Friday, 22 July 2011
Pages: 531 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Series, book two (Smoke) is due out in 2013
Acquired: Purchased myself
Summary (from Goodreads): Raised in a religious -- yet abusive -- family, Pattyn Von Stratten starts asking questions -- about God, a woman's role, sex, love. She experiences the first stirrings of passion, but when her father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control.
Pattyn is sent to live with an aunt in the wilds of Nevada to find salvation and redemption. What she finds instead is love and acceptance -- until she realizes that her old demons will not let her go.
My review: As most of you know I'm a huge Ellen Hopkins fan and am gradually working my way through her books. The way she deals with such complex issues without ever being patronising or overly preachy is something I love. That, and her beautiful way with words.
From the outset Burned felt a little different to the other novels I've read by Hopkins. It felt little more hopeful and the romance was an important part of the story, something that I haven't particularly noticed in the other books of hers that I've read. I've always been impressed that she can write such successful YA books without the need for romance but the love story in Burned was welcome and important to the book.
Pattyn, our heroine, is a brilliant character. I absolutely bonded with her from page one and her situation was so horrible that I was worried the whole way through the story about the ending. As any of you who have read Hopkins' books before - she isn't exactly a fan of Hollywood endings! Although, one of the things I most admire about her is that she's always realistic. Of course, it's frustrating and sad when bad things happen to your favourite characters but, unfortunately, that's life. Everything she writes is real and I really appreciate that.
I originally did think Burned was a standalone and I think it works great on its own. However, I recently discovered that there's a sequel (Smoke), which is due out in 2013. I'm not sure where Hopkins can possibly go in a second installment but I'll definitely be reading it. At times Burned is difficult to read because of the subject matter but I urge you to give it a go, it's a really beautiful book.
First line: ‘Did you ever,
When you were little, endure
Your parents’ warnings, then wait
For them to leave the room,
Pry loose protective covers
And consider inserting some mental
Object into an electrical outlet?’
Read if you liked…: Grace – Morris Gleitzman (for theme only, Burned is much more mature in terms of tone and content)
Total: 18/20 (A)
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Pages: 277 pages, hardback
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): "The devil walks... But the devil can make no headway if he has no help. We must invite him in..."
Raised in secrecy by a mother everyone thinks has gone mad, Daniel's only link to his past is the intricately built model of the family home -- High Gates. The dolls' house is perfect in every detail. As Daniel is reunited with the last remaining member of his family -- his 'uncle' Severin, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a sinister wooden doll he has found hidden in the house, he begins to suspect that this vicious, haunted puppet of a figure has a chilling influence, bringing cruelty and spite in its wake. Now Daniel's very life is at risk as his uncle is determined to get his hands on the figure. The menace builds throughout in this deliciously creepy Gothic tale.
My review: I first discovered Anne Fine as a school girl, when we studied Flour Babies in my English class – I loved the story and devoured many more of her books throughout my younger years, I remember being completely terrified by Tulip Touch. However, it’s been many years since I’ve read an Anne Fine novel so I was really excited to hear about The Devil Walks at the RHCB Blogger Brunch at the beginning of this year.
I received a review copy as soon as they became available and read it the day it arrived. I was utterly captivated from beginning to end and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one to any of you. It’s definitely very creepy but I think the strong world building and fascinating characters will hold the attention of any of you who aren’t huge horror fans.
Uncle Severin is a fantastic villain and I would love to see him brought to life on the big screen – maybe by Ralph Fiennes, definitely someone charming and handsome. At first he seems every inch the caring uncle but the more we (and Daniel) learn about him, the more unsettling he becomes. Something just isn’t quite right up at High Gates and it’s up to Daniel to discover the truth about his family, especially his uncle’s horrible secret.
There are some quite shocking scenes in The Devil Walks, particularly when Daniel visits his mother – I won’t say anything else that may give away any of the plot but it really did make me sit up and pay attention. Anne Fine isn’t a writer to mince her words, neither is she one to put in a shocking moment for effect.
There’s definitely an old school gothic vibe to The Devil Walks. The whole time I was reading I was reminded of Henry James and Mary Shelley and Ira Levin – all wonderful writers who have a special place in my heart, mostly for scaring the hell out of me!
The Devil Walks is a brilliant book with a terrifying denouement. I urge all of you to read it as soon as you can get your hands on a copy, it will have you hooked from the outset, I promise.
First line: ‘Right from the very beginning, my life was strange.’
Read if you liked…: The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Turn of the Screw – Henry James
Total: 15/20 (B)
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Information from a RHCB press release:
David Fickling Books is delighted to announce that they have successfully bid for three fantastic YA novels by debut author Tim Hall. The team at DFB made the deal for UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) with James Wills of Watson, Little Ltd.
David Fickling comments, “We are all very excited by Tim's writing and we believe that Tim has it in him to be a huge world-renowned writer. After meeting with him, we immediately got the sense that he loved to work with the stuff of story and had many, many tales to tell. For us that is beyond exciting, and we are very keen indeed to begin working on this trilogy and prepare it for publication.”
The first book of the trilogy, Shadow of the Wolf, is set in Sherwood Forest in medieval England. However, if you think you know the story then think again. Tim Hall presents a Robin Hood more heroic and horrific than ever before: a blind, ruthless assassin and elemental creature of the forest. Fourteen-year-old Robin may not be able to see, but he learns to understand every sound that the forest makes – the heartbeat of a nearby bird, the sound of a deer drinking from a stream, the gentle rustle of an enemy boot passing through the foliage...
