Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

For Review: Hodder
Published: 1 March 2012

From Goodreads:
I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
Behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.


Honestly I could not wait to read this! The moment I had it in my hands I had to read it and I think I loved it even more than Delirium! There is just something so beautiful and captivating about Lauren Oliver's writing - it demands my attention from the beginning and doesn't let go until I've finished.

The story is split into alternating chapters of Then and Now. 'Then' picks up where Delirium left off and 'Now' takes place a few months later. While some may prefer a more chronological order to the story I loved having the story told this way. It added intensity and an air of mystery to the story - it felt like two stories running parallel to each other with you needing to understand how the two fit together - how the Lena in 'Then' becomes the Lena in 'Now'.

Lena really grows in this too. There is a big difference in the Lena we know from Delirium and the one we know at the end of Pandemonium. She takes the role Alex played in Delirium to some extent - trying to open Julian's eyes to what the cure really means. And what it will mean to live without it.

I loved all the new characters we meet too, especially Raven and Blue. Julian is someone I really, really liked, but at the same time I found myself unable to invest in a possible relationship between him and Lena. I'm still invested in Alex - and I believe Lena is too - despite being led to believe he didn't survive their escape at the end of Delirium.

There is so much going on in this - making it fast paced and intense. I completely and utterly loved it! And as for the ending? IT COMPLETELY BLEW MY MIND! Honestly, I need to read Requiem right now! I so need to know how this is all going to turn out!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sneak Peak: Drive By by Jim Carrington

From Goodreads: 'That was brilliant,' Jake says. 'That was without doubt the most satisfying moment of my entire life.'

When Johnny, Jake, Drac and Badger take the law into their own hands and give an irritating neighbour a drive-by soaking, life feels good. Then something terrible happens as a result and Johnny's guilty conscience won't leave him alone. But are the weird things that start happening really just a result of his overheated brain? Or is the old lady coming back to haunt him?

Is it ever possible to get away with murder? It's a good question. One that Johnny needs to think about. Hard.


Drive By is published by Bloomsbury 1 March 2012. If you fancy a sneak peek just have a look below:)

Drive by Extract

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Hunger Games Theatrical Trailer 2 (AKA Can I be more excited?)

I can't wait for this film to be released! And with only a month to go I am getting ridiculously excited!

In the meantime there is the Hunger Games Facebook Page, Website (I am in love with the downloadable wallpaper!), Twitter - and this awesome trailer - to keep you entertained:)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Photos of real places (Storyteller Blog Tour)

As part of the blog tour for her new book, The Storyteller, Antonia Michaelis has stopped by to share her photos of real places post...
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Anna's street.


Fish Market (Anna meets Abel and Micha here playing on the frozen pond.  On that day Abel seems out of danger).


Greifswald town, market.

 [© FRANK ZUEGE]

Ice, ice, ice (this is the place in front of the cafe, where Anna plays the flute to awaken the fairy tale - sea lion after he was wounded).


It is the third floor to the right.


Leaving Home for the night shift (this is where Abel and Micha live)

 [© FRANK ZUEGE]

Micha and Abel on the ice (on the left the cafe Utkiek)


Place of broken tears (this is the boat hall)

 [© FRANK ZUEGE]

Spring is just behind the windows (the cafe Atkiek where Anna and Abel meet, seen from the sea)


The cocktailbar of social casts (the MITTENDRINN where Bertil and Abel nearly get into a fight)

 [© FRANK ZUEGE]

The end of the pier (on the opposite side of the bay is Ludwigsburg where Anna is fighting against the snow storm)

[© FRANK ZUEGE]

Tower blocks at the edge of town (this is where Abel and Micha live)

[© FRANK ZUEGE]

Walking over the ice.


Where Abel lives.

[© FRANK ZUEGE]

Where fairy tales come from (the mouth of the frozen river Ryck, inspiration for Abel to invent his fairy tale ship)

[© FRANK ZUEGE]

Where fairy tales come from 2

---
Thanks Antonia!


From Goodreads:   Anna and Abel couldn’t be more different. They are both seventeen and in their last year of school, but while Anna lives in a nice old town house and comes from a well-to-do family, Abel, the school drug dealer, lives in a big, prisonlike tower block at the edge of town. Anna is afraid of him until she realizes that he is caring for his six-year-old sister on his own. Fascinated, Anna follows the two and listens as Abel tells little Micha the story of a tiny queen assailed by dark forces. It’s a beautiful fairy tale that Anna comes to see has a basis in reality. Abel is in real danger of losing Micha to their abusive father and to his own inability to make ends meet. Anna gradually falls in love with Abel, but when his “enemies” begin to turn up dead, she fears she has fallen for a murderer. Has she?

Award-winning author Antonia Michaelis moves in a bold new direction with her latest novel: a dark, haunting, contemporary story that is part mystery, part romance, and part melodrama.


