Sunday, 31 October 2010

GIVEAWAY: Angel by L.A. Weatherly Goodie Bag! (Worldwide)


So last weekend I was at the Eternal Twilight 4 convention, where I met L.A. Weatherly and the lovely people from Usborne. They very kindly gave me an extra Angel goodie bag to give away here, which includes:

  • Tote bag
  • Bookmark
  • Poster (I'll have to fold this to send it - hope that's okay!)
  • Badges (signed on the back by L.A. Weatherly!)
  • Angel chapter sampler

If you don't know what the book is about, here's a bit more info from Amazon:

Willow knows she's different from other girls. And not just because she loves tinkering around with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into people's futures, know their dreams, their hopes and their regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where she gets this power from... But Alex does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows Willow's secret and is on a mission to stop her. The dark forces within Willow make her dangerous and irresistible. In spite of himself, Alex finds he is falling in love with his sworn enemy.


Rules & info:
  • Open worldwide!
  • End date: November 8th, 2010.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.

Just fill in the form below, and you'll be entered! :)

In My Mailbox #92 & #93: 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 have two weeks of IMM to post this week, as last weekend I was at the Eternal Twilight 4 convention, which I will be writing a report about soon. It was an amazing con, and I met Becca Fitzpatrick (Finally! Yay!), Lauren Kate and L.A. Weatherly, plus actors from the Twilight Saga movies. Due to that and a mad week at work, I'm pretty behind with my reading and blog commenting, so apologies to all my blogging friends out there - hopefully I'll be back to normal very soon!


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In My Mailbox #92




For review:
  • Spray by Harry Edge (US ARC)

Bought:
  • Angel by L.A. Weatherly (I bought a finished copy to get signed at the con!)

Won:

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In My Mailbox #93




For review:

Bought:

Gift:
  • The Vampire Diaries Books 1 - 4 boxset by L. J. Smith (My mum bought me this. I already have the books, but not with TV tie-in covers. It's so cool!)


Happy reading guys! :)

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Review: Watch Me by Lauren Barnholdt


Publisher: Simon Pulse (US)
Format: Paperback
Released: July 6th, 2010
Grade rating: B/B+


Amazon summary:

Ally has everything under control. She's about to move into a house full of strangers and have her life broadcast to the world, but as long as she still has her long-distance boyfriend, Corey, nothing can go wrong. Nothing, that is, until Ally starts spending time with her housemate Drew, the hot and sensitive guy who always seems to be around when she needs someone the most. As suspicions and lies start pulling Ally and Corey apart, she's not sure if she can trust anyone, not even herself. Ally is about to learn the hard way that life is what happens when everyone is looking, and it doesn't always capture her good side?

Review:

After hearing such good things about Lauren Barnholdt's 2007 release, Two-Way Street, I was excited to try her books for myself. I think Watch Me was a good one to start with, as I really enjoyed it. The premise reminded me of reality TV show Big Brother which, for the record, I absolutely cannot stand. I'd never watch something like that, but I have no problems reading about it.

I loved the dialogue in Watch Me. It was normal and realistic, and easily something my friends would say (y'know, if I lived in America). Ally was a character I really liked, even though she did whine on about her boyfriend too much, and let her insecurities take over her life. I mean, if you've been with someone for 2 years and you don't trust them, there's something wrong there. Without trust, everything can easily fall apart.

Until I started reading this book, I had no idea it was set around a reality TV show. In the House really is just like Big Brother, but follows the first semester of college freshmen rather than unhinged unknowns randomly plucked off the streets of England (Yeah, I really hate reality TV). Ally's experience with cameras and a house full of strangers is fun to read about, and she learns a lot while she's there. Not just about her romantic life, but about family and friendship too.

Neither boy really appealed to me, as I thought Corey (the boyfriend) was a bit boring, and Drew (a fellow In the House star) never really lived up to his swoon potential. I see why they were both on Ally's radar though, and each to their own and all that. Her gay best friend Grant was my favourite character, with some of the best dialogue. Loved him.

Watch Me was a great introduction to the works of Lauren Barnholdt; I'll probably dig out my copy of Two-Way Street and make that my next of her titles. She has an awesome YA voice, and you should definitely check her out if you like romance with a side of realism.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Finding Sky Blog Tour: Guest Post by Yves Benedict!


