Thursday, 30 September 2010

US Vs. UK: Candor Covers

US // UK

I am firmly on the UK side this week - I love this cover! Okay so I'm not a huge fan of stingy wasps (who is?!), but I can live with it. The cover image looks symbolic, the title font rocks and the orange on white completely stands out against the black backdrop of YA shop displays. I bet everyone who's seen it has picked it up in search of more info.

That's not to say I don't like the US cover, because I do. Hot blonde boy + strange little houses = a very intrigued Jenny. I actually haven't read Candor yet, but I'm looking forward to it - it sounds like an interesting read.

So, what will it be: wasps or blonde boys?

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Waiting On Wednesday: Anna and the French Kiss

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

* Published by: Dutton Juvenile (US)
* Format: Hardcover (US)
* Release Date: December 2nd, 2010 (US)

* On Amazon: here


Amazon.com summary:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris, until she meets Etienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna, and readers, have long awaited?

This book has been receiving a lot of praise from other bloggers who have been lucky enough to read an early copy, and it sounds AMAZING. I hope all the hype is deserved... I have a feeling it will be. Older YA characters, boarding school in Paris and a boy called Etienne St. Claire all make it sound like it's a recipe for awesome, and December 2nd can't come soon enough!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Review: It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han


Publisher: Simon & Schuster US
Format: Hardcover
Released: April 27th, 2010
Grade rating: A-


Amazon summary:

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach? It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come. But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started--at Cousins Beach.

Review:

Firstly, if you haven't read The Summer I Turned Pretty, where have you been?! If you like YA realism, romance and drama, it should have a permanent place on your shelf. Honestly, it's a brilliant read, and I loved every page of it. Which is why I was ridiculously excited to read the sequel, It's Not Summer Without You. Though it wasn't *quite* as amazing as the first book, it came very close. Very close, indeed.

It's Not Summer Without You doesn't start immediately after its predecessor. Some time has passed, and it's now the end of Belly's Junior school year. She should be on her way straight to Cousin's Beach, but previous events and circumstances have prevented that. Instead, she gets ready for a boring summer at home, without lifelong friends Jeremiah and Conrad, aka Beck's boys. I felt so sorry for Belly after the first couple of pages, because I know just how much summer at the Cousin's house means to her, and how important the boys are. Jenny Han sure knows how to tug at those heartstrings, and I teared up many times throughout this book. It's very sad in parts, and anyone who's read it will know exactly what I'm talking about.

I can't go into great detail about the plot without spoiling The Summer I Turned Pretty, but rest assured it's heartbreaking and realistic, and completely addictive. The boys are back with a vengeance, and Belly has some tough choices to make; choices that will both frustrate and excite you at the same time. It's YA romance at its best, but not in the fluffy sense - it's much deeper than your average girl-likes-boy story.

Han's writing comes alive on the page and flows so easily, like a constant stream. She knows how to write her teenagers, and that shines through with every single word. She knows teenagers do stupid things, make rash decisions and deal with things differently. So instead of just making her male characters perfect and untouchable, she shows their screw-ups and their flaws. If anything, it makes them that much hotter, and that much more attainable. My boy allegiance did waver every now and then, when I thought Conrad was being an idiot for a couple of chapters. I was soon back on his side, though, and I've decided that he will always be my favourite of Beck's boys.

The final page of It's Not Summer Without You has actually left me on edge, and I don't know how I'm going to last the almost year-long wait for the final book in the series. I really hope there's a support group somewhere, because I'm going to need one. And while we're drowning our summer sorrows, how about we induct Jenny Han into the YA hall of fame? She so deserves a star with her name emblazoned on it.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Review: Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody


Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Released: June 7th, 2010 (new ed.)
Grade rating: B


Amazon summary:

In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities, it is also dangerous. Survival is only by secrecy and so she determines never to use her forbidden powers. But it is as if they have their own imperative and she is brought to the attention of the totalitarian Council that rules the Land. Banished to the remote mountain institution of Obernewtyn, she must throw off her cloak of concealment and pit herself against those that would resurrect the terrible forces of the apocalypse. Only then will she learn most truly who and what she is ...Elspeth is determined to uncover the plot and so, accompanied only by her cat, Maruman, embarks on a terrible adventure full of danger, the conclusion to which promises not just uncertainty about her safety but also that of many around her.

Review:

It's been a while since I've read any YA fantasy, and I'd forgotten how much I love it. Other worlds, talking animals and magical abilities are some of my favourite things, so I'm really glad I got the opportunity to try Obernewtyn. Although it's not one of my all-time favourites, it's a strong start to this much-loved series, and I'm looking forward to reading on.

Elspeth Gordie is a brilliant character who deals with everything thrown at her. She's struggling with her own abilities and changes, but puts her own fears aside to try and uncover the secrets of the strange place that is Obernewtyn. Her world has almost been destroyed by a nuclear holocaust that hasn't left many survivors, and now anyone left with a mutation (ability) is declared a misfit and sent to work on farms. Every day is a struggle for Elspeth, as she fights to hide her ability and ensure her safety. She's brave and headstrong, and cleverer than she looks.

Maruman, a cat who can communicate with Elspeth, is my favourite character from this book. I love cats anyway, but to know one that talks is beyond cool. I really enjoyed his mysterious advice and knack for appearing just when needed, though I now have more questions than answers! I struggled with the slower pace of this book, though I did eventually get used to it. It's a departure from the straightforward YA I'm used to reading, but of course that's not a bad thing. Sometimes I like reading a story that gently peels back its layers, rather than racing through the plot in record time.

Obernewtyn was written in 1987, which is the year I was born. You'd think it'd be dated now, but it really isn't. Isobelle Carmody was, if anything, ahead of her time. Post-apocalyptic worlds are big business these days, though I haven't come across many in a fantasy setting. Add to that the idea of ruling councils and oppressive states, and you get a story that is relevant to today's dystopian fiction you'll find doing the rounds.

I'm really interested to see where Carmody takes the story in the books following Obernewtyn, and how she deals with so many themes and issues within her writing. I'll be sure to read The Farseekers in the future, so I can continue Elspeth's journey with her.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

In My Mailbox #88: New Books This Week

In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, and all links take you to Amazon. Click images for a bigger picture!


