Friday, 27 November 2009

Cover Wars - Leviathan

The Book

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

The Covers

The USA



The UK





My thoughts

Very briefly today as I'm racing towards the end of NaNo, although I doubt I shall make it!

The UK one is an illustration from the book, so it is a little more representative. It's interesting how both covers seem Clankerish rather than Darwinist (if you haven't read the book, check out my review for what I mean by that statement).

The Winner

I like the UK best. It gives me more of an idea of what the book will be about and I love the curve in the title. Although it's a very close thing. I LOVE them both.

Which do you prefer and why?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Have you ever wondered . . .

. . . what my favourite book was a child or where I'd live if I could live anywhere?

Well now, you lucky people, you can find out. I'm interviewed today, over at Joelle Anthony's blog, for her Wild Card Wednesday series on published and aspiring writers.

The interview question were really fun to read. Hope you enjoy reading them.

While you're there check out Joelle's blog (it's really great) and read up on her debut YA release Restoring Harmony, it'll be one of your favourite books of 2010.

Click here to head over there.

Waiting On Wednesday for Sing me to sleep

Sing me to sleep by Angela Morrison



BETH HAS ALWAYS BEEN “THE BEAST”--That’s what everyone at school calls her because of her awkward height, facial scars, and thick glasses. Who could love a beast? Beth’s only friend is geeky, golden-haired Scott. That is until she’s selected to be her choir’s soprano soloist and receives the makeover of a lifetime. Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of Beth.

Things only get better when her choir travels to Switzerland and Beth meets the mysterious Derek. They have an incredible whirlwind romance that makes Beth realize, for the first time, she too can find love. She’s no longer The Beast. In Derek’s eyes, she’s a beauty. But then Scott makes a heartbreaking confession to Beth that leaves her completely torn. Should she stand by sweet, steady Scott or follow the dangerous passionate feelings she has for Derek?

And there’s an even bigger problem: Derek’s got a secret . . . one that could shatter everything.

Published March 4th 2010 by Razorbill

This sounds amazing. I LOVE a good love triangle.

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What are you waiting for?

Monday, 23 November 2009

Book Review - Leviathan

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Illustrated by Keith Thompson




What it's about:
Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever. (from Goodreads)


What I thought: I adored the world Scott Westerfeld creates in Leviathan, not since Philip Pullman took me into Lyra's Oxford, have I wanted to visit somewhere, so much. I want to fly in a Huxley and ride in a storm walker and see all the beasties that live on/ make upthe Leviathan.

Leviathan is such a fun and engrossing read. It has all the right ingredients for a great adventure story; an heir, to an empire, on the run, a girl posing as a boy solider, a mysterious quest to far off lands, a host of scheming characters and it's all set in the middle of an alternative WW1.

The re-writing of history is so clever and inventive. It's recognizable from the history books, only it's completely different too. The Germans have very impressive machines, like this



and the British have engineered animals who can work and fight alone side them. In the world of the Leviathan, Darwin not only discovered evolution, he discovered DNA and used it to evolve new animals, like the Leviathan.

The Leviathan




As well as a brilliant story, Leviathan has the most wonderful art work (see above). Seriously ALL books should have pictures. I wanted to buy another copy so I could cut the pictures out and frame them. It would kill me to cut up a book through and luckily I don't have to because Keith Thompson's art can be bought here. Wouldn't that make a great Christmas present for someone (hint, hint)

I just loved this book. I can't wait for the second in the series. Where we get to travel to the Ottoman empire, hopefully find out what's in those eggs, and see if Alek realizes Deryn's a girl!

Oh and incase you were wondering if I lived in this world I'd so be a Darwinist!

Scott Westerfeld can be found blogging here

Happy Thanksgiving

What I know about Thanksgiving, I know from the movies. Apparently it's a holiday where you get obsessed with food, somehow you don't get to eat the food (it gets burnt, lost, you give it away) but realize that being with your family is the important thing

OR

you get stuck (usually due to snow) in an airport, have flash backs to moments in your life, meet the love of your life (who is also stuck in the same airport), the snow clears and you're home in time for dinner.

I'm adopting Thanksgiving!

I have too, It's a holiday about food, love and family. My kind of holiday!!! Plus the baby is Almost American.

Before we settle down to the Macy's parade, turkey and sweet potato with marshmallow (really, America, really?) Here is what I'm thankful for:

my beautiful baby boy

my lovely husband

my family, far away but still close in spirit

my friends; old new, online and off. You brighten my days and help me so much

the chance to live in DC

having everything I really need

having time to write (even though it isn't much!)

Modern Family and In the thick of It for making me laugh and laugh.

Glee for making me happy (but more Emma Glee!)

that I'm going to see New Moon tonight

Wholefoods

dishwashers

AND of course

BOOKS

The wonderful people who write them - thank you!