I'm the final stop on Joss Stirling's Finding Sky blog tour, and I have something pretty cool for you guys: a guest post from Yves Benedict himself! He's such a good character, and I'm very happy to have him stop by my blog. Thanks, Yves ;)

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Yves Benedict

Zed said to me the other day: with a brain the size of Colorado (his image not mine), surely I should be able to figure out a way of finding my soulfinder. This was after he had force fed me burnt pizza (Sky wasn't on hand to keep his cooking skills under control) and we got down to discussing my situation. We were making a boys' night of it, shooting some pool and tormenting each other, you know, like brothers do. After a while I got to talking about, well, feelings. Us guys do have them even if we don't like to expose them - I usually figure that flaunting what's going on inside is kinda like taking the lid off an experiment too soon - all you get left with is a bad smell and a mess. I have to admit I am fiendishly jealous of my little brother. Sky's really sweet. Not the sort of girl I imagined with him but now I've seen them together I can't think of them with anyone else. I just wish I could find mine. I want what he has for myself - the completeness that only a soulfinder can bring to a savant.

Still, wishes don't make nothing but more wishes. I promised Zed to turn my 'Einstein' instincts to solving the soulfinder problem for me and for my other brothers - but not just yet. I'm off to London tomorrow to attend a student conference on Climate Change. Britain seems to do well by my family, so maybe my soulfinder will be at the conference waiting for me? Then again, maybe not. The chances of her being there are lower than Sky has of making goalkeeper in the English women's soccer team. (Ouch! Sky just poked me, having glimpsed her name on my blog screen. Love you too, Sky).

Bags packed, eticket ready - let's see what London has to offer.

Yves

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Review: Monster High by Lisi Harrison


Publisher: Atom
Format: Paperback
Released: September 2nd, 2010
Grade rating: B

Amazon summary:

The monster community has kept a low profile at the local high school, but when two new girls enrol, the town will never be the same. Created just fifteen days ago, Frankie Stein is psyched to trade her father's formaldehyde-smelling basement lab for parties and prom. But with a student body totally freaked out by rumors of monsters stalking the halls, Frankie learns that high school can be rough for a chic freak like her. She thinks she finds a friend in fellow new student Melody Carver-but can a 'normie' be trusted with her big secret?

Review:

Okay, hands up if you've ever wished you could be a classic monster. It'd be cool, right?! You could be Frankenstein's granddaughter, the Wolfman's cousin... I, of course, would quite like to be anyone from Dracula's bloodline (hehe), but I'm sure you guessed that already! Lisi Harrison has indulged in such an idea, complete with contemporary characters and a nod to more than one famous Hammer Horror monster. Now this is a high school I would have liked to attend!

Frankie Stein has been created by her parents, and is, you guessed it, quite similar to Frankenstein's Monster. She's sent to normie school in an attempt to fit in (which is a bit hard when you have green skin and bolts in your neck), but instead she ends up finding out she isn't the only RAD (Regular Attribute Disorder) in town. Her new friends include Draculaura, Lagoona Blue and Claudine, who all have such brilliant names that it's hard not to like them. Monster High is chock full of subtle and not-so-subtle references to horror films of old, and also proves how contemporary it is by name-dropping such acts as Lady Gaga.

Like The Clique for a slightly younger, horror-savvy reader, Monster High is fun, bitchy and stylish. The girls all experience romance and the (mundane) obstacles that accompany it, though they have even more to worry about than their wardrobe. I really liked the general idea of Monster High, though I didn't fall head over heels in love with the characters. They were cool, and I was interested in their lives, but I don't feel like I cared enough about any of them. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be with an ensemble cast, but even leading lady Frankie didn't fully convert me to the dark side. Maybe book 2 will let me connect with the characters more... here's hoping!

If you're looking for a younger read with kooky protagonists and an appreciation for 1930s movie horror heroes, then Monster High could be the book for you. Expect lots of drama and teen talk, along with the coolest high school in recent literature. If Draculaura was real, we'd so be BFFs -- any friend of vampires is a friend of mine!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Waiting On Wednesday: Rot and Ruin

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

* Published by: Simon & Schuster (UK & US)
* Format: Paperback (UK), Hardcover (US)
* Release Date: March 3rd, 2011 (UK)
, Out now (US)
* On Amazon: here


Amazon.com summary:

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

Okay, so how good this sound?! I'll hold my hands up and admit that I haven't yet read a zombie book I loved (though I do have some waiting to be read!), but Rot and Ruin sounds amazing! It's the whole post-apocalyptic thing, not to mention the seriously creepy cover. Fingers crossed these are real, scary zombies, and not Shaun of the Dead zombies...