The Storyteller is available to buy now.

The next stop on the tour is over at District YA tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

For Review: Mira Ink
Published: January 2012

From Goodreads:  Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.


The ending to The Iron Queen made this a must read for me! I had to know if there would be a happy ending for Ash and Meghan.

The story starts with Ash is determined for fulfil his vow to return to Meghan - taking him on a journey he never thought possible...

While I was seriously please there was a fourth book in the series I must admit to being a little apprehensive at having it narrated by Ash. As the brooding, mysterious and not very talkative (albeit GORGEOUS) faery we know (and love)  in the previous instalments I wondered if having him narrate a whole story might change my feelings for him. Should I have worried? NO! I think I may love him even more now!

I also loved Puck a little more in this. I'm glad to get this story - not just for Meghan and Ash - but because at the end of The Iron Queen I felt that Ash and Puck's journey has not been finished either. And I'm glad they managed to deal with their past and feelings towards Ariella.

Grimalkin - oh how I love him! I just love the way he disappears at the first sign of trouble and how he seems to voice exactly what I'm thinking (but would probably never say out loud).

So yes, I loved the ending to this. And the journey they all take to get there is thrilling and action packed - I really enjoyed it. I did, however, really miss Meghan. I think I'm so used to the three of them it seems weird not having her present for the entire novel - but I'm glad the last chapter is from her point of view.

Now all I need is a certain summer faery to get his own book and I will be over the moon!

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

From Goodreads: My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.


I officially love the Iron Fey series!  I was sucked back into the story immediately and didn't want it to end!

The Iron Queen picks up shortly after The Iron Daughter finished.  Banished from the faery world with Ash, Megan wants to return home to her family.  But as soon as she arrives she realises that her presence may bring harm to her family instead.  The False King wants Meghan and will stop at nothing to get her...

Full of action, romance and humour (usually from Puck or Grimalkin) this is everything I hoped it would be.  I love how Kagawa manages to draw me - all the characters have come to life for me and I adore each and every one of them - including a couple of new characters we are introduced to in this.  And I think Meghan really grows in this - she makes a lot of sacrifices to make sure every one she cares about is safe.

If this had been the final book in the series I have to admit I would have been disappointed in the ending.  As it was I was super pleased to have The Iron Knight on my shelves to read straight away - I think if I'd had to actually wait for it I may have spontaneously combusted!

I'm really looking forward to finding out how this all ends for Meghan, Ash and Puck!

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

From Goodeads: Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.


I'd forgotten how much I had enjoyed The Iron King, but quickly remembered how much I love this series as soon as I started reading this.

The story begins with Meghan paying her end of the bargain she made with Ash in The Iron King - finding herself a 'voluntary' prisoner to the Winter Queen. Feeling deserted by Ash, who has grown seemingly indifferent to her now, she finds herself in the middle of a war between Summer and Winter - but she knows the real danger is from the Iron fey...

I seriously love Meghan! She's strong, determined, kind - I just really like her. I also really, really enjoy her relationship with Ash. He really tries to push her away in this - and you understand why - but there is just something about those two! And well, he is rather gorgeous! *swoons* Plus I love how much you can see that he does care for Meghan - even if he doesn't want to.

I also adore Puck! How could you not? And I'm glad his feelings get explored in this too. And Grimalkin is still on fine form! 

As for the ending - I loved it! And yes, I picked up The Iron Queen straight away!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Where I Write by J D Sharpe (Oliver Twisted Blog Tour)

As part of the blog tour for the release of her book Oliver Twisted, JD Sharpe kindly stopped by to talk about her favourite places to write...
---

I have three different places where I love to write and unfortunately none of them are at home!

I find that I can get rather distracted at home and also a tad hermit like. However, when I’m up against a deadline there is nothing quite as satisfying as holing yourself up in a warm room and just losing yourself in the writing!

So my top three places to write?

1,

Public Transport

I don’t know what it is but put me on a plane, coach or train and I will happily type on my laptop, or, if room is restricted, write in my notepad for hours and hours.

I think the thing I really like about writing on public transport is that I know I’m going somewhere. This gives me a kind of momentum and direction that is incredibly useful when it comes to getting words down. I also swear that the movement of a train shakes up my brain cells and I end up having some of my best ideas while I’m on my way to somewhere else!



I am particularly fond of writing on the Piccadilly line as it has sections outside which is a nice bonus!

2,

Libraries

I live in Oxfordshire and so I’m very lucky to be surrounded by the many amazing libraries that belong to Oxford University. My favourite of them all is the Radcliffe Camera which is right in the centre of Oxford.

I go there because it reminds me of when I was a student - this is the place where I’d go to write essays about Dickens, Austen and Beowulf

It is also possible to order ANY book that has ever been published in the UK in this library. These books are kept beneath the streets of Oxford. It always makes me smile when I think that the streets are literally paved with books!