Tim Hall expertly weaves influences ranging from Japanese cinema to Norse mythology, making this novel a fabulously rich treat that works on multiple levels. Packed full of dark drama and unexpected plot twists, Shadow of the Wolf is an absolute page turner that will have teenage readers clamouring for its sequel.
Tim Hall previously worked as a news journalist for the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph. Most recently, he spent almost two years in Bermuda running the news desk for the Bermuda Sun newspaper. Shadow of the Wolf is his first novel, and he has a clear plan for books two and three.
“So many tales have already been told of Robin Hood. Already he's the hero with a thousand faces.
First, forget everything you've heard. Robin was no prince, and he was no dispossessed lord; he didn't fight in the Crusades; he never gave a penny to the poor.
His real name wasn't even Robin Hood. Marian called him that as a kind of joke. Sir Robin of the Hood. A name Robin would cling to when he was losing grip of everything else. Mind you, one thing you've heard is true. He was blind.
No, that's not right. Let me put that another way. Truer to say, Robin Hood didn't see with his eyes. In fact he was the only one who saw clearly in this place of illusion and lies.”
Pages: 260 pages, paperback
Series?: Yes, this is the second and final installment
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by Random House
Summary (from Goodreads): It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
My review: Just like all of you I fell head first in love with Gayle Forman’s writing style when I read It I Stay, the prequel to Where She Went. I was desperate to find out what happened to Mia and Adam after the book finished so was so excited to receive a copy of Where She Went for review.
Where She Went is a very different book to If I Stay, though I think they complement each other perfectly. The tone in Where She Went is much darker, despite the content in If I Stay. It’s clear from page one that Adam is no longer then carefree teenager in an up and coming band that we met in book one. He’s achieved worldwide fame and huge success, though with it has grown increasingly bitter and angry at the world around him, especially after Mia cuts him out of her life for no apparent reason.
I really liked the structure of Where She Went - we find out what has happened since the end of If I Stay and Adam's memories of the past are mixed in with the present story. I think it was such a smart move of Forman's to tell the story through Adam's perspective, the book felt fresh but it was comforting to dip back into the world of characters I already knew and loved.
Where She Went is definitely an emotionally charged read, I found myself welling up on more than one occasion and definitely shed a few tears on the scene on the bridge - I don't want to give anything away about the plot so that's all I'll say. If you've read Where She Went hopefully you get what I mean – it was my favourite scene in the book and, in my opinion, an absolute masterpiece.
This is a beautiful book and the ending is perfect; I’m so glad Forman isn’t writing a third instalment, it just isn’t necessary. I adored both books in the series and it will always rank among my favourites. Forman is truly one of the strongest voices in YA and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
First line: ‘Every morning I wake up and I tell myself this: It’s just one day, one twenty-four-hour period to get yourself through.’
Total: 17/20 (A)
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
So without further ado, here it is:
If you haven't heard about David yet then click here to take a look at the Goodreads page. Any historical fans are going to be completely obsessed with this one and I'm convinced it's going to win a tonne of new fans over to the genre as well. As with all of Hoffman's books it's an absolute treat and the writing is impeccable.
Anyway, without further ado I'll hand you over to the lady herself, Mary Hoffman.
Gabriele sees the portrait that Leonardo is painting of Lisa del Giocondo and this is his reaction:
‘It is wonderful,’ I said to the painter who had been watching, amused, while my eyes had travelled again and again from the canvas to the sitter and back again. ‘I don’t know how to express myself, Maestro, in words that would mean anything to someone with your genius. But you have made me see not Monna Lisa herself, although that itself is a gift, but – how may I say it without seeming to presume? – something of the quality of womanhood itself.’
I stopped, feeling that I had made a poor job of expressing my admiration for all three – the woman, the portrait and the artist. And in my confusion, I did feel desire – something more overwhelming than I had ever experienced before, even in the presence of Angelo’s great works. I wanted to own something so beautiful for myself – though whether it was the woman or her picture I couldn’t have said – to clasp this vision of the eternal in my own mortal grasp. In fact, I think that was the first time I saw myself as mortal, like other men, in the presence of something as enduring as a great work of art.”
Throughout the book, the young stonemason is trying to learn about art and to understand how it is that truly great art can give you a glimpse of eternity and achieve a form of immortality. Of course he understands that statues made of stone and paintings made of canvas or wood and paintings are almost as vulnerable as human flesh but there is one difference: all humans will die but a work of art might live on.
And it is not dependent on believing in an afterlife; whether the masterpiece survives is subject to all sorts of vagaries but all it has to do is be there and its fate will be what it will be.
What makes this important in David, is that Gabriele is posing for such a work of art. Which brings up all sorts of questions about how you know, before it has acquired any reputation, whether a work is likely to endure or not. Of course you can’t know what external forces – fire, flood, war – might destroy it but does the artist or the model know when they are part of something as great as the David or Leonardo’s portrait?
There are so many poems, plays and novels whose themes are the fleeting nature of youth, beauty or life itself. But not much creative literature about the permanence of art or music or literature itself. And even less about how they struck their first viewers, listeners or readers. I wanted to examine what it would have been like to see David for the first time – or even while it was being made.
