Tag Archives: HarperCollins

Writing the 2nd Book in a Trilogy

18 Jul

by Kat Zhang

So, I’m almost done with the first draft of my outline for Book #2. Considering I just turned in my edits for WHAT’S LEFT OF ME (eee! New title still makes me all tingly, lol), it may or may not be a little early to be working on the outline, but somehow, I suspect not. Either way, considering I go just a little bit crazy when I don’t have something writerly to be working on (especially when school isn’t in session and ready to distract me with physics and spanish and american politics), I don’t really have much choice in the matter.

The outline will need to be cured of about two or three good-sized plot holes before it’s in a state to be shown anyone. Not to mention the line “I will think of something appropriately sweet and non-cliche eventually, haha” is probably going to be replaced at some point. Yeah.

But overall, I’m pretty darn satisfied with the whole thing, and so very relieved that I am. Of course, we’ll have to see if my agent and editor and the rest of the team at HarperTeen are satisfied before it’s full sails ahead for my starting to write the actual book, but I personally can’t write a book unless I feel a certain soul in it, and I think I’ve found the right one for Book #2 of the Hybrid Trilogy.

To be honest, I’ve never written a trilogy before. So this whole process has been very much a learning experience as I try to figure out what constitutes a good sequel, especially when it also has to serve as the bridge between books 1 and 3.

I decided early on that I wanted to steer away from a common complaint people have about second books in a trilogy—that they’re the weakest ones. The ones with the least excitement. That they often only serve to put things in place for book 3. I hope that this book 2 comes to stand on its own as a story in and of itself—of course strongly connected to the other books, but no lesser than its fellows in terms of plot or characterization or excitement.

This is probably all way early to talk about considering WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is still a good year away from publication, but I’d like to keep a record as I go on writing and editing and outlining this series—both for myself and for whomever else is actually interested. So as of today, the first draft for the outline for Book #2 is just about done. I’ll let you guys know when I actually start the first true words of the manuscript.

I’ll die of excitement. I swear 😉

~~~

Kat Zhang is a Spoken Word poet and a Creative Writing major. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen and her book WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is about a 15-year-old girl fighting for her right to survive in a world where two souls are born to each body and one is doomed to disappear. It recently sold in a three-book deal to HarperTeen. You can read more about her writing process, travels, and books at her blog.

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HYBRID has sold in a 3-book deal to HarperCollins!!

8 Apr

Omg. Wow, of all the days to wake up late! Excuse me if I blabber like a fool a bit. I honestly didn’t expect the PM announcement to go up so soon (awesome agent, much?), and when I woke up to an inbox of people emailing me to say congratulations, my just-woke-up-no-coffee-yet brain wondered what was going on for a moment!

But luckily for all involved, I’m more or less thinking straight now. So yes! HYBRID was sold in a 3-book deal to Harper Children’s!!

If I let myself keeping going, I’m just going to keep going and going and going, so for everyone’s sakes, I’m just going to direct you to my private blog for the details.

I do want to say here, though, that I’m SO SO GRATEFUL for my fellow LTWF girls, who have been SO supportive and SUCH GREAT CPs and JUST AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING x 100000 I couldn’t have done it without you girls. I mean it 🙂

And THANK YOU to all of you, as well! I’ve loved chatting with you all and laughing at stupid jokes and talking about the finer points of writing. Thank you for caring about the advice a 19-year-old nobody gives about writing 🙂

❤ you all!

~~~

Kat Zhang is a Spoken Word poet and a Creative Writing major. She is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen and her book HYBRID–about a girl with two souls–recently sold to Harper Children’s. You can read more about her writing process and books at her blog.

