Thursday, 31 March 2011

GIVEAWAY: Win a Signed Copy of Between Shades of Gray! (Worldwide)



I was lucky enough to meet Ruta Sepetys last night, and she very kindly signed my spare UK proof (ARC) copy of her debut novel Between Shades of Gray so I could give it away here on my blog. I'm a fan of anything YA WWII-related and I absolutely loved this book, as did the New York Times - it debuted at #8 on their list yesterday!

Here's more info from Amazon UK:

One night fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and young brother are hauled from their home by Soviet guards, thrown into cattle cars and sent away. They are being deported to Siberia. An unimaginable and harrowing journey has begun. Lina doesn’t know if she’ll ever see her father or her friends again. But she refuses to give up hope. Lina hopes for her family. For her country. For her future. For love - first love, with the boy she barely knows but knows she does not want to lose... Will hope keep Lina alive?


To enter to win, just fill in the form below. Good luck!


Rules & info:
  • Open worldwide!
  • End date: April 10th, 2011.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Book will be sent out by me.


Review: The Bad Karma Diaries by Bridget Hourican


Publisher: O'Brien Press
Format: Paperback
Released: March 7th, 2011
Grade rating: B


Amazon summary:

Anna and Denise are always planning something, particularly when they need a bit of extra pocket money! They go into business as The Party People, running birthday parties for younger kids in the area, and publicise it on their blog. As a joke, they also style themselves as Instruments of Karma, junior Robin Hoods who take revenge on bullies on behalf of others in their school. But they soon discover that revenge is not always so sweet!

Review:

The Bad Karma Diaries is a fun book that I think younger teenagers will love. It's told in diary format which is easy to follow and read, and includes themes and issues such as racism, bullying and internet safety. There's a lot packed into this relatively slim novel!

Anna and Denise, or Bome and Demise - as slightly irritating predictive text messaging names them - are two best friends living in Ireland. They end up starting a party planning business for children's parties which, as you can imagine, leads to some hilarious lough-out-loud moments. In addition to this, they also start a blog chronicling their efforts in getting karmic revenge on their classmates. Taking matters into their own hands doesn't always prove successful, but they do learn a few valuable life lessons along the way.

The Bad Karma Diaries is chock-full of important messages, which is just one reason why it's a good read for teenagers. It highlights the problems with bullying going unnoticed, as well as what happens when people are wrongly accused and a situation quickly spirals out of control. I'm sure we've all been there - I know I have - and we all know school rumours and accusations spread quicker than wildfire. Hourican highlights this very issue, and encourages her readers to seek the help of authority figures - teachers, parents, etc.

Friendship and a sprinkling of romance also feature in The Bad Karma Diaries, which makes it slightly more lighthearted and a break between the serious undertones of the plot. Teens looking for a quick, enjoyable read will find everything they need here, and may even learn a thing or two in the process!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Waiting On Wednesday: A & L Do Summer

Waiting on Wednesday idea from Jill at Breaking the Spine.

-----

A & L Do Summer by Jan Blazanin

* Published by: EgmontUSA (US)
* Format: Paperback (US)
* Release Date: May 10th, 2011 (US)
* On Amazon: here


Summary from Goodreads:

In Iowa farm country, sixteen-year-old Aspen and her friend Laurel plan to get noticed the summer before their senior year and are unwittingly aided by pig triplets, a skunk, a chicken, bullies, a rookie policeman, and potential boyfriends.

I really loved Jan's debut novel, Fairest of Them All, and have been eagerly awaiting a new book from her ever since. I'm in such a contemporary mood at the moment, so this sounds like it'll be right up my street. I want to know how the pig triplets and rookie policeman come into it... sounds interesting (and hilarious) no?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

News: S&S UK Acquires New Andrew Fukuda Trilogy

The masterminds behind Simon & Schuster UK's children's list are at Bologna Book Fair this week, and have just announced a brand new (and very exciting!) acquisition. Here's more info that was sent out today:

29th March 2011, London & Bologna—Simon and Schuster UK today announced a major new six-figure deal for a YA trilogy by US author Andy Fukuda. Venetia Gosling, Editorial Director at S&S, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in three books from Catherine Clarke at Felicity Bryan, sub-agenting for Catherine Drayton at Inkwell.

The trilogy follows 17-year-old Gene as he struggles to survive in a society where humans have been eaten to near extinction by the general population. The only remaining humans, or hepers as they are known, are housed in domes on the savannah and studied at the nearby Heper Institute. Every decade there is a government sponsored hunt. When Gene is selected to be one of the combatants he must learn the art of the hunt but also elude his fellow competitors whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. The first book, entitled The Hunt will be published in Spring 2012.

I read Andrew's debut novel, Crossing, last year, and really enjoyed it. He's a great writer, and has now tackled my favourite creature of all: the unnamed kind who eat people. The Hunt sounds, for lack of a better word, AMAZING, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. My friend told me it's like The Hunger Games with monsters, and to me there is nothing that could sound better than that.

I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait for Spring 2012!

Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr


Publisher: Little, Brown
Format: Paperback
Released: February 1st, 2008
Grade rating: B+/A-


Amazon summary:

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be---but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend. When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

Review:

Sweethearts is another book I've had for ages that has been hidden away in a box, just waiting for the day when I'd finally feel like reading it. I've always liked the sound of the story, but I wasn't a big fan of Zarr's first book, Story of a Girl. This is the perfect example of not judging an author by one book, though, as I loved Sweethearts. I thought it was brilliant and heartbreaking, and Cameron Quick has the coolest name ever. Cameron. Quick. Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

So when Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were younger, they were the outcasts of the school. Quiet, unusual, loners... every word like that was banded about when talking about these two. Yet they had this bond, a bond that saw them help each other, be there for each other and generally just exist together in a beautiful, innocent way. Then one day Cameron Quick disappears and Jennifer has no idea what's happened to him. All she knows is that people say he died, and no-one tells her otherwise. Devastated isn't the right word to use for the loss she feels, and the instant grief that eats away at her. Her best friend is gone, and she's left alone to navigate the cruel world known as high school. Fast forward 8 years, and Jennifer Harris is now Jenna Vaughn; a thinner, more popular person with friends, a boyfriend and a bright future. Things are great, until she sees Cameron Quick. He's back in her life, and stirring up all her old feelings for him.

What follows is a beautiful, poignant exploration of childhood friendships, love and what it means to let go. Nothing prepared me for what this book was about; I went into it having read nothing but the rather cryptic cover summary, and I'm glad that's how I did it. The way the story unfolds is shocking and expected in equal measure, and I just knew it would take something potentially life-changing to tear 9-year-old Jennifer and Cameron Quick apart. Funnily enough, I never wanted them to be romantically involved. Their bond goes so much deeper than that, and is the kind that is everlasting; unbreakable and strong.

After getting over the somewhat abrupt, at first unsatisfying ending, I can now appreciate what this story is about. I absolutely know that Jenna Vaughn and Cameron Quick are out there somewhere, happily living their lives and writing each other sweet, honest letters. I have to believe that, or there's a chance I'll burst into tears and not surface for a while. Sweethearts left me with a broken heart, but the positive kind that will mend over time and remember fondly what it once had. It made me think about friendship and love, and how one doesn't always have to lead to the other. I'm so glad I read it, and I will now unearth my copy of Once Was Lost. I need more from Sara Zarr, and I need it now.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Author Interview: Annabel Pitcher (My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece)

At the beginning of March, I was very lucky to be invited to meet and interview UK debut author Annabel Pitcher. We went to a posh hotel and talked far too much, so much so that her lovely publicist Nina had to call Annabel a later car. Ha! I am quite happy to take all the blame for that. ;)

Annabel's book, My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, is a brilliant piece of literature, and I'm so glad I got to talk to her about it. Thanks for all your time, Annabel - and good luck with your next book!

----------


Wondrous Reads: For anyone who doesn't already know, what is My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece about?

Annabel Pitcher: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is narrated by 10-year-old Jamie Matthews, and it's about the fact that he lost his sister 5 years ago in a terrorist attack. The novel starts 5 years later and Jamie doesn't remember his sister at all, and that causes a lot of tension because his dad's desperate not to forget her but Jamie doesn't remember. So it explores that and also there are themes of racism, terrorism and alcoholism in there as well.

WR: There's definitely a lot in there! Did you ever have any worries about the terrorism aspect being seen as too controversial?

AP: I didn't, no, just because I think it's really important to talk about. I'd worked in schools and I know that schools are quite brave at tackling issues like that, so I didn't ever worry that it would be banned or that I was writing about something that children wouldn't be allowed to read at school or at home. Sometimes I was worried that it was a bit dark and a bit grim, but that's why Sunya comes into it. She lightens the mood.

I think there's a lot of humour in there as well - I didn't want it to be seen as a depressing book, and I don't think it is. It's a book about hope and courage in the face of adversity, rather than a boy whose family has been torn apart by a horrific event. It's about how they find a way of coping and living.

WR: What made you write it? I'm guessing you haven't experienced terrorism on a personal level...

AP: I haven't, no. I was inspired by a film about 9/11 that I watched while I was travelling in Ecuador. I wrote the whole book in notepads while I was in the hostel at night. It wasn't safe to go out at night so we stayed in. We were bored and watched the film about 9/11, which turned out to be the best thing I ever did. I watched that and the whole idea just appeared.

WR: So how did you go from your notepads to actually getting it published?

AP: I got it published by what seems to be a fluke, though I hope it wasn't just that. I wrote it in travelling notepads, and I came home and typed it up which took absolutely ages. I edited it which also took forever, and then sent off a covering letter, synopsis and sample of the book to agents. The first agent rejected it because it was "commercially disastrous" - she loved the words and story but she thought terrorism was just too controversial and wouldn't sell. That was the only time I worried and thought this isn't something that should be dealt with in a children's book. Then, thankfully, another agent read it, liked it and thought it would be successful. She offered to represent me and it all took off from there.

WR: How long do you reckon it took you to write it in your notebooks in Ecuador?

AP: It probably took about 9 months to a year, but I wasn't working on it full time. I tried to write a bit every day, but it was dependent on what we were doing. Then I had to come home, edit it and put together a proposal which took another few months.