And what must it have been like for the very recognisable models of these works to walk around the city of Florence when everyone knew who they were and what they had inspired. It was from thoughts like these that David grew.
To find out more about Mary have a look at the following links:
Twitter - @MARYMHOFFMAN
That's it from me today guys - be sure to head over to Armadillo Magazine tomorrow, which is the next stop on the tour!
Monday, 18 July 2011
I wanted to share something with you today that I think it just brilliant - the new interactive trailer for Delirium by Lauren Oliver (who got engaged a couple of weeks ago; congratulations!).
Interactive, you say? Yes, indeed! Have a watch below and you'll see that you get to choose your own ending to the trailer - like those awesome books in the 90s. I haven't actually seen a feature like this used before - except lightly in the Pottermore reveal, I guess.
It's a beautiful trailer and reminded me a lot of some of Walker's trailers - think The Sky is Everywhere and Life: An Exploded Diagram. As you all know I'm a huge fan of book trailers and I definitely think trailers like this are going to help make book trailers more accessible to the average reader.
So, what do you think? Have a watch below and let me know which option you picked!
Bryony kindly offered to answer a few of my questions and her answers are fascinating. Have a read below and I hope this convinces you to pick up a copy of Angel's Fury if you haven't had a chance to read it yet.
1. In case any readers haven’t read the book yet, can you tell me a little bit about Angel’s Fury?
Angel’s Fury is about a teenage girl, Cassie, who has always suffered from nightmares. During a trip to Germany she recognises places she should not and finds the mass grave of the holocaust victims who feature in her dreams.
Her parents finally tell her that she spoke German before she spoke English and that they suspect she has lived before.
They visit a specialist who takes her to a Manor house in Yorkshire for treatment. There Cassie meets seven other children who also dream of other lifetimes and discovers that all of their lives are being manipulated by a fallen angel, bent on destroying mankind.
2. Talk me through an average day when you’re working on a novel. Do you have a set number of words you have to write per day or do you set yourself different targets?
I have two small children (aged two and five) and I’m a full time mum. An average day when I’m working on a novel goes kind of like this …
- Wake up and check emails / facebook / twitter (just in case)
- Get children up, dressed and fed
- Take Maisie to school
- Take Riley to Rhymetime, football or swimming (depending on the day)
- Play with Riley
- Make lunch
- Try and make Riley have a nap.
- If Riley has a nap, I write as fast as I can until he wakes up
- Take Riley to pick Maisie up from school
- Make snacks, look at homework, play etc.
- Make tea, feed children
- Get children bathed and put to bed
- Make my own tea and watch half an hour of television.
- Write until I’m falling asleep at the keyboard.
If I really do have a deadline, my husband (who works away from home Monday to Friday) will take the children out for the day on Saturday and give me a full day writing. It’s luxury!
3. In young adult fiction in particular, it’s important that readers bond with the characters - what do you think is the most important thing to get right when you're creating a character?
Voice is hugely important – especially if you’re writing from a first person perspective. Generally I hear my characters in my head, so I just let them tell me what they want to say.
4. Angel’s Fury is your first novel – can you describe how you felt in the moment when you first heard that it had been accepted for publication?
Something like that … when you realise that your dream is coming true, that years of hard work have paid off, that all the rejections can be forgotten … well that’s one of the best moments in life and it’s very hard to describe. Euphorically happy perhaps?
Perhaps if I tell you that after I got the phone call I screamed so loudly that my children thought I was injured and I had to spend ten minutes calming them down …
5. Do you own a Kindle or other e-reader? What’s your opinion on them?
I don’t own an e-reader, not because I’ve made a decision against it, but because I can’t afford one. I’d love an e-reader! I love the idea of getting hold of a book the instant I conceive a desire to read it. I love the idea of not having a house full of tottering bookcases and I love the idea of not having to choose between shoes and books in my suitcase when I go on holiday.
I adore books, but I can’t afford to buy them the way I used to. Nowadays, I use the library much more often than bookshops. I order books in bulk and when I find one I know I would love to read again, then I buy it. The recession has made me much more selective.
If I had one, I’d use the ereader the same way – I’d buy the books I really love in hard copy as well. And for my children I would keep buying books – I think paper books are best for kids to touch, smell, see and develop a love for.
6. When reading for pleasure do you prefer to read standalones or series? Why?
I do like a series – mainly because I read so fast (around 100 pages an hour) and if I’ve found a character or story I love, I don’t want it to end.
However, some series do outstay their welcome (especially some recent YA, that I won’t name), other stories that could and perhaps should have been a single book have obviously been extended into a series simply because the author is a big name the publisher knows will sell (and that is very annoying) and I’ve found with others that there’s another risk – that the story never ends. I read George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones years ago and fans like me are still waiting for the next book. Stephen Kings Dark Tower took years, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time has definitely tried my patience and David Gemmell tragically died two books into a trilogy.
I think it’s important that the story arc takes as long as it’s meant to and if that’s one book or three, or seven, the writer should do what’s right for the story … and end where it should end.
7. What sort of research did you have to do for Angel’s Fury? How did you go about doing this?
I did a great deal of research for Angel’s Fury. I wanted the historical dream sequences to be as realistic as possible, but more than that, I wanted the whole story to be as grounded in reality as I could make it. In my view the more realistic something is, the creepier the paranormal elements come to seem. So apart from the mythological parts and made up locations (Hopfingen and the Manor), a great many elements that make up the novel can be fact-checked.