Monday, 25 October 2010

GIVEAWAY: Win Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl! (UK only)


Thanks to Puffin UK, I have five (5) copies of Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl to give away! This is the much anticipated sequel to Beautiful Creatures, which was published earlier in the year.


Here's more series info from Amazon: (No spoilers for book 2!)

In Ethan Wate’s hometown there lies the darkest of secrets . . . There is a girl. Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head. Green eyes, black hair. Lena Duchannes. There is a curse. On the Sixteenth Moon, the Sixteenth Year, the Book will take what it’s been promised. And no one can stop it. In the end, there is a grave. Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided. Ethan never even saw it coming.


Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only!
  • End date: November 2nd, 2010.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.

Just fill in the form below, and you'll be entered! :)

Friday, 22 October 2010

Review: Dear Dylan by Siobhan Curham


Publisher: AuthorHouse
Format: Large paperback
Released: March 24th, 2010
Grade rating: C+/B-


Amazon summary:

Fourteen year old Georgie Harris feels as if the summer holidays are over before they have even begun. Banned from going to the local drama workshop by her bully of a step-dad and her increasingly fragile mum, she is consigned to six long weeks of looking after her tooth-fairy obsessed kid sister. Sick of feeling like the outsider at home and at school, she starts emailing the one person she thinks might understand; Dylan Curtland, star of the popular soap opera Jessop Close. And when Dylan starts emailing back, Georgie finally feels a tiny spark of hope. At last she has someone who really gets her, someone who really wants to help. But in the faceless world of email all is not as it seems...

Review:

I didn't enjoy Dear Dylan as much as everyone else seemed to and, to be honest, I'm still not quite sure what I thought of it. I liked the format it was written in, but many of the situations were unbelievable, and main character Georgie irritated me more than I'd like.

Georgie was one of those teenagers I just couldn't warm to. She made up words like 'frost-free', and called her step-dad 'Tone-Deaf'. Normally I'm quite good with teen slang and unusual dialogue, but in this case it wasn't something I got used to. I really did try, but I just couldn't think of Georgie in a favourable way. Nan, the older lady Georgie talked to through email, was a better character, though even she didn't strike a chord with me.

Dear Dylan was written entirely in emails, which was one of the things I really liked about it. I like to see authors acknowledging how important technology is, and how it affects our lives in different ways. Curham used it here to show the dangers - and benefits - of talking to strangers on the internet, and I thought that was an important lesson to address. I did have a bit of a problem with how Nan approached things, especially because she knew Georgia was only 14. Even though she was a lovely person and meant no harm, I still thought she'd know better.

Dear Dylan changes direction part way through the story, and ends up being about something far from what I was expecting. I won't spoil anything, but it deals with serious topics within the family home, and approaches them in a very sensitive manner. There's a lot to learn from this book, and a lot of life lessons to be taken away.

This book didn't turn out to be for me, though I know a lot of other readers and bloggers absolutely loved it. Had I liked Georgie more, I'm sure my feelings would have been different, but unfortunately I didn't. Dear Dylan has a lot to offer when you break it down, especially to younger teenagers who may not know about the dangers of the internet, and I think it would be a good title to keep on school library shelves.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

US Vs. UK: The Ring of Solomon Covers

US // UK

While I do like both of these covers, I'm going to have to be honest and say that the UK one is my favourite. It's dark, gothic, eye-catching, and it screams fantasy. I love the art work and the placement of everything (the text, tagline etc.) on the cover, and it's the kind of thing I'd have on my wall.

The US cover is cool too, though I'm not overly keen on the abundance of orange. This cover actually reminds me of the Inheritance series, which is a pretty big compliment as I love those covers too! If I had a choice of these two, I'd definitely for for the UK - it's more intriguing, and come on, how cool does he look perched there looking out over that landscape?! Me likey!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Waiting On Wednesday: The Thirteen Secrets

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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The Thirteen Secrets by Michelle Harrison

* Published by: Simon & Schuster (UK)
* Format: Paperback (UK)
* Release Date: February 3rd, 2011 (UK)

* On Amazon: here


Amazon.co.uk summary:

May include spoilers for books 1 & 2!