WR: Back to the subject of terrorism and children reading it, do you think it's important that they know what's happening and what's affecting the world?

AP: I think it's really important, particularly because we live in such a paranoid society where people are worried about their safety. The war on terrorism is like fighting an unknown enemy, and the racism that's stemmed from it is a really big deal and very real. I think it's important that kids are aware of that, and aware of how wrong that kind of prejudice is.

WR: I agree! So all the time you were writing it, did you absolutely 100% know it was a children's book?

AP: Yes, definitely. I never wanted to be an adult novelist - I love YA stuff, I read it constantly myself. I should have been reading classics for my degree and I was reading Harry Potter instead. I'm so excited by it and I think it's just brilliant. It was really surprising to me when people only wanted to publish it was an adult book and didn't see the children's potential at all. That was surprising because I'd written it as a children's book, but it's great, and I think all books should be read by everyone.

WR: I think it's a really good book for children and adults. It definitely has crossover appeal. We were talking earlier about the humour in it, and I just have to say that I think Jamie is really funny.

AP: He is! It's northern humour, though.

WR: It is! Kind of dark...

AP: Very dark. My sense of humour is really dark. I laugh at things that I shouldn't find funny, and I like inappropriate jokes. So I just love when people say what they're thinking and have no filter, which is what Jamie does.

WR: That's why I loved him so much. He made me laugh.

AP: That's good, because the whole point of the book wasn't about how awful terrorism is; we know that. What I wanted to do was make it really raw and funny. Jamie allowed me to do that, and I hope it's uplifting and hopeful.

WR: Jamie's relationship with Sunya is really innocent isn't it, because he doesn't get why he shouldn't be friends with her. Do you think your readers will take something away from that and maybe change their own opinion of people?

AP: I definitely didn't do it to change opinions, but I wanted to make the point that people have got to be judged on their own merits. I think Sunya is so fantastic and likeable, and I worked hard to make her engaging and not too stereotypical. That's the message behind the book. I hope people will come away thinking it's a nice story. I wanted to make people laugh and cry, and get that amazing feeling after getting to know someone. I hope Jamie did that.

WR: It's a great story, that's for sure. It made me laugh and cry. At the same time! It must have completely changed your life - are you enjoying being an author so far?

AP: I am, but it's such a huge difference. I've gone from a manic classroom to being master of my own time. I love doing something I'm so passionate about.

WR: And have you been surprised by the reaction? Did you ever think your book would get this kind of nationwide press?

AP: No, not at all. It was my absolute best effort, so I thought maybe I'd be lucky and see it in a shop in Huddersfield. I didn't think it was so bad it'd never get published, but I never in a million years thought there'd be a bidding auction in America for it, or that I'd see it on a bookshelf in London. I go to bed smiling.

WR: So it's been sold to America?

AP: It has, to the people who publish Twilight - Little, Brown!

WR: Okay, if you get to meet Stephenie Meyer, I'll never forgive you.

AP: I'll make sure you're the first to know!

WR: Thank you! Have you had to re-edit it for an American audience?

AP: I've had to change it a bit, so Jamie is slightly older. It was quite a lot of work, so hopefully it will find its rightful place over there.

WR: I'm sure it will. I'm interested to see what it's like with Jamie being older. Ooh, and it'll have a new cover! What do you think of our UK one?

AP: I really love it. It took forever to get right, but I really wanted something related to the trailer because it's so good. To me it made no sense to have an amazing trailer and a book cover that didn't relate.

WR: I love the trailer! It's my favourite book trailer actually. Anyway, we'd better shut up now, but before we do: what are you writing next?

AP: I'm writing a book called Ketchup Clouds, which is almost finished. It's narrated by an older character - a 15-year-old girl, so it's true YA. It's quite dark and gritty but with some humour in there as well.


----------

Related links:


Sunday, 27 March 2011

In My Mailbox #114: 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!


This week was brilliant 'cos I met many cool people and went book shopping in London. I love you Foyles! I bought great books, all of which I'm very excited to read. Same for the ones I received for review - all sound great!

Here are this week's new books:



For review:
I don't usually accept self-published books for review, but I've heard good things about this one. Thanks, Ramona!

Does this book have the longest title ever?! I think it does. It's been called 'Adrian Mole meets The Inbetweeners', so I'm sure I'll love it.

I liked the first book in this series, and I'm looking forward to what happens next. Also my review is quoted on the back of this proof which made my Thursday a happy day. Pic below.

Another UK debut novel coming later in the year. I'm really looking forward to reading this one, and the proof is signed! How cool is that?!


~




Bought:
I have heard nothing but good things about this book. I hope I like it as much as everyone else!

This just sounds brilliant. Full stop.

Another great cover for a Carrie Ryan book. Now I just need to catch up with the series.

This sounds fun, and I really like Abby's writing.

This anthology includes many of my favourite authors I saw it in Foyles and I had to buy it. I think I'll be dipping in soon!

I read this last week and absolutely loved it, so I had to buy a US hardcover copy. If you haven't read this yet, please do!

I saw this in Foyles, and it was a signed edition. Yay!

