Book News: Awards and an Evolution of Young Adult

Today, I’m highlighting three different articles that I found interesting in the news today concerning our favorite subject: books. (Did you think I would say something else?)

Winner of Man Booker Prize

On Tuesday, Eleanor Catton became the youngest person to ever win the Man Booker Prize for her book, The Luminaries. I have seen advertisements for the book but I hadn’t really taken much notice. But not only is the author the youngest at the age of 28, but the book is the longest to have won as well. This description from The Guardian makes me both want to read the book and feel automatically intimidated:

“Her second novel, a great doorstopper of a murder mystery set against the New Zealand gold rush of the 1860s… She does not make things easy for herself: she has organised her 800-page epic according to astrological principles, so that characters are not only associated with signs of the zodiac, or the sun and moon (the “luminaries” of the title), but interact with each other according to the predetermined movement of the heavens, while each of the novel’s 12 parts decreases in length over the course of the book to mimic the moon waning through its lunar cycle.”

Like *explicative* wow. That’s amazing and scary.

The Man Booker Prize has historically only been for contemporary fiction written by authors from the British Commonwealth and Ireland. But next year, Americans will be allowed to compete, which is already causing some waves of uneasiness by the others (will Americans overshadow the rest of the world?). It’s interesting, and I don’t really have an opinion on that, but I will be interested to see how it plays out.

Shortlist for National Book Awards

The list is getting shorter for the contenders for the National Book Awards. But here’s the thing: I haven’t heard of any of these books. I would have thought that I would at least recognize one book in the list for “young people’s literature”. But, I don’t. This year, probably for people just like me, the National Book Foundation is offering an eBook with excerpts from the finalists. It might be a good way to figure out if any of those books are worth checking out (okay, they’re finalists so obviously they’re worth checking out, but for I mean for me personally).

Evolution of Young Adult Literature

I always get both excited and a bit envious when I stumble upon a book news article quoting book bloggers. It’s a little dream of mine for that to happen to me (I’m being very transparent right now, be honored). This week CNN posted an article about the brief history of young adult literature. In it, two bloggers were quoted and linked to: Lisa from Read. Breathe. Relax. and Erin from Y.A. Book Addicts! It’s an interesting article about some of the different trends and evolution of young adult fiction.

 What have you taken note of in the news this week?

Waiting on Wednesday (11): Allegiant by Veronica Roth

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Guess what! It’s coming out…next week!!


Expected publication: October 22nd 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young adult dystopian
544 pages


One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

As much as I really can’t wait to read this, I think I’d like to read the short stories from Four’s perspective first, just to get completely caught up.

What are you waiting for?

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

fromthestashFrom the Stash is just my way to denote when something is from before I had the blog. I have been reviewing books since January 2010 so I’d like to showcase some of that past work, as well as safeguard my reviews for posterity.

The Diviners by Libba Bray13642237

Published: September 25th 2012 by Listening Library
Format/Source: Audio CD borrowed from Cover2CoverBlog
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal in a Historical Fiction setting


Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries her uncle will discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho is hiding a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened. . . .


…because it isn’t raining you know, it’s raining violets.

Evie is a teenage flapper who hates small town life, misses her WWI-missing brother horribly, and dreams of fame and fun. She occasionally, though perhaps more often than you might think, seeks to achieve those two things by exposing her special gift. By pressing an object into her hand she can tell the owner’s secrets. She is sent away to the Big Apple and her Uncle Will after such an attempt gone wrong.

When you see the clouds upon the hill…

Memphis is a teenage numbers runner who loves is little brother and misses his mother terribly. Both he and his brother have special gifts too, but Memphis hasn’t been able to use his in a while. But life can continue to throw curve balls and sometimes someone can surprise you. Theta has a past and lives with her ‘brother’ Henry. They are in the show business, because there ain’t no business like show business like no business I know. Sam is a pickpocket who gets by using his special gift. He wants to woo Evie and find out the meaning behind his mother’s disappearance into something called Project Buffalo.