Book Recommendation: Blue Fire

18 Mar

by Vanessa Di Gregorio

~~~

“Responsibility was overrated.”

Sequels have the ability to both scare and excite me. I suppose on the one hand, I worry that I won’t love the sequel as much as the first book. But on the other hand, I’m always excited; because the world and the characters and the story I love is continuing. I’m able to be transported back to that place; and when I enjoy a book, it’s always a pleasure to find myself immersed in its world once more.

Blue Fire, the second book in Janice Hardy’s middle-grade The Healing Wars trilogy, is a great sequel. If you haven’t yet read The Shifter, the first book in the series, I suggest you check out my review of it (and then go and pick it up if it sounds like your kind of story). This is a great high-fantasy for readers young and old.

Want to know more? Here’s a summary from HarperCollins:


Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.

Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.

~~~

The story starts right where the last book left off; but with everyone in hiding now as a result of what occurred at the end of The Shifter. Nya knows that she and all the other healers will never be safe unless they find a way to stop the Duke; but the first step in stopping someone is figuring out what exactly they’re trying to do. With trackers on her tail, Nya realizes that she must flee Geveg and ends up in the last place she wants to be: Baseer.

The things I loved from the fist book carry over to this one as well. Hardy has once again written a well-paced and action-filled story, full of difficult choices that push against moral issues. While I did feel at times that Nya’s thoughts were too repetitive and heavy-handed at times, Hardy doesn’t over do it. Nya’s loyalty is put to the test when it comes to the choices of the good of one over the good of many. And she is still the strong, determined, and likable heroine from the first book. But this time, death and killing become something she must consider more and more.

I really loved the descriptions and culture Hardy put into Baseer – it is full of life and colour and energy, and fills Nya with a sense of disgust as well as wonder. The fine line between the hatred of your oppressors and the realization that even the oppressors are oppressed was one of my favourite aspects of Blue Fire.

Nya isn’t alone on this journey. She is accompanied by many, and befriends many more along the way. And while Nya’s friendships are believable, the romantic relationship between her and Danello wasn’t. It was lacking the spark and chemistry I was hoping for, but fortunately their romance isn’t a focal point of the story. With so much else going on, it was easy to get swept back up in the story.

One of my favourite surprises in the book centers around Nya and Onderaan, a man leading an underground rebellion force – a relationship that is revealed to be a major plot development. Unfortunately, their relationship fell a little flat – it wasn’t as dynamic or as fleshed out as it could’ve been. My only hope is that their relationship will be worked on in more depth in the third book.

The climax of this book was by far one of the most exciting and interesting parts of the book – with so much build-up to an epic fight, I was delighted. And the end of the book was so dark, and intense, that it left me wishing I could have book 3 in my hands already. This is a middle grade series that is definitely a great read. If you liked the first book, or enjoy high fantasy and lots of fast-paced action, then this book is for you.

~

ARC received from publisher

~~~

Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She also has a book publishing certificate under her belt. Currently, Vanessa is working on RIFT, a YA fantasy novel, and a Children’s non-fiction series. She also geeks out over stuff at Something Geeky.

Book Recommendation: The Wee Free Men

2 Jan

by Jenn Fitzgerald

~~~

I’m already a big Terry Pratchett fan, so I was excited to read his YA work, though this book is pretty much Middle Grade. It’s got a couple of large vocabulary words that might throw young readers, but they’re usually explained right there in the text. I don’t know many books that can use susurrus effectively, but this is one of them. The writing is engaging, as Pratchett normally is, and because it’s aimed at a younger audience than most of his Discworld books, it doesn’t have the same references to new technology and politics. I found it to be a nice change that helped set more of a fairy-tale feel for the book.

The summary from Goodreads should be enough to convince you to pick up a copy:

“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.

“Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.”

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.”

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnaped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk’s local Nac Mac Feegle — aka the Wee Free Men — a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds — black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors — before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone….

Tiffany hits monsters in the face with a frying pan. I approve. She’s also a strong character, with flaws and weaknesses that she has to face before she can confront the Queen. Reading this I empathized with Tiffany, I remembered being eleven and how annoying it was having to help with my little sister and loved how dead-on this little know-it-all was written.