I had another awesome week for books! I just finished Trash (it was so good!) and am really interested to see what Elixir is like. I wasn't a huge fan of The Hollow, but I've heard The Haunted is better, so I'm looking forward to that one. Also, the new Jimmy Eat World CD, Invented, arrived - 2 days before release date! *dances* For anyone who doesn't know, JEW have been my favourite band since the summer of 2001, and if you've never heard their amazingness, you should do so right now! It's been a 3 year wait for this one, so I'm pretty excited. :D (That's an understatement, I'm actually bouncing in my chair!)

Anyway, enough music talk. Here's what was in my mailbox this week...




For review:
  • Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick (Lovely shiny finished copy!)
  • The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (US ARC. Thanks to Donna at Bites for sending me one of her extra copies - sounds gothic and unusual!)
  • Angel Cake by Cathy Cassidy (This is for the 2010 Green Books Campaign).



Bought:

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My lovely friend Nina from Orion also sent me some packs of Marcus Sedgwick postcards. They show all of his books with their brand new covers, which I think are fantastic. If you have a favourite, let me know in the comments! My Swordhand is Singing is still my #1!




Happy reading!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Giveaway Winners!

I always get really behind with posting giveaway winners - sorry about that! Anyway, here are the winners of my most recent ones. Everyone has been emailed, and I think most have received their books. Thanks to everyone for entering, and to the authors/publishers who provided prizes!



Winner:
Rachel.



Winners:
Katie / Hollie / Sherry / Jade / Cat.



Winner:
Claire.



Winner:
Caroline.



Winners:
Jesse / Samantha / Lorraine / Kay / Laura.



Winner:
Kirsty.

Review: Radiance by Alyson Noel


Publisher: Square Fish
Format: Paperback
Released: August 31st, 2010
Grade rating: C


Amazon summary:
Riley has crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. She has picked up life where she left off when she was alive, living with her parents and dog in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. When she’s summoned before The Council, she learns that the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure. She’s been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a possibly cute, seemingly nerdy boy who’s definitely hiding something. They return to earth together for Riley’s first assignment, a Radiant Boy who’s been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But all of that was before he met Riley...

Review:

Radiance is one of those books I just couldn't get into, no matter how hard I tried. I almost didn't finish it, but I persevered and managed to get to the end. This time around, Alyson Noel's writing didn't captivate me and I felt so detached from the characters. Although I liked Riley in the Immortals series, here I thought she was flat and one-dimensional. I'm not sure she was ready to carry a whole novel on her own, but I have yet to read the last Immortals book, so I'm not too sure if that would have made a difference.

Riley has now left her sister Ever, and has crossed over into a place called Here. She's enlisted as a Soul Catcher, and is assigned a teacher called Bodhi. He teaches her all the tricks of the afterlife, while accompanying her on her first mission back to earth. I liked the whole idea of Here, and the Soul Catchers helping trapped spirits find their way to their rightful place. Noel isn't short of good ideas, but I just don't think Riley was the right person to take this one forward.

Riley and Bodhi's relationship didn't strike a chord with me, and I really couldn't have cared less what happened to them. I did like the Radiant Boy stuck haunting an English castle, as he had an interesting personality. His resolution was also written well, and made the ending worth getting to. I think Radiance was just one of those books that wasn't for me. I know plenty of other readers seem to have enjoyed it, and I'm sure it'll do really well with middle graders. I might still be tempted to give the second book a go, but I won't be eagerly awaiting it.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Review: The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley


Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardcover
Released: October 4th, 2010
Grade rating: B/B+


Amazon summary:

Michael Vyner recalls a terrible story, one that happened to him. One that would be unbelievable if it weren't true! Michael's parents are dead and he imagines that he will stay with the kindly lawyer, executor of his parents' will ...Until he is invited to spend Christmas with his guardian in a large and desolate country house. His arrival on the first night suggests something is not quite right when he sees a woman out in the frozen mists, standing alone in the marshes. But little can prepare him for the solitude of the house itself as he is kept from his guardian and finds himself spending the Christmas holiday wandering the silent corridors of the house seeking distraction. But lonely doesn't mean alone, as Michael soon realises that the house and its grounds harbour many secrets, dead and alive, and Michael is set the task of unravelling some of the darkest secrets of all.

Review:

The Dead of Winter is a creepy story perfect for those readers with an interest in things that go bump in the night. It'll keep you on the edge of your seat while you wonder what will happen next, and uses darkness and tension to its advantage. Michael is a young boy spending his Christmas at Hawton Mere country House, with Sir Stephen and his staff. There's much more to the house than meets the eye, and Michael soon learns the sinister secrets of the past that still haunt the house and its inhabitants.

Chris Priestley writes in a fantastic style, which makes it clear he loves the macabre. Rather than choose a world of gore and physical horror, he uses a much more subtle approach, including flickering lights, strange noises and terrifying apparitions. I find that this approach to horror has more of an impact on me as a reader, as creating a truly scary scene involves a lot more than just blood and violence. An eerie ambiance and tense surroundings creep me out more than severed heads and blood-curdling screams, and The Dead of Winter successfully uses a historical setting to emphasise just how ominous an old house can be.

It did take me a good few chapters to fully get into The Dead of Winter, but once the mystery of Hawton Mere began to unravel, Michael's story drew me in and wouldn't let go until I knew the outcome. Priestly weaves a clever tale that spans decades, and keeps you guessing right until the end. As everything starts to fit into place, you'll find yourself recalling clues you missed previously, and thinking "A-ha!" when you get to the final revelations.

If you're a fan of horror but don't like visual gore and sickening descriptions, The Dead of Winter might just be for you. It's more on the sophisticated side, taking age-old understated horror conventions and using them to tell a twisted story of family secrets and echoes of the past.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

US Vs. UK: Willow/Scarred Covers

US // UK

I know I've talked about the Scarred cover before, but I've never actually compared both together. Willow must be one of the few US titles to get a title change for the UK, and I'm still not too sure why they did it. Does anyone know why Willow wouldn't have worked over here?

