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.
Author: Karen Saunders
Publisher: Templar Publishing
Date: January 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
14-year-old Suzy Puttock and her three best friends lead an average teenage life, spending most of their time in school, home or hanging out in cafes. Side-splitting mishaps and cringe moments have a nasty habit of following Suzy wherever she goes, but otherwise life's pretty normal - she's been going out with Danny since forever, her nutty older sister Amber's wedding is taking up all her family's attention and her annoying younger sister Harry is intent on making her life a misery. But when gorgeous new boy Zach starts showing Suzy attention, she wonders if the grass may be greener on the other side of the romantic fence. Before Suzy knows it, she has broken up with Danny, there's a huge rift in her friendship group and life is careering off track. Can she sort herself out before things are messed up completely?
Me, Suzy P is a highly entertaining glimpse into the life of the lovable titular character. I absolutely flew through this book. I salute you, Karen Saunders, for making me laugh and giving me a true taste of teenage woe.
The unfortunately named Suzy Puttocks is a normal fourteen year-old girl. She’s been with her boyfriend Danny forever, and along with her best friend Millie and her boyfriend Jamie, they form a close knit little friendship group. She’s got embarrassing parents, a wedding-obsessed older sister and an annoying prankster of a younger sister. All in all though, life seems pretty normal, until the new boy Zach catches her eye and she decides to shake things up a bit.
Suzy decides that her relationship with Danny is lacking its former spark and makes a decision to break it off. To add to this, she has to pretend to be happy to wear a horrendous bridesmaid’s dress at the request of her tacky celebrity-obsessed older sister Amber and gets teased mercilessly by the resident school mean girl Jade, who is Danny’s new girlfriend. New flame Zach is flaky and she feels like she’s losing her other friends (not to mention the chance to see her favourite band in concert) in her break-up with Danny. Don’t let all this teenage drama fool you though, and I can’t stress this enough because the story truly was hilarious. The situations Suzy finds herself in because of her klutziness had me cringing and laughing out loud a lot.
The book remained light-hearted and fun mainly because Suzy is a wonderful narrator and character, and it wouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t for her snarky and lovable point of view. Her voice is uniquely teenage, with all the misunderstandings, self-focus and embarrassment that go along with it. She was definitely endearing and I rooted for her and her happiness throughout the story. I also found myself seriously craving hot chocolate every time Suzy had some. They should sell packs of the stuff with the book!
In fact, Saunders gave each character so much personality that I enjoyed them all. Danny was great for Suzy and I unexpectedly loved him. I was so ready to root for Zach, but it was Danny who worked his way back into Suzy’s (and my) heart! It’s refreshing to see the love interest actually developed throughout the book, so kudos to the author. Millie and Jamie make great foils for Danny and Suzy, as a loved-up, functioning school couple and as friends with good advice. The ‘who gets the friends in the break-up’ scenario was really well done and took me back to my petty teenage years!
I was also pleasantly surprised by how the story turned out. I put my hands up and plead guilty to assuming a predictable plot, but it was unexpected and so much better than I originally envisaged. Again, I love the fact that the story pulls you in with its characters and really has you invested in them.
All in all, it was a great read and I highly recommend it if you’re in the mood to laugh and relive your teenage years!
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine, where we feature a book we are looking forward to being released!
Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan
Release date: 2 October 2012
Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.
And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close— the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?
Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.
Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare. . .
Every year, around my birthday, I get a pleasant treat in the form of Rick Riordan’s next great story. I love each book this man writes, and they just get better and better. In this series, a spin-off/continuation of the original Percy Jackson five, we get a new camp, a new set of demigods and a heck of a lot more adventure. Annabeth finally takes center stage in this one, and they go to Rome! Awesomesauce. Seriously can’t wait!
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: May 2012
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting — he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments.
The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.
From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.
Wow. How on earth can I review a book like this? How can I possibly put into words all the emotions this unbelievable story put me through and do it justice? The answer of course is that I can’t. All I can do is plead with anyone who reads this review that you NEED to read this book. Please, please PLEASE just read it. Its outstanding, breathtaking and if I could award it a thousand stars I truly would.
The main character, Connor lives alone with his mum in England, his father having moved away to America several years ago. His mum is ill.. very ill. Connor is only 13 and having to deal with looking after the house and his mum, deal with school bullies, deal with the betrayal of his best friend and also deal with the prospect of losing his mum and having to go live with his Grandmother who he has never got on with all that well.
In the midst of all the horrible stuff Conner is having to deal with, he is also having a repetative nightmare. One that is so horrifying he can’t actually admit out loud what happens in his nightmare. Then one night at 12.07am a monster calls! He is awoken by a monster looking through his bedroom window. The monster takes on the form of a massive yew tree and rips Conner from his bedroom window. The monster keeps visiting at the same time and Connor would have attributed it to a dream if it wern’t for the fact that he keeps waking up with his bedroom floor covered in yew leaves and berries!
Author: Eoin Colfer
Series: Artemis Fowl, Book 1
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Published: May 2001
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius—and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories—they’re dangerous! Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl is a riveting, magical adventure.
Thank you to Disney Hyperion and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book.
I wish my 12-year old self had books like this when I was growing up. Or really, I wish my 12-year old self had wanted to read books like this when I was growing up. I read a lot of serialised girl fiction, like Sweet Valley and The Babysitters Club and not quite enough ‘boy books’. I realised now that while I learned a lot about gossip, boys and friendship, I missed some really important lessons, like adventure, or blackmail.
Artemis Fowl Junior is a well-spoken, criminal genius, who happens to be twelve. He tries to restore his family’s riches through the easiest way possible—discover the fairy races’ secrets, kidnap a fairy and blackmail them for gold. It’s too bad he runs up against Captain Holly Short, the only female retcon officer and the entire LEPrecon unit who will not stop until they rescue one of their own!
The story is told from the point of view of both Artemis and Holly (and LEPrecon). Artemis starts out quite stern, but slowly develops a concience and sympathy. He ends up feeling bad for Holly and throughout the book, you can see a little of his dry humour start to come through. Holly is feisty and determined, always having to prove that she’s a good officer, but she’s also smart and empassioned and I found I liked her a lot. Although they are on opposing sides, I was rooting for both, and I liked how the lines were blurred between protagonist and antagonist.
I think the best thing about the book was the great supporting cast of characters. There’s kick-ass Butler, Artemis’…butler, whose family the designation ‘butler’ actually originated from; grumpy Commander Julius Root, Holly’s commanding officer; tech-genius centaur Foaly, in charge of all of fairy’s impressive technology and 007-like gadgets; and my personal favourite, the irrepressable Mulch Diggums—dwarf, kleptomaniac, burp machine.
The story itself and how it unfolds is really fun and there are lots of twists and turns, which keeps it interesting. The author breaks the barrier several times and the writing is witty and humourous. The action is also paced well and it kept me wanting to read more. I would’ve loved this book a whole lot if I was 12 and I recommend it to anyone whose inner child wants to read a good story.