BLOGS

and the wonderful people who write them - thank you!

MY READERS

Thanks for reading and commenting I love hearing from you

Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, 20 November 2009

Shannon Hale at Politics and Prose

I have never read any of Shannon Hale's books, although I've heard how fabulous they are, so I was in two minds about going to her singing at Politics and Prose. When I told my friend Kim though, she said I had to go and that Shannon Hale was a brilliant speaker.

So I did.

And Kim was completely right.

Shannon Hale was excellent. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, do. She's so engaging and energetic. I went to her morning appearance, which included two school parties, and she completely captivated the kids.

Her talk was one of the funniest I've been too and she was really positive and encouraging to the children as well. They really responded to her questions, as well, which made for a great atmosphere.

As well as talking about her books and where she gets her ideas (fairy tales & what ifs) she talked a lot about her writing journey and how long it took her to get published. I loved that she had kept all her rejection letters and laminated them. It was a great visual message (she rolled them out across the store) not to give up on your dreams.

I bought Book of a Thousand days which along with Princess Academy seemed to be a firm favourite among the girls present. For once I had a camera and remembered to use it, so here is Shannon, me and the baby (at his third book signing!)




Doesn't she have fabulous hair! I love that colour.

Thanks for a great event Shannon and Politics & Prose.

Shannon also has a really great blog Squeetus and her new book is Forest Born

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Cover Wars The Hunger Games



The Book

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Covers

The US



The UK



Thoughts on the USA

This cover has really grown on me, perhaps because I see it whenever I go into a book store. I love the Mockingjay, and the way they have kept the theme going for Catching Fire. It ties in really well with what the book is about.

The simple logo and block lettering really stand out when this book is displayed alongside others. I'd definitely pick it up.

Thoughts on the UK

This isn't at all how I imagine Katniss and I'm pretty sure it's not at all how she'd dress either. If I saw this one on in a shop (and had been living in a cave and hadn't heard how wonderful it is) I wouldn't pick it up. I'd dismiss it as a sci-fi book. Also, for some reason, it says boys book to me. Which shouldn't stop me buying it because I've read some brilliant books about and aimed at boys, but it would, unless it had been recommend.

The Winner

USA! For a classic cover, can't wait to see the third one or read it.

UK 3
USA 2


Which do you prefer and why?

Waiting on Wednesday for Something like Fate

Something like Fate by Susane Colasanti



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


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


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

I loved Take me There and this new one from Susane Colasanti sounds great. I also love that cover!

Published: May 18th 2010 by Viking Juvenile

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

My muse is cheating on me!

Yesterday as I was adding books to my TBR list, I'm at 94 now on Goodreads, I found a book whose short synopsis sounds eerily like my last years NaNoWriMo. Not the main one, the Mini NaNo. The one I wrote 45,000 words of in a week and then gave up on. It had to many plot holes, so I returned to the main NaNoWriMo, which also had to many plot holes!

I guess this must happen to published authors quite a lot. I've read a lot of book that are similar in theme and come out around the same time. I guess, as we're all exposed to a lot of the same media and situations it's to be expected that similar ideas will be triggered. Everyone brings their own experiences to their writing though, so we get lots of different approaches and lost of great books.

I can't wait to read this book though. Obviously it appeals to me, I wanted to write one quite similar! I'm also curious to see how alike it really is. I'm thinking probably not that similar but the main character did have the same name. I used an unusual shortening of that name and if she does too, I'll know my muse is cheating!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Book Review: Cashing In

Cashing In by Susan Colebank




What it's about:

There are some problems even winning the lottery can’t fix

With as many hours as Reggie Shaw puts in at the Cashmart, it’s no wonder that her grades and her friendships are slipping. Worst of all, Reggie’s mother’s inability to keep a job means that Reggie is pulling the weight of two people. Then, Reggie’s mom wins big in the lottery. Suddenly the money—and the popularity—comes pouring in. But when Reggie finds out that her mother has been borrowing more money than she actually won, she must face up to the fact that happiness can’t be bought—it only comes with hard work. (from Goodreads)

Why I read it:

My very lovely friend Joelle sent me her ARC, thanks Joelle.

What I thought:

While the premise of Cashing In is intriguing, who hasn't dreamed of winning the lottery, the real strength of the book is in the characters. We have Reggie's best friends, Star Wars obsessed Pete and confident outspoken Sarah, her love interest and fellow cash mart employee Gabe, and arch villain Bridget, I really hated her. All of them are fantastic. I would actually have liked to have seen more of them. Especially Pete and Sarah, whose storyline goes somewhere I wasn't expecting.

Reggie's Mom was the main problem I had with Cashing In. I couldn't really hate her, she isn't an out and out villain, like Bridget. Rather she's quite sad and pathetic. I'd have liked to have seen some emotional growth from her. To be fair though it isn't her story, it's Reggie's, and Reggie does plenty of growing.