Anyway, back to the covers. I'm quite a fan of both -- I like the subtlety of the US one, though I think the UK one stands out more because of the eye-catching yellow dress. I prefer the UK title font, along with the placing of the text on the US. The UK cover also has an added tagline, saying 'It's hard to keep a secret when it's written all over your body'. I like that, but don't think it would have worked well on the US cover.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Waiting On Wednesday: Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

* Published by: Walker Books (US), Bloomsbury (UK)
* Format: Hardcover (US), paperback (UK)
* Release Date: February 1st, 2011 (US)
, March 7th, 2011 (UK)
* On Amazon: here


Amazon.co.uk summary:

Teen TV celebrities Jenna and Jonah (real names, Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers) make more money in a month than most people do in a lifetime. They can't stand to be in the same room as each other, but to boost the TV ratings their agents make them a 'real life' couple. Then the deception is uncovered by the paparazzi, and Charlie and Fielding have to disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realise there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

Okay, so does this sound amazing or what?! If I had a copy, I'd read it right this minute. I love co-authored books, I love romance and I love the above UK cover. I think I'm going to like this one! And the best thing? It's being published in the UK too. Thank you, Bloomsbury!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Review: Fallout by Ellen Hopkins


Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Format: Hardcover
Released: September 14th, 2010
Grade rating: A-


Amazon summary:

Hunter, Autumn, and Summer—three of Kristina Snow’s five children—live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years.

Hunter is nineteen, angry, getting by in college with a job at a radio station, a girlfriend he loves in the only way he knows how, and the occasional party. Autumn lives with her single aunt and alcoholic grandfather. When her aunt gets married, and the only family she’s ever known crumbles, Autumn’s compulsive habits lead her to drink. Summer doesn’t know about Hunter, Autumn, or their two youngest brothers, Donald and David. To her, family is only abuse at the hands of her father’s girlfriends and a slew of foster parents. As each searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together—Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle.

Review:

Fallout is the powerful, honest conclusion to Ellen Hopkins' life-changing trilogy that started with Crank and Glass. It's written in Hopkins' usual beautiful poetry, and is of the same high standard as her previous six books. While Crank and Glass focused on Kristina and how drug addiction broke her life, Fallout jumps nineteen years into the future where we meet three of Kristina's children: Hunter, Autumn and Summer. Each of these characters tells their story just as Kristina did, with as much vulnerability as their mother before them.

Hunter, Autumn and Summer don't know each other well at all. They're related, but in the loosest sense of the word. There's no happy Christmas celebrations or quality time for this family; instead they each live separately and stand in the shadow of Kristina's questionable choices. Hunter, Autumn and Summer all see themselves in Kristina, whether it be in the form of anger or addiction.

Autumn is probably the closest resemblance to her mother, thanks to unfolding problems with an alcohol addiction. She knows she doesn't want to end up like that, but current living arrangements don't offer much in the way of an alternative. Summer is oblivious to the fact she has several siblings out there, and is dealing with years of abuse from foster parents and her father's girlfriends. Hunter has girlfriend trouble, abandonment issues and a meeting with his real father for the first time in Fallout, and is finally faced with the man who raped his mother. Hunter is the one constant throughout this trilogy, and his inclusion in Fallout allows parts of Kristina's past to come together for the reader. The last nineteen years are unknown to us, though through newspaper articles and Hunter's recollections, Kristina's story comes full-circle.

Fallout ultimately shows the aftermath of drug addiction, and how it affects a family as a whole. No one person is spared from the worry or hurt that years of substance abuse causes, and more often than not children of an addict can grow up with similar problems to their parents. Fallout says it's okay to move on from that, and that your parents don't define you. Sure, they structure your early life and guide you into adulthood but, at the end of the day, you're your own person. Don't let the past ruin your future -- make a change.

Ellen Hopkins has changed my own personal outlook on drug addiction and those affected by it. She's shown me that anyone can meet the monster, and that their perfect upbringing or straight-A school report has nothing to do with living a clean existence. I've never experienced drug addiction firsthand, but Crank, Glass and Fallout have spoken to me as if I had. They're incredibly emotional and moving reads, though they're not to be taken lightly. Fallout is a poignant end to Kristina's story, leaving you with the knowledge that no-one is perfect and that addictions can be overcome. There's very little in life that can't be fixed, you just have to possess the strength and determination to do it.

Speak Loudly and Win a Copy of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson!


By now I'm sure most YA bloggers out there have heard about the guy who wants to ban Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK, and how he wrote an article likening rape to pornography. If you haven't yet heard about it, you can read what Laurie herself has to say here on her blog.

Now I don't usually blog about things like this. Not because things don't bother me, but because people say everything so much better than me. However, I feel the need to join in this time, because what this man said was disgusting and plain wrong. Rape is not pornography. It's anything but. Rape is a crime, an attack, an abuse.

I'm a firm believer that books should never be banned, no matter what people say about them. Banning books is not a good thing to do: what will kids turn to then? What will help them get through day-to-day life? Without the freedom to read, what do we have left?

If you're on Twitter, follow the #SpeakLoudly hashtag. People all over the world are speaking up for SPEAK, and rightly so. If you haven't seen it already, here's a video of Laurie Halse Anderson reading Listen, a poem she wrote that's made up of letters and emails from readers of her book.




I know it's not a huge help, and it won't make an impact in the grand scheme of things, but I'm doing it anyway: I'm giving away a copy of SPEAK. If The Book Depository will ship to your country, you're eligible to enter. I'm paying -- they're shipping. Closing date is September 27th. Just leave your name and email address below, and you're good to go.

Don't forget to Speak Loudly for SPEAK!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Blood Ransom by Sophie McKenzie: Extract & Giveaway! (UK only)

Sophie McKenzie's new book, Blood Ransom, is published by Simon & Schuster on 1st October and is the sequel to 2008's Blood Ties. The book is told by both Rachel and Theo, and I have an advance extract for you all to read, narrated by Rachel. There's also a chance for you to win a copy of both books, so make sure to enter the giveaway after you've read the extract!