I already have the hardback of Infinite Days, but I bought this because I'm quoted in it (!), and that always makes me very very excited. It arrived at work and I was just flicking through it when I saw it. :D Also, this new paperback cover is lovely!



[I think I've only ever used the term 'kick-ass' a handful of times in my reviews. Maybe I should say it less. Hehe]



Happy reading everyone, and have a great week!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Event Report: Meeting Lauren Oliver!

On Monday, myself and a number of other UK bloggers (far too many to mention) and booksellers wandered off to London to meet the amazing Lauren Oliver, author of Before I Fall and Delirium. I went with Carla from The Crooked Shelf, and if you want a more detailed account of our adventures, here's her post, with times and everything!

Now, not only did I get to meet Lauren, but I also finally got to meet Kay from Dead Book Darling, who is one of my most favourite bloggers. And she was ace! We met up before the event and went book shopping with Carla and Tara from Hobbitsies. Honestly, book bloggers should NEVER be let loose in Foyles and Forbidden Planet!

After that fun, we all went to meet my good friend Kat from S&S UK, who was my +1 for the event. She loves Lauren too, so it was only right she came! We had food and drinks, then went to the lovely event venue where we met Lauren as soon as we walked in. She was wearing ginormous heels, and I have no idea how she walked in them. But she managed it!

I talked to my Hodder friends for a bit - publicist Leni and Kate, senior editor and the lady responsible for bringing Lauren's books to the UK. Kate... I bow down to you and your impeccable taste! There were drinks and cake for everyone to munch on, which we all did before Kate and Lauren took to the makeshift stage to say a few words. Lauren seems so appreciative of the blogosphere, and I felt so proud to be part of it. She's such a genuinely nice, warm person, and I'm so glad I finally got to meet her after almost 2 years of e-mail chatting!

Lauren then went on to sign everyone's books, posters and postcards, and she had a chat with everyone while doing so. I just got my US copy of Delirium signed, as I already have a signed copy of Before I Fall (thanks for that too, Lauren). Then it was back to more cake and ice-cold Sprite (yum!), while I talked Leni and Kate's ears off some more. A band called Minnie Birch played a set of music too, including their song about Delirium. SO COOL! We also got a Hodder goodie bag with Delirium posters and postcards, and free copies of Lauren's books. Let's just say my mum will soon be enjoying a signed copy of Before I Fall!

Thanks to Leni and Kate and, of course, Lauren herself. It was a brilliant night!


Here are some photos (taken by me and Sarah from Feeling Fictional - thanks Sarah!) and a video that Hodder put together. I'm the person talking right at the end, and yes, I was nervous. Public speaking isn't my thing AT ALL, but I had to do it, didn't I?!





Lots of copies of Delirium!


Delirium poster.


Carla and me.


Lauren signing books.


Minnie Birch.


Carla, Lauren and me. (Thanks to Sarah for this pic!)


Delirium Postcards.


My signed poster.


My signed copy of Delirium.

Friday, 25 March 2011

News: Book Deals and Blog Tours

Orion Children's Books have put together a great UK blog tour for Liz Kessler's new book, A Year Without Autumn, which is published on April 7th. Here's the full schedule:




~


This week has been an exciting week for book deals, including debuts, new series and a first foray into the world of YA. Read on to find out why the next few years are gonna rock!




Gail Carriger, aka the Voice of Awesome, has finally announced news of her first YA series. It will be set in the same world as the Alexia Tarabotti adult series, only 25 years earlier. Here's what Gail said on her Livejournal:

I am delighted to announce that Secret Project F is . . . a four book young adult series! (I know I know a fashionable Floote playing the flute would be so much fun.)

The Finishing School Series is set in the same world as The Parasol Protectorate series, only 25 years earlier, and features a finishing academy located in a giant caterpillar-like dirigible floating over Dartmoor in which young ladies are taught to . . . finish . . . everything . . . and everyone . . . as needed. There will be steampunk etiquette! There will be well-dressed espionage! There will be Victorian fake food. There will be flying mechanical sausage dogs named Bumbersnoot. I am excited. The first book will come out in 2012. And I am writing it . . . next.

I for one can't wait. If you haven't yet read anything by this woman, do so immediately!


~



By now you've all heard about Lenore from Presenting Lenore's book and movie deal for her dystopian debut novel Level Two, right? If you haven't, click here to find out what I'm talking about. Then go and congratulate her, 'cos this is AMAZING news!


~



Another of my favourite ladies, who goes by the name of Sarah Rees Brennan, has also just announced a new book deal. YAYAYAYAY!!

Author of the Demon's Lexicon Series Sarah Rees Brennan's YA gothic romance trilogy beginning with LISTEN FOR A WHISPER, about a budding journalist who investigates when she realizes the town she has lived in all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets and a murderer, and the truth may lie with the ruling family who have just returned to the manor on the hill and in the whispers she hears in her head from a boy who may not be imaginary after all.

Sarah can give you more info here at her Livejournal. Go forth and read, YA lovers!

