Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Interview with Barbara Dee

Yesterday I told you about This Is Me From Now On Barbara Dee's fresh and funny novel. Barbara was kind enough to answer some questions for me. Welcome Barbara!

1) Tell us about This is me from now on in one sentence or less.

THIS IS ME FROM NOW ON is a comedy about a pair of seventh grade girls who play matchmaker…badly.

2) In the book Evie and Francesca have to do a project on the past, using a diary written during the San Francisco earthquake. Which period of time would you like to read a diary from?

Interesting question! I’ve always thought the first Queen Elizabeth was a fascinating character, so I’d love to read a diary written by someone in her court. And if it turned out she kept a diary herself—wow! I bet it would be juicy. (oh I'd love to read that too!)

3) In This is me from Now on. Francesca wears a variety of outlandish outfits. She is the seventh grade Carrie Bradshaw! Do you love dressing up or are you a jeans and t-shirt girl?
I’m a total jeans and t-shirt girl! That’s why I’m so intrigued by a character like Francesca, who’s completely original, unselfconscious and fearless.

4) What's the best writing advice you've been given?

Anything you write, read out loud. Your ears will pick up things your eyes won’t.

5) What book would you tell my readers to go and buy right now!
If they’re tween readers I’d tell them to buy a copy of WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. If they’re YA, I’d say LIAR by Justine Larbalestier or GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray.

Thanks so much Barbara. 

Monday, 10 May 2010

Review: This Is Me From Now On By Barbara Dee

Evie has lived her whole life in Blanton. As she enters seventh grade she is ready for a change. She's ready to find out who she really is. Enter Francesca, quirky and outrageous and keen to live life to the full.

This is an old tale. The new girl stirring up trouble in old established friendships. Barbara Dee makes it fresh and fun though. Evie had a sweet and engaging voice and Francesca is just the right amount of crazy, while having endearing flashes of insecurity. I am also seriously in awe of her clothing choices! There's also a strong message about being accepted for who you are and accepting others for who they are.

Evie's a great role model, although she gets carried away by Francesca's glamour and impulsiveness she still knows what's right and wrong and is prepared to, both do the work and make the apologizes, when she realizes. I also liked that she didn't just fall back into her old role, she took the good things that being friends with Francesca had taught her and kept them. In short she became her own person and told everyone that this was her from now on.

This Is Me From Now On is a  sweet and engaging coming of age story with a great message about being true to yourself, friendship and not looking at people in one light. I think this book would make a great starting point for conversations about friendship with tween and younger teens.

Come back tomorrow for my interview with Barbara Dee.

Book received from the author.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Happy Mothers' Day!

Happy Mothers' Day to all the mums out there, especially mine!

If you want some great reads featuring mother/daughter relationships, check out this Flashlight Worthy list. I'm over there talking about one of my favourite books (3 guesses!) which has a fantastic mother/daughter relationship at it's centre.

What's your favorite Mother/daughter relationship in a book or on TV?

Friday, 7 May 2010

Interview with Joelle Anthony and win a copy of Restoring Harmony

Today I am delighted to welcome Joelle Anthony to the blog. Joelle's debut Restoring Harmony is wonderful and you should all rush out and buy a copy when it hits stores on May 13th. Joelle was kind enough to answer some questions for me.

Tell us about Restoring Harmony in one sentence or less.

It’s an adventure story about music, family, and food.

When things are going wrong for her, Molly always turns to her fiddle, Jewels, and makes some music. What song always makes you smile?
A friend of mine, the teen fiddler, Sarah Tradewell, actually turned the fictional tune, Brianna’s Reel, from my book into a real tune. Then she and my husband recorded it (she plays fiddle, he backs her up on guitar). Listening to that always makes me smile. And oddly enough, the blues always make me smile too! And while I’m at it, I might just add that my husband is a singer/songwriter and ALL of his music makes me smile.

Where do you write and what do you like to have round you?
I mostly write in my office, although sometimes in the summer I take the laptop out onto the porch. I actually walk on my treadmill 1.5 mph while I write. My friend built a desk over the handles of my treadmill so I can do this, and I generally walk about 3-4 miles a day while I write and answer email. I like to have tea and a cat or two around me.

You have section called Need to Read on your web page. Which five YA novels would you recommend to someone new to the genre?
This is way too hard a question! Can I just refer everyone to my Fave 15 lists that I do each year? And of course, you can never go wrong with the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. But you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

Molly goes on quite a journey in Restoring Harmony, from Canada, all the way to Portland. If you could go anywhere, where would you go and how would you travel?
I used to really love to travel, but I’ve become a real homebody since moving to Canada because it’s so lovely here. I’ve never been to continental Europe (except Denmark) and I have to say that I wouldn’t mind a big trip like that…Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Greece…but I would mind leaving the island, so it’s hard to say if that will ever happen! I’m probably more likely to explore the Canadian Rockies, which also calls my name.