I really enjoyed the characters in general. The Feegles are hilarious and inappropriate. It was fun to have cameos of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, to tie the story into the rest of Discworld, and they managed not to steal the show. The monsters were great too and I loved the way the fairyworld was described as a parasite latching onto and bleeding through to the real world.

One thing that might annoy some readers is the way flashbacks are woven into the narrative. I’m generally not a big fan of flashbacks, especially when they appear as big chunks of italicized text, but I thought they worked well in this book.

The Wee Free Men is a fun read and I’d recommended to anyone, but especially Discworld fans and those who still enjoy kids’ stories.

~~~

Jennifer Fitzgerald is the author of a middle grade fantasy novel, PRISCILLA THE EVIL, which she is currently querying. She is also is a Ph.D student in archaeology, focusing on East Asia. You can visit her blog here or follow her on Twitter.

 

AWESOME NEWS!

8 Dec

by Susan Dennard

~~~

So, I went pretty WACKO on my blog yesterday, and I wanted to share the awesome news here too.  (And yes, I realize “awesome” is a very uncool word — especially to non-Americans.  I’m sorry.  I’m a 90s girl at heart.)

So THE NEWS.  What is it?  ::drummmmmmrollllll::

The Spirit-Hunters will be published by HarperCollins!

I’m listed on Publishers Marketplace and everything!  I have to admit, that as over-the-moon as I was for 3 weeks (yeah, I had to wait 3 WEEKS to announce this! The deal happened on November 17th), it didn’t feel completely real until I saw my name on the PM Deals page:

Susan Dennard’s debut THE SPIRIT-HUNTERS, set in an alternate 1800s Philadelphia, where a 16-year-old girl’s brother is taken by a necromancer and his army of walking Dead, and how she must join forces with a rag-tag, demon-fighting group to save him – and the city – as she tries to avoid falling for the group’s dangerous inventor in the process, to Maria Gomez at Harper Children’s, in a significant deal, in a three-book deal, by Sara Kendall and Joanna Volpe at Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation.

We’re planning on a summer 2012 release, and if the first book sells well (which it will, right!?  RIGHT!?!?), then books 2 and 3 will come out in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Sarah and I are gonna be Apocalypsies together! WEEEE!!

I have to say, this wouldn’t have happened without my fabulous agents, Sara Kendall and Joanna Volpe.  (This is Sara’s first deal too!  Congrats are in order, I believe.)  Plus, I need to thank my new editor, Maria Gomez, for loving The Spirit-Hunters enough to buy it! 😀

DREAM BIG, AND THEN DREAM EVEN BIGGER.

I also need to thank the FictionPress world for giving me a start all those years ago…  Oh, those were bad stories, but oh, I learned a lot!

But to be perfectly honest, almost all of my good fortune is thanks to my family.

My parents taught me I could do ANYTHING if I worked hard and never gave up.  They were 100% right.

My sister read all my rotten stories, and my brother…  Well, he didn’t make fun of my stories — that’s a lot, coming from him.

In recent years, my husband, the Frenchman, has been the driving force behind everything.  I can never thank him enough for his love and support.

And last but no least, THANKS TO YOU!  The LTWF readers have been amazing to connect with, and I feel so blessed to be a part of this group.  Lots of fun happens here, and so many stories shared.  It’s been a wonderful two months since I joined. 😀

Seriously, though — to partake in the Full Insanity of my AWESOME NEWS, stop by my announcement from yesterday.  I have pictures of me dancing with my dog (whose name is Asimov) and a video of me announcing the news.

Oooh, and be sure to look below — now I have a new mini-bio. 😉 Cool, eh?

~~~~

Susan Dennard is a writer, reader, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. She is repped by Sara Kendall of NCLit, and her debut, The Spirit-Hunters, will be available from Harper Children’s in 2012. You can learn more about her writing process, crazy life-thoughts, and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog or twitter.

Book Recommendation: Room

5 Dec

by Vanessa Di Gregorio
~~~

“Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra.”