For example the K98 is the rifle the Nazis would have used at that time (I got hold of a user manual off the Internet for that), there really was a rare extended version of Lohengrin sung in Bayreuth in 1936, Rolfing is a real technique, the experiment Cassie takes part in is based on the Milgram experiment from Yale and so on.
The Internet was a great source of information (although I took care to double check facts from the Internet) and my in-laws, Pat and Charles, were very helpful too. They were both German teachers and spend a lot of time in Germany, so they helped me with the translations and facts about German life.
8. Which scene did you find most difficult to write in Angel’s Fury?
The scene where Cassie finds Lenny in the hole and is tempted to go over the dark side was difficult to write. Mainly because it was hard to find that balance between Cassie being drawn to Pandra by her own internal darkness and the good side of her fighting back.
I needed the readers to be genuinely concerned that the darkness might win; I wanted them to understand why the dark side was so attractive to Cassie and that for her, the choice wasn’t straight black and white. But at the same time I couldn’t risk losing their sympathy.
I wanted readers to be able to empathise with Cassie and wonder which choice they themselves might have made.
I hope I managed to strike that balance, but it was difficult.
9. The YA book market is a competitive place, what do you think sets Angel’s Fury apart from the pack?
I’ve been told Angel’s Fury is fresh and unique and it does seem fairly unclassifiable. As my editor, Philippa says:
“It is not a paranormal romance, though it is a chilling story of teenagers who are reincarnated every lifetime, and there's a compelling love story at its heart. It is not a psychological thriller, though the past lives are haunting and the pace is breathless. And it is not historical, though it touches on the horror and travesty of the Holocaust in WWII."
The appearance of scenes from the holocaust in Cassie’s dreams make it stand out; it is rare to have this period of history in a book, but not be the focus of the book. And perhaps it’s also unusual because although there is a romance in the book, again that isn’t the focus either. The battle between good and evil and quest for redemption form the real focus.
10. Some writers relate take great inspiration from music while they’re writing. Do you listen to music while you’re writing? If so, what artists/bands do you like to listen to while you write?
I like to write in silence where possible. I try and put myself in the character’s place, touching, smelling, hearing, tasting and feeling what they’re feeling. I can’t do that if there’s music in the background.
11. There is a lot of argument within the young adult market as to what is appropriate for teens to read. Where do you stand on this matter? Do you think teens should be protected from reading about taboo subjects or do you think they should have the freedom to choose their own reads?
I never had my reading matter censored or dictated to me and I believe everyone should have the ability to explore literature to find the style or voice that best speaks to them. Why should teens be any different? They aren’t children any more, they’re young adults, but they’re still searching for who they are and why should their exploration be censored, if it hurts no-one. Richard Peck says “if you cannot find yourself on the page very early in life, you will go looking for yourself in all the wrong places.”
That said, as a parent I feel that teens do still need a level of protection and I believe that one job of the publishers and editors is to understand where the line between YA and adult falls. As parents we need to trust that the publisher won’t have put pornography (for example) on the YA shelves.
12. Aside from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Free time … what’s that?
13. Thank you so much for your time, Bryony. Before you go, could you tell me about any projects you have in the pipeline we can look out for?
I’ve written two books since Angel’s Fury, one is with my editor and the other with my agent. The first is currently titled The Society, and it’s about a teenaged girl called Taylor Oh, who sees the ghosts of the violently dead … and if one of them is able to touch her, she is compelled to avenge that death. She has to solve the murder of a classmate she cannot stand and becomes involved in a plot by Anubis to regain his power.
The second book is a total rewrite of a novel I wrote a few years ago: Windrunner’s Daughter.
Web, the Windrunner’s Daughter lives in an America of the future where the catastrophic eruption of Yellowstone has resulted in the scattering of humanity. Only the elitist and patriarchal Windrunners can travel between communities. When the Runners in her family disappear and her mother is struck down by a mysterious illness, Web flouts tradition and sets out in search of a cure … but her mother’s illness is not what it seems and she is not alone.
At the moment though, I’m still waiting for news about these books so don’t look out for them too hard.
Sunday, 17 July 2011
Last Tuesday I attended the launch of Orion’s new YA imprint, Indigo. I’d already seen a list of the books on the Indigo list and knew they were going to be great but there were a few that I hadn’t heard much about – luckily the very lovely ladies at Orion filled us in on the details.
It’s clear that everybody involved in Indigo is extremely passionate and that’s so infectious. By the end of the event I was desperate to read every title on the list. I’m not even joking.
So, after a quick catch up and natter with some of my favourite bloggers we had a sneak preview of the books that Indigo have coming out between the launch in September and spring 2012. To whet your appetites, here are a few I’m most excited about:
‘A social media thriller’
NB: Kate Harrison is very lovely, was wearing a beautiful dress and has actually read this very blog! Exciting!
Dark Parties – Sara Grant
‘A dystopian thriller with beautiful cover art from a debut novelist.’
Midwinterblood – Marcus Sedgwick
‘An epic tale of love and sacrifice’
NB: (I wrote this on the train on the way back from the event) This looks amazing. Seriously, amazing. Plus, Marcus Sedgwick is now joint with Barry Cunningham as YA’s chief rockstar.
