Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Q: Did you use astrology to create the characters of your teen series?
About the Author:
When Logan McRae discovers a magical book called Fearless Astrology, all she wants is to change her sucky life. In order to get into the summer writing camp of her dreams, she needs the recommendation of her stubborn and irritable English teacher Mr. Franklin. Logan also has her eye on Nathan, the hottest guy in class. Unfortunately, so does popular, beyond-gorgeous Geneva, editor of the high school paper.Logan's two best friends, Chili and Paige, are always there to give her the advice she needs. But now that she has Fearless Astrology, Logan discovers a whole new way to overcome her dilemmas-while helping the three of them land the guys they're crushing on.When the Gears, a group of boys, starts causing trouble in school and out, she decides to identify them using astrology. Her goal: to impress Mr. Franklin, Nathan, and the kids who believe she is faking her newfound knowledge. The answers are in the stars, all right, but can Logan decipher them before it is too late?
Special thanks goes to WOW (Women on Blogging) Blog Tours. You can find more information about them here and find the tour dates for Bonnie here.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Grade: 4 stars out of 5
Summary: “Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.
But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?”
Review: The Mysterious Howling was wickedly funny, whimsically amusing, and delightfully charming. Now that was an onslaught of adjectives that mean absolutely! Hopefully with the proper citations and enough batting of the eyelashes you’ll be swayed.
The Mysterious Howling shows great promise and, like what many book critics have been saying, this promise is akin to Lemony Snicket. Their styles are very similar with their sympathetic, humorous tone and light-hearted mood set against a rather dark and twisted theme. Here is a [rather lengthy] quote of a passage from the book:
‘“You,” she said, looking at the eldest boy, “are to be called Alexander. Can you say it? Alexander,” she prompted again, clearly.
“Alawoooooo,” he repeated.
“Very good!” She glanced at the card, “It says here, you are named after ‘Alexander the Great, the legendary commander who mercilessly conquered the Persian Empire and was said to drink too much wine.’ Hmm. That is an odd choice.”
“Alawooooo!” he said, with feeling.
“As for you,” she said, turning to the smaller boy, “you are to be called Beowulf. ‘Beowulf was a fearless warrior of old, who slew monsters and dragons until he met a bloody and violent end.’ A most unsavory namesake, in my opinion, but that is what Lord Ashton has written here. Can you say Beowulf?”
“Beowoooooo,” the boy said proudly.
“Excellent,” Penelope praised. “And now for our littlest pupil. Heavens! It appears that Lord Ashton has named you—well, let me read it. ‘Cassiopeia, after the vain and arrogant queen of the ancient Greeks who tried to sacrifice her own daughter to the sea gods.’ How dreadful! But it will have to do.” She was about to ask the little girl to repeat her name, but the clever child had been watching the other and beat Penelope to the task.
“Cassawoof!” she yelped. “Woof! Woof!”’
—excerpt from pages 54-55
Yikes! I was not expecting to copy an entire page from the book. At any rate I realize that this passage is not a great example of the characterization in the book, my fault. In The Mysterious Howling each and every character shines; they are distinctive, charming (it their own special little way), and full of personality. Rather than grouping people together, which I have done countless times especially when concerning books that are similar, there is a sense of individuality that makes them who they are.
However there are issues. Despite the recommended reading group for the novel to be for middle school students I believe that maybe some of the older generation will appreciate the book more. The Mysterious Howling is very appropriate to children don't worry, but how well it will hold their attention may be the issue. Some of the diction, motifs, and even the heaviness of the dialogues and narration at times may be troublesome for some students. (It's rare but it still occurs). There is even an issue of the protagonist being the age of 15—(older than the recommended age group). How well the children will relate to and understand the story will just depend on the child’s level of reading though.
But! the illustration accompanying the novel was just splendid! If you like the artistic style of the cover then you’ll love the illustrations. It fits quite well with the quirkiness of the novel.
Overall: So our class just had a guest speaker for Women’s Day today and she told us that when she hired, her employers called her “a delightful wack-job”. I feel as though this book is exactly that! It was a delightful, but strange all the while. I
It’s a very good representation of the novel with a color scheme I adore (I like the more earthy tones) that demonstrates the potential of the book nicely.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Now I'm supposed to present to you my lovely readers a flower! By collecting these followers around the blogging community you can win a prize. Yay prizes! All the info is at Amy's blog: "Week Three Prizes will include Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu and Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, along with a language of flowers booklet and FHN swag." Now are you ready for the most awesomeness flower our there? The reason why I like this flower is because its name is so literal! There's nothing latin or confusing about it :) I give you Bleeding Hearts.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Source: Publishers from way back
Grade: 5 stars out of 5
Summary: “Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.”