Review: Evercrossed by Elizabeth Chandler


Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback
Released: March 31st, 2011
Grade rating: B


Amazon summary:

Ivy and Tristan have both moved on ~ Tristan, to the other side of the afterlife, and Ivy has moved on with sweet, dependable Will. But when an accident seriously injures Ivy, almost to the point of near death, she meets her soulmate Tristan again. And at the place of the "in between", their bittersweet reunion culminates in one breathtaking kiss. But unbeknownst to both Ivy and Tristan, it was that one heart stopping kiss that brought Ivy back to life ~ and angels are prohibited from meddling in matters of life and death. Now fallen from heaven for saving the girl he loves, Tristan is in the body of a stranger, and he must find his way to Ivy once more...

Review:

I hadn't realised how much I wanted a sequel to Kissed by an Angel until I heard that Evercrossed was being published. I was quite excited to hear of a continuation, and I actually think this book was better than its predecessor. As with the first book, I didn't form any particular attachment with the characters, but I loved the story. There's something about life after death that appeals to me, whether it be in the form of ghosts, angels or a strange presence in someone's life.

In Evercrossed, Ivy has moved on with her life, after the tragic death of her boyfriend, Tristan. An accident puts her back in contact with him, and once again changes her life completely. I don't want to say too much about the subsequent plot, as how it all unraveled was pretty clever. It was part mystery, part romance, and Elizabeth Chandler did a great job of making it a warranted, relevant sequel.

The writing and setting, at least for me, still had a 90s feel to it, which again goes back to how well it fitted in with Kissed by an Angel. There wasn't an overuse of technology, even though that would have been the obvious way to modernise the story and have it reach a new audience. Chandler instead chose to focus on her characters, and I think she did their story justice. Sure, I found it a bit too cheesy in parts and some of the dialogue seemed too sugarcoated, but hey, what can I say? It's a tale of romance and everlasting love, so I expected a certain amount of eye-rolling goodness. It in no way affected my enjoyment of the book which, I might add, I read in one sitting. That's always a good sign, yes? Either way, I'm looking forward to more from Ivy and Tristan, and I hope I won't have too long to wait to find out what happens next!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Secrets at St Jude's Competition: Submit Your Embarrassing Photos!


Carmen Reid's fifth Secrets at St Jude's book, Sunshine Girl, is published on April 7th, and Rosi from Random House Children's Books has come up with a pretty cool idea for a competition. We all have embarrassing school pictures, right? Ones like these that Carmen posted on her site - you know the kind I'm talking about!

Anyway, if you know where your embarrassing school/teen photos are and want to be in with a chance to win some cool RHCB books, then you've come to the right place!

Here's what you need to do:

Email your embarrassing picture/s to me at the following address: buffy_chosen AT hotmail DOT com. You can include a little bit about it if you want, but you won't be judged on your stories. :) If it's okay with you, we'll add them to an online photo album where Rosi can then easily judge the winner from. Sound cool?

Three (3) people will win Random House teen goodie bags, which will include:
  • 1 x signed copy of Secrets at St Jude's: New Girl by Carmen Reid (old cover)
  • A full set of Secrets at St Jude's books
  • 1 x signed copy of Torment by Lauren Kate
  • 1 x copy of The Kissing Game by Aidan Chambers
  • An Emerald Atlas notebook
  • Various book postcards and bookmarks

Rules & info:
  • Open to UK residents only!
  • End date: April 18th, 2011.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.
  • Prizes will be sent out be the publisher.
  • If you're under 16, please do get permission to send your photo!

Have fun guys and, remember, the more embarrassing the better! I'm going to go and see if I can dig out any of my own pictures - *shudder*.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Author Interview: Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely series)

I'm sure you all know that Melissa Marr is the author of Wicked Lovely - one of the most addictive books I've read - along with its sequels Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows and last book in the series Darkest Mercy. In addition to this, she has her first adult novel, Graveminder, due out in the summer, and all are published by HarperCollins UK.

Thanks for answering my questions, Melissa!

----------


What can readers expect from Darkest Mercy, the final installment in the Wicked Lovely series?

I’m not sure how to answer that one. It’s the conclusion; it ties together the threads of the protagonists in the series. There are deaths, and there are rejoicings. By the end of RADIANT SHADOWS, Faerie is sealed, and the courts are on the edge of war. The last book begins where RS ends.

In it, we meet Ankou and Far Dorcha (I used the Anglicized spelling of “far” instead of “fear”). We get the resolution of the original protagonists from WICKED LOVELY & INK EXCHANGE. I think it makes clear that this is a series, not a few side books and series books.

Who has been your favourite Wicked Lovely character to write about and why?

I suspect it’s Irial more often than not. He holds a special place in my heart because he’s so unapologetically himself. He knows what he wants (to protect his court), knows that sometimes that will hurt (losing those he loves), but he doesn’t angst or whine. He does what needs done because that’s who he is. He’s the only character I’ve considered writing a full book about and the only character I’ve considered writing a prequel about.

He’s certainly not someone I’d recommend as a great dating choice, but he’s the sort of character who would be fun to run around with if he could step out of the pages. I was a little dismayed when some people referred to him as a “villain” in reviews of INK EXCHANGE. (Keenan might have been a hero/protag in other books, but he and Bananach were the “villains” in that book.)

