Monday, 15 March 2010

Author Appreciation Week Day 1



The ones who write about secret societies

Diana Peterfreund

I do hereby confess: that yes, I do have a great big author crush on Diana Peterfreund. Secret Society Girl and Under the Rose, had me hooked. The Rites of (Spring) Break, put Diana, on my buy everything she writes list. When she sent me an ARC of Tap & Gown, because she'd read a post I wrote on Amy and Jamie, the love grew. Then, with Rampant she gave the world Killer Unicorns and the girls who hunt them. What can I say? How can you not have a crush on her?

I love Diana's books because she has a great style. She writes strong females. who are easy to relate. She writes about issues, that most young women encounter at some point, with humour and candor. She also writes wickedly, delicious boys.

Diana also has a great blog where she writes about issues, shares stories of her life and post lots of photos of her dog Rio (who if she ever had puppies might make me rethink my we are not getting a dog stance).

Kay Cassidy

Kay is the author of The Cinderella Society. Released April this year, The Cinderella Society also features a secret society, but this one is all about girls. I love the message of the book. I also loved  that her main character is lovable, strong but insecure and makes the funniest observations, I laughed during this book, more times than I can count.

Kay is definitely on my one to watch list. I can't wait for her next book.

I also love her blog. Which is as positive, upbeat and inspiring as her book.



Author Appreciation Week was started by Heidi R Kling.

So which authors are you appreciating today?

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Author Appreciation Week




Heidi R Kling, author of forthcoming YA novel, Sea, has decided it's time to show our appreciation of the authors we love. This week it's Author Appreciation Week.

I love this idea. I'm all for singing the praises of the books I love and the people who write them.  So this week, every day, I shall be posting about authors whose books and blogs brighten my days.

I already do quite a bit of author appreciation, why just Friday, I was talking about the authors I'm a true fan of.

I don't want to bore my regular reader senseless, (we know! Elizabeth Scott, Melina Marchetta, Diana Peterfreund, Sarah Dessen they're amazing, blah, blah, blah) but I also don't want to miss out on converting some new people to these authors. So I shall be posting about an old favourite, whose books I adore, and a new author, whose books I've just discovered.

If you want to join in read Heidi's post on Author Appreication Week, and watch Twitter for the hashtag #AA

Thanks to Sara at Novel Novice, who made the lovely graphic above, and to Heidi for having such a fun and fabulous idea, almost as good as the Smoochies!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Review & Giveaway - The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don't like your best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more.




If you're already an Elizabeth Scott fan, you will just adore this book. If you're not an Elizabeth Scott fan. Wait! Why aren't you an Elizabeth Scott fan? Go and buy one of her books, immediately, and I guarantee you will be.


The Unwritten Rule has, a main character you can relate to and to root for. It has a friendship that seems very real, in both it's good elements and it's toxic ones. It has a toe curling romance. And it has kissing, lots of kissing, which is never a bad thing.

This book is adorable. Underneath the adorableness, there are the themes of what it means to be a good friend, learning to recognizing your own worth, standing up for yourself, and being brave about what you really want. There were many lines that just floored me, in how brilliantly they expressed truths, that we rarely acknowledge. There is a lot of introspection and soul searching from Sarah in this book, but she never tips over into being annoying, and the story moves at a quick pace.

I also wanted to mention Sarah's parents. They aren't in the novel a lot, but when they were I loved them. I loved that they were different. Parents are hard to write, and Elizabeth always nails them perfectly. Whether they are distant and unloving, worried but distracted, or just lovely, as with Sarah's parents. I also liked that Sarah's Dad is old, he was 50 when she was born because parents are getting older, and it was nice to see it reflected in a novel.

And because I love this book so much, I'm giving away a copy.

How to enter

1) Leave a comment here between now and midnight Monday 15th.

2) Live somewhere in the world - this one is international.

3) Check back here Monday to see if you've won and send me your address.

Good Luck!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Finally Friday*

This week has seemed long. I've been battling with edits on my WIP. If you too are battling, all I can say is, I feel your pain, and write a kissing scene. Or an almost kissing scene. Even if you have to cut it. Nothing cheers you up, like a kissing scene. If your book doesn't have kissing scenes, sheesh, add them quick! Kissing scenes rock.