Red is now living at Elvesden Manor under her real name, Rowan, and trying to put her past behind her. But staying on the straight and narrow isn't as easy as she had hoped...Hounded by fairy messengers who are trying to convince her to participate once more in the changeling trade, Rowan is haunted by dreams of the Hedgewitch's cottage and the chained-up Eldritch, who threatens revenge against her. Her past is about to catch up with her - can Tanya and Fabian prevent it consuming her altogether?

I LOVE this series! The Thirteen Treasures (review) and The Thirteen Curses (review) had me glued to my seat, and I think they're the best fairy books I've read. I can't wait to see what happens in The Thirteen Secrets, and just look at that pretty cover! Wow!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Author Interview: Rebecca Maizel

Big thanks to Rebecca for answering my questions about her debut novel, Infinite Days. It's about vampires... check it out!

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I think it's quite unusual to read a story about a vampire reverting back to their human form. What inspired that aspect of Infinite Days?

I was inspired by the depths of Lenah's emotional darkness. I was drawn to her character, a character who had done evil, reprehensible things but then was offered a chance to do good. I also wanted to take away any culpability for her evilness. I wanted her to have agency but I also wanted her to be a victim of her evilness. In a way, I think those of us who make poor choices when we are young have to deal with this. We are constrained by our own naivety or our own ignorance. So many people go through this in their everyday lives. They do horrible things, things they aren't proud of and then are faced with the next day - a new day. A day to make it right. Lenah's humanity is sort of a metaphor for this. I'm not sure how much of this I knew as I was writing but when I look back on my life and what was important to me a year or so ago, this balance between good/evil/intention was definitely a big part of my mind and thoughts.

Lenah experiences things that are part of everyday normality for us, such as new technology and transport etc. If you were in her shoes, which part of modern life would you be most excited about?

Music definitely. I'm always amazed by how quiet the world must have been 100-200 years ago. There was no background music, no whir of machines. This is incredible to Lenah, to come back to the world and be able to press a button and listen to opera!

Did you originally plan for Rhode to be a main character? (I loved him, by the way!)

Oh, that's a tough question and thank you! I love him too. I knew Rhode was special. That he was strong and romantic and that Lenah loved him in a way that was nearly impossible for her to duplicate in her human world. I think that's the nature of her love for Justin. It ISN'T the same as her love for Rhode. It can't be - she is human and the love she feels for Rhode is immortal. Justin is flesh and humanity. Rhode is blood and blood lust. Rhode is also timelessness. Rhode is flowers, herbs and sword fighting. A lot of people have been comparing Rhode and Justin but they aren't comparable. Rhode is Lenah as a supernatural being. Justin is what she wants as a human.

Are you a fan of other vampire fiction, movies and TV shows? If yes, what are some of your favourites?

I really try not to read or watch any other vampire TV shows or films. It's really important to me to let the characters motivate the story and I don't want to be influenced by any other points of view on the vampire lore. But I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Love x a million. [Rebecca, we can definitely be friends!]

Your US and UK covers are very different, especially the dark and light contrast of colours. Do you have a preference?

I like them both in completely different ways. The photographer for the UK book is absolutely amazing. Her name is Elizabeth May. Here's a link to her photography.


I see her pictures and I want to disappear into another world with her. But I also LOVE what the US cover captures. Lenah's wonder is especially captured in the wide eyes of the US cover. Lenah's darkness and mystery is captured in the UK. So it's really equal for me. You should look at the German cover on my blog - IT'S AMAZING.

Can you tell us anything about book 2, Stolen Nights?

I can tell you that everything - absolutely everything Lenah has counted on goes to hell. Nothing and no one at Wickham is safe. Oh, and much more Rhode.


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Related links:

Monday, 18 October 2010

Review: The Raven Mysteries - Vampires and Volts by Marcus Sedgwick


Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardcover
Released: October 7th, 2010
Grade rating: A


Amazon summary:

It's Halloween and the Otherhands are enjoying the Annual Pumpkin Hunt. And pumpkin fun aside there are preparations to be made, at short notice, for the Great Halloween Ball at Otherhand Castle. Minty is all a-fluster. Solstice is busy spraying fake cobwebs everywhere. Valevine is in charge of disorganising everyone's carefully laid plans, and Cudweed seems hungrier than ever and oddly preoccupied with 'fresh brains'. It's not long before wily Edgar works out that there's a preponderance of vampires and not all of them have false teeth. Just when he's about to solve the latest mystery at Otherhand Castle, the lights go out...