If you want to find out more about Blood Ties and Blood Ransom, check out I Was A Teenage Book Geek tomorrow for an interview with Sophie McKenzie herself!


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Blood Ransom Extract

Rachel

Both men moved closer. I clenched my fists and pressed my feet into the ground, breathing deep into my guts to calm myself, like Lewis had taught me back when we were preparing to rescue Theo last year.
“Come on now, hen,” the dark-haired guy cooed in a silly voice. “We just want you to show us what you’ve got.”
The first man - McRae - laughed. “Aye.” He reached out for my arm, pulling me round to face him.
Something snapped inside me.
“Piss off.” I stared at McRae – right into his mean little eyes – then strode past him.
He grabbed me. Pulled me back.
I fisted my hand and punched, putting my whole weight behind the throw. The blow landed on McRae’s shoulder, sending him reeling, doubled over with pain and shock.
I glared at the other man. His mouth fell open. I turned and sped away, out of the alley. I raced on, going over the route to the High Street in my head. Left. Left. Then a long stretch before the right turn onto the High Street, further up from the internet café than I was planning – but who cared.
I’d take the next couple of lefts, then double back to the High Street, further up and nearer the internet café.
The sound of pounding feet echoed behind me. I glanced over my shoulder.
Damn. The two men were hot on my tail – vicious looks on their faces.
I ran faster. Took my two left turns. I was holding them off – but not getting away.
Almost at the High Street now, I pushed myself on. The men were so close behind me I could hear them breathing as they ran. For a sick second I wondered if they were RAGE operatives, sent after me on purpose.
I darted down one final short road, then onto the High Street. I raced into the first shop I came to – a charity clothes place. I ducked behind a large rail of overcoats. They smelled of dead men’s sweat.
I glanced over the top of the rail. The two men had stopped outside the shop but they weren’t looking inside. They were laughing, like hassling me had been the best game ever.
Pigs.
As I watched, they sauntered off, swaggering down the street like they owned it. I shook my head. Well, at least they were just stupid men, not people from RAGE.
It was a few minutes to five now… nearly time to speak to Theo. The internet café was just up the road. I moved away from the rail of overcoats, tugged my hood off my face and headed towards the door. Outside, a boy in a wheelchair propelled himself past the window.
I froze.
The boy was olive-skinned with short, dark hair and a square jaw. He looked older than I remembered him, but otherwise it was the same face I’d been remembering and seeing in my dreams for the last nine months.
No way.
It couldn’t be him.
What was he doing here? What was he doing in a wheelchair?
I stared as the boy wheeled himself along the street. I knew that profile as well as I knew my own.
It was Theo.

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Giveaway!




To win one (1) set of Blood Ties and Blood Ransom, all you have to do is fill in the below form, telling me the name of the "first man" in the extract above.

Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only!
  • End date: September 28th, 2010.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.


My So-Called Haunting Blog Tour: Tamsyn Murray Guest Post!

My So-Called Haunting is published in the UK on September 24th, and to celebrate its release I have a fantastic guest post from lovely author Tamsyn Murray. If you're a music fan, you really should check out the songs mentioned - they're all brilliant!




My So-Called Haunting Playlist
by Tamsyn Murray


Music is a big influence on my writing, as anyone who remembers the scene where Lucy and Ryan met in My So-Called Afterlife will know. There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you hear a song which perfectly captures something your characters are feeling and I’m a sucker for listening to them over and over again. Here’s my playlist for My So-Called Haunting, the next book in the Afterlife series, which introduces Skye Thackery, a fourteen year old with a hefty secret to keep.


Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars

Although My So-Called Haunting is set in London, Skye originally comes from Edinburgh and she’s a big fan of Snow Patrol. Her enthusiasm rubbed off on me as I was writing the book and Chasing Cars is a favourite track with both of us.


Slow Moving Millie – Beasts

Remember that Virgin Media ad where the girl walks into the TV studio and discovers Aztecs and an orang-utan and the police car turns into a spaceship at the end? Beasts was the soundtrack to that advert and I had it on replay on my iPod for months. Quite a lot of Skye’s world is made up of things no-one else can see and I think she’d identify with the fantasy element of the lyrics. Worth checking out if you don’t know it.


Muse – Undisclosed Desires

It wouldn’t be one of my playlists without a Muse track and this one could have been written for Skye and Nico. Their relationship is all about secrets and desires and neither of them turns out to be what the other expected. The story continues in the next book, My So-Called Phantom Lovelife (out March 2011).


Blur – Melancholy Hill

I’ve been a Blur fan since my late teens and this song reminded me of everything I liked about them. It’s not the stomp-all-over-your-senses Brit-pop of Boys and Girls or Song 2 but delicately caresses your ears in the same way as The Universal did. And there’s a pivotal scene in the book set on Parliament Hill so the lyrics tied in perfectly.


Paolo Nutini – Candy

Partly influenced by Skye’s voice in my head, I love the smoky Scottish vocals of Candy and it contains one of my favourite lyrics of all time (copyright prevents me from quoting it but ’nuff respect if you can work out what it is). And it goes without saying that Skye is a Paolo fan.


Professor Green – Just Be Good To Green

This is another song which had me harkening back to my teenage years, when it was released by Beats International. Professor Green’s cover reminded me of everything I liked about the song back then and added a new spin to it. I listened to this while I was doing my copy-edits this summer and loved the mix of old and new.


Plan B – Stay Too Long

I love the way Plan B’s songs tell a story and this one tells the tale of the narrator’s criminal involvement. One of My So-Called Haunting’s characters, Dontay Ambrose, died in a gang shoot-out in Hackney and although Dontay was just a kid in the wrong place at the wrong time, this song really helped me to visualise what being a teen in Hackney might be like.


So those are the songs I used to help write My So-Called Haunting. Hopefully, it’s given you a taste of the themes behind the book and maybe introduced you to some new tunes.

You can find out more about Tamsyn and her books at Tamsyn Murray.co.uk.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

In My Mailbox #87: New Books This Week

In My Mailbox idea from Kristi @ The Story Siren, and all links take you to Amazon. Click images for a bigger picture!