…you will soon see crowds of daffodils…

With mysticism, red herrings, and about three other important characters of varying mystery (for example, a communist and a Frankenstein), Evie, Sam, and her Uncle are on the hunt for a mysterious occult serial killer. The mystery is a paranormal, haunted house kind of thrilling mystery that was my favorite part. Are they going to be able to figure out what is going on and how to stop it? And with the roaring Twenties, there are lots of cultural nuances and fun jazzy elements that can pique a historical fiction fan’s interest. I really wanted to learn more about the world they were living in and the even further past. The characters were compelling and I found not too bothered when many of them were not actually doing anything that was connected to the main plot. I loved that Evie, as a main character in a book that is being marketed for the young adult audience was not terribly whiny, angsty, or even too innocent/naive/goody two shoes. I appreciated her flawed character that was flawed because of who she is rather than her being a product of some outrageous flare of angst. Though perhaps that is related to while this book has young adult main characters, I’m not as certain that it is a young adult book.

…so keep on looking for the bluebird, and listening for his song…

But there’s a coming storm that keeps being alluded to, and goes unsolved and unclarified for the whole book. And the Diviners themselves generally live their lives apart from one another, and so the foundation is set for perhaps the true Diviners book, a sequel. The book built up to a different ending than expected, almost like a short stop. So really, this book was is more of a foundation novel, a prologue for the real story. I enjoyed the story, but I find myself feeling a certain lack of closure on a few things and wondering if there was more significance in certain events than what it seemed; because there were some things that felt like outliers.

…whenever April showers come along.

My rating: 4.5/5

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop! Three Books for the Taking


The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop is hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer. Check out the rest of the over 350 blogs and their associated giveaways here!


I’ve been reading some spooky stories and thrilling mysteries for October, and now I’m giving away three different books to get others in the mood too!

So for the ground rules:

  • As per usual, I’d prefer if only those 13+ entered, just to alleviate any fears of corrupting the youth, or whatever.
  • This giveaway is open to those in the US/Canada only. My apologies those who are international!
  • There will be TWO winners: the main winner will get to pick TWO of the three books listed, the second winner will receive the third.
  • The ONLY way to enter is by entering through the rafflecopter. I will not accept any comment-based entries. Sorry, but they spam my email!
  • If selected as the winner, you have 48 hours to respond with your shipping address (and your choices if you are the main winner) before I select different winner.
  • The giveaway ends on Nov. 1 at 12:00 am.

Good luck!

Choice 1:


Blood Song by Cat Adams (Paperback ARC)

Blood Song is the first book in a fantastic urban fantasy series by bestselling author Cat Adams.

Bodyguard Celia Graves has definitely accepted her share of weird assignments, both human and supernatural. But her newest job takes the cake. Guarding a Prince from terrorists and religious fundamentalists is hard enough, but it seems like the entire supernatural world is after this guy too. When she is betrayed by those she is employed to help, and everything goes horribly wrong, Celia wakes to find herself transformed.

Neither human nor vampire, Celia has become an Abomination—something that should not exist—and now both human and supernatural alike want her dead. With the help of a few loyal friends—a sexy mage, a powerful werewolf, and a psychic cop—Celia does her best to stay alive. On the run from her enemies, Celia must try to discover who is behind her transformation…before it’s too late.

Choice 2:


Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz (Paperback)

Jimmy Tock comes into the world on the very night his grandfather leaves it. As a violent storm rages outside the hospital, Rudy Tock spends long hours walking the corridors between the expectant fathers’ waiting room and his dying father’s bedside. It’s a strange vigil made all the stranger when, at the very height of the storm’s fury, Josef Tock suddenly sits up in bed and speaks coherently for the frist and last time since his stroke.

What he says before he dies is that there will be five dark days in the life of his grandson—five dates whose terrible events Jimmy will have to prepare himself to face. The first is to occur in his twentieth year; the second in his twent-third year; the third in his twenty-eighth; the fourth in his twenty-ninth; the fifth in his thirtieth.

Rudy is all too ready to discount his father’s last words as a dying man’s delusional rambling. But then he discovers that Josef also predicted the time of his grandson’s birth to the minute, as well as his exact height and weight, and the fact that Jimmy would be born with syndactyly—the unexplained anomal of fused digits—on his left foot. Suddenly the old man’s predictions take on a chilling significance.

What terrifying events await Jimmy on these five dark days? What nightmares will he face? What challenges must he survive? As the novel unfolds, picking up Jimmy’s story at each of these crisis points, the path he must follow will defy every expectation. And with each crisis he faces, he will move closer to a fate he could never have imagined. For who Jimmy Tock is and what he must accomplish on the five days when his world turns is a mystery as dangerous as it is wondrous—a struggle against an evil so dark and pervasive, only the most extraordinary of human spirits can shine through.

