So, as you may have gleamed from the title, I’m getting married this month!
Yes, Cory and Shawn are happy for me too.
So as much as it pains me, in between all the family and friends visiting, the wedding and the honeymoon, I have decided it would be best to put the blog on hiatus until the end of May. I have some new features and changes coming your way in the summer including a much needed new layout, so I hope this break will give me time to work on those as well.
To keep you guys going until then, I’m holding a giveaway for a SIGNED COPY of Delirium by Lauren Oliver, which I got when I was lucky enough to meet Lauren on her London visit (thank you Hodder and Waterstones)! This giveaway is open internationally for the entire month of May, so enter using the Rafflecopter below.
So from me and Alex both, thanks for understanding and see you guys on the other side!
Author: Emily Murdoch
Date: May 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Buy the Book • Goodreads
THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN'T LEAVE BEHIND ...
A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey's younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the "normal" life of school, clothes and boys.
Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won't let her go ... a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn't spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
Simply, this was a beautifully sad but uplifting tale. When I began reading, my heart ached with that familiar feeling when I know I’m reading something special. If You Find Me had me loving, laughing, crying and hoping nothing but the best for the girls. Big hugs to them both.
The book starts at what Carey considers ‘The End’. Home for Carey and her sister Jenessa is with their drug-addicted mother in a beat down camper van hidden away in a Tennessee national forest. One day, after her mother has been gone for over a month, her father and a social worker come to see the girls to introduce them back into ‘normal’ life. Carey has terrible memories of her mother taking them away from her father, and Jenessa has been mute for a year, ever since a faithful incident that haunts Carey’s conscience.
Seeing Carey and Nessa’s struggles with readapting back into society was beautiful. I was so touched every time they found joy in such mundane things, like taking a shower, or having food that wasn’t beans. I began to appreciate everything more, and realised how lucky we are to have all the comforts we take for granted like food, shelter and clean clothes. It was incredibly moving when Carey started to miss things from her life in the woods, like the wood smoke from their campfire and the sound of the trees, and this book is littered with so many other little glimpses of humanity.
I attribute this to Murdoch’s evocative writing. Carey is a wonderful narrator—her complexity of feelings and point of view is fascinating. Murdoch uses Carey’s unconventional upbringing to bring a beautiful lyricism to the writing and the quirks like Carey’s tendency not to pronounce ‘g’s or call everyone ‘Sir’ added a touch of realism. Apart from her unique voice, I just really admired Carey. She’s one of the bravest characters I’ve read in YA fiction, not because she’s jumping on trains or great with a bow and arrow, but for her sheer tenacity and ability to act and accept like she does, despite her horrible luck in life. She’s truly exceptional. I was so pleased for her when she made friends with Pixie and Ryan, who I thought was incredibly sweet.
I walked the line between happiness and heartbreak throughout the whole book. I wanted so much good to happen for the girls that I was on my toes the entire time, praying that nothing will go horribly wrong. I loved all the goodness that the girls experienced and how they were treated by their new family, but queasy with dread whenever I read about their life in the woods. My only qualm is that I didn’t feel the flashbacks were integrated smoothly into the story, and broke the flow.
Safe to say I cried at lot at the end. It was an incredibly moving book and one that will stay with me for a long time. A real must read!
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date: March 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
Battling against a society in which love has been declared a disease, Lena now finds herself at the centre of a fierce revolution. But the Wilds are no longer the haven they once were as the government seeks to stamp out the rebels. And Lena's emotions are in turmoil following the dramatic return of someone she thought was lost forever...
Told from the alternating viewpoints of Lena and her best friend Hana, Requiem brings the Delirium trilogy to an exhilarating end and showcases Lauren Oliver at the height of her writing powers - emotionally powerful and utterly enthralling.
I fear the end of an incredible journey with a series. Partly because I don’t want the world to be closed forever, sometimes it’s because I don’t want the fandom to end, but mostly it’s because I don’t want to be let down. I want it to end WELL. So as much as I was looking forward to Requiem after the fantastic Pandemonium, my fears were realised. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
Requiem takes place after the shocking end of Pandemonium. It alternates between Lena’s point of view and Hana’s. Lena is back in the Wilds, and struggling with her personal demons (boys, naturally) while the Invalids plan a big stand against the government. On the other hand, Hana’s wedding to Fred, the new mayor of Portland, is fast approaching. While her life seems perfect, she’s starting to question whether her cure is working and discovering things about her future husband-to-be that make her very afraid.
