It's Over, based on true events, or is it purely fiction?

The only parts that aren’t purely fiction are very minor incidents – the conversation Nick overhears in the park between the little girl and her mother and the kid Sasha babysits who likes to climb on the roof and play with his dad’s saw. The conversation closely resembles one I overheard on a train; I was really surprised that someone so young would be worried about her mother’s mortality so it stuck with me. And I actually used to babysit a boy exactly like Elijah. When he was out of the room you never knew what trouble he could be getting into.

But the story’s events are mainly inspired by the Third Eye Blind song Ten Days Late about a guy who learns his girlfriend is pregnant.

Q. I've never come across a male narrator in this type of novel before. Why did you choose to write the story from Nick's perspective, rather than Sasha's?

I love the Third Eye Blind song and it made me think about unexpected pregnancy from a viewpoint that I hadn’t before so I wanted to explore that.

There are a few other books out there that take the male perspective on pregnancy too – The First Part Last, Hanging on to Max, and Slam.

Q. You've managed to write Nick's character so well, almost as if you've been in his situation yourself. Was it difficult to be in the head of a sixteen year old boy?

Personally I think gender is often more about how children are socialized rather than inherent differences between the sexes. We learn very young that behaviour which is acceptable if you’re a boy often isn’t if you’re a girl and vice-versa. I read an article in The New York Times not that long ago about a ten year old boy who joined his school double dutch team and was initially harassed because of that. Society assigns many different expectations and rules depending upon our gender (and race, age, religion, class, etc.) but underneath that there’s a core personality which reacts to those rules and expectations.

So I think writing about any point of view outside our own requires that we be aware of these rules and expectations and that writing from Nick’s point of view wasn’t any more difficult than writing from the female main character’s in One Lonely Degree. Once I started looking at life through Nick’s eyes that point of view quickly became second nature, like I was just tapping into a real person’s life.

Q. The book contains a few scenes that are perhaps aimed at an older YA audience, in terms of sexual content. Did anyone ever have any censorship issues when it came to editing, or were those scenes left exactly as you wrote them?

My editor and I were really on the same page when it came to I Know It’s Over, which is something I’m so grateful for. When the book was shopped around I did get some negative feedback from various publishers about the sexual content (although I don’t think the scenes are gratuitous) and the pregnancy but my editor didn’t have any problem with the scenes. They remain very similar to how I originally wrote them. Most of the feedback I’ve had about the book’s sexual content since it’s been published has been positive, which is a pleasant surprise. I was kind of bracing myself! Having said that, I know my agent has been finding this book a challenging sell internationally – lots of countries don’t want to touch it because of the subject matter and that’s a shame.

Q. What is your favourite scene in the book and why?

This is a really good question and something I’ve never considered before but I guess I’d say the scene in Sasha’s room near the end of the book because, although it’s very painful and raw, that scene feels like where the entire book has been headed. It almost feels like a moment we shouldn’t be intruding on, something that should’ve just been between them. When I think about the book this scene is the one that usually jumps out at me.

Q. Do you like the cover? Did you have any input into the design or image used?

The initial proposed hardcover image was a different picture (from the same photo shoot) of the guy’s legs in the background and the girl sitting on the side of the bed. To me it seemed overly bright in tone so not really representative of the book. My editor and I were discussing it and I remembered that she’d mentioned this really cool shot of the girl walking away so the designer reworked the cover and used that image, which I’m really fond of.

But now the book’s gotten a makeover for the paperback [see above] and that’s very different again. This was an image I didn’t see until afterwards but I like it too. Initially I think I preferred the hardcover but the paperback’s really growing on me. It looks so fresh and happy, which is an interesting contrast to the title.

For the One Lonely Degree cover my editor asked for me for fairly detailed descriptions of the two main characters and when I saw shots of the two kids they’d cast the resemblance to my vision of them was uncanny. I can’t wait to see what the cover of The Lighter Side of Life and Death will look like.

Q. If you could choose any one song to describe the book, what would it be and why?

I have to name two songs here because I just can’t choose between them. The first, of course, is Ten Days Late, but the other is a tune by defunct Canadian band Joydrop. The song’s called Sometimes Wanna Die (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyBsQ5lYaVE) and every time I hear it I think of Nick. So many of the lyrics vividly describe how he’s feeling at various points in the book. This especially:

“And the space where we meet
Is different from the rest
And I just can't seem to forget that”

But the part about needing the voice of a good friend and really the whole song in general. I listened to both these songs a lot while writing I Know It’s Over and they really helped put me in the right headspace.

Q. Can you tell us anything about your upcoming books, One Lonely Degree and The Lighter Side of Life and Death?

One Lonely Degree is about a fifteen year old girl named Finn who has always felt like an outsider in a world of pack animals. That feeling intensifies when something bad happens to her at a party. The only person she really trusts or feels on the same wavelength with is her best friend, Audrey. But then Finn’s childhood friend Jersy moves back to town and she develops bigger feelings for him than she can handle so lets Audrey, who also sees his appeal, go out with him. That situation is fine for a long while, because it means Finn gets to remain good friends with him. Then Audrey goes away for the summer which leaves Jersy as the closest person to Finn. And those initial big feelings she had for him aren’t really gone so things get very, very complicated.

I’m in the middle of doing revisions for The Lighter Side of Life and Death right now and am having so much fun diving back into it. The main character’s sixteen year old Mason, who has just had the best night of his life when the book opens. He celebrates his final performance as one of the stars of the school play by partying with all his friends and falling into bed with one of his best friends, a girl he’s had a crush on for years. He thinks this is an amazing thing to have happened and she thinks it’s a huge mistake and doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. His other best friend’s also angry because he has a thing for the same girl and meanwhile Mason’s future stepmom and her family are moving in, which is a weird adjustment for him. In the middle of this mess a twenty-three year old woman walks into Mason’s life and he’s not sure where their chemistry is taking them but he has some big hopes about it!

Thanks so much for having me over here to talk about I Know It’s Over and my other books, Jenny!

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A huge thanks to C.K. for doing this, and I hope you enjoyed reading her brilliant answers! What do you all think of the new paperback cover art? Do you prefer it to the hardcover?

For more info on C.K.'s books, you can visit her official site here. There's a great feature called 'extras', which shows some of her original book cover concepts, as well as a blog and news section.

Happy reading, everyone!