Choice 3:


Cross Country by James Patterson (Paperback)

When the home of Alex Cross’s longtime friend, Ellie Cox, is turned into the worst murder scene Alex has ever seen, he is devastated. The destruction leads him to believe that he’s chasing a horrible new breed of killer. As Alex and his girlfriend Brianna Stone begin the hunt for the villain responsible for the killings, they quickly find themselves entangeled in the deadly Nigerian underworld of Washington D.C.. What they discover is shocking: a strongly organized gang of teenage thugs headed by a powerful, diabolical man-The Tiger.

As the killing spree escalates, Alex and Brianna realize they are not dealing with any ordinary killer, but one who has brought his personal war of vengeance to America’s capital. But just when the detectives think they’re closing in on the elusive murderer, the Tiger disappears into thin air. Unable to let the killer get away with this narrow escape, Alex makes it his duty to bring the brutal butcher to justice. He knows that he must follow The Tiger. Alone.

When Alex arrives in Nigeria, he discovers a world where justice is as foreign as he is. Unprotected and alone in a strange country, bombarded on all sides by the murderous threats of The Tiger, Alex must draw on his fiercest instincts just to survive in a lawless world.
From the author Time magazine has called “the man who can’t miss,” Cross Country is the most breathtaking, heart-stopping, electrifing Alex Cross thriller yet.

Good luck! Remember, to enter the giveaway go to this rafflecopter. And also check out all those other giveaways!

Book Club Update: Author Interview & 2 Books!

It’s a new month (okay, so it’s the middle of the month…time is really flying this season!) and that means a new book club update!

Last month, my book club read The Hunt and met with the author, Jan Neuharth in the very town that the fictional murder mystery takes place. It was a great experience and the club really liked it!

Book club members and Jan Neuharth

We asked Ms. Neuharth about her writing process, about the publishing industry and who she would want to cast as her characters in a movie (the main character would be George Clooney!). We met at a lovely coffee place that was gracious enough to allow us to descend on their establishment. As you can see, we had copies of the book to have Ms. Neuharth sign them.

So for October, we were all a little indecisive. There are just so many cool things to do in the fall and so many appropriately themed books to get us in the mood for Halloween and autumn. In fact, the poll we had to decide our next book was so close that we are trying to read two books in one month for the first time. The first pick is The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, which I have already finished and loved! The second book I’m working on now, The Black Country by Alex Grecian. It’s really the perfect book for the rainy weather we’ve been getting this week. We plan on going to one of those pumpkin patch, corn mazes, apple butter kinds of places for our meeting next Sunday so I’m definitely excited to see these girls again!

Are you in a book club? How does your club select the books to read?

DNF Review: Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts17332270

Published: September 17th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Format/Source: Paperback Advanced Reading Copy from BookExpo America
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Apocalyptic
Pages: 384


A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings.

The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that’s left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.

Alexandra Coutts’s TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world


So I know everyone likes to handle books they did not finish differently. I generally finish books that I don’t like anyways because of either morbid curiosity or some deep-rooted sense that it is my duty, particularly if I received a review copy.

It is for my very sparing use of book abandonment that I feel like it is important that I at least share why I couldn’t finish Tumble & Fall.

I love the cover. I had heard of a few people looking forward to reading this book, making me decide to pick up a copy and read it. Now it is entirely possible that because all the other books I read around this book were absolutely amazing that it made this one seem that much duller than it really is. However, I kept trying to make it through it, using different techniques (setting a page goal for each sitting, speed reading, etc.) to try to finish it. But when I realized that I was dreading picking it up, that I was choosing to go straight to bed instead of reading, I made the call to put it down.

The premise could be cool. An asteroid will destroy the world as we know it and people have one week to enjoy life. But as many reviewers have noted, no one is really reacting in the world as you might expect. No one’s looting, no one’s really freaking out, hoarding, sheltering in fallout shelters…instead, people are poetically dealing with it in different emotional ways. Painting, going about their regular business, mourning those already lost, and trying to reconnect with those they have ignored for years. I think it was meant to be a poetic story, one with quiet reflection instead of mass panic.