I know from following your tweets that you're a big fan of Scotland. Did it inspire any scenes or settings in your books?

I don’t typically write a one-to-one representation of real places into my texts. However, Scotland is one of the most inspirational places I’ve visited. I went there for a few weeks last year to write (and did so in 2008 too), and I’m hoping/planning to do so this year too. I lovelovelove Orkney, and of course, the Hebrides are magical, and the Highlands are stunning. It is, quite simply, a beautiful place. (I sent a flurry of pictures to my producers because there are definite scenes I could see there.)

Of all your book covers, do you have a favourite? I think mine would have to be Fragile Eternity!

INK EXCHANGE is the one I love best, but DARKEST MERCY is a close second. I love the way the artists captured the feel of the characters in those covers.

Can you tell us a little about your first adult novel, Graveminder, that's due to hit shelves this year?

GRAVEMINDER
is the story of a commitment-phobe, a mortician, and a dead girl in a town where the dead don’t always stay dead. It plays with the idea of “minding the dead” by giving them nourishment (food, drink, and story), and it shows the consequences of not doing that: they take the living world equivalents (flesh, blood, and breath). It’s a cross-genre book, and the first industry review said that ". . . the emotional dance between Rebekkah and Byron will captivate female readers. Fantasy-horror fans will demand more" (Kirkus, Feb/March 2011). In other words, it’s a genre-straddling book like my YA series.

What have you found to be the biggest difference for writing for an adult audience rather than YA?

I don’t write for an audience; I write for my characters. The publishers and agents decide on the audience. I write the story I have to tell. That’s the only way to do it. If I think about readers or editors when I write, I’m paying attention to the wrong voices, and I think that would hurt the story.

So what's next for you as far as YA is concerned? More faeries, or are you taking a break from them?

Since I didn’t have a YA book due for almost 16 months, I decided one weekend that I would play around with a story I’d begun a few years ago rather than work on the next book. The result was that I sort of accidentally wrote almost half of a novel, CARNIVAL OF SOULS, in that one week. The next week, I confessed to my agent & my US editor. That book apparently will release in 2012. It’s definitely not about faeries, but like the WL books and GRAVEMINDER and all of my short stories so far, it’s rooted in folklore.


----------

Related links:

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

UK Cover Love: From Hardcover to Paperback (1)

There are lots of 2010 UK hardback releases coming to paperback over the next few months, and I think most (if not all) of them are better than the originals. I've selected some to post here, though I'm sure there are many more, along with some still to be finalised/released. Can't wait to see what else our UK cover gods have in store for us!


~



Trash by Andy Mulligan

I don't like this cover as much as the hardback, but I still think it's great. It encompasses everything that Trash is about, and shows it as a hopeful story, which is what it is!




Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne

What can I say about this cover except WOW?! The blue is amazing, and I must own it when it comes out. I've decided. Yet another one of John Boyne's books I'll have multiple copies of!




The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley

How creepy is this cover?! The original was brilliant and very eye-catching/shiny, but this just takes the biscuit. Boys, you need to check this one out if you haven't already. It's spooky!




The Legacy by Gemma Malley


I am in love with this cover. I didn't think Bloomsbury could top the hardback, but they have. I'm actually really excited about getting this paperback, as I have the rest of the series in that format. That one singular image says a lot... none of which I'll tell you for fear of spoiling an unbelievably good series!




Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel

Here's another cover that I think is miles better than the original. It's dark, gothic and uses my favourite colour scheme: red and black. Love it.




Reckless
by Cornelia Funke


I still can't decide whether I like this better than the original silver/grey cover. The black and red (again) is swaying me, but we'll see. Hopefully I'll have made a decision soon...


~


What's your first impression of these covers? Do you prefer them to the hardbacks?

Review: I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan


Publisher: Atom
Format: Paperback
Released: March 3rd, 2011
Grade rating: B-


Amazon summary:

It was only an accident but it would change their lives forever. Last summer, four terrified friends made a desperate pact to conceal a shocking secret. But now, someone has learned the truth, and the horror is starting again. There is an unknown avenger out there who is stalking them in a deadly game. Will he stop at terror--or is he out for revenge? This summer, four friends are going to learn that some secrets just won't stay buried.

Review:

I don't know about you guys, but when I think of I Know What You Did Last Summer I immediately think of Sarah Michelle Gellar (my hero) and Freddie Prinze Jr in one of the best 90s slasher films produced. I think hook man, murder, and thrills and chills. I've never once thought of reading the book, which is a shame as it's actually quite good. Its age always put me off, seeing as it was first published in the 70s; bad I know, and I apologise. I need to read older books - it's a work in progress!

I Know What You Did Last Summer the book is a clever thriller, creepy in parts and not half as gory as the film of the same name. In fact, the two share very little in the way of similarities, aside from a general plotline and character names. I was actually really surprised by how different the book is, though I did enjoy it. It wasn't quite as scary as I thought it would be and I wasn't on tenterhooks while reading, though I did get a strong feeling of unease as Julie and Co. unraveled the sinister mystery.

