Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Q&A with Kay Cassidy and Giveaway

I'm delighted to welcome Kay Cassidy, author of The Cinderella Society, to the blog today. I adore Kay's debut novel and was excited to get to ask her some questions about it. 


1) I love the whole idea that there is a secret society dedicated to helping girls and women make the most of themselves and support each other. What was the inspiration behind the book?
The idea actually came from a news article I read several years ago about a high school sorority.  I had never heard of a sorority in high school before so it got my mind wondering what it would be like.  And then I started wondering what teenaged me would have wanted it to be like.  A group of girls and women dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world and making the world a better place?  I would've LOVED to have been part of that.  So I created The Cinderella Society as my way of living vicariously through Jess and her Sisters.

2) The Cinderella Society is full of quotes that I want to copy out and stick around my desk. If you had to choose one quote (yours or someone else's) about how to live. What would you choose?
NO WICKED CHATTER.  This is something almost every girl (and woman... and boys and men too!) have to battle.  We all have negative chatter that goes on in our heads sometimes telling us any number of wicked little lies.  That we aren't good enough, our idea isn't going to work, we'll never turn our dreams into reality... blah de blah de blah.  But that's all it is: chatter.  We control what goes on in our heads, so it's time we put the negative chatter out to pasture.  And that goes for Wicked chatter about other people too.  Good karma is our friend - be conscious about what you put out into the world.

3) One of the big themes in your book is being the best you, you can be. So what's a great song for making a girl feel like she can conquer the world?
I create a soundtrack for every book and Jess's theme song in The Cinderella Society is SOAR by Christina Aguilera.  It really captures what Jess and the Sisterhood are about.  I think every girl should listen to this song.  Every woman too.  :-)

4) What's the best writing advice you've been given?
"Writers write."  I know, this advice is almost too simple at first glance.  Something you might easily brush off as insignificant.  But it's so true.  Writers write.  They may talk about writing, learn about writing, read books to soak up the finer points of writing.  But at the end of the day, the only way you'll ever move forward in your career is to sit down and write.

5) What are you reading right now?

I just finished the ARC of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (coming October 2010).  I absolutely loved it.  I'm not generally a big vampire or werewolf fan (or wolves, as this case may be), but Nightshade completely swept me away into a really fresh story with an amazing, strong, resilient heroine (who has a great sense of humor to boot).  And the two love interests?  I can't decide if I'm Team Ren or Team Shay.  They are both such compelling heroes!
Next up is probably Susan Beth Pfeffer's final book in the moon trilogy, This World We Live In (which I've been wanting to read since Tera Lynn Childs convinced me to stop being my usual chicken self and read the first two moon books last summer). And then more teen chick lit for the 10 in '10 Teen Chick Lit Challenge I co-host with Jessica from Chick Lit Teens!

Thanks Kay! I must remember about that wicked chatter!
The Cinderella Society - what's about?
What a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn't want to wear it anymore?

Sixteen year old Jess Parker has always been an outsider.  So when she receives an invitation to join The Cinderella Society, a secret society of the most popular girls in school, it's like something out of a fairy tale.  Swept up by the Cindys' magical world of makeovers, and catching the eye of her Prince Charming, Jess feels like she's finally found her chance to fit in.

Then the Wickeds--led by Jess's arch-enemy--begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers there's more to being a Cindy than reinventing yourself on the outside.  She has unknowingly become part of a centuries-old battle of good vs. evil, and now the Cindys in charge need Jess for a mission that could change everything.

Overwhelmed, Jess wonders if The Cinderella Society made a mistake in choosing her.  Is it a coincidence her new boyfriend doesn't want to be seen with her in public?  And is this glamorous, secret life even what she wants, or will she risk her own happy ending to live up to the expectations of her new sisters?
 The Giveaway
To win a copy of The Cinderella Society just leave a comment on this post with a story/line/quote/thought about what it means to be empowered as a teenage girl. I shall pick my favourite on the 3rd April.
But there's more. The winner of my giveaway, will be entered into another giveaway, with all the other winners on this blog tour. That person shall win an autographed copy of the book to her and Daisy will also donate $100 to Girls Inc. in your name
 Huge Thanks to Daisy Whitney for sponsoring The Cinderella Society Blog Tour.