Most importantly, Lyra talks about the Radcliffe Camera in Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman. This is one of my favourite books and so I always feel extra inspired when I work here!

3.

Cafes

I love working in cafes. I think the attraction is simple. By going to a café to write you can still participate in the ebb and flow of everyday life because you’re outside your home but you’re also working as well! I also find that getting out of the house helps me to stop procrastinating. One of my favourite cafes is quite close to where I live and is called the Church Green Cafe. It is quite small and has mismatching china and the owner is really lovely and doesn’t mind if I stay all day long! They also do lush soup!



Malcolm Gladwell has written a great piece about writers in cafés. Read it here.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704147804575455923448456324.html
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Thanks JD! The Radcliffe Camera sounds (and looks!) AWESOME!

You can check out the next stop on the tour over at Tall Tales and Short Stories tommorrow.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

In My Mailbox (128) and (129) and (130) and (131)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren

I have been a bit lazy this month and not done an IMM so this is 4 weeks worth of books - an amazing 4 weeks worth of books :D  And yes, I know I bought too many...  (when I do this weekly it doesn't seem so bad - or am I just deluding myself?) 



Review:

Girl Meets Boy: Because There Are Two Sides to Every Story by Kelly Milner Halls (Editor)
Lolly Luck by Ellie Danes (I missed this from the photo - I've read it and really enjoyed it - review to come soon)
Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
White Shadow by Andrea Eames
Choker by Elizabeth Woods
Spellbound by Rachel Hawkins (have already devoured this and loved it!  I'll be posting my review nearer the publication date)
Pale by Chris Wooding
Crow Girl by Kate Cann
My Name is O by Sam Enrhoven
Dancing Jax: Freax and Rejex by Robin Jarvis
Lenobia's Vow by P C & Kristen Cast
Braclet of Bones by Kevin Holland
Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne
Dead Rules by Randy Russell
A Midsummer Tights Dream by Louise Rennison
Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer
The Witch of Turlingham Academy by Ellie Boswell
Buneheads by Sophie Flack
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Skin Deep by Laura Jarrett
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Slone
Invincible by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists by Gideon Defoe
Forbidden by Ted Dekker & Tosca Lee

I went to a blogger's party at Random House and found out about all the new titles for 2012.  Massive thanks to the lovely team at Random House - it's always a pleasure and they definitely have some amazing titles coming out this year!

I picked up these lovelies:



Wonder by R J Palacio (a gorgeous finished copy)
Fallen In Love by Lauren Kate
Whoopie Pie Fun by Claire Ptak
Now Is The Time For Running by Michael Williams (Manuscript copy -I also missed this from the photo)
The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney

And I went to the Usborne launch party for The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker with Sarah from Feeling Fictional - where we got to chat to the author and mingle.  Plus there were the most amazing cakes!  Yummy:) You can read all about the launch on Susanne's website here

In our goodie bags:



The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker (which Susanne kindly signed)
Mockinbird by Kathryn Erskine (which I've already read and it brilliant.  You can read my review here)

Big, big thanks to everyone who provided books for review:)



Bought:

Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
Winter Town by Stephen Emond
Hollow Pike by James Dawson
Dreamland by Alyson Noel
Mice by Gordon Reece
The Spooks Apprentice by Joseph Delaney
Guess How Much I Love You Postcard book by Sam McBratney & Anita Jeram
Shattered Dreams by Elle James
Nine Uses for an Ex Boyfriend by Sarra Manning
Love Ya Babe by Chris Higgins
Dead To You by Lisa McMann
Then by Julie Myerson
Forbidden by Syrie James
Girl v Boy by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout
The Blood Coven Vampires (Volume 1) by Mari Mancusi
Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Highway to Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman
Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton
Sweet Hearts: Ice Dreams by Jo Cotteril
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis
My Ridiculous, Romantic Obsessions by Becca Wilhite
The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols
I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
Unlocked by Ryan Van Cleave
There's No Place Like Home by Jen Calonita
Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

Hope you all had a fab week:)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Cover to Covet (24)

I LOVE book covers. Love, love love them. So I decided to make it a regular post - each post featuring a cover I love.




Unrest by Michelle Harrison

I love how this is eerie but beautiful at the same time! I'm even more excited to get my hands on it now...!

Here's the synopsis
From Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Elliott hasn’t slept properly for months. Not since the accident that nearly killed him. Sometimes he half-wakes, paralysed, while shadowy figures move around him. Other times he is the one moving around, while his body lies asleep on the bed. His doctors say sleep paralysis and out of body experiences are harmless - but to Elliott they’re terrifying.