This edition has been revised for a modern audience but, if I'm honest, that's not the impression I got. It still seemed quite old-fashioned, even though references to cell phones and scanners had been dropped into the text. For me they seemed out of place, but I can see why readers of 2011 will benefit from a more modern take on technology. It made the whole thing more believable somehow, which added to the all important realism factor.

I'd be interested in reading Lois Duncan's other books that are getting a re-release this month, as YA thrillers seem to be getting more attention these days. They're a refreshing departure from paranormal romance and dystopian futures, and I hope we'll see a lot more over the next couple of years. There's nothing like scaring yourself silly while you're reading in the house on your own. Oh, wait...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver


Publisher: Hodder
Format: Hardcover
Released: February 3rd, 2011
Grade rating: A


Amazon summary:

There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it. Then, at last, they found the cure. Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she'll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable.

Review:

I read through the majority of Delirium while simultaneously asking myself if there was anything more beautiful than Lauren Oliver's words. For the remaining section, I was torn between looking away and continuing on through hazy eyes filled with heartbroken tears. Once again this lady has effortlessly created sentences that beg to be read more than once, that demand attention and don't leave you alone until you give them everything you've got. It's a writing talent, a gift few possess, but one that Oliver has in copious amounts.

In the world of Delirium, love is slowly being eradicated. When people reach 18, they're given an invasive procedure to cure them of their amor deliria nervosa - love or, as they think of it, a disease. Their ability to feel deeply for anyone is removed, they're then matched with someone and live a happy, loveless life. And they think this is better. They strongly believe that this is actually better than feeling your heart skip a beat in anticipation of seeing that one person, or feeling that genuine flash of love for a best friend, a parent, or even a pet. They just exist, not remembering what it was like to ever feel passion or pain or heartbreak. To them, love is a sickness, an illness. A disease of the highest order. And it must be stopped.

For Lena Haloway, this way of thinking is all she knows. She's an orphan living with her aunt and uncle, and is counting down the days until her procedure cures her, leaving her free of the temptation to love, and taking care of the amor deliria nervosa that could, at any moment, pollute her mind. For Lena and her best friend Hana, this is all fine. It's the way of life, it's expected and it's right. Then with only 95 days left until Lena's procedure, she meets Alex. Alex, the boy with golden brown hair like autumn leaves, the boy with eyes that shine and a touch that awakens her whole being. Alex, the boy responsible for Lena opening her eyes and realising that no, love isn't a disease and, no, it doesn't require a cure. The boy who infects her, consumes her, with amor deliria nervosa. What follows is a journey, like a hike up a neverending mountain. It's treacherous and unsafe, but also exhilirating and full of freedom. There's danger around every corner; a misstep here, a fall there. But it's all worth it. Isn't it?

Delirium has made me think so much that I don't know how I'll be able to switch off. I find the world Oliver created to be absolutely terrifying because, without the ability to love and be loved, what do we, as a society, have left? If there's no deep-set, unwavering love for a mother and a father who've taken care of you for your whole life, or a pulse-pounding, aching love for a partner, why is life worth living? For me, it wouldn't be. If I lived in this version of Portland, where men patrolled daily looking for sympathisers and a fence kept me inside the city, I wouldn't survive. I'm hoping I'd try, but facing the prospect of losing my essence, my feelings, I'd crumble. How Lena does it is a mystery to me, but somehow she does.

While Delirium is brilliant and thought-provoking, it still left me with some questions, and a desire for stronger world building. I can't help but think other dystopian novels have done that side of things better but, unlike Delirium, they can end up lacking in the character department. If it came down to choosing between an exceptional futuristic society or strong protagonists that render me speechless, I'd choose the latter every time. I want to be sucked into their lives and daily routines, and I want to feel what they feel. So, although Oliver didn't 100% convince me with Lena's society, she did make me love her characters. I fell for them. Hard. Another thing that has also lodged itself into my thoughts is the matching process that follows the procedure. The book skims over what would happen for same-sex relationships, and instead focuses on boy/girl matches. What I want to know is what would happen to, say, a gay boy? Would he be left without a match? Would he just live his life alone, with no love and no companion? It's an apsect of the narrative that I hope will be explored in future books in the series, and one that I feel deserves to be addressed.

Delirium is a fantastic piece of literature. Anyone who ever mouths off about how YA doesn't earn its place in modern fiction should read this, and then promptly eat their words. It's proof that immense talent exists within the genre, and that stories like this have the ability to make readers lose themselves in a concept as alien to us as the notion of loving freely is to Lena. It's utterly devastating and hopeful at the same time, not unlike Oliver's debut novel, Before I Fall. For me, Lauren Oliver can do no wrong. As long as she keeps writing with the same haunting, poetic prose, I will keep reading. I foresee myself buying her books for a very, very long time to come.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

In My Mailbox #113: 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!


So this week was ACE! I got so many good books in the post and I have no idea what to read next. I'm leaning towards Wood Angel though, as recommended by Canadian Cat and Michelle Harrison. I also got to go to an event at HarperCollins in London, which you can read all about here. And I'm going to London again on Monday with Crooked Carla, to meet Lauren Oliver. *breathes*

Thanks so much to the publishers - I love you all!