(Now I’ve read the book) Wow. I was absolutely blown away by Midwinterblood. Honestly, I finished it at midnight last night and instantly wanted to read it again. It’s completely and utterly stunning.
My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece – Annabel Pitcher
The paperback release with a new cover (pictured is the hardback cover), which I’ve been promised is amaaazing (yes, the triple ‘a’ was necessary).
The Double Shadow – Sally Gardner
We were told this treat is like reading film noir, which can never be a bad thing.
Sally described this as the most controversial and difficult book she’s ever written. She then proceeded to read from it so beautifully that I’m dying to get started on it.
Spring 2012 will kick off with the release of Alan Gibbons’ An Act of Love in paperback – do not miss out on this one, it’s an absolute gem.
Aside from An Act of Love, we also have the following to look forward to:
The Hunting Ground – Cliff McNish
Billed as one to read with the lights on it’s safe to say I’m really looking forward to this one. A true horror novel, I have to admit even the cover creeps me out a little. I sound like a broken record, I know, but we need more YA horror so I’m excited to see what McNish has to offer.
The Double Edged Sword – Sarah Silverwood
Described by the lovely Amanda at Floor to Ceiling Books as ‘Neverwhere meets Harry Potter’ – sounds good to me!
Hollow Pike – James Dawson
James is a debut author, the cover art is stunning and Viv did a little squeal when we saw it. That just about covers it methinks.
Phew! I’m exhausted just reading through the list!
If that wasn’t exciting enough we then got treated to some readings by four of the authors on the Indigo list: Marcus Sedgwick, Sara Grant, Kate Harrison and Sally Gardner.
After cake and champagne and swooning after authors who were clearly far too talented to be in our presence we were allowed to take away a copy of some of the books I mentioned earlier. Of course, I showed absolutely no self-restraint at all and came away with a stack. A wonderful stack that I’m already part way through devouring!
Any of you folks who are signed up to UK Book Tours (and if you’re not, head over here to sign up) should say a big fat thank you to lovely, lovely Nina (who was wearing a gorgeous necklace), who kindly let me take away a few books to go out on tour. So, any Marcus Sedgwick, Kate Harrison, Sara Grant or Harlan Coben fans – keep an eye out as the tours will be up soon!
So that was the Indigo launch party. It was a gorgeous evening, the Indigo girls were fantastic hosts and I came away with some top notch books. Can’t beat it.
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Pages: 323 pages, paperback
Series?: Yes, this is book one.
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.
Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.
When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.
My review: Bumped had been on my radar for a good while before I was given a copy at the RHCB event last weekend. I'd read so much about it on the US blogs that I got cracking on my copy as soon as I left London. I devoured it in a matter of hours and was thoroughly entertained from begining to end.
I've seen quite a few reviews where people have struggled with the slang in Bumped. Each to their own and all that but I really didn't find the slang a problem at all. In fact, I think it heped to make the world McCafferty creates even stronger. Plus, it's not as though 'bumping' and 'pregging' are particularly cryptic, I'm pretty sure everybody can easily get the gist of their meanings, without the aid of Zen's tender 'coitus' sign language. I read one borderline negative review of Bumped (I'm really sorry but I can't remember who wrote it) where the reviewer compared the story to Brave New World meets Tila Tequila. As if that's a bad thing!
Also, I just have to say that 'fertilicious' is a stroke of genius and will definitely be making it into my vocabulary when I'm with child.
The plot of Bumped is really interesting - a fascinating and fun take on the current dystopia trend. I have commented recently that I'm getting a bit sick of YA dystopia at the moment but Bumped was fresh and original and rejuvinated my interest in the genre.
Our narrators, Harmony and Melody (twin sisters separated at birth), take charge of alternating chapters, though I felt like Melody was the real protagonist. She's an interesting character who seems as though she'll be a bit of a mean girl on first glance - she's blonde, popular, pretty etc etc. However, I found her extremely likable and really cared about her story.
Harmony, though, could go to hell for all I cared. Dull as dishwater, I found her insufferable from page one and she just irritated me more and more as the story unfolded. When she wasn't whining and bible bashing (having religion - fine. Forcing it on me - get out of my face) she was lying and manipulating. I'm not a fan. I've got my fingers crossed for more Melody and less Harmony in book two, though I'm fairly sure that's not going to happen
The subplot of Malia's pregnancy gone awry was so well executed and had me curious from the first time it was mentioned. I loved the frankness with which Melody finally revealed the whole story. It was a really great moment and shocking too, considering Bumped is a relatively light hearted read.
I know there are people saying Bumped is promoting teen pregnancy and that McCafferty must have been watching too much Sixteen and Pregnant to come up with the idea. I think people need to chill out. Bumped is fun and light hearted. It certainly doesn't promote teenage pregnancy as a positive thing and I'm fairly sure it's not going to corrupt children into selling their babies for university educations and tummy tucks. Calm down.
I really loved Bumped. It put a big smile on my face and made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. Fertilious, indeed!
If any of you fancy reading Bumped for yourselves head over to UK Book Tours and sign up for the Bumped tour, which is starting next week.
First line: 'I'm sixteen. Pregnant. And the most important person on the planet.'
Read if you liked…: Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Total: 16/20 (B+)
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Lindsey's debut novel, Long Lankin, was released this year and I can confidently say that it's my book of 21011. I know we're only in July - still, I know nothing will overtake this one, for me.