I didn’t dislike the book, quite the contrary. The same things I loved in the first two books were present in spades, like Oliver’s beautiful prose and how she tugs on my heartstrings. Lena’s sorrow and pain are beautifully described and my emotions switched between heartbreak and anger at the Lena, Alex and Julian situation (mainly because I thought it should’ve clearly been Julian). I also thoroughly enjoyed Hana’s return, and I found her life and the mysteries in it very compelling. It was interesting to read from the point of view of someone who is essentially supposed to be devoid of emotions, but struggles how to deal with these feelings bubbling to the surface.
The book definitely suffered from the ‘Deathly Hallows’ syndrome, where too much of the story was unnecessary wandering around the Wilds. I felt awful for the situation that they faced, but raced through these frankly boring parts. The Invalids seemed aimless for most of it, and despite the brief little glimpses where Oliver explores the pain of having loved and lost, it should’ve just fast-forwarded to the story’s culmination in Portland.
I was so annoyed about these slow sections because about 80% through the book, I found myself thinking and writing ‘holy snapple’, a phrase I have never once uttered. The book got GOOD. The rebellion was in full force, everyone had a plan, the tense excitement I felt for much of Pandemonium was back—this was what I was waiting for. Then I started to panic as I realised I only had a measly 50 pages left of the book and so much I still want to see happen and resolve…that never did. There were some fantastic scenes towards the end, my favourite being the one where Lena and Hana finally meet, but what about everything else? What about the characters I have come to know and love? What about the state of the world?
So there you have it, a disappointing ending to what I still feel is a great series—not because of the quality of the book, but because I wanted more. And I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like this.
Thrilled to be kicking-off this blog tour for House of Secrets! With the powerhouse team of Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus behind this fantasy novel and being blurbed by the inimitable J.K. Rowling, I knew I had to read it. So many thanks to the wonderful girls at Angel Publicity on behalf of HarperCollins Children’s Books for letting me be part of this tour. Hope you enjoy reading my little interview with Ned on what it’s like to collaborate on a project like this, then download an exclusive excerpt from the book!
About House of Secrets
Release: 25 April 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
When Brendan, Cordelia and Nell move to Kristoff House they have no idea that they are about to unleash the dark magic locked within.
Now the Walker kids must battle against deadly pirates, bloodthirsty warriors and a bone-crunching giant. If they fail they will never see their parents again and a crazed witch will take over the world.
No pressure then…
House of Secrets is the first book in a major new series. It’s going to be epic.
Download an EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from House of Secrets!
Q&A with Ned Vizzini
Thank you so much for agreeing to answer my questions! Who came up with the idea for the series and how did you decide to collaborate?
I actually received a phone call in early 2011 from my agent. He told me that Chris Columbus, the filmmaker, was interested in meeting with me, possibly to pursue a book project, and that there wasn’t any way this could be a bad thing. I was nervous at first but my wife told me not to be worried about meeting Chris: “You’re a family man; he’s a family man; just be cool.” When we met Chris handed me the first 90 pages of “Stones Of Time”, a script he had started writing ten years ago and never finished. He said, “Read this and let me know if you think there’s a book in here.” I loved the story so I composed a draft of the first chapter, sent it over and it all kicked off from there.
How was the work on the book split between you two?
The phone is still where the important stuff gets hashed out. When work on House of Secrets was going well, Chris and I simply email each other, sending chapters back and forth and editing them until they’re good to go. But when we get to a place where something doesn’t feel right, we get on the phone, and we use the word “bump.” “Bump” is a terrific bit of Hollywood parlance. To “bump” is to “not understand” something; for example, an executive giving notes on a script might say, “I’m bumping on why he’s saying this here.” It’s a perfect idiom because it places the perfection of the work above everything else, implying that there is a version of the script, or book, that is perfectly smooth, but right now there’s a little bump in it. Can we smooth that? For the most part, Chris’ and my collaboration takes place entirely on email. The precision and instantaneousness of it makes collaboration on a major writing project easier today than it used to be.
What is the best part about collaborating on a book with someone? The hardest part?
The best part is that when you finish a chunk of work, you send it off to your partner and you’re done for now! That’s such a relief compared to writing by yourself when you could conceivably keep going until the end (and why aren’t you? Huh? Huh?).
The hardest part is that emails about promotions and packaging and marketing have to go to two authors, not one, and there are a lot more emails flying around.
Thank you to Ned for answering my silly questions! So, who here is really looking forward this book coming out next week?
About NED VIZZINI:
Ned Vizzini is the bestselling author of the acclaimed young-adult books The Other Normals, It’s Kind of a Funny Story (also a major motion picture), Be More Chill, and Teen Angst? Naaah…. In television, he has written for ABC’s Last Resort and MTV’s Teen Wolf. His essays and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, the Daily Beast,and Salon.