I had a great week for books this week. I received an exciting, varied selection, including 2 titles I'm very, very excited to read: You Against Me by Jenny Downham and Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. Yay!

Here are the contents of my mailbox this week:



For review:


Have a lovely week everyone!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Simon & Schuster UK Appreciation Week: Post Recap


My S&S week ends today and, as much as I wish I could carry on, I must get back to reviewing my huge pile of books! Thanks to everyone who stopped by and read or commented on my posts - hope you enjoyed them! If I've learnt one thing this week, it's that spoken interviews take a long time to type up. *yawn* They're well worth it though :)

Here's a recap of all the posts from the week:


Reviews

Interviews

Other

Simon & Schuster UK Appreciation Week: Review - Private by Kate Brian




Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback
Released: February 5th, 2007
Grade rating: B/B+

Amazon summary:

When Reed Brennan arrives at Easton Academy, she discovers that everyone is more sophisticated, more gorgeous and a whole lot wealthier than she is. She feels like an outsider, looking in... until she meets the Billings Girls, the most beautiful, intelligent and powerful girls on campus. Reed vows to do whatever it takes to be accepted into their inner circle. But once she's in, she discovers there's more to the girls' closets than designer clothes - they're hiding skeletons too, and secrets which must be kept PRIVATE. Whatever the cost.

Review:

Regular readers of my blog will probably know that I love books like the Private series. Bitchy rich girls with more secrets than MI5 never fail to hook me. There's something about that lifestyle that appeals to me -- can you imagine being that rich and privileged at such a young age? I certainly can't!

Like a lot of YA boarding school fiction, Private instantly reminded me of something like Mean Girls. Reed Brennan is the new girl at an elite boarding school, and finds herself drawn to a clique of girls who rule the school. Sound familiar? Noelle, Ariana, Kiran and Taylor are an odd mix, yet they seem to fit like they've known each other all their lives. They're mean, intolerant and stuck-up, and rule Billings House like Gossip Girl's Serena and Blair rule the Met steps.

Not much happens in this book on the scandal side of things, but it's a great start to the series and sets things up nicely. Love interests are introduced, loyalties are tested, and Reed realises her happiness at Easton Academy lies in the hands of the over-privileged.

Kate Brian may not have a prize winning book on her hands, but what she does have is a very entertaining, addictive series that fans of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars will fall in love with. If you're looking for a light, easy read that will leave you intrigued, put this book on your list. It's well worth a try!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Simon & Schuster UK Appreciation Week: A Conversation with Sarah Rees Brennan!


Sarah Rees Brennan is the author of 2009's The Demon's Lexicon and 2010's The Demon's Covenant. I got to interview her on the same day as Scott Westerfeld (straight after, actually. I was pretty excited!), in London on June 14th. I spent most of the time laughing because, if you haven't guessed, Sarah is hilarious. Seriously, if you worked with her, you would get nothing done. At all. It would be non-stop fun.

Here's my interview, where you can find out what's next for Sarah, as well as a couple of spoilers from The Demon's Surrender. Excited for book 3? Me too!


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Wondrous Reads: Sarah! Hello! What is your accent?!

Sarah Rees Brennan: Well it should be Irish, but it isn't. I've cultivated this accent by reading a lot and not talking to my peers.

WR: It's a mix of everything! 'Cause you lived in New York for a while didn't you?

SRB: I did, it was great fun. I lived in an incredibly dodgy part of town. I was a publishing intern, which taught me a huge amount because I got to read through slush piles.

WR: How long did you live there for?

SRB: A year, then they kicked me out due to my Visa no longer being valid or something like that. But I had a lovely time, and made a bunch of friends. I met my Cassandra Clare at a New Year's party in Brighton, England, and when I moved to New York I was like, "Hi Cassie!".

WR: Is that how you got into that whole NYC writing group?

SRB: Yeah. My friend invited me to a birthday dinner to meet her friend Holly, and I was like, "Sure, I'd love to meet Holly". I showed up on my own 'cause Cassie was late, and I sat with who I thought looked the nicest. I said "Which one is Holly Black?", to which she said, "I am".

WR: And here you are all these years later! I should probably ask you some questions about your books now, shouldn't I? So, how did you research The Demon's Lexicon and The Demon's Covenant, and were there any legends that inspired them?

SRB: Yes. I already had the idea, and I was cross-referencing demons all over the place. This one German book, the Hexenhammer, which is basically propaganda for witchcraft, was particularly helpful!

WR: I've never heard of that book. It sounds interesting...

SRB: It's great, especially if you want 100 instructions for being an old, powerful magician. I found it thanks to Wikipedia - I ended up with a huge reading list.

WR: So do you travel around for research as well?

SRB: Yes. At one point I was plotting in Exeter, and decided to go to the nice part of town to see if I could find Mae and Jamie's house. I found this mansion; it was the exact right house. So I went up the drive and accidentally pushed the door open. I was wandering around the kitchen when my dad called and said, "You do know Mae and Jamie aren't real? So whose house are you in?" I was like, "Well I don't know, do I?" So I checked out the garden, where there was a guard dog... no charges were pressed, and that's the important thing!

WR: That's possibly the best author story I've ever heard. You're mad! Carla asked this next question, and she wants to know if, because each book is told from a different perspective, did you find it hard to switch between different voices while writing?

SRB: Carla's lovely!

WR: I know!

SRB: To answer her question: not really. I always feel like I have about 100 different viewpoints and I know what a scene looks like from everyone's perspective, so it was just a matter of choosing which one. Like in my initial plan, ook 2 was going to be told from Gerald's point of view, but my agent was like, "From the villain's perspective? That's not a good idea. Will he see the error of his ways and find love?" And I was like, "Well, I thought he could save a kitten from a tree then kill a bunch of people". She didn't think it would work too well.

WR: Haha, I can see why. So how did you choose the narrator for each book?

SRB: I knew I'd start with Nick because the twist has to be from his point of view. He might be a jerk, but from his point of view you end up sympathising with him, and you see that he does have good intentions. I like to think you see the darkest and most sympathetic point of that character archetype in Nick.

WR: You definitely do. That kind of leads on to another of Carla's questions actually. Both Nick and Mae are quite unreliable narrators - was that intentional?