~







For review:
Thanks to Jennifer for offering to send me Heavenly (wasn't expecting the other two as well!). I've heard good things about these!

I loved the first book in this series. Yay!

I read a proof of this a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. The finished copy is lovely!

I have the US edition of this but haven't read it yet. Again, heard good things!

This is for a Tundra Books blog tour, and it sounds like an unusual historical read.

I read the first book in this series, Infinity, last year and thought it was okay. This has another great cover!

I nabbed this from the HarperCollins event. I love fantasy but have never read this. Part of it is set in Alderly Edge, which isn't too far away from me!

Can't wait to read this!

Again, I loved the first book in this series. There's a fey hob!

I've never read one of Kelley's books (YA or adult), so I'm looking forward to this.

Sounds creepy!

These were originally published 10 years ago, and are being republished by S&S. I shall give them a go!

Another one I got from HarperCollins. It just sounded creepy, and I like me some creepy. It's adult though, not YA.

A shiny finished copy of this arrived, and I can't wait to read it!

My friend Lucy Christopher tells me this is amazing. She's usually always right, so I shall look forward to it.

I need to read this soon. Gillian's books are great!

I think this is technically adult, but one that could also be aimed at older teens. Sounds good. And dark.

Yay for YA horror!

I read the first one of these last year, and again thought it was okay. Great concept.

Everyone who attended the launch event was given a finished copy. It's so nice, and now signed by Will. Yay!

Oh how I love this series. And my quote's in the inside of this one again - woohoo!


~



Bought:
Check out that cover! The book sounds ace too :D

I so need to catch up with this series. Pretty US edition though...

Ditto catching up with this one. I better get to it!




Happy reading guys!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Event Report: Department 19 Book Launch!

On Wednesday night I, along with some other bloggers and librarians, went to Will Hill's pre-publication Department 19 launch event at the HarperCollins offices in London. I haven't read the book yet, but given my obsession with all things vampire, I *had* to go. Missing it wasn't even an option!

We got to the HarperCollins offices at around 6pm, and were greeted by a lovely lady whose name I can't remember (sorry!), who gave us Department 19 packs (see pic at the end), name badges and permission to sit in their most amazing reception area. Seriously, check it out:



I had never been to this part of London before, so it was all new to me. The offices were pretty mind-blowing, and I'm happy to report that we didn't have to go up the many flights of stairs - there were lots of lifts! At around 6.30 we were escorted up to the fourth floor where the very nice HarperCollins people were waiting to chat to us. I finally got to meet publicists I've been talking to over email for ages - Sam and Mary, along with Alison from marketing, Geraldine the awesome publicity director and publicist Tiffany who I've already had the pleasure of meeting. I know there were more people too, but I can't remember everyone's names!

For 45 minutes I got to talk to Sam and Alison about all sorts - Divergent, Louise Rennison, blogging and what it's like to work at HarperCollins. Everyone was so friendly and lovely, and I'm glad I've finally been able to put faces to names!




After this most excellent of chats, it was time to introduce Will and Nick Lake, the editorial director who obviously has top taste in books. Nick did a Q&A with Will, before letting us lot ask questions. Will talked about everything, including his love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Yeeesss!!), his research and planning for Department 19, his vampires and how he didn't want them to sparkle (Teehee), and the book's appeal to girls as well as boys. Here is Will on the left and Nick on the right:



After the Q&A session, there was a raffle to win a framed picture of the book cover signed by Will. Guess whose name he picked out? MINE! This deserves capital letters, as I never win anything. Must have been a lucky week! The picture is amazing, and it will be hanging up in our 'media' room as soon as I get it sorted. Here it is in all its glory:



After that little bit of excitement, Will signed books for us. Lovely finished copies, courtesy of the rockin' publishers. I had a quick chat to him about my favourite thing in the world, Buffy (what else?!), and I may possibly have quizzed him on his knowledge of old Joss Whedon anecdotes (Sorry, Will!). He was still smiling afterwards, though maybe that's because I was finally shutting up and going away...



I left at around 8.30, with even more thanks to HarperCollins for hiring a car to take me back to Eustion station so I wouldn't miss my last train home to Manchester. The driver was a very nice chap from Essex, who seemed quite happy to meet a book blogger - this was before telling me stories of driving Jedward around the other month. Hmm!

It was a brilliant event, and I really enjoyed myself. I also finally got to meet some bloggers I've been chatting to for a while, and see some that I already know: Sarah from Feeling Fictional, Darren from The Book Zone, Amanda from Floor to Ceiling Books, Mark from My Favourite Books, Darren from Bart's Bookshelf and Rhys from Thirst for Fiction.



Contents of the top secret Department 19 envelope of coolness: two double-sided posters, a patch, postcards, book sampler, Spill the Ink newsletter and a memory stick. The memory stick has lots of extra stuff on it, like family trees, a vampire guide and deleted chapters. Love it!




A finished copy of Department 19, signed by the lovely Will. The book hits the UK on March 31st, and by all accounts it's going to be huge. So, if you like vampires, make sure you check it out!

Big thanks to HarperCollins for a great event, and I hope to see you all again soon!