Room is all that 5-year old Jack has ever known. His entire world measures 11×11 feet. But to Jack, that is all he needs.

I can’t stress enough just how much I loved this book. Emma Donoghue has written something that is all at once haunting, dark, beautiful, and hopeful. And long before I turned the last page, I was completely blown away. Told entirely from the P.O.V. of little Jack, this novel has one of the most endearing, lovable narrators ever. I was worried that it might be gimmicky; that a dark story told from the P.O.V. of a child would sound contrived, but Jack’s voice is completely believable – and wonderfully compelling.

Here’s a longer summary about what Room is about:

 

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

[Description from Goodreads]

~

Think it sounds dark? It is an incredibly chilling story. And told from the P.O.V. of innocent Jack, it can be at times even creepier – especially when we learn of the dismal and horrifying things from Jack’s innocent perspective. His innocence highlights the ugly, and made me cringe in disgust even more. But somehow this book ends up being one of the most uplifting books – the love between Jack and his Ma is one of the most profound relationships I’ve ever come across. And one of the most genuine.

Inspired by horrifying cases of imprisonment like that of the Josef Fritzl case, the story centers around a very dark theme. And yet somehow this book manages to highlight the wonderful relationship between Jack and his Ma – and their extraordinary love – despite all the disturbing threads underlying the story. Their love is what redeems the story – what keeps it from being melodramatic and miserable.

Emma Donoghue’s characters are wonderfully flawed; even little Jack throws ugly tantrums, and his Ma has a number of dark moments. I don’t want to spoil the story by saying too much, but I guarantee that once you start reading, you won’t be able to put the book down. Though at times I found it to be a bit on the slower side, Jack’s voice kept me turning the pages. All the little details make his narration so utterly irresistible; his unawareness of the outside world, his inability to understand that things like grass and ice cream and other people are real, and his lack of social interaction with anyone else but his mother is what makes the book an absolute wonder to read. And halfway through, you’ll find your heart pounding as the suspense builds. There are also some moments that are incredibly terrifying.

Ultimately, this is a book about recovery – about pulling through the hard times, no matter how terrible they are – and how love and compassion can keep you going. This book isn’t typically about good triumphing over evil and justice prevailing, but about conquering your fears, and moving on, and loving so fiercely that you can overcome unimaginable pain and sorrow.

And now that you’ve read that, I need you to watch this book trailer. It is quite possibly one of the best book trailers I’ve ever seen – as soon as I saw it, I ran out to buy the book. So watch it. And then read it. It is absolutely wonderful.

~~~

Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program. Currently, Vanessa is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.

Book Recommendation: FIRELIGHT by Sophie Jordan

31 Oct

“Just surrender to the sizzle.” (Kirkus Reviews )

With her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret.

I truly enjoyed FIRELIGHT.  From the first page I was unable to put the book down. Firelight is book full of vivid prose and description!  The characters seem to materialize right in front of you and drag you into their story with them. Jacinda and Will were favorite characters of mine, but I couldn’t help but feel drawn to by Jacinda’s sister, Tamra, as well.

Jacinda is a draki. As a descendant of dragons, she has two forms: her human one, and her truer draki form, complete with shimmering skin and dragon wings!  What makes her even more unique among her kind? She has the ability to breathe fire, thought to be lost among her species.

I really only had one issue with Jacinda, and that was her lack of decisiveness.  She see-sawed back and forth about Will a bit too much for my taste.  However, Will is a hunter, and what’s more, a hunter of her own kind.  So maybe Jacinda has a right to her indecisiveness.  It only interrupted my enjoyment of the story in spots.

In general, I would say that this series is very intriguing and Sophie Jordan has definitely brought a fresh voice to YA paranormal!

 

~~~

Julie Eshbaugh is represented by Natalie Fischer of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. You can follow her on LiveJournal here and on Twitter here.