SRB: Yes, absolutely. I love mystery novels - like Agatha Christie and Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief - and I love the idea of a situation being really different from another person's point of view, which happens a lot in mystery novels. I like playing with that by having 3 different narrators. Of course, most people do like to stick with one, and I've had lots of complaints about the changeovers.

WR: Well, you have no complaints from me! The sense of family is really strong in your books, I was wondering if that was inspired by your own family?

SRB: Well I'm not crazily co-dependent on any of my family - we're not bound together by any hideous hardship. One thing I did learn is that they're very different from me. My 3 siblings are super sporty, my brother's a champion poker player who read one book once and refuses to read mine. When you're a teenager is when you're discovering your individuality, and to be trapped in a house with people who you have this bond with, but who are so different to you, can be hard. It's a time when you both love and hate your siblings, and I think that's an exciting time.

I mean, I love a romance, don't get me wrong. I'm all about the make-out scenes, my original version of book 2 had 36 of them, but I wanted to write about siblings, and how romance comes at them when they least expect it.

WR: I like how you've done that. Which leads on to my next question: if you could give each of your characters a piece of advice, what would you tell them?

SRB: Okay, hmm. I guess I would give Jamie and Mae both the same advice, which is "Watch out for the bad boy". Alan, I would say "Just try every day. Just tell one truth to somebody". And to Nick I'd be like, "Just try not to commit property destruction and murder today sweetie".

WR: That's all very sound advice. So, if you had to choose between Nick or Alan...

SRB: Oh wow. Well of course I don't fancy them because they're my kids and that would be weird. That's tricky. Well, they both kiss like minxes because I figure anyone who is willing to put up with their personalities is owed some material benefits, so that's good. I guess it'd be Alan for the reading, but then Nick is more attractive... I don't know, for life or for a night? Or for a week?

WR: For a week.

SRB: For a week, Nick. You don't need people to talk to for a week. Alan would be the long-term life project, and Nick would be the hot fling. Like the difference between a lasagne and a pancake.

WR: Ha! I'll go with that! Moving on from your boys to your book covers... I always have to ask, do you have a favourite?

SRB: The Japanese Demon's Lexicon one is my favourite, but I really like my UK covers a lot.

WR: What do you think of your new American ones, photographed by James Porto of Hush, Hush fame?

SRB: I think they're an improvement on my first one. It wasn't my favourite. I liked that it was bright and it stood out, but I didn't think it really conveyed my book very much. He's a very cute guy and I like his necklace, but I'm not sure it says Nick to people. And the way he's soulfully looking out at you made people expect a romance I think. It's a fine cover, but perhaps not the right cover for me. I think the new US covers are very dynamic, but I do prefer my UK covers to those.

WR: I agree!

SRB: Good, then we're all agreed.

WR: The original Demon's Lexicon was cool though, with the sword on the actual hardback.

SRB: Yeah I really did like that. I was sad I didn'thave a secret cover for the second one, but I take that US edition to schools so I can tell the story of setting my kitchen floor on fire.

WR: You have a lot of entertaining stories.

SRB: Thank you.

WR: I'm not sure if I'm supposed to laugh at them, but I am.

SRB: No, they're meant to be funny. I laugh so I may not believe them myself.

WR: That's okay then! Now I don't know if you're allowed, but can you tell us anything about the third book? Does it have a title yet?

SRB: No, we're negotiating. It used to be called The Demon's Talisman, but my editor didn't like it. Currently the frontrunner is The Demon's Tempest.

In book 3, Nick gets completely defeated emotionally, and also sets London on fire. And Alan gets a girlfriend! There are the two spoilers I will hand out.

[Sidenote: Book 3 does finally have an official title, as announced on Sarah's blog. The Demon's Surrender!]

WR: Ooh, I want to see London on fire!

SRB: Yeah, it comes from this old phrase which is talking about someone not being very bright, and they say "Oh well, they'll never set the Thames on fire". So I thought it'd be quite funny if Nick just did set the Thames on fire. It's cool, alright!

WR: Very cool. So after this trilogy, what's next for you? Do you have any plans?

SRB: Yes, I'm currently working on a new book - a romance this time rather than a bromance - in which these two characters think they're crazy and have an imaginary friend, but of course they are each other's imaginary friends. There's also some teenage sleuthing and a dark and gothic mansion in which two cousins, who are both guys and truly hate each other, think that there may be something dark and magical afoot.

WR: So when can we expect that?

SRB: I don't know! First I have to finish it, then I have to find someone who will be willing to publish it. I like to tell jokes, I don't know if you've noticed, so I'm really enjoying writing characters who don't know they're in a genre novel quite yet.

WR: Sounds great! If The Demon's Lexicon was optioned for a movie, who would you like to play your characters?

SRB: I don't really think I could pick anyone because these characters have their own faces in my head. A couple of actors who have stood are James McAvoy as Gerald, Rachel Leigh Cooke as Mae, and Rufus Sewell as Black Arthur. I wouldn't be able to pick Nick or Alan though, especially not Alan, because we're casting for the US cover of demon's-whatever-it's-going-to-be-called, and Alan's going to be on the cover and my God there are no read-headed models in all of New York! We found one red-headed guy, and nine other guys with blonde to brown hair, and we were just like, "We'll photoshop the red".

WR: Maybe you should look in England, I'm sure there's plenty here.

SRB: There's plenty in Ireland too. We went with the only red-headed guy we could find, we thought we might as well use the real one.

WR: Why not eh? By the way, so you listen to music when you write, and do you have any song recommendations?

SRB: I do, I listen to a lot of country music - Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift speak to my soul. It's really sad because people will ask for character songs, and I only have one character song for Jamie and it's Taylor Swift's '15'.

WR: You should ask for that to be on the soundtrack if there's ever a movie.

SRB: I will, but I think only authors with that much creative control are people like Stephenie Meyer and her loyal fangirl army.

WR: True. I'm one of those fangirls I'm afraid. Actually, while we're on the subject, why did you switch from Team Jacob to Team Edward?