Review:

Just when I thought the Raven Mysteries series couldn't get any better, along came Vampires and Volts. I think it's the best since book 1, Flood and Fang, which I absolutely loved. I guessed I'd probably like this one thanks to vampires being involved, but I didn't expect it to be so funny. Marcus Sedgwick makes me laugh with the smallest flippant comment, which I think is a great writing talent to have!

So, in Vampires and Volts, it's Halloween and nothing at Castle Otherhand is running smoothly. Minty takes an embarrassing tumble at the Halloween Ball the Otherhand's find themselves hosting (they get the gig through very unfortunate circumstances, hehe!), Cudweed seems to be more undead than alive and poor old Edgar the raven is left to once again sort everything out. There's also a visitor to the Castle that brings some drama of his own... eek!

I've been waiting for Vampires and Volts for ages, as Sedgwick writes vampires so well (check out My Swordhand is Singing if you haven't already!) and they're my favourite supernatural creatures. I knew that when Lord Valevine and Co. met up with some actual real monsters, they'd wreak havoc and make things ten times worse. Even I couldn't have predicted Cudweed's hilarious problem, though I should have guessed he'd draw the short straw!

If there was any way to make Orion publish book 5, Magic and Mayhem, tomorrow, I'd be at their offices banging on their door. Mr. Sedgwick tells me it features lots of non-evil bunnies, which I can't wait to see. I predict it will be hilarious, and I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that Edgar doesn't fancy a tasty fluffy treat... Wish me luck with the wait until publication in April 2011! (Sob!)

Sunday, 17 October 2010

In My Mailbox #91: 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 great week this week, 'cause the new editions of The Twilight Saga are out! Woohoo! I also got the new Rick Riordan book, which is lovely in person and much better than I thought it would look. I haven't been around the blogosphere much because I've had a really busy week at work, but hopefully things will settle down soon. (Sorry for the lack of comments etc.!) Also, I'm at the fourth Eternal Twilight convention next week, so my IMM will be the week after. Yay!

Here are the books I received this week:



For review:
  • Matched by Ally Condie (UK proof/ARC. Already read this so I'm giving this duplicate copy to my friend!)

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Bought

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Gift:
  • Maggie Stiefvater UK Lament sampler (Signed)

I was invited to a dinner with John Boyne a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn't make it :( Kelly at Random House got me a signed copy of his new book instead, which is ace! :D Thanks Kelly! I also didn't get chance to meet Maggie Stiefvater, so my friend Leanne got me a signed sampler from one of her public events. Cheers matey!


Happy reading, everyone!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Crescendo Week: Post Recap


Crescendo is now out in the UK (and the US in a few days!) and my celebration week has come to an end. I'll be doing the same for Tempest next year though, as I love this series rather a lot ;)

Thanks as always to S&S UK, and to everyone who read and commented on posts. I really appreciate you supporting Becca and Crescendo!

Here's a full list of the week's posts:

Friday, 15 October 2010

Crescendo Week: Giveaway - Win Signed & Regular Copies! (UK only)




Crescendo was published in the UK yesterday, and courtesy of my friends at Simon & Schuster I have 4 (four) copies to give away! 1 copy will be signed by Becca when she's over here for her UK tour towards the end of the month, and the other 3 copies are regular finished hardcovers.

[Please note: the first winner chosen by Random.org will win the signed edition, which will be signed and sent out to you sometime in November].


Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only.
  • End date: October 25th, 2010.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.

Fill in the form to enter!


Crescendo Week: Movie Discussion - Cast the Characters!



I don't know about you guys, but I REALLY want a Hush, Hush movie. How cool would that be? To see Patch in all his glory on the big screen, with... nah, that's all I really want to see. Apologies for my shallow-ness, but you know what this guy's supposed to look like. Drop-dead hotness, in case you need reminding ;)

Sometimes when I read books, I get a pretty clear idea of who I'd like to play the characters in a movie adaptation. You might not agree with all of them, and bear in mind some of their physical attributes would have to be changed to match Becca's vision of things, but here are my choices for some key characters from Hush, Hush and Crescendo!

Feel free to comment with your own ideal cast - I'd love to hear who you'd choose!


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Patch



This is a bit of an unusual one I think, but the whole time I was reading Hush, Hush and Crescendo, I saw this guy as Patch. It's Danny O'Donoghue - lead singer from Irish band The Script. He's got the perfect Patch hair, height and attitude. I love him! (He probably can't act, but hey-ho!)