Writing in American English is changing me. I got called out, by an English friend, for starting to sound American. I am, gleefully, awaiting the day, I can pull of y'all.

Not much else happening here. I've been enjoying the sunshine (hello spring!), and catching up on my blogs. So I have some great links to share. Here we go:

Daisy Whitney on 1000 True Fans. This is such an interesting post. Are you a true fan of anyone? I'm a fan of many authors, but a true fan of just a few; Elizabeth Scott, Melina Marchetta, Diana Peterfreund, E.Lockhart, Robin Benway and Joelle Anthony. I have a feeling, if Daisy's book is half as awesome as her blog, I'll be adding her to the list.

Melina Marchetta on Personal Taste guesting on, Justine Larbalestier's blog, because, well I'm a true fan. I'd read anything by her and this is really interesting.

Pam Barchorz on her inspiration wall. I love seeing how writers work.

Shannon Hale on the lack of lead girls in childrens movies. This is a great post, give us more girls Hollywood!

Finally, Angie of AngieVille on reading Peter Pan with her son. I love this post, there are so many books, I can't wait to share, with my son.

Have a lovely weekend, writing, reading or doing whatever it is you love!

Oh and remember to enter, to win, Hex Hall.  It could make your weekend

* and yes I totally, stole borrowed, this blog title, from Joelle Anthony. It's going to be a phenomenon, maybe even, leg - wait for it - endary!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Cover Wars - HEX HALL


The Book Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins



USA

I adore the US cover of Hex Hall. I love the use of the reflection. I love the way, Sophie is standing all nervous and folded up, and the girl, in the image, is all confident and glamorous. I love the spooky trees contrasting with the blue in the reflection.  I love the reflected title. So a huge thumbs up, for the US cover. Although I'm not sure who that cat is.


UK

Initial reaction, oh no! No, no, no! Please tell me, you did not bump, Sophie from her own cover! If you've read Hex Hall, you'll know the trio of witches in it, are not nice. In fact, rhyme witches, with another word, and you have the gist. They are mean girls, and Sophie is not one of them. They do not deserve the cover. This is Sophie's book!

Basically, the UK, seem to be trying to appeal to fans of the movie The Craft (bad choice, it's a dreadful movie and an old movie too) or maybe Charmed. But there is, no power of three, in this book. As I said in my review, Hex Hall is original and charming, rather then a Charmed rip off. It deserves a cover that reflects that. 

US hands down win today. UK you fail.

What do you think?


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Guest Post by Rachel Hawkins - Friendship in HEX HALL

I'm thrilled to have Rachel Hawkins, author of the fabulous Hex Hall, guest posting on the blog today. Although, my initial thought, was to have Rachel, tell us some more about the delicious Archer Cross. One of my favourite aspects, of the book, was the relationship between Sophie and her room mate, Jenna, so Rachel wrote about that.


 

Female friendships are really important to me, not only in my life, but in my books, too! I think my all-time favorite fictional female friendship has to be Diana Barry and Anne Shirley in the Anne of Green Gables books. They're really different- Diana being more prim and proper, Anne being fiery and more eccentric- but they get each other, and they're unfailingly supportive of one another. I also love that their friendship is a lifelong thing. I've been lucky enough to have the same BFF since second grade, so I definitely relate with the way Diana and Anne grow in their relationship.

When I was writing HEX HALL, I was really conscious of having a close friendship between two girls be one of the central relationships of the book. Sophie and Jenna are both outcasts, and they lean on each other through all the craziness Hecate Hall throws their way. I think the friendships we form as teens are some of the most intense, vital connections we ever make, and I really wanted to have a representation of that in HEX HALL. I also wanted to be sure they talked about other things besides boys. :) (Okay, so they do sometimes talk about boys. But they have other stuff going on, too!)


 Don't forget to enter the contest to win a copy of Hex Hall and a t-shirt, here.  If you want to read more by Rachel, you can find her at her blog Reading Writing Rachel

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Review & Giveaway Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins



Although she's a witch, Sophie has grown up in the normal world, with her unmagical mother. She's never met her father, whose the head of the Council of Prodigium (witches, warlocks, shapeshifters and fairies). After another of her, "helpful" spells, goes wrong, she is sent to Hex Hall. Reform school for witches. `So the reader, gets to learn about this new world, with Sophie.