Convinced that his brush with death has attracted the spirit world, Elliott secures a job at a reputedly haunted museum, determined to discover the truth. There, he meets the enigmatic Ophelia. But, as she and Elliott grow closer, Elliott draws new attention from the dead. One night, during an out of body experience, Elliott returns to bed to find his body gone. Something is occupying it, something dead that wants to live again . . . and it wants Ophelia, too . . .

A chilling new novel for teen readers from the best-selling author of the widely-acclaimed 13 Treasures sequence.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

For Review: Usborne
Published: January 2012

From Goodreads: 11-year-old Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome, and has always had her older brother, Devon, to explain the confusing things around her. But when Devon is killed in a tragic school shooting, Caitlin has to try and make sense of the world without him. With her dad spending most of his time crying in the shower, and her life at school becoming increasingly difficult, it doesn’t seem like things will ever get better again.

A heart-warming story of loss and recovery that won the American National Book Award 2010 – one of the most moving books you’ll ever read.


I found myself really invested in this story. It's about a community and family dealing with their grief after a school shooting, and is told through the eyes of an 11 year old girl with Asperger's syndrome who lost her brother in the shooting.

Before I picked this one up I'd been told it was an incredibly moving read and I have to say I completely agree. There is just something about seeing this tragedy through Caitlin's eyes that makes it especially poignant. I loved getting to know her brother through her memories of him and seeing the world the way she sees it.

I don't know much at all about Aperger's syndrome so this really opened my eyes to what must be like. Everything is very black and white for Caitlin - she takes things very literally - and also has problems with things we all take for granted - such as emotions and reading facial expressions. She doesn't understand a lot of what is going on around her but at the same time she can be incredibly perceptive too. And her obsession with finding 'closure' rang true - it's as if she believes there is a single thing that she can find that will make this all better.

I loved Michael too and could really see how the two could become friends. I thinks there is something very innocent when you are Michael's age - you don't guard your emotions the way you do when you get older - so it made sense to me that Caitlin would find him easier to read.

I really enjoyed the way it all came together in the end too. I'm not sure Caitlin really understood what her suggestion really meant for her father and the community but I thought it showed that she had grown and could grow more.  And I loved the present from Mr Walters - the idea that she might now be ready for colours.

I'm very intrigued to see what else Kathryn Erskine has written - this certainly left an impression.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I want to read that...

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

From Goodreads:  You will kill. The only question is when.

In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive.

Unregistered humans cling to fringes, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.

Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.


I. Cant. Wait. For. This! It sounds soooo good and I love her Iron Fey series so I'm convinced I will love this too!

It's published April (US) and May (UK)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

If I Die by Rachel Vincent. (Blog Tour: Review and Q&A)

For Review: Mira Ink
Published: 3 February 2012

From Goodreads: No one wants to be this teacher's pet…

The entire school’s talking about the gorgeous new math teacher, Mr Beck. That is, everyone except Kaylee Cavanaugh. After all, Kaylee’s no ordinary high-school junior. She’s a banshee — she screams when someone dies.

But the next scream might be for Kaylee.

Yeah — it’s a shock to her, too. So to distract herself, Kaylee’s going to save every girl in school. Because that hot new teacher is really an incubus who feeds on the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine — her boyfriend’s needy ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr Beck…before he discovers they aren’t quite human, either.

But Kaylee’s borrowed lifeline is nearing its end. And those who care about her will do anything to save her life. Anything.


As everyone has probably worked out I am a massive fan of this series. I'd heard that this one was a series changer and now I know why! But it's in a really, really good way!

The story picks up where we left off at the end of My Soul to Steal. Kaylee and Nash are trying to work out their troubles, a possible Incubus is feeding off high school students and Kaylee is informed she only has a few days to live...

This is most definitely my favourite of the series so far. It takes elements that have been set in place in previous books and kind of fits them all together. I had no idea how Rachel Vincent was going to tie the storyline up - what would happen at the end of the book - but I had absolute faith that I would love it. And love it I did!

Kaylee really grows in this instalment. Because of the news she receives about her impending death this is kind of inevitable - she has to face those tough decisions she's tried to ignore in the past. And I love that she focuses on fighting the Incubus and helping people even with everything she is feeling and going through.

I have to say I felt really sorry for Nash in this. Despite my reservations for him and Kaylee as a couple I love his character - he has some issues he really needs to face and I love that Vincent hasn't given him the easy way out. She also throws additional stuff at him in this so I'm looking forward to seeing how he reacts when we catch up with them all in Before I Wake. 

As for Tod - I think I love him even more! I am so pleased he shared the story of how he died with Kaylee - I have been looking forward to that since reading Reaper. And Sabine is on fine form too! Honestly I adore her and am so glad she is now a permanent part of the gang.

As for the ending - HOLY BLINKING NORA and YAY! Let's just say I got my wish and the ending to this really sets up the next book as a must read!

Awesome with a side of awesome!