OR



My Hush, Hush Facebook Fan Group alerted me to this model, Louis Prades. Again, check out his hair and his ripped bod... he's like an older Taylor Lautner. I wouldn't mind watching him with angel wings and a protective streak!


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Nora



If you ignore the hair colour, I think Hilarie Burton of One Tree Hill fame would be perfect for Nora. She has the curls, the slightly innocent look, and a tendency to make stupid decisions (well, at least Peyton did!). Also, she can be a tiny bit irritating, which I think is one of Nora's worst traits.


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Vee



For Vee, I think Leighton Meester (Blair in Gossip Girl) fits the bill. She's friendly and open like Vee, and she has that girl-next-door look going on. Also, I can see her being over enthusiastic about things, while still being super supportive and occasionally smarter than Nora.


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Harrison



Here we have Ryan Gosling as Nora's dad Harrison. I'm sure a lot of you have seen his performance as Noah in The Notebook, and wil agree he's pretty amazing when it comes to his acting skills. It's his look (very 'dad', yes?) that I think screams Harrison Grey, though admittedly he could do with being 5/6 years older.


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Marcie



So, who would be the right actress for bitchy Marcie? Why, Minka Kelly, of course! Not that she's really that horrible, but in Friday Night Lights (which is an amazing show, by the way!) her character Lyla starts off as a bit of a spoilt brat. I think she could pull off the part of Marcie with no problem - banter between her and Hilarie Burton would be well worth watching!


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Scott



You remember Andrew Keegan in 10 Things I Hate About You, right? He's the ultimate smarmy, idiotic jock without a care in the world. Scott from Crescendo is *just* like this, though perhaps not quite as bad. He does have a semi-nice side, which I don't recall Joey Donner ever possessing. That was part of his charm (or lack thereof), though!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Crescendo Week: Book Cover Feature with Becca Fitzpatrick & James Porto


I did a cover feature for Hush, Hush last year, and obviously I couldn't resist doing the same for Crescendo. Thanks again to Bec and James for their time and thoughts!


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Cover Feature: Crescendo

Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Cover photographer: James Porto
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Release dates: October 19th, 2010 (US), October 14th, 2010 (UK)



Becca's Thoughts on the Cover:

I think it's a common misconception that authors get a lot of say, or any say for that matter, in the covers of our books. I say this, because one of the most common questions I get is some variation of, “Why did you decide to give HUSH, HUSH the cover you did?” I feel incredibly grateful that my publisher consulted me and valued my opinion as much as they did, especially now that I realize how rare this is. Typically, when an author receives their cover, they're told, “Hope you like it. Because if you don't, too bad!”

Knowing this, I wasn't sure how much say I'd get in CRESCENDO's cover. It did cross my mind that maybe my experience with HUSH, HUSH's cover was a chance happening. So I braced myself with the age-old advice: Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.

In November 2009, my editor sent me the first cover comp for CRESCENDO. I was nervous to open the file, because I was having a hard time picturing how James Porto, the photographer, would ever come up with something to top his work on HUSH, HUSH. My hesitation only lasted a moment—burning curiosity got the better of me!—and this was what was waiting for me.



I immediately emailed James, telling him how thrilled I was with the early concept. He wrote back, using phrases like “broiling texture” and “sexual tension,” which were spot on. In CRESCENDO, Patch and Nora's love is thrown into the frying pan...and if that's not enough, the heat is cranked up. As Nora begins investigating her father's murder, certain things aren't adding up. And if she can believe her eyes, Patch is the man who everything points back to. As you can imagine, this knowledge has the power to tear them apart.

Of course, while CRESCENDO's cover was coming together, I was also deep in the middle of some sizable rewrites to the story. During the rewrites, quite a few story elements changed. Without spoiling anything, I will say that an old villain was replaced by a new villain. I knew I wanted this change reflected on the cover, but I wasn't sure how to ask my publisher and James Porto to convey it.

In February 2010, while I was on tour with Lisa Mcmann, I received an updated version of the cover, and instantly knew what was lacking.



I wrote my editor back, requesting a small but important change. I had my fingers crossed that she'd agree with me, and...she did! After months of tweaking and fine-tuning, we had our cover!