You need a US mailing address to enter this contest.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Review: The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

When the Prom Queen becomes your fairy godmother…

Sixteen year old outsider, Jess Parker, gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join a secret society of popular girls dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. The Cinderella Society guides all new recruits through its top secret ultimate life makeover. It’s all part of preparing them to face down the Wickeds and win. Determined not to let the Cindys down, Jess dives in with a passion. Finally, a chance to belong and show the world what she’s made of.

… be careful what you wish for.

Jess’s transformation wins her the heart of her dream crush and a shot at uber-popularity. Until the Wickeds–led by Jess’s arch enemy–begin targeting innocent girls in their war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers the real force behind her exclusive society. It’s a high stakes battle of good vs. evil, and the Cindys in power need Jess on special assignment. When the mission threatens to destroy her dream life come true, Jess is forced to choose between living a fairy tale and honoring the Sisterhood… and herself.

What’s a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn’t want to wear it anymore? 
(From Goodreads)

When I finished The Cinderella Society, I wanted to hug it and then give it to every girl I know.

It's a fabulous book. Full of strong messages about empowerment, friendship, being true to yourself, helping others and making a difference with your actions rather than looking the other way.

Jess is a great main character. Her reaction, to being recruited as a Cindy, is a mixture of utter awe and excitement and utter terror that they picked the wrong girl. I was rooting for her, cheering for her and cringing for her, throughout the book. She's also incredibly funny. I loved her comments on events and other characters, and she narrates the best first date scene I think I've read. I giggled and emphasized throughout it.

The other characters are interesting too. I liked that Ryan, Jess' swoon worthy crush, had his own issues and demons to deal with (and hoo-ray for boys being mean to girls and totally being called on it!*) I also liked that Lexy, Jess's Wicked counterpart and Ryan's little sister (oooh I sense drama in book2!), wasn't shown in a completely negative light. Yes she's mean, but Kay shows how she might have gotten that way.

I highly recommend you go and order a copy of The Cinderella Society today or come back tomorrow to try and win a copy!

* The being called on it, not the being mean

Thanks to Daisy Whitney for organizing this blog tour for The Cinderella Society

Monday, 29 March 2010

Review: The Line by Terri Hall

An invisible, uncrossable physical barrier encloses the Unified States. The Line is the part of the border that lopped off part of the country, dooming the inhabitants to an unknown fate when the enemy used a banned weapon. It’s said that bizarre creatures and superhumans live on the other side, in Away. Nobody except tough old Ms. Moore would ever live next to the Line.
Nobody but Rachel and her mother, who went to live there after Rachel’s dad died in the last war. It’s a safe, quiet life. Until Rachel finds a mysterious recorded message that can only have come from Away. The voice is asking for help.
Who sent the message? Why is her mother so protective? And to what lengths is Rachel willing to go in order to do what she thinks is right?

I loved the set up of this book. The uncrossable line between two places. It brought to mind fairy tales. A foreign, forbidden, other world  hidden from view and unreachable, until the time is right. Contrasting with the brutal restrictions of the world the characters inhabit.

Rachel is a lovely main character. I instantly warmed to her, understanding her fascination with The Line, her longing for something more and her determination to do the right thing. Her mum and employer, Mrs Moore, are also interesting characters. Both surprised me, and it was great to see so many strong female characters.

 Teri Hall has created a very real world. Unlike many dystopian novels, we learn exactly how things came to be as they are. Although I really loved this, the way it was presented, history lessons between Rachel and her Mom, did slow the action.

The last third of the book is amazing; exciting, fast paced and riveting. It almost feels like book begins in the wrong place.

The Line is the first book is a series, and the world and characters have been well set up. I shall definitely be picking up Book Two, Away.