SRB: Well, it was partially because Jacob really put me off with the baby thing. I know it had already been established that werewolves imprinted, and that was fine, but I have to sday, speaking as a grown woman, I was slightly put off. It was obvious that Bella really wanted Edward, and there was plenty of time for to cut Jacob loose. So yeah, I'm Team Edward because she wanted him more.

WR: That's an excellent reason Sarah. Obviously I approve. So do you prefer vampires of werewolves?

SRB: Vampires. I thought I liked werewolves, but no. Vampires. I'm fond of animals, But I don't date them. Team Vampire!

WR: I like you!

SRB: Yay!

WR: I'm almost done now, but I need to ask you to recommend some other YA books. I value your Team Vampire opinion.

SRB: For a vampire book, I liked My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey. Obviously non-vampire: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Cassie Clare's Clockwork Angel, Holly Black's White Cat, and I could go on.

WR: So what's your favourite book?

SRB: Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen. It has the bad guy who actually isn't a bad guy in any way, and it really shows an attraction by conversation.

WR: Cool, well I will read it one day. Really, I will. That was all my questions, so thank you muchly!

SRB: Thank you for a lovely interview!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Simon & Schuster UK Appreciation Week: Simon Pulse Giveaway! (UK only)


Thanks so the awesome people at Simon & Schuster, I have a really cool giveaway to celebrate my S&S week.




To enter to win a bag full of Simon Pulse goodies, along with copies of Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready, The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams and The Fallen Vol. 1 by Thomas E. Sniegoski, all you have to do is fill in the entry form, telling me which Pulse title you're most excited to read. You can find more information on Pulse titles at the site below!




Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only!
  • End date: September 23rd, 2010.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.

Good luck!


Simon & Schuster UK Appreciation Week: Review - The Badness of Ballydog by Garrett Carr




Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback
Released: February 4th, 2010
Grade rating: B


Amazon summary:

Something is coming... something big. May knows it, but no one will listen to her. She is an outcast due to her odd ways and freakish ability with animals. Andrew knows it, but he has his position as gang leader to maintain. Ewan knows it, but what can he do? The sea creature is the biggest living thing on the face of the earth. And it won't stop until it has destroyed Ballydog. Can three teenagers save the baddest town in the world from its fate? Is it even worth saving?

Review:

When thinking of The Badness of Ballydog, one word springs to mind: strange. Not in a bad way, more in a I-didn't-see-that-coming way. From the synopsis, I expected a lighthearted story about a weird town and a giant invading sea monster, but I got much more than that.

Granted, Ballydog is a weird, weird town. It's stuck in somewhat old-fashioned traditions, with the belief that women belong as housewives and men are born to fish and provide for their families. The younger residents of Ballydog are dying to get out, including gang leader Andrew, new city boy Ewan and animal lover May. Ballydog gave me the impression that it's a place people know of but forget about, almost like it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the world. It's a shame really, but you can absolutely see why it has this reputation - the inhabitants of the town are a just a little too out there, and seem perfectly happy living cut off from the rest of Ireland.

May is an interesting character, with an unusual gift. Without her talent and determination, the town of Ballydog probably wouldn't exist, and everyone in it would be on their way to being sea monster food. I really liked how May, Andrew and Ewan - Ballydog's most unlikely teenage trio - teamed up to protect their town, and formed a friendship that I'm sure will last longer than they ever expected. I didn't find myself getting overly attached to any of these characters, though I did have a soft spot for The Old Man of the Sea - a huge leatherback turtle who plays quite a significant role in the story. He doesn't know it, but he gives the town hope, and a reason to try and better itself. Plus, he sounds really cute.

The sea creature itself is a fascinating monster, and one that we get to learn quite a lot about throughout the course of the book. It's ancient and revered, and belongs to more legend and lore than anyone realises. It has a straightforward agenda to destroy unwanted towns, though I'm still not quite sure of its process of elimination. It's described as being larger than a continent, with centipede-like legs and 50 tongues in its gaping mouth. How creepy is that?! It makes me kind of glad I don't live anywhere near the sea, just on the off-chance that something like that actually exists. And here's me thinking Great White Sharks were the scariest thing out there! (I hope I'm still right. If anyone knows any different, please kindly leave me in the dark!)

The Badness of Ballydog is such an odd story, and not at all what I was expecting. I wouldn't even know which YA genre to place it into, because it doesn't focus on just one theme or idea. I would have liked more monster back story, as that was my favourite part of the book, and allowed for Garrett Carr to create some fascinating creature history. There's a sequel, Lost Dogs, due for publication soon, and I'm looking forward to seeing how things have changed, for better or worse, in the little town of weird.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Simon & Schuster UK Appreciation Week: An Interview with the Head Fiction Director!


I couldn't have an S&S UK week without talking to one of the lovely people responsible for providing us with so many great books. Venetia, who is the Children's Fiction Editorial Director, very kindly offered to answer some of my questions, which I think (and hope!) you'll find interesting - it's amazing how much work goes on behind the scenes. Thanks for answering my questions, Venetia!


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What are the main duties of a head fiction editor?

As Fiction Editorial Director, I oversee all the fiction publishing at S&S Children's, from younger fiction through to YA fiction. I have my own authors in each category who I develop and edit, but there are also two other editors who work on their own titles or on books that I have commissioned. So there is a planning element to the job - looking at what we are publishing and when the right time to publish is, what kind of gaps we have on the list, what we might need to acquire, who should work on it - as well as thinking about our overall strategy in terms of the list we want to present out of house and creative ways to move our publishing on. I also have to make sure that our books come in on time and on budget...

I commission and acquire books for publication, assessing submissions and coming up with ideas. I help to develop authors, directing them, reassuring them, editing their manuscripts, brainstorming ideas, titles and concepts with them. Author care is really key - you have to have a good relationship with your authors - you are their representative in-house, conveying their concerns and ideas to the rest of the team - but you also need to feedback to them the market realities and be an honest first reader who can place their book in a wider context.

Can you tell us about what one of your typical days at S&S entails?

There isn't exactly a typical day, though there are regular meetings each week, and each book follows a pretty similar route from manuscript to market.