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James's Inspiration Behind the Image:

Lucy Cummins from Simon and Schuster called me to assign the CRESCENDO cover with the concept that it would include both Patch and Nora this time, and that they should be in a rainstorm. The budget was lower so we couldn't afford to do a new photo shoot and had to rely on the material we shot for HUSH, HUSH. We had some excellent figures of Patch from the original shoot but Nora's images didn't work at all.

We made a rough composition and I urged Lucy to lobby her publisher for the budget to photograph Nora, wet, with new wardrobe, and to fit into our composite with Patch. She did so successfully and, well, the shoot was a resounding success. I tried 10 or 12 different backgrounds with both figures in the image and it looked pretty good, but Lucy felt the image was stronger with just the figure of Nora and I agreed, it was simpler and more iconic. We added her letting go of the feather to give it some tension and action; I finessed the image and sent it in.

For more info on James's work, visit JamesPorto.com

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Crescendo Week: Watch the Trailer!



I couldn't have a Crescendo week without mentioning the trailer. Simple but effective... check it out below!


Crescendo Week: Get to Know Becca Fitzpatrick


Well all know lots about Hush, Hush and Crescendo, but how much do we know about awesome author Becca Fitzpatrick? Having been in contact with her over email since around May 2009, I can confirm that she is brilliant. So friendly and a genuinely nice person - I can't wait to meet her in a couple of weeks!

I've compiled everything you need to know about Becca, including a very random Q&A I sent her a few weeks ago. Interviews, bios and links await you, so read on!


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Part of Becca's Bio, from her official site:

I always held on to my dream of writing, but went through a phase in college where I wanted to be a spy. I stalked the CIA website and filled out at least a dozen applications. I thought being a spy was dangerous and sexy. I didn't want to be the girl who got a degree, only to settle down and do house-ish things...like answer telemarketers' calls and choose between Spanish or Ladybug Red for the kitchen walls.

In December 2000, I married my Philadelphia-native husband, Justin. In April 2001, I graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Community Health and went to work as a secretary-slash-teacher-slash-accountant at an alternative high school in Provo, Utah. I loved the students at the school, but having the principal call me in on Saturdays to operate the copy machine was a different matter. In February 2003, my husband surprised me by enrolling me in a writing class for my twenty-fourth birthday. On that day, I went from the girl who wrote stories daily in the privacy of her journal, to the girl who wrote stories and shared them with people outside of the worlds in her head. It was also in that class that I started writing HUSH, HUSH.

Five years, one baby, and one move to Colorado later, I had a book, and it was just about as sexy and dangerous as the spy-life I'd always dreamed about.

In June 2008 I found my agent, Catherine Drayton, and in September 2008 she sold the book to Simon & Schuster.


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My random Q&A with Becca:

[I sent Becca 2 options, and asked her to choose one. Here's what she came up with...]

  • Hardcover or paperback? HARDCOVER
  • Edward or Jacob? JACOB [Uhh, Becca, are you sure about that?!]
  • Thunder or lightning? LIGHTNING
  • Movies or TV shows? TV SHOWS (BURN NOTICE, ALIAS, FELICITY AND FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, I'M LOOKING AT YOU!)
  • Flats or heels? HEELS
  • Right handed or left handed? RIGHT
  • Bookmark or dog-ear? BOOKMARK
  • Peeta or Gale? GALE [Yay! You've just redeemed yourself for the whole Jacob thing!]
  • Burgers or pizza? CHEESE PIZZA, PLEASE!
  • Linkin Park or Taylor Swift? TAYLOR SWIFT
  • Vampires or werewolves? VAMPIRES (WHICH MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE SINCE I CHOSE JACOB ABOVE. WHAT CAN I SAY, I'M COMPLEX!) [:D]
  • Jane Austen or Emily Bronte? TOO CLOSE TO CALL
  • Pancakes or waffles? PANCAKES

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Video Interviews


Interview with Becca Fitzpatrick from GITS on Vimeo.






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Links:

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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Crescendo Week: US Vs. UK Covers



US // UK

I know the differences between these covers aren't huge, but they're noticeable enough to grab my attention. I'm not quite sure why the US and UK publishers decided to make these small tweaks, but I think it works.

I much prefer the placing and size of the title on the UK edition, as it definitely stands out more, and gives the lightning a bigger part to play. These covers end up like small works of art, so the more I can see the better. I think I also prefer the lighter colour scheme of the UK copy, though I'm having a hard time deciding. The darker shade of the US cover probably fits the tone of the book more, though maybe it fits into that whole paranormal romance stereotype a little too well. What do you guys think?