He is the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets. His work has been translated into ten languages. He lives in Los Angeles.
Welcome to the start of the blog tour for the incredible sounding novel Deadlands by Lily Herne. When I was asked by the fab publishers Constable & Robinson, how could I resist? It had zombies, selection lottery, renegades and a unique setting, everything I could want in a dystopia. The book is out today so read on for more details about it and what Cape Town is really like from the authors themselves.
Release: 18 April 2013
Publisher: Much-in-Little, Constable & Robinson
A zombie apocalypse has hit South Africa, and it’s up to the Guardians to keep them at bay… for a price. A dazzlingly cool debut from mother-and-daughter duo Lily Herne, that leaves you hungry for more.
It is ten years since Cape Town was destroyed in the War with the Living Dead. Zombies roam free in the city’s suburbs, known as the Deadlands, and the remaining living are fenced in by heavily walled enclaves in urban shantytowns. Watched over by the sinister, shrouded Guardians, the living are protected from danger. But at what cost?
Once a year, the Guardians stage a lottery, selecting five teenagers for a secret purpose. No one knows why they prize teenagers bodies so highly, but seventeen-year-old Lele de la Fontein isn’t going to hang around to find out. Seeking escape and fleeing into the Deadlands, she finds safety with a group of teenage renegades known as the Mall Rats. Social misfits, they hold an amazing unexplained power: zombies are not interested in them.
But who are the Mall Rats? Are they the answer to Lele’s prayers, or is she about to find herself in more trouble than she can imagine? As questions emerge, Lele embarks on a high-octane adventure, discovering how people are not often what they seem, and how sometimes we have a destiny we could not even have dreamed about. Gripping and thought-provoking, Deadlands is a piercing and intelligent debut.
Guest Post from Lily Herne
Mention Cape Town to most non-South Africans, and it’s likely that an image of Table Mountain will pop into their heads, along with the ear-melting shriek of vuvuzelas (courtesy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup).
Dubbed a city of contradictions, it’s impossible to visit Cape Town without being aware of the poverty that underlies the city’s surface charms; it’s evident from the second tourists exit the revamped airport and catch sight of the staggering expanse of Khayelitsha – Cape Town’s most populous township. That said, few tourists will truly experience the reality not shown in the glossy brochures – most will visit bohemian Kalk Bay, ramble up Table Mountain, wander around the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, shop at the Waterfront, eat and party on Long Street and Sea Point. The city is a top tourist destination for a reason – it has natural beauty, fabulous restaurants, and distractions in spades. But there’s nowhere else in South Africa that the staggering rich-poor divide is more evident. The very rich live in gated communities and mansions in the suburbs of Bishopscourt, Constantia, Llandudno and Camps Bay, but the majority of the population live a very different existence in the sprawling townships of Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Langa and Masiphumele. Hout Bay’s wealthier citizens live cheek by jowl with the residents of Imizamo Yethu, an informal settlement that has grown over the years. Then there are the so-called ganglands of the Cape Flats – an area of the city where many of the coloured population were forced to relocate during the dark days of apartheid.
When we decided to use Cape Town as the backdrop to Deadlands, we chose to subvert the city’s demographic divide. After a cataclysmic event, in which the majority of the city’s population is reduced to a mass of zombiesque mutants, we needed to figure out where our survivors would hole up. We chose to create a walled enclave situated in the heart of Khayelitsha, leaving the once-extravagant suburbs to the living dead (much as it is now).
After razing the city’s landmarks to the ground, we decided to up the horror quotient by leaving only one building standing: Cape Town’s largest shopping mall, Canal Walk. We’re not a fan of shopping malls, the sameiness of the chain stores, the too-bright lighting and the dead-eyed mannequins, so to be deliberately perverse, we left this as a reminder of the old world. The mall aside, there was something cathartic about destroying the city’s infrastructure and allowing our survivors to start again from scratch. However, people being people, the society they create is sadly, in some ways, just as fraught with tension and inequality as it is today. We came to the conclusion that the real horror in the novel isn’t from the shambling mutated suburbanites after all, but stems from the choices made by the living.
About LILY HERNE:
Find them on:
Lily Herne is the name for mother-daughter writing duo Sarah and Savannah Lotz. With Sarah being one half of horror writer S.L. Grey, together the pair have best-selling writing experience coupled with sharp-edged teen insight. Sarah lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and Savannah lives in Norwich, UK.