 

Book Recommendation: The Shifter

8 Aug

by Vanessa Di Gregorio
~~~

When I pick up a book, I like to find myself immersed in a culture that is richly imagined and full of great characters. And with fantasy, I love when an author is able to make magic wholly unique. In Janice Hardy’s middle-grade novel, The Shifter (known as The Pain Merchants in the UK), that is exactly what is done.

And don’t let “middle-grade” fool you; while the book, if written for an older audience, could perhaps have been a bit darker, the book is by no means childish. It is well-written, complex, full of deceit, and ripe with betrayal; it is littered with political intricacies and so much cultural depth. So I hope none of you dismiss this book; this is the type of middle grade novel that can easily appeal to older audiences.

Hardy has imagined a world where pain can not only be drawn out of a person through touch, but where pain is a commodity. She has created a world so culturally, religiously, and historically rich; so full of colour and wonderful vocabulary. Hardy throws you right into this world; and while it might take you time to figure out the cultural slang, political situation, and how exactly magic works for Takers (those who draw pain out of others), you’ll find yourself absorbed nonetheless. Nya is a wonderful voice; she is conflicted, and is not a moral saint by any means. She finds herself often faced with difficult decisions that aren’t clear-cut; there are many gray areas that Hardy is able to explore in this novel. And that was one of the most enjoyable things about The Shifter.

So, want to know more? Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers’ League apprentices, Nya’s skill is flawed: She can’t push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden from forces occupying her city. If discovered, she’d be used as a human weapon against her own people.

Rumors of another war make Nya’s life harder, forcing her to take desperate risks just to find work and food. She pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. At first Nya refuses, but when Tali and other League Healers mysteriously disappear, she’s faced with some difficult choices. As her father used to say, principles are a bargain at any price; but how many will Nya have to sell to get Tali back alive?

~~~

The plot moves swiftly; it is well-paced, exciting, and just wonderfully imagined. Hardy’s premise is innovative; and it carries a lot of weight. Full of action and adventure, this story will keep the pages turning; and right from the first chapter, you’ll be thrown into the fray. We see the world through the eyes of Nya, whose voice is very engaging and realistic; written in first-person, every difficult decision she is faced with is all the more agonizing as we see her struggle with the choices laid out before her. She is headstrong, but not overly so. While some characters seemed a bit more flat than others, overall I was pleased with them; they all have their own varying opinions, and all of them are very memorable. The contrast between everyone’s differing personalities was wonderful; Danello’s little twin brothers, for example, just stole my heart as soon as I was introduced to them. Soek, who was quite possibly my favourite character, plays a minor role; and yet I felt that he was fleshed out perfectly – not too much (being more of a minor character), but not too little either (for it seems we’ll be seeing more of him in the next book). His lines were funny, he wasn’t perfect, and I just found him to be incredibly interesting.

Full of political intrigue and betrayals, it does get a bit confusing closer to the end; with the Pain Merchants, the Duke, the League, and the Luminary all working towards their own ends (which aren’t always obvious), it can get a bit convoluted. Some motivations aren’t as developed or as clear as I would’ve hoped them to be. However, a lot of it is eventually explained; and hints are dropped along the way. So there is lead-up; the twists don’t come out of nowhere, and yet are still exciting to figure out. It’s also nice to not be able to predict where the story will go. And there is action! Lots of it!

Plus, I love the cover; it immediately grabbed my attention when I first saw it.

The first of a trilogy, I’ll definitely be picking up the second book, Blue Fire (which comes out in October). I really want to see where Nya and the others will go; I want to explore more of the world Hardy has created, learn more about Nya’s powers, and find out what the Duke is really up to. There are mysteries that I would like to see unlocked, and details I would love to further delve into. This is one adventure I don’t want to miss out on.

So overall, The Shifter was an enjoyable read; especially if you’re a fantasy nut (like me)!

~

Book received from publisher.

~~~

Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program. Currently, Vanessa is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.

Book Recommendation: The Poison Diaries

31 Jul

by Vanessa Di Gregorio
~~~

One word: breathtaking.