You can read my review here but if you haven't read Long Lankin yet I absolutely insist that you do. It's terrifying from the outset and so beautifully written. I'm a huge horror fan and love anything creepy, so it was inevitable I'd fall in love with the book. I first heard about it in July '10 at a RHCB brunch and yearned (yes, yearned) for it for months after. I have since raved non-stop about Long Lankin and proceed to force it onto everybody I come into contact with.
Needless to say, I was extremely overexcited about meeting the talent who brought Long Lankin to life.
It's always a bit nerve wracking, meeting someone you're such a fan of, isn't it? What if they're aloof and distant? What if they brush you off or, even worse, what if they're mean to you?
I'm pleased to report that Lindsey Barraclough is one of the sweetest writers I've ever been privileged enough to meet.
Are you ready for this? She actually knew who I was. I know, right?! Just from my name, not even my blog name, my ACTUAL name.
She'd seen my review of Long Lankin. Ahhh! We laughed about my 'holy shit' freak out at the cover (check it - the hand - holy shit), talked about Essex (we're both Essex girls, naturally) and the insanely creepy Salad Fingers. I mentioned in my review how Long Lankin reminds me of Salad Fingers so Lindsey Youtubed it and agreed - there is something similar!
Not only did she sign a copy for me, she also signed one for my friend (happy birthday, Mel!) and posed for a photo. I trotted away with a signed copy of Long Lankin, feeling beyond thrilled. She knew me! Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
Lindsey Barraclough is one lovely lady. Go and read Long Lankin. Now.
Lock the windows first.
Monday, 11 July 2011
Flowers have a significant role in The Immortals series by Alyson Noёl and this feature investigates this ‘language of flowers’:
‘A flower is not a flower alone; a thousand thoughts invest it’.
All over the world, flowers are an integral part of human culture, whether it is the perfect table centre for a wedding, a beautiful bouquet for a birthday, a message of thanks, or to pay one’s respect at a funeral.
And while everyone knows that red roses signify love, few may realise that an entire language of flowers exists, with every bloom, foliage and plant having a particular emotion attached – whether it is hazel for reconciliation, wisteria for welcome or ivy for fidelity.
The unique language was created by the romantic early Victorians who carefully planned every bouquet and posy so as to deliver a desired message.
Extract from THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS: A MISCELLANY by Mandy Kirkby
Two flowers that feature in EVERMORE are tulips (a declaration of love) and white roses (a heart unacquainted with love)
In the eighteen hundreds, people often communicated their intentions through the flowers they sent, as specific flowers held specific meanings. Here are a few more traditional ones:
I scroll down the alphabetical list, my eyes scanning for tulips and holding my breath as I read:
Red tulips – Undying love.
Then just for fun, I look up white rosebuds and laugh out loud when I read:
White rosebuds – The heart that knows no love; heart ignorant of love.
Extract from EVERMORE
In EVERLASTING the key flower is the lotus flower
“So, according to this, the lotus flower grows out of the mud, struggling through the muck to make its way toward the light. And, once it reaches that light, it blossoms and grows into something extraordinary, something very, very beautiful”
“It’s a symbol for awakening,”…. Awakening to the spiritual side of life.”
“But it also represents life in general,”….“You know, overcoming the hardships and struggles life brings in order to blossom into your true self—the beautiful being you were destined to be”
Extract from EVERLASTING
Flowers are another way that Damen communicates with Ever in The Immortals series and tulips, white roses and the lotus flower with their specific meanings add an extra layer of unspoken language and symbolism.
So ridiculously early on Saturday morning I trotted off to London for my fourth blogger brunch at Random House.
I just want to give a big shout out to all of the lovely girls at Random House - they were one of the first publishers to ever get in touch while I was a fledgling blogger and have always been such a brilliant bunch to deal with. I've been to so many events that they've hosted and they're always so friendly and enthusastic - and well dressed! I always leave the offices with serious dress envy.
So, yes, I just wanted to take a moment to thank everybody at Random House for always being so good to me - you guys absolutely rock!
But I digress.
After Oyster card drama I finally met up with the others and we headed to the Random House offices. After tea and brekkie we were given a preview of some of the exciting new rleases that Random House will be spoiling us with over the coming year.
Let me tell you - there are some AWESOME titles coming up, including:
- Kiss, Date, Love, Hate by Luisa Plaja, the nicest lady in YA (Feb 2012)
- Desert Angel by Charlie Price (Feb 2012)
- The Wood Queen by the very lovely Karen Mahoney (Feb 2012)
- Now Is the Time for Running by Michael Williams (Now Is the Time for Kleenex apparnetly!)
- Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (July 2012)
- This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (October 2011. It's a Frankenstein prequel set to be adapted for the big screen
- Sea Hearts - Margo Lanagan (April 2012. I already know I'll adore this book)
- Dearly Departed - Lia Habel (September 2011. Can zombies be sexy? We'll see!)
- The Haunting of Charity Delafield by Ian Beck (This one sounds fantastic!)