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As part of the blog tour for the release of If I Die, Rachel Vincent also took the time to answer a few of my questions...

I'd heard If I Die described as a series changer and now I understand why! Was it always your intention to take the story in this direction?

No. Honestly, while I don’t deny that If I Die is a game changer in more than one way, the path to most of those changes actually began way back in My Soul To Keep (book 3). Maybe even earlier, though I didn’t see it coming at first. What happened to Nash in My Soul To Save and the decisions he made in MSTKeep changed him. They changed him for the better, as a character, in my opinion. No one calls him a cookie-cutter YA boyfriend anymore. He has real strengths and weaknesses, and he deals the best he can. But in a group as tight-knit as Kaylee’s circle of friends and relatives, no one character can go through a change that big without affecting all of the others. Nash changed. His relationship with Kaylee changed. Her understanding of what she wants (for him, for them as a couple, and for herself) evolved and changed.

The reason for that is simple: the things that Nash is going through can’t be fixed in a day. Or in a week. Or in a month. Or, most likely in a year or more. He’s not going to recover overnight, like a television sitcom character, and if I’d tried to make him bounce back that fast, I would have been lying to him, to myself, and to the readers. Consequences are real in the Soul Screamers world, just like in our world (though the breadth is certainly wider there than in our world). Nash’s relationships have been tested. They’ll continue to be tested. But he’s fortunate enough to have a great support system, whether he sees that right now or not. ;)

I love the world you've created with this series. How much work goes into planning and mapping it all out? And how do you keep track of it all...?

Um…a lot, though I don’t really know how to quantify it. At the beginning, I kept track with an Excel chart, but I got really bad about that after a few books. Now, I mostly search the previous manuscripts for any bits I’ve forgotten. That works, except in the cases when things were changed at the page proof level and are slightly different from the printed version.

And, sometimes I ask my readers on line if they remember a certain bit of information, which I then verify. My readers are awesome, and they don’t seem to mind helping me remember how old Kaylee’s dad is or what color Harmony’s eyes are. ;)

Another thing I love about your stories is the way the characters stay true to themselves. They may evolve and grow but they don't change in order to service the plot. Is something that is important to you as an author?

SO very important. Characters should grow. Without growth, the stories will stagnate. But grown shouldn’t be confused with a sudden, miraculous shift in outlook or action. Unless something really big happens to a character. As in the end of If I Die. ;)

I've been looking forward to it since reading Reaper so I'm really pleased Tod shares his story with Kaylee. Will Nash ever learn the truth?

About how Tod died? I suspect he’ll learn in the final book. It doesn’t seem fair to keep it from him much longer.

Do you have any plans for another YA series?

Plans? Yes. Contracts? Not so far. I won’t have time to finish a new proposal until after I’ve turned in the last book.
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Thanks Rachel!

You can find Rachel Vincent at her Website, on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Cover to Covet (23)

I LOVE book covers. Love, love love them. So I decided to make it a regular post - each post featuring a cover I love.



I absolutely love these covers for The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden! I adore this series and am really pleased they are finally becoming available again in the UK. If you haven't read them yet I definitely recommend them (and the film's great too!) I also have the feeling I may be replacing my collection ...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Encounters with Wartime Aircraft by Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity Blog Tour)

I'm really pleased to welcome Elizabeth Wein to the blog today.  As part of a blog tour for her new book - Code Name Verity - she has stopped by to talk about her encounters with wartime aircraft...
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Encounters with Wartime Aircraft by Elizabeth Wein

‘What’s a lass like you need with a big toy like this?’

That’s what people keep asking Maddie, the young Air Transport Auxiliary pilot in Code Name Verity. She is too nice to answer back to anyone’s face, but she does think to herself at one point: ‘I like making things work. I love flying.’ My answer to the same question is, Why shouldn’t a lass get to play with the big toys? Why should boys have all the fun?

I am not mechanically minded and I did not spend my youth building model aircraft or changing oil filters. My borderline plane-spotting obsession is based on emotion rather than any technical appreciation. My earliest memory of a Spitfire in flight was at the Farnborough Air Show in the mid-1990s. It was flying in formation with a Eurofighter, then a brand new state-of-the-art supersonic military aircraft. They could only barely stay together - the Spitfire had to scream along at full power as fast as it could go, and the Eurofighter ambled alongside it at a 400 mph crawl. AMAZING, I thought, how far we have come in fifty years!