Thanks to Around the World Tours for the book.

And the Winner is

The Book Pixie

If you email me your snail mail I shall get Saving Francesca, On the Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock off to you.

Hope you love them as much as I do!

Thank you to everyone who entered.


A huge thank you to everyone who commented on my Library Loving post. I made my target :)

Friday, 26 March 2010

Finally Friday

Firstly, THANK YOU so much, to everyone who commented on my Library Loving Blog post.  I'm trying to get round to comment back on all your posts.

Secondly, you can not imagine the relief, with which I wrote the words, of this blog post. This week has been epic and not in a good way. But some good things have happened.

  • I finished the edits on EU. Hoo-ray! At one point, it felt like the never ending story, but it's done. Well for now at least. I'll dig it out in a couple of weeks and see how good those edits are. For now though, I'm done with it! Which feels very good.
  • I have some unbelievable good books lined up to read. The Piper's Son and The Eternal Ones (thank you Penguin), When Nina Lies (thank you James of Bookchic) Before I Fall (thank you Daisy of Bookchick) and Shiver (thank you B&N gift voucher, which I found it my purse!)
  • The Cherry Blossom festival begins this weekend. The festival, is one of my favourite things, about living in DC. They are just beautiful. Expect some photos, next week.
  • Also, next week, I am super excited to be taking part in, The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy tour. It's being hosted by Daisy Whitney, and she's kindly giving away a copy of the book, to one of my readers. So watch out for that.
  • I'll also be posting reviews of The Line, The Sky is Everywhere and The Naughty List. I'm going to try and keep them short and sweet. I have a tenancy to ramble (see above) and say the same things three different way. So I'm planning on practicing tighter writing, with my reviews.
Finally be sure to come tell me what your favourite book of 2010 (so far) had been, for a chance to win three books by Melina Marchetta. Also drop by Kelly's blog to see all the other UnsungYA giveaways.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

UnsungYA Giveaway

Kelly from YAnnabe and organizer of UnsungYA, is giving away 10 of the 12 most obscure picks.

And I'm joining in.

Originally I was going to give away my own favourite UnsungYA, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta.

But, I have received, three unbelievable awesome books, this week.  Thankyou Daisy, James and PenguinAustralia. I am a big believer in passing it on.

So I'm giving away three books by my favourite Unsung author.

If you would like to win

Saving Francesca, On the Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock

leave a comment here, telling me the best book you've read this year, and why you loved it. I'll pick a winner on Sunday evening.

Then, go and comment on Kelly's post, for a chance to win 10 book!

Open to those with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Library Loving Blog Challengue

Or delurk for the library

The Challenge

For every commenter on this post between now and midnight, 27th March 2010, I will donate 50 cents to my local library: District of Columbia Public Library, up to an amount of $30.

How easy could it be?  You comment, I cough up the money, the library gets a gift!  If you don’t know what to say in your comment, “I love libraries” will do. 

Note that my pledge is “per commenter”—so if a single person leaves 50 comments, that still only counts once!  But you can do more by spreading the word ... please link to this post, tweet about it, and send your friends here so they can comment and raise more money.  

If you’re moved to make a flat-fee donation to your library, or to start your own challenge, you are quite welcome, and please leave that information in the comments.

For a complete list of participating bloggers (and to visit other sites where you can help libraries just by leaving a comment!) visit the writerjenn blog at

Why I'm participating.

When I was little we went to the library every week. To enter the childrens area you had to pass through a red arch. It was just a simple bit of cardboard but back then it seemed the gateway to another kingdom, where they had books! So many books. I'd happily have stayed in the childrens area all Saturday afternoon.

As I got older, I stopped going to the library. I could afford to buy the books I wanted and the library close to me had a dingy, run down air.

I just started using the library again, this year. The run a huge variety of, free childrens activities, which helps fill up are day. I'm also borrowed a huge amount of wonderful books from there too.

When I saw Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year, was running the library loving blog challenge, I had to join in. I want to give something back to the library.  Even though I can't give much I figure ever little helps, right?