It’s entirely possible that I was just not in the right mood for this. I found it very depressing and difficult to keep the characters straight. It alternates points of view between different teenagers, and it was hard to figure out who was feeling angst about what.

I truly hate not finishing a book and I hate that I have to write such a negative review concerning this book. But I don’t foresee myself giving this book another chance. Perhaps it would be better with someone in the right frame of mind. But for me, it was a no-go.

My rating: 1/5

Support an Influential Creative Writing High School Program

An influential high school creative writing program is in jeopardy.

Remember when I reminisced about the great writing program I was a part of in high school?

Let me break it down here.

The high school I went to in northern Virginia hosted a program called the Center for Fine and Performing Arts (CFPA). There were different concentrations students would apply to be in to pursue intensive studies in: theatre, visual arts, dance, music technology (in my day it was TV productions), instrumental music, vocal music, and creative writing.

I was a part of the creative writing program. That meant that for all four years of high school, all of my available electives went to creative writing classes, focusing on the basics, to publication, to short stories, scripts, poetry, and nonfiction.

This program was instrumental in developing who I am as a person and the things I have done since then. I have always loved to read, but it was that program that I learned the love to write. It was because of that program that I maintained a GPA sufficient to get into college, led to a great job during my college years, which arguably has led to the jobs I’ve had post-grad.

I was not the only person to have reaped such great benefits from this program. The list is too long to get into, but each of us that were in that program was moved to different heights. For some it was the very thing that kept them in school, for others it illuminated different career paths.

Specifically, with creative writing, there is such a wide application of this art form. We learned how to read and write critically, to express ourselves both succinctly (though I know I fail at that sometimes) and intelligently.

I write about this today because this program is in jeopardy. The CFPA is moving to a new high school (which I’m indifferent about it, as long as it exists somewhere in the county and is open to kids across the county). The issue here is the discontinuation of the creative writing concentration. The school board has decided that creative writing is either not a sufficient art form to maintain its place in the program, or perhaps it boils down to root cause of mostly everything: $$$

One of my old classmates has started a very successful petition that has garnered support from authors Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and Jacqueline Carey. If you feel that creative writing should remain part of this program in its intensive form, please consider signing this petition. The petition will be presented to the school board on October 17th.

To read even more about the importance of this program, here’s a great post from one of my former teachers.

Thanks for your support of the arts!

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

12813630The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Published: September 3rd 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format/Source: Paperback Advanced Reading Copy from BookExpo America
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Pages: 419


Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.


When you’re drinking a fine wine, you want to take small sips, enjoying the layers of flavor. As tempting as it is to drink many glasses, you try not to overdo it. And yet, sometimes it happens.

I liken my experience of reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown to drinking that fine wine. Each chapter was a delicious morsel that I was trying to savor before I picked up too much momentum and began tumbling down the stairs. Needless to say, my self-restraint failed after a certain point and I spent most of my weekend finishing the book in newborn vampire hunger.

It had been a while since I had read a vampire story. I think the last one was probably a Charlaine Harris southern vampire novel. That series is great fun but The Coldest Girl in Coldtown definitely had a different vibe to it. There’s nothing quite like a novel beginning with a 30+ teenager massacre and a girl stumbling out of being passed out in the bathtub to discover the entire party’s population dead and drained. It definitely sets the mood for the rest of the story.

There were parts of the novel that I was confused about. Questions where I was wondering if I had skipped a paragraph or something (which I have been known to do by accident). However, most of those questions are answered as the story progresses. Don’t expect everything to be immediately known and understood right away, or even completely after your first read. This is a book that I strongly believe will only grow on me more with a reread. I think I missed some of the carefully laid details that make such a detailed world. I particularly love how the vampires bloat like leeches or ticks after a feeding—it’s those details that make is so much more real and different. Very believable. I also love how it’s basically a pandemic biological disaster—the disaster preparedness part of me found that fascinating.

I do wish the ending was a bit more concrete, but I am okay with it as it is. It leaves it up to your imagination as much as I’m dying for more of this world.

It’s a young adult book, but I really think that if this had been published before that marketing label was so widely used, it would have fit just fine in the science fiction/fantasy/paranormal adult genre. There are really only two factors that make it young adult for me: the age of the protagonist and the lack of sex. Otherwise, it is entirely an adult-styled book.