The term warbirds isn’t limited to Second World War aircraft, but that’s what immediately comes to mind when I hear it. And I think it’s ok to lavish a little love on these veterans now that they’re retired. I confess to having fallen hopelessly, ridiculously in love with the Spitfire. I wrote a short story about a girl who disguises herself as her dead brother, and joins the RAF to become a Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britain (‘Something Worth Doing’, published in Firebirds Rising by Sharyn November). In the middle of writing this story I found myself SOBBING with inarticulate anguish because I was just so smitten with this heroic little aeroplane. I stood in a sundrenched cornfield near Leuchars in Fife that year, watching the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight circling to the north—a Spitfire, a Lancaster and a Hurricane waiting their turn to perform at the Leuchars Air Show—and I thought, my goodness, this is just what it must have looked like back then. This is where these aircraft flew when they were operational, over these same golden fields.

Accuracy is a bit of a challenge when you’re a 21st century woman writing about flying planes in the Second World War. But I do draw on some of my own flying experiences, fleshing them out with close encounters on the ground, and endless volumes of reproduction pilots’ notes.

After our daughter was born, but before I knew how to fly, my husband bought me a flight in a Tiger Moth as a present. The aircraft was built in 1944, and I took off in it from White Waltham, the airfield that was once the headquarters of the Air Transport Auxiliary. Here I am walking out to the plane (the year is 1997):

[E Wein & Tiger Moth at White Waltham]

The Tiger Moth is the classic bi-plane that almost all wartime pilots trained on. You see them in films a lot (The English Patient, and The King’s Speech come to mind). It is an open cockpit plane, and the pilot looped-the-loop with me as his passenger, somewhere over the Thames near Henley. Ten years later, when my flying instructor in a Cessna 152 Aerobat asked me if I’d ever looped-the-loop, I was able to answer casually, ‘Yes, in a Tiger Moth.’

Then I had to admit that I hadn’t been the pilot.

‘Would you like to try it as the pilot?’

He flew a loop as a demonstration and talked me through the next one, which I flew myself.

In a Tiger Moth, when you cut the engine as you come hurtling out of the sky from the top of the loop, the wind is actually in your face. The effect is less dramatic in a Cessna 152, but the engine is just as quiet as you come toppling out of the sky without power. Falling in controlled flight out of that loop that I flew myself, over the Scottish Ochil Hills where Macbeth once held court, I thought: If I die now, I will die happy.

It’s not as difficult to come close to the old warbirds as you might think. There are some fantastic air museums throughout the UK and further afield. I do my own ‘fact-checking’ at Scotland’s National Museum of Flight at East Fortune outside Edinburgh, which has a fabulous collection of aircraft. The Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden Park in Biggleswade may be unrivalled for its airworthy antiques, and puts on air shows almost every week throughout the summer. That’s where I got up-close-and-personal with the world’s only Lysander that is still flying—it’s the starring role aircraft of Code Name Verity.

[Lizzie meets Lizzie - Westland Lysander, courtesy of the Shuttleworth Collection ]

The Shuttleworth Collection is also home to an airworthy Avro Anson, another aircraft featured in Code Name Verity, and a Spitfire that was used in the filming of The Battle of Britain! The Imperial War Museum’s collection at Duxford is legendary, but they also have some interesting creatures at their main museum in London, including the twisted metal remains of the Messerchmitt Bf 110 that Rudolph Hess crashlanded in Scotland in 1941 in his alleged attempt to broker a peace deal between Britain and Germany.

It’s easier to get rides in vintage aircraft than you might think, although you have to be willing to pay quite a lot (18th and 21st birthdays, graduations, etc. could be opportunities for arm-twisting of grandparents or other generous relatives… I mean, if I could get someone else to pay, flying in formation with a Spitfire would totally beat laser tag or even bungee jumping, IMHO). If you’re a little more inventive, try looking up a local flying club to see if they have any vintage aircraft of their own. Sometimes a club member will take you for a ride just to be nice. You’re not allowed to pay a pilot who isn’t an instructor, but some instructors own their own aircraft.

As for modern aircraft, there’s no Civil Air Guard training available nowadays, and you probably won’t get as lucky as Code Name Verity’s Maddie in terms of being in the right place at the right time. But there are a few opportunities out there if you’re willing to put the time and effort into finding them, such as the Air Cadets, EAA Young Eagles, and Air Scouts.

Above all, there is always a local airfield. The nearest local club where I can rent a small plane or fly with an instructor is five miles away as the crow flies; half an hour’s drive to the east and the west are two others. But it’s hard to beat the one where I had my Tiger Moth flight—the West London Aero Club at White Waltham, former headquarters of the Air Transport Auxiliary itself.

Enjoy the flight!

Links to organizations :

Air Transport Auxiliary Museum, Maidenhead:
http://www.atamuseum.org/

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight homepage:
http://www.raf.mod.uk/bbmf/

Imperial War Museum, Duxford:
http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-duxford

Imperial War Museum, London:
http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-london

Scotland’s National Museum of Flight at East Fortune:
http://www.nms.ac.uk/our_museums/museum_of_flight.aspx

The Shuttleworth Collection:
http://www.shuttleworth.org/

Public Flights Available in Vintage Aircraft:
http://www.duxfordflying.co.uk/
http://www.classicflight.com/theAircraft
http://www.intotheblue.co.uk/flying-experiences/vintage-aeroplanes/

Youth Schemes:

EAA Young Eagles:
http://www.youngeagles.org/

Air Scouts:
http://www.airscouts.org.uk/

Air Cadets:
http://www.raf.mod.uk/aircadets/
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Thanks Elizabeth!