Review: It feels like I’ve been going on a negative ranting spree attacking whatever book I can. I’m a picky read, I get that, but even I get a little weary of what I’m posting! Like dang, home girl needs to stop trippin’. (Okay please accept my sincerest apologies for that last sentence; I have no idea where that came from.) Rants are easier for me to write, positive reviews ehhh not so much, but I’m going to suck it up.
The Sky is Everywhere was the last book to have gotten five stars from me on GoodReads, which was back in December (yes that is 3 whole months back). Jandy Nelson enveloped me in warm fuzzy feelings, grief, and recognition. Her writing was stunning, her prose was moving, and her characterization on point. However I will admit not everyone agrees with me. Heaven forbid all teen readers are connected to one brain. Lauren (from Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf) for example could not get into the narration and while I do believe it can be a little strong at times, I still fell in love with this novel.
Firstly I wanted to cover the author’s use of poetry. I love it as much as Sonya Sones’s work and Lisa Schroder’s contemporary fictions. By the time I finished the novel my mind thought: “If Nelson were to write a prose novel I would definitely buy it”. She is concise when choosing her words wisely and making her point across yet is able to continue this heavy onslaught of grievance. She can write about the most meaningless thing but I will still love it, it seems.
Secondly I love Lennie and Joe. I love them separately, but I love them together. I don’t, however, love Lennie and Toby together. Lennie and Joe are harmonious and sensual creating a rainbow with every tint and value in between. Lennie and Toby gives off the color brown—dirty, muddled, and only one (if not two different tones) emotion. I had trouble understanding how grief turns into such a palpable, high-strong lust.
Okay Joe needs a paragraph on his own, that’s how much I loved him. He’s easygoing, he’s comfortable, he’s new yet he’s soft like a worn childhood blanket. You feel like cuddling with him. You’re more than tempted to drag him everyone and show off. Yet despite those years he’s still sturdy. Joe doesn’t let his feelings overpower his brain, which deserves a ‘thank goodness’ all on its own.
Overall: The Sky is Everywhere is an intensely rich novel that leaves this reader extremely pleased for this debut author!
If you’re like me you are not really fond of the cover. But I really hope you see pass that because this debut novel is worth the pickup.
Monday, March 8, 2010
1. You've been writing for a very long time, does the inspiration ever stop or fumble?
Inspiration comes and goes, but there has only been one point when it stopped for so long I worried about it- back in the spring and summer of 2006. Looking back, I can imagine why I had a hard time that year (I was in undergraduate school full-time, and had some fairly major health problems that led to my having surgery that summer) but at the time all I knew was that the writing wasn’t fun anymore.
What helped was breaking completely from Nyeusigrube and my genre for a while. I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time, writing what I intended to be a throw-away fantasy novel, and ended up with a trilogy that completely restored my writing desire both in that world and back in Nyeusigrube.
2. Have you changed your style of writing to accommodate the change with the teen audience? Especially when considering language and sex.
My policy has always been that, while I have no moral objection to swearing, I know there are teachers and librarians and parents out there who would hesitate to give a kid a book with certain language, and I am not so in love with cuss words that I cannot tell a story without them. I don’t feel it cheapens a work if I find a way around saying the s-word, but that tiny change might make the book available to more readers, and that is what is important to me. I am the same way about sex. I do not need to write graphic sex scenes to tell a good story. Do my characters sometimes “do it”? Sure. But they do it off screen so I can focus on the plot.
What I do not alter for my audience is my ideas. Sometimes I feel some writers use more sex and swearing while dumbing down the ideas, which is just insulting to everyone involved. I can switch up language and how graphic I am in order to make a story accessible, but I do not believe in writing down to my readers. Throughout my published works, I have dealt with some controversial concepts, because I believe young adults not only can but should think, and form opinions, and be challenged by what they read.
All that said, I had a funny moment when working with a beta reader on Token of Darkness. There is a scene early in the book where Cooper has an awkward conversation with his friend, John. They are both football players and seniors in high school, and it was a real struggle for me to write natural dialogue without using the words I “self-censor” from my YA books. I made a comment to my beta-reader when she was reading it about how awkward it was to write without swearing, to which she responded, “I can’t imagine how much more awkward it would have been with the swearing.” Sometimes I need little reminders like that to make me remember that we here in Massachusetts do perhaps swear a little more liberally than other people.
3. When starting a new book do you plan that the book will turn into a series?
Several years ago, my agent asked me if I would consider writing a series, and I told him pretty flat-out, “I don’t write series.” At the time, Hawksong was meant to be a stand-alone book. Only once I finished it did I realize there were too many unanswered questions for the story to be over there. As I worked on Snakecharm I realized the challenges within required a conclusion about the daughter, and as I worked on Wolfcry I realized something was missing, so I went back to Falcondance… etcetera. Eventually I ended up with a five-book series, when I had never planned to have more than one.