I know it sounds like you've read it before, but trust me you haven't. Hex Hall has more than enough, originality and charm, to stand alone. The world, Rachel Hawkins creates, feels very real and unique. The plot zips along, and I was still reading, way past bedtime (the highest praise from a sleep deprived mum).

Sophie is a fabulous narrator, and I loved her, from page one. Her fresh, funny, sarcastic voice is a  pleasure to read. Here's a taste.

"Cross!" I called. I just couldn't bring myself to say "Archer" out loud. I'd have felt like I was in an episode of "Masterpiece Theatre":"Archer! Let us fetch a spot of tea, old boy!"

Which bring us nicely to Archer Cross. Now usually I'm a fan of the ordinary, nice boy. I make exceptions though. Archer, is one of them. Good looking, sarcastic, and with a definite bad boy vibe. I predict many people will join me, and Sophie, in falling for him.

I can't wait for Hex Hall Two. Book One ends, on something of a cliff hanger. After a series of twists, that I never saw coming, despite a rather fabulous piece of foreshadowing.

Hex Hall is one to bump to the top of your book stack.

ARC received from the publisher.

GIVEAWAY

If you'd like to win a copy, of Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, and one of these rather fabulous t-shirts.



Just leave a comment here, telling me What spell you would cast if you were a witch.


Giveaway closed. Congratulations Beth!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

One watch out for - The Extraordinary Secret of April, May and June

 The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway



  Three sisters, three extraordinary, life-changing powers!

I hugged my sisters and they fit against my sides like two jigsaw pieces that would never fit anywhere else. I couldn’t imagine ever letting them go again, like releasing them would be to surrender the best parts of myself.

Three sisters share a magical, unshakeable bond in this witty high-concept novel from the critically acclaimed author of Audrey, Wait! Around the time of their parents’ divorce, sisters April, May, and June recover special powers from childhood—powers that come in handy navigating the hell that is high school. Powers that help them cope with the hardest year of their lives. But could they have a greater purpose?

April, the oldest and a bit of a worrier, can see the future. Middle-child May can literally disappear. And baby June reads minds—everyone’s but her own. When April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other.

Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood.



This book isn't out till August, so it's a little early for a review, but quite a few people have asked me what it's like. So I shall say this.

1) It's very funny. I giggled almost non-stop

2) The super powers thing is fun, but it was the sister thing, that really made the book special.

3) If it's not the start of a series, I shall be VERY disappointed.

4) If you loved Audrey in Audrey Wait!, you will LOVE April, May and June. Get it on your TBR list! It's the perfect beach book.

A proper review nearer the release date. Which is August 3rd 2010.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Finally Friday

Today's post is brough to you by the letter L for Longing.


 
Would you care to guess how much I long to go to the NYC Teen Author Festival? How much I long to see amazing authors - Elizabeth Scott, Sarah Dessen, Diana Peterfreund, Melissa Walker, E. Lockhart, Maggie Stiefvater, Heather Duffy-Stone, Susane Colasanti, Libba Bray, John Green and many, many more, talking about writing YA?  I'd espcially love to see the panels on Grief, Loss, and the YA Novel and What it Feels Like for a Girl – Writing in a Teen Girl’s Voice.

If this were a story, my fairy godmother would pop up, right around now. She would make baby sitters from teddy bears, and train tickets from grocery receipts.

Sadly no fairy godmother, so I shall just have to content myself with reading about it. Thank goodness for blogs, right? If you see any good coverage let me know, please.

To cheer me up, Meg Cabot kindly announced this news (yes it was just for me).  Avalon High is going to be a Disney Channel Original Movie, premiering in fall 2010 - yay! I love Avalon High.

I have also finally tracked down some books from the past. I fell in LOVE with these books years ago but couldn't find them, having forgotten the author and titles (but not the plots!). They are

The Loves of Carola Mountjoy by Jeanne Montague
Book 1 Brave Wild Heart
Book 2 The Power of Love
Book 3 Vengenance is Mine
Book 4 Sword of Honour

Just reading the titles, I can see why 15 year old me was swooning over these!

Only problem is, they are out of print. So if you happen to know any good second hand online bookshops let me know?

How was your week? Any exciting news to share?