You can find Elizabeth on her website.

Don't forget to check out the next stop on the tour over at Finding Wonderland tomorrow.

Code Name Verity is published 6 February 2012 by Electric Monkey.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Q&A with Katie Dale

Katie Dale is the author of Someone Else's Life, which was published by Simon & Schuster on 2 February 2012.  Katie kindly took the time to answer a few of my questions...
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How did you come up with the idea for Someone Else’s Life?

I love stories about family secrets and moral dilemmas, then one day an item about two babies that had been swapped at birth came up on the news and it just stuck in my head. What would you do if you found out you were swapped at birth? How would you cope with that? What would you do with the information, knowing that your whole life had been a lie…?

Then I heard about Huntington’s disease, and as I learned more about the illness and how it affects entire families and all your life choices it became a much bigger part of the story. What would you do if you were at risk for a devastating genetic illness – would you take a test and find out for sure what your future holds? Or would you rather not know? What if you took a test and discovered your mother wasn’t your mother…?
From that moment the two issues combined and that was the story I just had to write.

Did you need to do a lot of research for the novel?

I wanted to do a lot of research because I wanted to make sure I got all my facts right. I had never heard of Huntington’s disease before I started writing Someone Else’s Life, so I consulted midwives, social workers, professors and geneticists and most importantly met and contacted a lot of people with and affected by Huntington’s disease, who were kind enough to share their experiences with me, and even read the book before it went to print to make sure everything I described was accurate and authentic.

I loved the dual narrative in the novel. What made you decide to write it this way?

At first I wrote Someone Else’s Life as a single narrative, but as it progressed it became clear that there was another voice that demanded to be heard! Consequently I went back and added in a second narrative and that’s when the story really came to life. I think there are two sides (at least!) to every tale and I found it fascinating to explore both viewpoints – especially when they argued! I think it’s a really good way to explore an issue as it hopefully splits your sympathies as a reader and demonstrates that things are rarely as black-and-white as one person may think.

The book really made me consider the importance of being biologically related – what it means to know who we are and where we came from – and the true meaning of family. Are these themes you wanted to explore?

Definitely. I’m very interested in the concept of identity – what makes us who we are? Is it genetic? Or how we’re brought up? Or a combination of the two? Or do we ourselves decide through our own choices and actions? Likewise, the idea of family is an interesting one. Just because you’re related to someone should you automatically love them? What if you found out someone you love isn’t related to you after all – does that change the way you feel about them? What does “family” really mean?

Did you always want to be a writer?

No! When I was a little girl I really wanted to grow up to be a farmer’s wife! (Read more at http://katiedaleuk.blogspot.com/p/story-so-fara-series-of-fortunate.html) Then the acting bug kicked in and I pursued that right into drama school and beyond, but I’ve always loved writing too. My mum, Elizabeth Dale, is a children’s author, so it’s always been in the background, and I did lots of writing courses at university, but it wasn’t until I entered the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices competition that I seriously pursued it as a career. That gave me the confidence to work hard and finish my first novel – and now it’s such a thrill to see it published!

What is a typical writing day like for you? Are they any ‘must-haves’ you need before you can sit down to write?

Not really! I stagger out of bed, flop onto the sofa and pick up my laptop and then hours can pass before I realize I’ve missed breakfast and I’m still in my PJs! If I get stuck, then I do need props – coffee, sweets, things to nibble while I think and mull things over – and I usually time my lunch-break so I can watch Neighbours  I need my Australian soap fix!

What’s your favourite aspect of writing? And the most challenging?

My favourite aspect of writing is that I can work on my sofa in my PJs! And that if I’m really tired I don’t HAVE to get up early to get to a day job (my other half is REALLY jealous about that!). The most challenging aspect is that unlike lots of jobs, I have to produce my work from inside my head – there’s no formula or routine that can get me through – if I get stuck or the words just aren’t coming it can be really frustrating!

What’s next for you? Are you working on something at the moment?
Yes, I’m currently in the middle of writing an as-yet untitled YA thriller! Here’s the blurb:

Tall, dark, and handsome, the first time Sasha meets mysterious Christian she knows he is The One. But Christian is hiding a terrible secret. Why does he clam up every time Sasha asks about his past? Why does he have the initials L.N. engraved on his watch? Why doesn’t he have any family – and why does he dye his blond hair black?