Currently I am working on a novel that I think might turn into a series. This is the first time in my career that I’ve ever tried to plan a series of books, so I do not yet know how it is going to go.
Amelia is available for the week of March 1st at RandomBuzzers
Monday, March 1st Tales of the Ravenous Reader
Tuesday, March 2nd Park Avenue Princess
Wednesday, March 3rd The Story Siren
Thursday, March 4th Cynthia Leitich Smith
Friday, March 5th The Book Butterfly
Monday, March 8th Me!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
To celebrate my North American debut, I’m giving away 3 fabulous prize packages. These will include a shiny new hardcover copy of The Agency: A Spy in the House and an Agency t-shirt. These will be randomly drawn.There will be a fourth mystery prize, not randomly drawn, and this will go to the entry that makes me laugh really, really, hard. Ideally, it will make me spurt coffee out my nose. Yes, I’m that classy, and also willing to suffer for a joke.Mystery prize rule 1: I reserve the right not to give this out at all.Mystery prize rule 2: A randomly drawn winner may also win this extra prize.So, what do you have to do? Simple. Just leave a comment below that completes this sentence: “If I were a spy…”
Hello! This is the 2nd of 8 guest posts I’m making as part of the T2T blog tour. As an ex-professor and writer of historical fiction, my theme is Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About the Victorians. Yesterday, I talked about Sexy Victorian at GreenBeanTeenQueen. Today’s topic is Extreme Child Labour.
How old were you when you got your first job, and what was it? Babysitting at the age of 12? Weeding your grandmother’s flowerbeds at age 10? Mine was cleaning my parents’ bathroom when I was 11. I hated it. Hated it. Hated it. Every Saturday morning. Not optional. But at least they paid me ($5) – and at least I wasn’t a poor child in Victorian England.
Child labour was routine for the Victorian poor. A six-year-old might be responsible for looking after other, younger children, then graduate to minding a neighbour’s flock of sheep at the age of 8. Notice the hierarchy, here: you had to be older and more responsible to look after livestock, because they were more valuable than kids! In a different district, work might involve crawling through a coal mine, because skinny bodies and tiny fingers were good at collecting little bits of coal. Urban children went to work in factories, where their small fingers were useful once again – until they lost them in industrial accidents, and were thus unemployable.
It wasn’t that children’s labour was particularly valuable – they earned much lower wages than women, who in turn earned less than men (for the same work). And it wasn’t that parents thought their kids might as well be useful. But going to school cost money, and most poor families simply couldn’t afford it. Even the pennies earned by their children were essential to paying for basics, like rent and food. Alfred Quigley, a minor character in my novel, A Spy in the House, earns a bit more running errands and delivering messages, but his incentive is the same: to help his widowed mother pay the bills.
Child labour was a frequent subject of concern for Victorian social reformers. In 1847, a new law limited the working day to 10 hours for children and adults! And despite its end in affluent countries like Britain and the States, it continues today in poor countries. I, for one, should still be grateful that I’m not a poor child in China.
You can find Lee at her website, follow her on twitter, and figure out who's next on her online book tour!
Grade: 3 stars out of 5
Summary: "Introducing an exciting new series! Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this diverting mystery trails a feisty heroine as she takes on a precarious secret assignment.
Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past."
Review: The Agency by Y.S. Lee has all the needed elements to make a fantastic read. In this historical mystery novel Mary is taking on her first case as an agent. The reader follows Mary as she uncovers the clues, pieces them together, and runs into a little trouble with the opposite sex, which of course is so bad it's has to be good right?
The thing with The Agency to me was the slowness of the actual plot. As a standalone novel The Agency fails to impress. As the first of a series, The Agency starts off tentatively to just give a hint of what's to come. But the issue was the way the plot sometimes strayed off. It gave more depth to the whole experience, but loses the attention of the reader. More often than naught I forgot the "true" plot was! I was so distracted by the plausible affairs.
When Steph Su updated her progress of The Agency on Goodreads exclaiming that she loved bantering between James and Mary, it had me excited! While there had been humorous bantering between the two I expected more. I'm hoping that my expectations will be fulfilled in the next addition to this series. What we were left in this novel was the perfect set-up for the romance.
Overall: The Agency, I would like to say, is the birth-child of The Gallagher Girls series and Sherlock Holmes tales.
This has been brought to you by Traveling to Teens tours.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He's even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor's daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he's usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.
As the danger grows for Carlos, he's shocked to discover that it's this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he's never even dreamed possible?”
Review: Rules of Attraction oh long I’ve waited for this moment. When the news of a sequel to the coveted Perfect Chemistry reached the ears of the blogging world it was sheer mayhem. Which was what?—like 2 to 3 months ago? Now I finally had a copy of this sucker in my grubby hands and it crumbled. It was just…so scandalous! Take the romance what you know from Perfect Chemistry and amplify that to the tenth power and add raging teenage hormones.