- Starters by Lissa Price (April 2012. This one has a beautiful cover and makes me think of a mash up of Unwind (Neal Shusterman) and the movie Surrogates)
With the presentation done and dusted we had the opportunity to get our books signed by Lindsey Barraclough (Long Lankin) and Andy Mulligan (Trash). This was insanely exciting for me as Trash was one of my favourite books of 2012 and, well, I think you all know how much I adore Long Lankin. I'm actually going to do a separate post about meeting Lindsey as I have a lot to say. Seriously, my adoration for her reaches Patrick Ness proportions.
And I love me some Patrick Ness.
Books signed, photos taken and cake eaten it was sadly time to say goodbye to Random House. However, our farewell was followed by pubs, pie and Pimms, which is always a good combination.
I always love the time I get to spend with my blogger friends - you are all brilliant and I just wish the time didn't fly by so fast.
So that was the RHCB blogger brunch 2011 - thanks again, ladies, especially for giving up your Saturday to shower us with books!
Shamelessly stealing this idea from the lovely Sarah over at Feeling Fictional, the bloggers present at the event (and aftermath) were:
- Sammee - I Want to Read That
- Hannah - My Book Journey
- Viv - Serendipity Reviews
- Dwayne - Girls Without a Bookshelf
- Jenny - Wondrous Reads
- Darren - Book Zone for Boys
- Lynsey - Narratively Speaking
- Caroline - Portrait of a Woman
- Mark and Liz - My Favourite Books
- Kirsty - The Overflowing Library
(Bloggers with names, in case you weren't sure who was who)
Note: All event photos have been pilfered from Sarah at Feeling Fictional. All book covers are from Goodreads)
Sunday, 10 July 2011
The rebooted UK Book Tours will be lauching tomorrow!
Like so many of you I was so sad when Lynsey had to shut down the original tour site due to work commitments. She did such a brilliant job bringing so many great books to all of us bloggers so we thought it would be a huge shame for that not to continue.
So! Lynsey kindly allowed us to take over and relaunch UK Book Tours and tomorrow you'll get to see the result. I'm very excited.
I have to give a huge shout out and thank you to Sya and Emma, who have been so organised and, honestly, done the vast majority of the work so THANK YOU ladies, you are brilliant.
If you have any suggestions or donations just give us a shout over at email@example.com or @UKBookTours, which Sya is manning.
We really hope you enjoy UK Book Tours so please do come and hang out tomorrow, when our first tour becomes available. Oh, and if you want a clue as to what the first book is - you'll have to BUMP into us tomorrow to find out!
Thursday, 7 July 2011
'The brilliant Before I Die by Jenny Downham is set to be converted into a movie, titled “Now Is Good” and starring Dakota Fanning and Kaya Scodelario!
Jeremy Irvine, Paddy Considine and Olivia Williams round out the cast of the film, to be directed by Ol Parker. Filming is due to start in London very soon!'
Before I Die is a beautiful book and I can't wait to see it on the big screen. It's always a bit worrying when such a great book is turned into a film but the cast are top notch so I'm really looking forward to it. According to IMDB the release date should be in 2012 so not too long to wait!
What do you think of the cast?
Dakota Fanning (Tessa)
Kaya Scodelario (Zoey)
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Hello everybody! I'm joined today by the lovely Paige Harbisan, whose debut novel (Here Lies Bridget) is creating a massive buzz in the world of YA. Paige kindly answered a few of my burning questions so, without further ado, onto the interview
1. In young adult fiction in particular, it’s important that readers bond with the characters - what do you think is the most important thing to get right when you're creating a character?
I think you have to not give into typical tropes. I think if you want to make a mean girl, you have to make her the saddest girl on the inside. If you want to write about the perfect guy, he has to have flaws. You have to think about actual people, and have faith that the things you think privately to yourself are things we’ve all thought before.
2. The YA book market is a competitive place, what do you think sets Here Lies Bridget apart from the pack?
I think it’s not as light a read as it might initially seem. It’s a pretty cover, and it’s not a one hundred percent new concept (a mean girl getting her just desserts), but I think there’s something really cool about kind of being in the head of the antagonist. Which is pretty much what she is.
3. Can you tell me a bit about your journey with Here Lies Bridget? When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?
I wrote it from about May 2009, on the train home from my freshman year at Flagler College (from Florida to Washington D.C), and finished in early July. I was lucky enough that my mom’s agent took a look at it—telling me the whole time not to get my hopes up, and that they weren’t really taking on new clients—and then in October, on a chilly morning, I got the call saying Harlequin Teen wanted it. I was beyond ecstatic. It took a while to get the book out since 2010 was all filled up for book releases. So I did a few drafts and then it came out February 2011 here.
4. What would you say is your worst bad habit when it comes to writing?
Oh god, procrastinating. Particularly when my mom and I try to work at the same time. Here are a few things we have done while our computers glowed, abandoned, next to us:
Taken pictures of a magnifying glass in our mouths—try it. It is…hilarious.
Tried to catch fuzzy car dice by the string in our mouths.
A lot of Pixiwoo makeup tutorials
Decided to go on vacation.
5. Which authors do you think have most influenced your own writing style?
Probably the most is J.K. Rowling. I don’t know how, but I read those books a thousand times and listened to the audiobooks as I fell asleep for years. I’m sure it snuck in there somehow. Mostly, though, I think my writing is very colloquial, and so mostly comes from how people talk. I also did plays, and so I am very cognizant of dialogue being written unnaturally.
6. What advice would you give to writers who want to make the leap from writing as a hobby to actively pursuing a career in writing?