It can be pretty exciting if we are in an auction to publish an amazing new book or series, in which case I'll be running costings, writing love letters about the book to the author and agent, helping brainstorm straplines and ideas with the marketing and publicity team, and generally trying to put together a convincing package to impress the agent and author. Then we're on tenterhooks until we hear if we have been successful, or if we need to bid higher and have to decide our cut-off point... Sometimes this also includes what we call 'a beauty parade', where we meet and charm (we hope!) the author and agent and present our vision for the book... The whole team gets behind this process and there is a huge level of excitement in-house when we are successful.

On a day to day basis, I'll be reading submissions, editing manuscripts, checking copy-edits and proofreads we've had in from freelancers, briefing covers and writing blurbs, writing sales copy for our advance title information sheets, working on our future schedules to plan what fiction we will publish when, raising contracts, speaking to authors about how a manuscript is coming on or working out what they should write next. I also discuss cover concepts and roughs with our fiction designer, look at sales figures, think up titles... the list goes on! And of course there are always lots of in-house meetings...

We have an editorial meeting every fortnight, which is where myself and the other editors get together to discuss submissions we've been reading, reports from our freelance reader, books that are deadlined and offers we would like to make. We look at how a book works within the wider market as well as on our list, making sure we aren't competing against ourselves (particularly important with the amount of paranormal romance we now see coming across our desks!) and if there is a particular 'hook' or point of difference we can highlight for sales and marketing. We also talk about possible ideas we would like to find authors for, or suggest to an existing author of ours. And we talk about authors we'd like to publish and how we can get them to write for us! If we are particularly keen on a manuscript, or book, we then circulate it to the rest of the children's division to discuss at a future publishing meeting, which is where we decide whether to acquire it or not, and at what level.

That meeting tends to be followed by a production meeting, which is where editorial discuss their book schedules with design and production - so it's about future publishing and where we are on covers, edited scripts, page proofs etc. It's about making sure we have everything ready far enough in advance to present at a sales meeting, or create book proofs, or early print, or ship to Australia - and of course to print for publication - so it's useful to highlight books that are likely to slip out of their month of publication, whether because of late delivery of a manuscript, or having to revise the cover approach after sales feedback, or because text files are not available when we need them...

Then we also have a publishing meeting every week, which is where we pitch the books we'd like to acquire to the rest of the team, so we can see the kind of potential they have - we have input here from our sales and marketing, rights and bookclub colleagues - and we also update on ongoing business, such as offers in, auctions ongoing, books bought, changes to publication dates etc. Once a month we also have a global video conference meeting with our counterparts at Simon & Schuster US, where we update each other on our markets and publishing.

Out of house, I also meet with authors and agents - either potential authors with their agents when we are pitching to publish them, or with my existing authors as we discuss their work going forwards or a particular edit. I also meet with literary agents to discuss the kind of books I'm looking for and to see if they have any authors or illustrators on their client list who I think would be right for S&S.

Otherwise, I regularly check websites, blogs and twitter, go into bookshops, read the trade and general press and generally keep my ear to the ground to make sure I'm up-to-date with what is going on in the children's marketplace.

After each new brand book is published, how do you go about maintaining that author name and presence?

We either brand books by author or by series, so we try to create a package that links the books, either through lettering (such as the author name always being in the same font), illustration (so they have a similar design) or if it is a series via a logo. We do a lot of work online, either on the company website or on an author microsite or via a Facebook page, linking previous titles and making sure that previous books are advertised both virtually and physically within the current title. We encourage the author to engage with their readers online, plus get out and do events and conferences, and help them to do this by organising tours around publication of each book, to ensure that their profile remains consistently high. We send out advance copies of books to reviewers, head offices and booksellers, as well as offer them as prizes in various publications and online. We present all our key titles to the main retailers and pitch them for promotions in the bookstores and supermarkets.

Editorially, we try to ensure that not too long is left between each publication, so that readers aren't waiting for ages for a sequel or the next in a series. We sometimes release early chapters or produce samplers to whet the appetite ahead of publication, and we sometimes do covermounts with magazines giving away samplers or early books to spread awareness of an author's work. Different books have different marketing and sales strategies, so it does depend on the author, book or series - and it's very much a team discussion, rather than one led by editorial.

What are the most important factors you look for when acquiring YA titles for S&S?

We look for gripping stories with believable characters, original angles and great writing. We want books which speak credibly to young adults - either through the voice or the experience they depict - and which offer a new perspective on the main themes of adolescence, such as the search for identity, finding your place in the world, first love etc. If the author is interesting, marketable, based in the UK or easily able to visit, and willing to give us world rights, even better!

At the moment we are tending to concentrate on contemporary teen fiction with real world settings, though these can and do have supernatural elements. In fact, we have recently launched an imprint called Pulse which pulls together all the paranormal fiction on our list into one area, which is a response to the current market focus on supernatural romance. But it's not just about the undead, we also publish romances, thrillers and one-off 'passion' books, meaning books that an editor champions from the get-go and really believes in, even if there's no follow-up planned. In most cases, everyone else falls in love with it too! My passion book coming up is The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, while a fellow editor's was The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams. Very different books, but both equally powerful and memorable and if you haven't already read them, I recommend you give them a try!

Which YA acquisition are you most proud of?

Well, it's really hard to pick one out, but right now, I'd have to say it was Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush, because it was one of the first paranormal romances out there and has been huge for us, plus it's a brilliantly tense, page-turning read with one of the best heroes ever.

But I'm also really proud of signing up Sophie McKenzie with Girl, Missing and helping build her from scratch to one of the most successful authors on our children's list. We bought five books up front, which shows the measure of our confidence in her from the outset - and it's been more than paid off with multiple awards and fantastic sales figures since.

There are also lots of exciting things coming up - I just pre-empted a trilogy called Fury, which is the sexiest and most chilling submission I've read this year and which we believe could be the next Hush, Hush. And I'm always a fan of Sarah Singleton, who won the Booktrust Teen Book Award with her first novel and who writes gorgeously and evocatively about anything she cares to turn her hand to. If you haven't read anything by her, you should seriously check her out. Her new book, The Stranger, is coming out next Spring.