I hope today you'll leave a comment, even if you don't usually. Thanks for your help.

NB. That's not my library, it's Trinty College but isn't it beautiful?

Sunday, 21 March 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren

Two Books this week

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott.

Which I've had ordered since December. So glad to finally have it and it looks SO pretty on my bookshelf.


Before I fall by Lauren Oliver

I have to say a HUGE thank you to Daisy Whitney for this one. Not only did she send me it, she got it signed too.  And she did it for four other people! Thank you Daisy!!!!

What did you get this week?

Friday, 19 March 2010

Author Appreciation Week: Day 4

Author Appreciation week has been so fun. It could be author appreciation year, and I wouldn't get through all the authors, whose books have taken me into new worlds and made me laugh, cry, empathize and fall in love.

So to all the authors I've read, thank you! To all the authors I haven't read, thank you too, for filling the shelves with choices.

I'm finishing this week of posts, talking about two of my all time favourites, Melina Marchetta and Philip Pullman.

My absolute favourite Young Adult book is Saving Francesca. It's about as close to perfect, as a book can be. Wonderful, unforgettable characters. A moving, funny, true story. An ending that is both realistic and hopeful. I can't recommend this one enough. I also can't wait to meet these charcters again, in The Piper's Son. Honestly I feel like old friends are coming for a visit.

Having just finished Finnikin of the Rock, I can tell you Melina Marchetta writes fantasy just as well. I wish she had a blog, but then maybe she'd write less books, and I'd hate that.

Philip Pullman's His Dark Material series; Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass is my favourite. So much so, that my son is named after one of the characters. I've read this series, four times now, and every time I find something new to appreciate.

I love the worlds Pullman creates. I adore the characters, Lyra and Will and Pantalimon, of course, but the supporting characters, are just as rich and varied. The ending, while it always destroys me, still manages to be full of hope.

Which I think is the thing, Melina Marchetta and Philip Pullman have in common. They don't tie everything up, in a happily ever after, pink bow. They leave you with the sense that the story is continuing and the knowledge, that the characters you love, have grown enough and learned enough that they'll be alright, no matter what happens to them. Which is a great message to leave a reader with.

Author Appreciation Week was the brain child of Heidi R Kling, author of upcoming novel Sea. The beautiful banner was made by Sara at Novel Novice. Thanks to Heidi and Sarah.

Finally Friday

So barely any writing this week, but I have read three excellent books, which I can't wait to share with you all. As soon as I get a minute to write the reviews. For now, here are some links, to start the weekend with.

The excellent guest posts on Justine Larbalestier blog continue. My favourite this week, was Kristen Cashore on trust. Kristen Cashore on the The Flying Trapeze

Next week, I shall be joining in with Jennifer R Hubbard's Library Loving Blog Challenge. More information here, if you'd like to join in too.

To celebrate Women's History Month Flashlight Worthy has a list of YA books featuring Women from another Era. I have to put in a word for Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle. Brave, resourceful and fighting againt tradition. One of my favourite quote's from that book

"I know because I read...Your mind is not a cage. It's a garden. And it requires cultivating."

Check out the Author Appreciation Week posts.  Started by Heidi R Kling, the best place to find them, is on Twitter, under the tag #Author Appreciation Week ofr #AA. It's been fun reading and writing them. I'll be posting my last one later today.

And finally The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott came out this week. Elizabeth is having an amazing contest on her blog. Check it out here.

Hope your week was good. Have a great weekend.

Author Appreciation Day 3

The ones that I can't stop thinking about. 

You know how some stories, some characters, just linger? Well, these are the ones I still think about. Thank you to the authors who created them.