There is just something about those stories that just seem to slowly creep up on you – the ones that are quietly beautiful – that just takes my breath away. And Maryrose Wood’s The Poison Diaries does just that. I could not put this book down; it ensnared me right from the first page of its lyrical prose. And the ominous poison garden was just such a foreboding image; one that intrigued me as much as it does Jessamine, the protagonist. Full of vibrant imagery, romance, mystery, and even – at times – terror, I fell absolutely in love with this novel. There was even a touch of fantasy filling its pages, washing everything with a surreal beauty that is just captivating.

To start off, here is a quick summary of the novel from Harpercollins:


In the right dose, everything is a poison. Even love . . .

Jessamine Luxton has lived all her sixteen years in an isolated cottage near Alnwick Castle, with little company apart from the plants in her garden. Her father, Thomas, a feared and respected apothecary, has taught her much about the incredible powers of plants: that even the most innocent-looking weed can cure — or kill.

When Jessamine begins to fall in love with a mysterious boy who claims to communicate with plants, she is drawn into the dangerous world of the poison garden in a way she never could have imagined . . .

~~

The entire premise is great; reminiscent of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story Rappacinni’s Daughter, the story is based on a concept by The Duchess of Northumberland – and her famous Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle. And yet, this story remains utterly unique. The story centers around Jessamine Luxton, whose father is an apothecary, and a strange and mysterious young orphan who stumbles into their lives. While her father leaves to heal others, Jessamine is alone with only the plants for companionship; but when that strange boy appears, Jessamine suddenly has someone other than the plants and her father to talk to. And Weed seems to be in possession of great knowledge when it comes to plants; a knowledge that will prove to be quite dangerous.

The plot moves quickly, though there is little in terms of physical action. No sweeping swords here or a tremendous amount of fighting; and yet, I was never bored. The plot is well-paced, and there is conflict between the characters and their surroundings. The entire story never strays far from the little cottage that Jessamine inhabits; or from the castle, garden, and fields surrounding it. And yet I was thoroughly immersed in the world that was built, and in the characters inhabiting it.

At the beginning of each chapter is a short journal entry; after, the story continues in first person. There is just something that I loved about reading the little snippet of a journal entry before the prose continued. The journal entries become integral to the plot, and are very cleverly used. And the prose! Absolutely lovely. I was completely enchanted. Jessamine’s voice is an absolute pleasure to read; thoughtful and curious and full of wonder. And her character was just as lovely. She is innocent, and wonderfully flawed. She doesn’t always do what she should, or what is right; and that made me love her character even more. Weed is just as fantastic a character. He starts off as a blank slate; a silent character who doesn’t speak, and a character so devoid of attachment to people. Everything about him is a mystery. But oh, how thrilling it was to see him grow! To see him fill up with emotion, and become a character of unbelievable loyalty.

Thomas Luxton was also a magnificently crafted character. There is always the sense that he is much darker and more cruel than he appears to be, and this ambiguity made him such a wonderfully dubious character. And I loved having no clear cut line between good and evil; he heals people for a living, and as such is good. But I always felt as though there was something untrustworthy about him at times. Which, in my mind, was brilliant on Wood’s part.

But quite possibly the most fascinating character of all became the plants. Maryrose Wood was able to make the flowers and trees and bushes come to life with such vitality and force. But she was also able to make them frightening; the poisonous plants exude a threatening presence that I felt throughout the course of the novel. This was the most unique aspect to this novel; the almost human qualities that the plants seemed to possess.

And that ending! When I finished reading it, I was still under the impression that this was a stand-alone novel, and that there were no sequels to follow. And I loved the ending. It was dark, and sad, and so absolutely brilliant. Some might complain that it isn’t satisfying; but I thought it suited the book so perfectly, and was such a brave and lovely ending. To know that it is the first of a trilogy makes me happy, for I’ve become incredibly attached to the world and characters. But the fact that it has a sequel is not the reason I first loved the ending; Maryrose Wood wrote an ending that fits the mood of the entire book.