As someone who has been known to inhale packets of Jaffa Cakes in times of stress, and who will do almost anything to avoid confrontation, I could definitely relate to Reggie Shaw. I was on her side from the beginning and cheering her on as she faces some pretty horrible situations. While I did get frustrated with her in the middle of the book, I absolutely loved the end when she finally has her say about everything. Yay Reggie!

Cashing In is a fun read that touches on some serious issues. There are some laugh out loud moments too. I'd have liked more of everything though. More of Reggie's friends, more romance with Gabe (and maybe less flannel!) and more of Reggie and her Mom, after everything falls apart.


Susan Colebank can be found blogging at www.susancolebank.com and is currently running a competition to celebrate the release of Cashing In.


When to Quit?

So we're half way through NaNoWriMo and I hope you're all doing well.

I am not.

I want to quit.

But do I want to quit because;

a) I'm distracted by two new shiny ideas AND a possible solution to a plot problem in last years NaNo (Get back in your box!)

or

b) because I'm right in the middle of the story and the middle is always hard. Beginnings are so much nicer.

or

c) I recognize that this story is going nowhere. My first two novels grew around an idea but this one has grown round a character. Now we've met the character and seen him in action for a bit and I'm not quite sure what the point is. But maybe if I keep writing a point will become clear.

So fellow NaNoer's and Non NaNoers tell me this, how do you decide if quitting is the right thing to do?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Book Review: If You Come Softly

If You Come Softly by Jacaqline Wilson







What it's about:

If You Come Softly, is the story of Elisha and Jeremiah or, as they prefer, Ellie and Miah. Ellie is white and jewish and Miah is black. They both attend Percy Academy, where they bump into each other, literally. Both recognize something in the other, and they fall in love.


Why I read it:
I picked this up at the library because I caught the end of Jacqueline Woodson's talk at The National Book Festival and she was amazing. As was the section she read from another of her books, Feathers.


What I thought:
I really loved If You Come Softly. It's a quick read but hugely powerful. The story unfolds in alternating chapters, told from Ellie and Miah's differing perspectives. So the reader gets to see how both of them reacted to their first meeting and to the unfolding of their relationship, which I really enjoyed.

If You Come Softly tackles some difficult issues but it never feels like they are reason for the story. I always felt Ellie and Miah and their feelings for one an other and their families was the main story and that's what drew me along. Having said that, the book certainly makes you think about race, because of course it does become an issue in their relationship. Due to how the outside world reacts to them. This is where the alternating view point is most effective, as we get to see both Ellie and Miah's reaction to the curiosity and hostility their relationship provokes.

There were many lines from the books that made me pause and made me think and perhaps opened my eyes a little because, like Ellie, I rarely think about being white. The one line that really struck me, and I'm sorry to have to paraphrase but the book went back to the library today, is where Miah's remebering his father telling him as a young boy "You never ever run in a white neighbourhood, never." Which just struck me as unbelievably sad.


This would be a brilliant book for a book club. There are so many issues it brings up that I want to talk about, especially the end, but as they all involve spoilers I won't do it here.

I'll just say read it and then get someone you know to read it so you can talk about it, because you'll really want to.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Cover Wars Saving Francesca by Melina Machetta




The Book


Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

One of my favourite books. I just love it.

The Covers

The US

The UK


Thoughts on the USA
The US cover has gown on me. It's quite a good match for the story, in that Francesca and the other girls are stirring up what has been a regimented, boys only school and bringing lots of changes. I quite like that it's a drawing rather than a photo too, it's a little bit different.

I'm not keen on the font used for the the title though or the fact that Melina's name is going up the leg of one of the boy's trousers. Why?

Thoughts on the UK

The UK covers appeals to me more. Although it certainly isn't screaming at me from the bookshelf. I like that the blue of the sky is gradually growing lighter but I'm not keen on the rest of the background. The book is set in a city not the country side and I'd have preferred to have seen something reflecting that.

I do like that the girl has her face tipped to the heavens, as if she's searching for answers there. She looks how I might picture Francesca, searching and longing. I also like the stars and the font.

The Winner

I can't say either of these covers really fit the book for me. If I was artistic I'd try and create my own but I'm not, so I won't. Instead I'll say yet another win for the UK (honestly I'm not biased!)

UK 3
USA 1

Which do you prefer and why?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Waiting On Wednesday for The Secret Year

The Secret Year by Jenifer Hubbard




Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend.When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal she left behind. But he is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept. (taken from Goodreads)

Published January 7th 2010 by Viking Juvenile

I think this one sounds amazing. Can't wait to find out what's in that Journal. I love the cover too especially the font they used.

Jennifer Hubbard can be find blogging at WriterJenn

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What are you waiting for?