Do research. Find out who publishes things you like—don’t submit YA to a company that has no YA line. Also, get an agent. Often that’s the hardest part. But they really make a difference.
Thank you so much for your time, Paige! So, what do you guys think? In case you haven't heard about Here Lies Bridget yet check out the summary below:
Summary (from Goodreads): Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed "who me?" look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore.
When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.
And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough…
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Pages: 681 pages, paperback
Series?: Yes, this is book two. The third and final installment (Fallout) is out now
Acquired: Purchased myself
Summary (from Goodreads): Crank. Glass. Ice. Crystal. Whatever you call it, it's all the same: a monster. And once it's got hold of you, this monster will never let you go.
Kristina thinks she can control it. Now with a baby to care for, she's determined to be the one deciding when and how much, the one calling the shots. But the monster is too strong, and before she knows it, Kristina is back in its grips. She needs the monster to keep going, to face the pressures of day-to-day life. She needs it to feel alive. Once again the monster takes over Kristina's life and she will do anything for it, including giving up the one person who gives her the unconditional love she craves -- her baby.
The sequel to Crank, this is the continuing story of Kristina and her descent back to hell. Told in verse, it's a harrowing and disturbing look at addiction and the damage that it inflicts.
My review: I read and reviewed Crank (the first in this series) last year and absolutely adored it. It's the book that kick started my love of verse novels and I've been a huge Ellen Hopkins fan ever since. Glass is definitely an edgy story and I would advise younger readers to exercise a bit of caution before reading it - though I don't think there's anything in Crank that could cause offense, as it's all so delicatley handled and wonderfully written.
Hopkins writes from experience and this rings loud and clear in Glass (as it did in Crank). Kristina is such a human character and I loved that we saw a softer side to her this time around. So much happened to her since Crank ended - she had a beautiful baby boy and started afresh, free from the claws of her addiction. Or so she thought.
Kristina's struggle with right and wrong is so fascinating to read and I really like the fact we're right in her head, in the thick of the action. We see her lying to her family and those around her but, as the age old saying goes, you can lie to the whole world but you can't lie to yourself and that's why the first person narrative works so well here.
Hopkins is an absolute master when it comes to poetry. She uses such varied forms and it keeps things interesting - there are a number of visual poems included in Glass and they were fantastic. I think she experiments with form more in Glass than she did in Crank and I hope this trend continues in Fallout, which I'm really eager to read. There's a sneak preview of Fallout at the back of Glass and it sounds great - I'm interested to see how the multiple viewpoints change the tone of the story.
In case you couldn't tell, I loved Glass. It's such a rich story and I found it so easy to place myself in Kristina's world. Despite everything she's done and all the people she's hurt I still find myself warming to our heroine and willing her to pull through. I hope we learn more about Kristina's adult years during Fallout. Fingers crossed she manages to get herself together - though, I have a feeling this isn't going to be the case!
First line: 'Life was radical right after I met the monster.'
Read if you liked…: Girl, Interrupted - Susanna Kaysen
Total: 15/20 (B)
Monday, 4 July 2011
Do make sure you drop by to visit the lovely Sarah at Feeling Fictional tomorrow for her stop of the tour and if you want to catch up with the earlier tour stops then you can start at My Favourite Books.
Heat thrummed under my skin, pulsing, demanding to be let out, making me twist and bend with the strength of it.
“Run!” Aimi had said. “Run, Suzume!”
I must run.
As if a star had exploded in my mind, I knew it. I pulled the heat and the brightness out, drew it around me like a cloak. It surrounded me and I felt as though I changed: became small and fleet. My clothes seemed to fall away. My feet were silent on the grass. I was like a hare.
Run, little white hare. Run and run, and no one will catch you.
The trees towered around me. Leaf-shadows dappled my naked back. The only sound was the soft hum of my own heart. Black shapes moved around me, but they did not see me. They were too slow.
Soon I was out of the trees again and by the squat, brick-built kitchen. It was set a little way from the house.
As I saw it I seemed to burst upwards, out of the small, silent place, and suddenly there was noise again, and fear. Men shouted behind me. My breath rasped. I was shaking, exhausted, as if I had run a hundred miles, and my mind was fogged with grief.
All I knew was that I had to hide.
I went through the open doors of the kitchen. The interior was dark and deserted. The fires had gone out. The massive, low stove, built of stones and clay, sat in the centre of the room.
I went down on my knees, the packed earth floor ripping away skin as I scrambled into the biggest hearth. I burrowed into the ashes. Sparks glowed around me like dying orange suns. They burned and stung my hands, my arms, my back, my belly. Black debris rose around me like a pall of smoke.
The space inside the fireplace was just big enough to hold me, if I curled up tight: pressing legs tightly to my torso, burying my face in my knees.
I closed my eyes, and waited.
So, what do you think of that? Beautiful, right? Now, as promised, I've got a great giveaway for any readers of Writing from the Tub who are UK residents - sorry international peeps, I'll do another giveaway for you soon!
Ooh look at the pretty prizes! There's a whole bunch of swag up for grabs, as well as a beautiful Japanese fan signed by Rachel - I'm jealous I can't enter!
- To enter click here to fill out the form.
- No extra entries or any of that and the contest will run from today until the 16/7/11.
- The winner will be announced on the blog and notified by email - if I don't receive a response wtihin 72 hours I'll select a new winner.