Aside from what I've mentioned above, the only other thing I have an opinion on is Nora's closeness. I think the US got it right with having her take up her side of the cover, with no empty space around her. No idea why, I just like it!

So, over to you: who wins?

Monday, 11 October 2010

Crescendo Week: Review - Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick




Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardcover
Released: October 14th, 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-


Amazon summary:

Nora should have know her life was far from perfect. Despite starting a relationship with her guardian angel, Patch (who, title aside, can be described anything but angelic), and surviving an attempt on her life, things are not looking up. Patch is starting to pull away and Nora can't figure out if it's for her best interest or if his interest has shifted to her arch-enemy Marcie Millar. Not to mention that Nora is haunted by images of her father and she becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened to him that night he left for Portland and never came home. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?

Review:

By now you've all probably guessed that I'm a huge fan of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush series. I knew I'd love it as soon as I saw the amazing cover last year, and since reading it have been impatiently waiting for Crescendo to hit shelves. I love everything about this series: the characters (Hello, Patch!), the writing and the inclusion of fallen angels. Angels are fascinating in every form, and Hush, Hush was one of the first YA books to feature them in all their winged glory. So, Crescendo: does it live up to expectations?

While Hush, Hush was very much about Patch and Nora's relationship and how they dealt with their human/angel connection, Crescendo is a step up from that. Everything we know to be right is questioned in this book, including romantic entanglements, friendships and family. Crescendo is darker and more mature, but still manages to maintain that air of mystery first introduced in Hush, Hush.

We all know Nora's father died in seemingly normal circumstances, but Crescendo brings that to the forefront and makes you wonder: what if it wasn't normal? What if it could have been prevented? And just what was Mr. Grey mixed up in? It's a great way to continue Nora's story, and resolves an important plot thread at the same time. Fitzpatrick is clever not to reveal too much too soon, and instead keeps you guessing until the end.

If I had a couple of complaints about Crescendo, it would be that Patch isn't as present as I would have liked, and the introduction of Nora's apparent personality transplant. In Hush, Hush, she was smart, focused and, okay, hopelessly in love with Patch. I mean, who wouldn't be, right? In Crescendo, she seems different: occasionally irritating, blind to what's happening in front of her and quick to make stupid decisions. I know we all do ridiculous things, but on a couple of occasions I wanted to dive inside the story myself to impart some words of obvious wisdom. Still, when thinking back to my own teen years, perhaps I would have done the same.

Now, Patch. Ahh, beautiful Patch. Where was he?! He has stuff going on that is too spoilery to mention here, which means he's absent for a large chunk of the story, leaving the narrative to fall completely to Nora. She can totally carry it by herself, but more Patch would have been nice. To me, their relationship is the anchor in this series, and I missed it. Of course, the scenes Patch is in is when he steals the show - if I could choose a guardian angel, I'd want it to be him. *sigh*

Crescendo is an enthralling sequel, with revelations that hit you like a gale force wind. In addition to an inability to put it down, you're also left with one of the most evil cliffhangers I've ever come across. Luckily there's going to be a third book, Tempest, next year, and for me it can't come soon enough. This series is still the best of the angel bunch, and I love it almost as much as I love my vampire fiction (i.e. a LOT). Now begins the countdown for Tempest... who's with me?!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Blog News: Crescendo Week!

Crescendo Week: October 11th - 15th, 2010


Tomorrow is the start of Crescendo week here on Wondrous Reads. Crescendo is Becca Fitzpatrick's sequel to 2009's Hush, Hush, and continues the story of Nora and fallen angel Patch.

Last year I dedicated a week to all things Hush, Hush, and this year I'm doing the same for Crescendo. My week tied in with Simon & Schuster UK's plans for a UK blog tour, so my week has been included in that. Graphics provided by S&S are at the end of this post, so you can go back and check out any posts you may have missed on other blogs! And big thanks to Sherry for making the above banner - much appreciated!

My Crescendo week will include some fun stuff, like:

  • Cover feature with Becca and photographer James Porto
  • US vs. UK
  • Hypothetical movie discussion
  • Giveaway
  • + more!


If you're a fan of Hush, Hush and Becca Fitzpatrick, please do stop by and leave your thoughts! Hope to see some of you here :)