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Here come the boys

There have been many posts round the YA blogshere on bad boys and good guys. My favourites have been over at AngieVille read them here Bad Boys and Nice Guys.

I find in books I go for the good guy,

Peeta, The Hunger Games,
Finn from Something Maybe,
Po from Graceling,
Guy from Willow,
Noel from The Ruby Oliver series

They all have my heart.

On TV though I'm a fan of the bad boy; Tim Riggins, Spike and Logan Echols all make me swoon.



yum!


Then I wondered what type of boys I write; are they good or bad?

Last years NaNo.

It features a bad boy/good guy love triangle. Yes I know. The MC starts out with the bad boy, who isn't exactly bad, just ruthless and yes he did have a hard childhood. Then she meets the good guy later in the book. I'm still not entirely sure who she should end up with. I love both my boys.

That novel is such a mess.

EU (No it's not a book about the European Union)

Has the goodest of good guys. He is so nice some of my beta readers complained and I had to toughen him up a bit, but he is still an utter sweetheart. He had to be really. My MC, Emma, has been through a lot. She really couldn't have dealt with a bad boys baggage; she has enough of her own.

This years NaNoWriMo

Ah Matthew French. I love him so much.

He has a huge chip on his shoulder, a difficult family situation, he's pig headed and opinionated and sarcastic, and he kisses Ellie, then proceeds to ignore her.

He certainly has bad boy potential. He's not sulking round the school though, being all mysterious and brooding and darkly handsome. For one thing he has red hair! Also he's head boy, he's popular, he's on the debate team and track team. He has lots of friends. He helps old ladies across the road! He's basically a mass of contradictions and so much fun to write.


So do you love the bad boy or the good guy? If you write which do you prefer to write?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

NaNoWriMo - Week 1

How is everyone doing?

I have 7,071 words and I'm loving this story and these characters. I've run into a few problems though.

First, I'm not where I wanted to be with my word count but I'm not stressing. If you are, then you should read this great post by Justine Larbalestier Word Count is not Everything. Then check out her and Scott Westerfeld's other NaNoWriMo tips.

Second, my last MC's voice, will not get out of my head. It's not surprising really, Emma and I have been together for over a year and I love her, but I really need to find a way to shut her up!

Also if you're a fan of internal monologue (which I am) you should bookmark this post by Kim Thacker for the revision process. Great idea Kim!

Finally you should go read Courtney Summers post on Mean Girls. It's amazing and honest and scary and powerful and makes me so glad I'm out of high school. Although sadly lots of mean girls grow up to be mean women.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Quote of the week

And some afternoons, sitting at the coffee shop on the cornor, eating fries and reading, I wanted to hug myself. Those days, being alone felt whole and right and good.

From If you come softly by Jacqueline Woodson

I love this one I know exactly what she means.

And the winner of Fire is. . .

MISHEL

Thanks to everyone who entered I loved hearing which you liked best. The UK one seems to have been the most popular.

Watch out for another great contest in December. Lots of exciting thing planned.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Cover Wars Uglies by Scott Westerfeld


This week the UK and US versions of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies are squaring off.

For the US we have



This cover is so well known and with good reason, it's utterly gorgeous. The minute I saw it I wanted to pick it up. I love the colours and way the girl is peering out but you can't see all her face. I wondered what she was looking at. I like the font they used too, very regimented and exact.

For the UK we have



Good God! What did Scott Westerfeld do to get stuck with this? Do they hate him in the UK or something?

That was my initial reaction to this cover. It freaks me out, which I guess is the point.

Once I'd got past my initial horror I could see that it's actually a very clever cover. If you've read Uglies you know it fits the book perfectly. Still I could not have this on my bookshelf. I'd have nightmares of mutant Barbies attacking me in the night.

But clever as it is I just hate it so this weeks winner is the USA!

Which makes
UK 2
USA 1

Which do you like best?


The winner of Fire will be announced later today. I need to count up all the entries before randomly selecting.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Waiting on Wednesday for The Piper's Son - Melina Marchetta

I am not just waiting for this book, I am dying for it, absolutely dying!

I had all my Waiting on Wednesday posts done and ready to go (NaNowWriMo organization!) then I read Adele at Persnickety Snarks in my mailbox, and had to change to this.

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta.

I am SO excited, jumping up and down, squealing excited, about this book.

The Piper's son is not just a new book by Melina, which would be exciting enough. It revisits the characters from Saving Francesca (more squealing) I LOVED Saving Francesca. Just loved it and I'm so happy to get to revisit these characters.

If you want to know which character is taking centre stage, this time round and what the book is about pop over to Persnickety Snarks and check out her In My Mailbox - November 1st post

The Piper's Son is out in March is Australia but I can't find any information on a US release date. Anyone?

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

What are you waiting for?