Then one day Christian’s house goes up in flames, his tyres are slashed, he flees for his life, and Sasha insists on going with him.

But as Christian’s secret is unveiled in front of the whole world, it seems everything he’s ever told Sasha is a lie. Even his name. Her loyalties torn, her emotions in tatters, Sasha must decide whether to stand by the man she loves, or turn him over to his pursuers. Can what they’re saying about him really be true? Should she trust him? Or is she in terrible danger…?

But Christian isn’t the only one keeping secrets.

For what if their accidental meeting was no accident at all…
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Thanks Katie!

You can find Katie on her website and Twitter.

You can read my review for Someone Else's Life here 

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale

For Review: Simon & Schuster
Published: 2 February 2012

From Goodreads: When seventeen-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty-per-cent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when she tells her mum’s best friend, ‘Aunt Sarah’ that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie was not her biological mother after all... Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, hitching along on her ex-boyfriend’s GAP year to follow her to Los Angeles. But all does not go to plan, and as Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply-buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonising decision of her own - one which will be the most heart-breaking and far-reaching of all...


This is one of those books that really makes you wonder what you would do in that situation.  There are no easy answers for the characters in this and I found myself completely immersed in it - desperate to know what they would decide.
 
The story follows Daisy as she learns the crushing truth - the women who raised her was not her biological mother.  Already devastated by her mother's death from Huntington's disease she becomes desperate to find her biological mother - which takes her on a journey where she discovers more than she thought possible...

I really enjoyed the dual narrative in this - and how at first we are not sure who the other person is.  I loved both voices - especially Rosie's.  She comes across as a really caring person - I loved that she was willing to give up everything to be there for her mother when she got ill.  Her story is devastating - but I love that she gets to a place where she can be happy.  And I loved Andy!  He's a really nice guy and he is a great match for Rosie - I enjoyed their relationship.  There is a genuine connection between the two of them.

I LOVED Jack!  Honestly I adored him - he is everything I think a good parent (and person!) should be. Don't get me stared on what I think of Kitty but it does raise an interesting point about how she had made her choice and we should respect it.

The story really made me consider the importance of being biologically related and what being a family really means. I came to the conclusion that family is much more than that - it's about who's there for the day to day things - who sees you for you and loves you anyway. It also made me think about when the truth is the best option - whether it's better to know or to not know. And how sometimes it's better if someone else makes that choice for you.

Someone Else's Life has a raw and very honest feel to it that kept me hooked and invested in the characters. Katie Dale is definitely an author to watch - she's a brilliant new voice in YA and I'm very excited to see what she writes next.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Kiss Date Love Hate by Luisa Plaja

For Review: Random House
Published: 2 February 2012


From Goodreads: What if you could change your friends' lives and loves through the settings of a computer game...?

Lex Murphy's group of friends have all dated, hated, ignored and lusted after each other for the last few years. If only there was a way of matching people perfectly to avoid all the unrequited love, dumping and drama! Then Lex's friend George is given a mysterious Sims-like game by his software-testing dad which involves building character profiles in the categories of Life, Looks and Love. Lex and George populate the game with avatars for all their mates, making a few 'wishful thinking' adjustments to the settings - and find that the next day these tinkerings have come true! But how long can this new calm, loved-up atmosphere continue?


Another brilliant, funny, sweet and magical story from Luisa Plaja. I completely fell in love with it!

When Lex and her best friend George test one of his father's games and decide to base all the characters on themselves and their friends, they find their settings actually change in real life! Can George use it to capture the heart of his long time love, and will Lex be able to get Matt back? But what about the gorgeous Drew...

OMG! How much did I love Lex? She is just absolutely adorable! She made me laugh (and cry...) and I love that she is so forthcoming. She can be a bit down on herself - and we realise exactly why in the end - but over the course of the story we really see her grow and accept herself for who she is.

I also loved George and the relationship between him and Lex. The way she keeps referring to him as almost her brother because of the relationship history between their parents - and the banter they have with each other. They are obviously close and very good friends - they both had me laughing out loud.

And as for Drew... HELLO GORGEOUS SCOTTISH BOY! I could definitely see what Lex saw in him and I had to shout at her every time she decided she liked Matt more (who in my opinion really was a word rhyming with his name!) I loved how the relationship between her and Drew plays out - how good they are together and how he really sees her. Super, super sweet!

I also really enjoyed the magical element of the story - in this case the game. I love how it's entwined in the story in a way that isn't gimmicky but really adds to it. It's fun but it also puts the characters in a position where they can evolve and learn something about themselves which is very interesting and touching to read. The scene toward the end with Lex, Martin and her mother is especially poignant.

A clever concept - it has more going on than you first realise -  and it really made me stop and think.  Luisa Plaja is really great a creating characters you love spending time with - I enjoyed every minute of this book and I am really looking forward to whatever she writes next.

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