Thank you E Lockhart for Frankie - The disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks

Thank you Sarah Ocklar for Anna - Twnety Boy Summer

Thank you Anna Jarzab for Neily - All Unquiet Things

Thank you Elizabeth Scott for Kate and Will - Perfect You

Thank you Sarah Dessen for Macy, Wes and all of Wish Catering company - The Truth about Forever

Thank you Courtney Summers for Parker - Cracked Up to Be

Thank you Julia Hoban for Willow - Willow

Thank you Melina Marchetta for Francesca - Saving Francesca

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Author Appreciation Week Day 2

The ones who make it seem so real.

Elizabeth Scott

I am a huge Elizabeth Scott fan, HUGE! I love her books. Love them, love them, love them! I picked up Something Maybe, when I was seven months pregnant, and looking for something fun to read. I devoured that book. Then read everything else by her, as quickly as possible*, I loved them all.

Elizabeth's writing is light and easy, but it has a depth and her characters are so real. I can identify and sympathize with all of them. Any writer who could make me feel like a teenager again, when I was the size of a small planet and only able to waddle, has serious talent!

Thank you for the books Elizabeth and for being so prolific, two books out this year , The Unwritten Rule and Grace, yay!

Sarah Dessen

 I haven't actually read all of Sarah's books because after falling completely in love with The Truth About Forever, I was worried anything else just couldn't live up to it.  Then, a whole year later, I finally cracked and read, Just Listen. Obviously I had been completely and utterly wrong. It was just as good.

No one does real quite like Sarah Dessen. I honestly feel, that if I went to Chapel Hill, I would see Macy and Wes out running, hear Annabel and Owen on the radio, and Auden riding her bike.

Thanks for creating worlds I can just sink into Sarah.

Which authors are you appreciating today?

Author Appreciation Week was started by Heidi R Kling.

* Except Living Dead Girl. Not my type of book at the best of times, awash with hormones it may have destroyed me. But I love that she writes different things.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Author Appreciation Week Day 1

The ones who write about secret societies

Diana Peterfreund

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

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

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

Kay Cassidy

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

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

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

Author Appreciation Week was started by Heidi R Kling.

So which authors are you appreciating today?

Author Appreciation Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Review & Giveaway - The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edit: Contest Closed. Rose won! Congratulations and thanks so much to all who entered.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Finally Friday*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Cover Wars - HEX HALL

The Book Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins


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


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

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

US hands down win today. UK you fail.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Guest Post by Rachel Hawkins - Friendship in HEX HALL

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


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

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

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

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Review & Giveaway Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC received from the publisher.


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

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

Giveaway closed. Congratulations Beth!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

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

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

  Three sisters, three extraordinary, life-changing powers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 5 March 2010

Finally Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How was your week? Any exciting news to share?

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Cover Wars - Willow

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

                                              USA                                                         UK

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

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

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Waiting on Wednesday for Plain Kate

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

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

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

She edged into the light.

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

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

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Postmistress by Susan Blake


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

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

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

Here's a little part of what Susan read.

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

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

Monday, 1 March 2010

Review Heist Society by Ally Carter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In My Mailbox 5

This week the absolutely lovely people at Penguin sent me four new books. One of them had me jumping up and down in excitement. Not that the other don't look like great reads, but The Extraordinary Secret of April, May and June is the new novel by Robin Benway. I am super excited to get it so early, because I loved, loved , loved Audrey Wait!  So far it is proving jump worthy!

The other books I got, from Penguin, were

 PLUS by Veronica Chambers
Invisible Girl by Mary Hanlon Stone
Winter Longing by Tricia Mills

That last one sounds great, but the title isn't exactly calling to me right now. I am so over winter and snow. Hello Spring!

I also got this

in the post. From the lovely people, at Disney-Hyperion. My very own Hex Hall t-shirt. Which I had planned to give to my cousin, but having seen its awesomeness, I am keeping! If you would like your own Hex Hall t-shirt, you should come back here on the 9th March Hint Hint!  And remember Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, is out on Tuesday. I HIGHLY recommend you buy this book, it's fabulous.

Finally, I bought The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, after a signing at Politics and Prose, more on that tomorrow.

Enjoy the end of the weekend, and the end of winter everyone.

IMM is hosted by The Story Siren.