So, I highly recommend The Poison Diaries. If you love fantasy, or tragedy, or romance, or lyrical prose, then you’ll probably love this book as much as I did. And you’ll probably want the sequel to come out as much as I do. So, pick this book up; I promise you’ll love it.

~

ARC Received From Publisher

~~~

Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She is also enrolled in a publishing program. Currently, Vanessa is working on a YA fantasy novel and a Children’s non-fiction series.

Book Recommendation and Giveaway: PARANORMALCY

20 Jul

By

Sarah J. Maas

~~~

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: August 31, 2010

Summary (from Amazon.com):

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

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It’s not every day that I get SUPER, UNBELIEVABLY EXCITED about upcoming books. But from the moment I saw the cover for Kiersten White’s PARANORMALCY, I got that “MUST READ NOW” feeling. And when I received an ARC of it last week, I pretty much died. No joke, I was actually dead to the world. I curled up on the couch and didn’t stop reading until 2:30 AM. I didn’t watch TV, answer emails, take phone calls, or pay attention to my poor hubby–I just Could. Not. Stop. Reading.

It was love at first paragraph, and Evie stole my heart when she described her blinged-out pink taser (nicknamed Tasey). I rarely get attached to heroines the way I got attached to Evie–she’s the perfect blend of sass, smarts, and sensitivity, and I found myself laughing and crying along with her.

And the love interest–Lend! Can I say how HOT he is? I mean, he’s a freaking shapeshifter, which is pretty awesome, but more than that he’s just a nice, GOOD guy. He’s not one of those brooding, menacing, “I love you, but I want to kill you” dudes that pop up all too often in YA, but rather a kind, smart, and funny guy. I adore books where the romantic interest is an actual good guy (but maybe that’s just because I married one). In a desert of stalker-esque, sparkling, and all-around emo love interests, Lend is an oasis.

In a nutshell, PARANORMALCY is a combination of BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, HELLBOY, and all that’s best in YA paranormal lit. I haven’t read something this delightful in a while–I kinda want to cuddle my ARC right now. I could definitely come up with ten more paragraphs regarding WHY it’s so awesome, but…I think you already get the point. Plus, I’m still in that post-reading “!!!!” phase where I can’t formulate coherent thoughts (even a few days later).

I honestly can’t wait until PARANORMALCY hits shelves, because I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be a huge hit–and because I want all my friends to read it ASAP! August 31st cannot come soon enough!

Pre-Order it. NOW. You won’t regret it.

BUT just in case you can’t wait until August 31st, we’re hosting a giveaway of our ARC! That’s right–you can have a copy of PARANORMALCY before it even hits shelves!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment with your email address AND answer this question:

Evie comes across a lot of fascinating and terrifying creatures in PARANORMALCY–if you could be any paranormal/mythological creature (vampire, werewolf, mermaid, etc.), what would you be and why?

For extra entries, you can do any (or all!) of the following:

+1 for following LTWF on Twitter (add your twitter name to your comment so I know you’re following)
+1 for being a fan on Facebook
+3 for following this blog – (if you don’t, just subscribe to us with your email!)
+1 for sharing this contest on Twitter – (please provide the link of your tweet in the comments)
+2 for sharing this contest on your blog – just be sure to leave a link (so that we know who you are, and how you’re sharing it!)

There are 9 entries in total. Don’t forget adding your email so that we can contact you! (Also, please note that this contest is NOT open internationally–US and Canadian residents only, please)

The contest ends at noon EST on Friday, August 6th. The winner will be picked using random.org, and will be announced on Saturday, August 7th. Good luck!!!

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ARC Received From Publisher

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Sarah J. Maas is the author of several novels, including QUEEN OF GLASS, a YA fantasy retelling of Cinderella that will be published by Bloomsbury in late 2011. Sarah resides with her husband in Los Angeles. You can visit her blog here.