I really believe that this is a book that will remain on my bookshelf and be read at least once more. I highly recommend this book—particularly to get you in the mood for Halloween!

My rating: 5/5

Interview and Giveaway: No Angel by Helen Keeble

There’s something always a bit fun about paranormal stories, particularly in October!

No Angel by Helen Keeble17195830

Published: October 8th 2013 by HarperTeen
Genre: Young adult paranormal
Pages: 352
Buy it! Amazon | Barnes and Noble


Rafael Angelos just got handed the greatest gift any teenage boy could ever dream of. Upon arriving at his new boarding school for senior year, he discovered that he is the ONLY male student. But what should have been a godsend isn’t exactly heaven on Earth.

Raffi’s about to learn that St. Mary’s is actually a hub for demons-and that he was summoned to the school by someone expecting him to save the day. Raffi knows he’s no angel-but it’s pretty hard to deny that there’s some higher plan at work when he wakes up one morning to discover a glowing circle around his head.

Helen Keeble’s debut novel, Fang Girl, has been praised for its pitch-perfect teen voice, and VOYA called it “refreshing and reminiscent of Louise Rennison’s Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series.” No Angel brings you angels and demons like you’ve never seen them-complete with the wry humor of Vladimir Tod, sinfully irreverent romance, and some hilariously demonic teenage dilemmas.

Interview with Helen Keeble about writing

1. Your first book, Fang Girl, was a paranormal comedy about a vampire fan girl who becomes a real vampire. Is No Angel a sequel?
No, they’re completely unrelated – no characters from Fang Girl show up in No Angel. There isn’t any mention of vampires in No Angel, and Fang Girl didn’t have any angels or demons in it, so the jury is out as to whether they’re even set in the same world. (Even I haven’t quite made up my mind on that one)

However, for those who enjoyed Fang Girl, I can promise that No Angel has the same sense of humor, including affectionate mockery of ridiculous paranormal romance tropes! Basically, what I do to vampires in Fang Girl, I do to angels in No Angel.

2. What was the hardest part of writing No Angel?
Working to a deadline! Because I had a two-book contract with HarperTeen (the first being Fang Girl), I actually had a deadline for No Angel before I’d written a single word, or even worked out what the story was going to be about! A very different experience from slowly writing Fang Girl in spare hours over the course of several years, with no-one but myself caring whether or not it was ever finished…

3. How did you become a writer?
The short answer is that I wrote a lot of stuff, and eventually got good enough (and lucky enough) to find someone that would pay me for it.

The longer answer is that I’ve always written for my own amusement, but never let anyone read it until I went to university and started writing fanfic based on a role-playing game called Legend of the Five Rings. It was a rather unusual fanfic community, because people generally used the game’s setting but invented their own original characters rather than writing stories about pre-existing characters (like Harry Potter or Twilight fanfic tends to do). It gave me a lot of practice in inventing imaginary people! I then slowly drifted into writing completely original stories, and was eventually lucky enough to be able to sell some to magazines. After a few successes with short stories, and in a fit of pique at the prevalence of both Twighlight-inspired novels in bookstores and Twilight-bashing articles in newspapers, I decided to try writing a novel… and that was Fang Girl!

So now, somewhat to my bemusement, I seem to have become a YA comedy author. I still blink at my own books sitting on my bookcase, amazed that they are really real.

4. Are you a full-time writer?
I wish! No, like most writers I have a day job – I’m an industrial software engineer. It is a very awesome career (where else do you get to play with oil rigs and nuclear power plants) but does mean I have to squeeze my writings into the evenings. I have a bad habit of forgetting to go to bed, so I’ll often be typing away at my laptop well into the small hours of the morning.

5. Fun fact about writing No Angel?
In order to keep track of where all my characters were at different times in the school day, I made timetables for them in Google Calendar… and then forgot to delete the calendars after I’d finished the book. I was greatly puzzled when Google started bombarding me with reminders to get to my history class.

6. Are you a pantser (just sit down and write) or a plotter (outline everything first)?
I used to be a total pantser (the first draft of Fang Girl was written in a month, for NaNoWriMo), but these days I’m more of a plotter. It’s something of a necessity when working to a deadline, with an editor who wants to make sure you’ve actually got a plan, and are not just going to kill all the characters in the last chapter out of despair.

7. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Apart from the day job, sleeping, and taking care of my family? I read everything I can get my hands on, especially fantasy and science fiction books. I’m also very into board games of all descriptions, from light family fun like Survive! and Kingdon Builder through to heavy strategic games like Tzol’kin or Puerto Rico. In any spare moments, I like to dabble in crafts – I recently learned to knit dolls and dolls’ clothes, and am now experimenting with making jewelry out of resin and plastic. If only there were more hours in the day!

8. What books make you laugh out loud?
I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. They’re an amazing blend of so many different types of comedy: parody, political satire, character-driven, situational, wordplay, puns… even slapstick! He’s a master of messing with reader expectation to comic effect. I think my very favorite example of this in the entire series is the character in Thief of Time who’s dialogue is all “—-ing” this and “—-ing” that… but late in the book we find out (spoiler alert, look away now!) that all he’s doing is pausing and saying “ing”. Genius!

Other writers I can consistently rely on to make me giggle are Sarah Rees Brennan (though she’ll make you laugh in one paragraph and stomp on your heart in the next) and Louis McMaster Bujold (who also manages to mix high emotional stakes with very witty characters). I’m also very fond of the classic P. G. Wodehouse stories, although some of them have, erm, really not aged very well (why hello there, casual racism).

9. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on now?
I’m currently writing a YA dystopian comedy. No, really.  If anything is ripe for a parody, it’s the whole “THE GOVERNMENT CONTROLS X AND Y IS BANNED!!” genre! The working title is Escaping Utopia, and it’s set in an idyllic far-future society where there is no war or crime as everyone’s needs are perfectly fulfilled by government-issued androids called Soulmates. Unfortunately for one 16 year old boy, his brand-new Soulmate tries to kill him on sight. Hijinks ensue!

The story also features a grumpy girl revolutionary hacker, a ridiculous number of huge planet-shaking conspiracies, and a bubblegum-pink battle robot named Candi who just wants to be loved. Let’s just say I’m having a lot of fun with this one! the Author:

Helen Keeble is not, and never has been, a vampire. She has however been a teenager. She grew up partly in America and partly in England, which has left her with an unidentifiable accent and a fondness for peanut butter crackers washed down with a nice cup of tea. She now lives in West Sussex, England, with her husband, daughter, two cats, and a variable number of fish. To the best of her knowledge, none of the fish are undead.

Her first novel, a YA vampire comedy called FANG GIRL, is out 11th Sept 2012, from HarperTeen. She also has another YA paranormal comedy novel (provisionally titled NO ANGEL) scheduled for Sept 2013.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


One winner (open internationally) can win a signed copy of No Angel! To enter, head on over to this rafflecopter! Good luck!

#rothreread Week 3: Faction or Blood?

divergent reread2

#rothreread is an effort hosted by Allodoxophobia and Gone Pecan as we reread Divergent and Insurgent to prepare for the final installment of the Divergent trilogy.

While I was behind on this endeavor initially to reread Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth ahead of the release of Allegiant, I have now finished both. I actually finished Insurgent in less than 24 hours (both because it sucked me back in but also I was lapping my mother-she is still working her way through it and we only have one copy). I am now nice and refreshed on the story to properly enjoy Allegiant. I just -might- for the first time, preorder it so I can make sure I read it before someone spoils it for me.

This week’s discussion is about faction before blood. In the books, the society touts that it is imperative to follow your faction, to remain loyal to your chosen faction even if the rest of your biological family is part of a different faction and on the other side of an argument (or war in this case). Would you follow that rule?

I have a bit of a problem with all of this. I think that it is meant to be thought-provoking. I don’t think anyone in the books has an easy time with this dilemma either. I trust my family’s opinions on things. If it came down to the rest of the world versus my family, I’d stick by them. I’d defend them against attacks if possible. It was both the way I was raised and the kind of person I am.

But I am also the kind of person that can’t keep her mouth shut if she disagrees with something. Whether I was aligning myself with the faction or with my family, I don’t think I’d end up just going along with the flow. For me to keep my mouth shut when I disagree with something is almost painful. I might regret opening my mouth and stating my opinion later, but the regret is easier to deal with if I stood up for my side of things than if I stayed quiet.

So if I were in the world of the Divergent books, I would have probably ended up factionless. Or perhaps Candor or Dauntless would appreciate my bluntness?

What would you do? Align yourself with your faction or your family?

Join the conversation!