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Cover Wars - Willow

Willow was one of my favourite books of last year (review here) and when I saw on The Story Siren's blog that it had a UK cover I had to feature it here.



                                              USA                                                         UK


For once I have no preference, I absolutely love them both, and I think they both fit the book perfectly. The only thing I don't like is the rename of the UK edition. I much prefer the title Willow.

What about you? Which would you pick up in the bookstore?



Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Waiting on Wednesday for Plain Kate

Plain Kate by Erin Bow



I saw the cover of this book, and I fell in love with it. Mainly, because it reminded me of Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman. That could be Lyra and Pantalaimon, on the roofs of Jordan College. Then I looked it up on goodreads and - wow! - it sounds amazing. I can't wait to read this one.

The drizzle had broken into patches as they walked. As Drina scooped up the pale sand, Kate found herself standing in the smudge of shadow cast by the deadfall. She had never before noticed the way shadows gave things weight, made them look heavy and real and connected to the ground. Without hers...

She edged into the light.

Her shadow looked strange and thinned. It seemed not cast against the ground, but floating above it, like a fog. What Linay had said was true: No one would notice this, at first. It was just an uneasy little change, like the half-felt movement of a boat that slowly induces a great sickness.


Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square.
For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.
Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Postmistress by Susan Blake

 


On Sunday night, I took a break from YA, and went to see Susan Blake, author of The Postmistress, at Politics and Prose. It was a wonderful evening. Susan read from her novel, and talked a little about the research she did, and answered questions from the audience (and no I didn't ask any, even though I had one, such a wimp!)

The book is set during WW2 and follows the lives of three women. Frankie Bard, an American radio reporter in London. Her nightly broadcasts on the Blitz are listened to by Iris James and Emma Fitch, both living in town of Franklin, Massachusetts.

Going purely on the small section that Susan read, this book sounds amazing. I can't wait to see how these three lives intersect.

Here's a little part of what Susan read.

A newspaper story had to be cast in lead, the words had to be bound and trussed, printed onto paper, folded, and delivered to boys who'd stand on corners saying Extra, Extra, the story held in a hand, the story bound. In radio, the story flew into the air, from lips to ear, like a secret finding it's immediate spot in the dark lodges of the brain, the dome of the sky collapsing space, and the world become a great whispering gallery for us all. 

Have you read The Postmistress? What did you think? Or do you want to read it now?

Monday, 1 March 2010

Review Heist Society by Ally Carter

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre...to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria...to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own--scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring her back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.

For Kat there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in history-or at least her family's (very crooked) history.
(from Goodreads)



Ally Carter's Heist Society is a great premise, well executed.  It's fast paced and fun, and it sets up the series well. I'm looking forward to learning more about these characters.

It took me a while to get into the story, the third person, reflective style kept stopping me from really losing myself in the story. As Kat assembled her crew and started planning the ultimate heist, I found I got caught up in the action and couldn't put the book down - Ally Carter is a master at the cliff hanger chapter ending.


A word about the boys, because this is a book with  a lot of boys. I loved geeky Simon, and the Bagshaw brothers had a definite George and Fred Weasley feel about them. Then there are Kat's love interests; Hale, a teenage Thomas Crown, and Nick, a mysterious outsider. I liked Hale a lot. Ally Carter said on her blog she's expecting everyone to fall for him. But can I just put in a word from Nick?  I thought he was the more intriguing character and very similar to Kat. I'm hoping he turns up in the next books, because a) I like him and b) everyone loves a good love triangle!

Here's a snippet of Kat and Nick in action.

      She held his wallet out toward him. "care to trade?" Then she opened it and looked at the I.D. "Nicholas Smith. Sixteen. British citizan." She glanced between the I.D. and the boy in front of her. "Not very photogenic."
      
      "How. . ." he started, but Kat' look stopped him.

      "You're telegraphing your cover," she said matter-of-factly.

       "Kat was prepared for an argument and lies, anything but the sight of the boy smiling, the sound of him saying, "Wow Talented and cute. It's very nice to meet you Katrina."


If you like Cammie and the Gallagher Girl books, I think Heist Society will be a hit with you. It's a exciting read.


(Oh and Warner Brothers, you know you have to cast Michael Caine as Marcus, right?)

Have you read Heist Society yet? What did you think?

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