When you have had a rough day what restores your harmony?
Knitting, cooking, walking, and just sitting and listening to my husband play his guitar (or banjo, mandolin, or even the ukulele).
Thanks for having me, Alexa! It’s been fun.

Thanks for visiting Joelle! I love this book so much I'm giving away a copy.  Joelle has very kindly agreed to send me a signed book plate for the winner. So if you would like to win Restoring Harmony, with a signed bookplate, just leave a comment below.

+ 2 if you Twitter about it
+ 5 if you blog about it.

Edit: The Contest is INTERNATIONAL  and I'll pick the winner of May 13th.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Review: The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

The Piper's Son is the sequel to Melina's Marchetta amazing Saving Francesca. Set five years later the story revolves around Thomas Mackee and his Aunt Gerogie. It's been a rough five years for Thomas his favourite uncle was killed in the July 7th London Tube attacks, his family has fractured and he's drifted away from his old friends, especially Tara Finke, whose heart he broke, after the one and a half night stand.

My thoughts

I was so excited when this book arrived and then I got nervous. Very, very nervous. I loved Saving Francesca so much, and the end left all my beloved characters in such hopeful places. Although I longed to revisit them, I almost didn't want to see them struggling with new challenges.

When I finally opened it up, it was love at first sentence. I couldn't put it down. I was instantly drawn into the world of the Finch- Mackee family. Although this is Tom's story, he is very much a product of his family. Even when they're split up and not speaking, they play a huge and important role in his life.  I really enjoyed the family dynamics. The Finch Mackee's all have trouble with anger, addiction and showing their feelings. Melina shows how each generation affects the next, and the way your family shape you, even if you fight it.

As in Saving Francesca Tom's friends feature prominently. It was great to revisit Francesca, Will, Justine and that psycho Tara Finke. I loved their relationships, all the in jokes, affection and teasing. As with all Melina's books, the characterization is perfection. Everyone feels so real. They have complex lives, they have realistic conversations and reactions. They leapt off the page and into my heart. I cared so much what happened to everyone. I laughed with them, cried for them and almost stopped breathing at the end, I was so involved.

The Piper's Son deals with dark issues but hope, love, the importance of family, the joy of real friendship infuse the pages and there are always bright sparks even in the dark moments.

You really need to pick up this book.

A huge Thank You to Penguin Australia for sending me a copy.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Review: Something Like Fate by Susanne Colasanti

 Lani and Erin are bonded for life. One thing that connects them is their fascination of fate. Lani wonders how much of our lives has already been decided and how much we can actually influence. Since the Unknown can unexpectedly change our lives forever, how much can we really control?

From the minute Lani meets Jason, she can't deny the intense connection they share. It feels like she's known him forever. She's not sure if he feels it, too. But it doesn't matter. Because Jason is Erin's boyfriend. Lani is determined to ignore her feelings for Jason, no matter how powerful they are, rather than risk hurting her best friend.

How long can Lani keep running from the boy who might be her destiny?

Something Like Fate is a great summer read. It took me right back to those long school summers, when you can laze about doing nothing. Susanne captures that time perfectly and left me wanting to drink lemonade and eat watermelon.

Whether it is the summer read for you depends on how you feel about fate, signs from the universe and horoscopes. Personally, like Lani, I love them. If you think everything is coincidence, then this might not be the read for you.

That said, the writing, the world and the characters are lovely. It's the kind of book, where it could be twice as long, but I'd have kept reading, and enjoyed reading, because I liked being in the company of the characters. So maybe even if you don't believe in fate you'll like Something Like Fate.

Thanks to ARC Tours for the book.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Finally Friday

This week hasn't been one of my best (note to parents: do not let your baby play with your laptop they will somehow send an email from your draft folder!) but it is finally Friday. The weekend is here and hopefully I'll get some sleep and maybe brunch somewhere nice.

Anyway I have lots of great links to share, if you fancy some weekend reading.

Maggie Stiefvater has a funny and true post on being willing to suck in order to learn. As someone who finds it very hard not to be good at something straight away,  I loved this one. I need to remember that this is the kind of message I want to pass on to my son.

If you need some inspiration while you suck Jo Knowles had a great post on battle cries. My favourite Write what you want to write!

Stephanie Perkins reveals what Anna and the French Kiss is about. Honestly, I wanted to read it based on the title and cover, but now I really want to read.

Heidi R Kling has a wonderful post about John Green and David Levithan's signing and she's giving away a signed cop of Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Beth Revis (whose debut book Across the Universe sounds amazing, a murder mystery in space!) had a lovely post on what influences you want to expose yourself too.

And if your doing any book buying this weekend Love you, Hate you, Miss you by Elizabeth Scott is now out in paperback. Definitely worth buying!

Have a great weekend

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