Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (23)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to spotlight the upcoming releases that readers are most looking forward to.

This week, I've chosen...

Crossed by Ally Condie

Add it: Goodreads
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: November 1, 2011

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

If you were here back in... June? May?, I LOVE YOU you might remember I posted a very positive review of Matched. The writing was beautiful, the story was engrossing, and I sort of liked that Ky boy.

If you haven't read Matched yet, I really recommend it!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
(Goodreads profile)

Source: Won
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 487

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.
For such a thick book, Starcrossed certainly didn't take long for me to read! The mythology was entrancing and I loved the romance, characters and danger of it all.

The Scions, the family history, the nightmares that Helen has basically every night... all of it captivated me entirely and really was one of my favourite parts of the novel. Angelini stays true to the mythology for the most part but also puts her own spin on it, which gave it a nice edge.

When Helen and the Delos family (Lucas in particular) first met, I thought the book might throw off sparks or something - talk about unexpected! All of the interactions between these characters took me by surprise in the beginning and then after the shock had worn off, I grew very comfortable with it. The Delos family has that warm family bond and Helen makes a great addition to the picture.

Personally, I thought the book had an excellent balance between light and dark moments. There is romance, but there is danger. Just when things start to settle down, the characters are yanked into a more serious situation. The fight scenes were fantastic (strategic and physical!) and I hope that we see a lot more of that in the future books.

A magificent debut novel!

Cover Comments: It it so SHINY. I can literally just sit there tilting it at different angles to see the rainbows it throws off. I am utterly fascinated by this cover.


Monday, 26 September 2011

Cover Reveal: Touch

I'm so excited to be part of the cover reveal for the upcoming novel TOUCH by Jus Accardo. The novel sounds pretty intense and I think the cover really matches that.

Touch will be released November 1, 2011 from Entangled Publishing.

Also, here is the official summary:

When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet, seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue eyes home.

Except there’s something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower, is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she’ll turn to dust if he touches her. It’s not until Dez’s father shows up, wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez realizes there’s more to this boy—and her father’s “law firm”—than she realized.

Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation—an organization devoted to collecting “special” kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons—his entire life. And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills. The two team up with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they’re caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez has spent her life keeping safe.

A secret Kale will kill to protect.
Doesn't that sound good?! What are your thoughts on the cover?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

In My Mailbox (10)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren which gives bloggers a chance to share the books, swag, etc. that they've received each week.

This is kind of lopsided, huh? Sorry about that.

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (Won from Kaye at Paper Reader who is all sorts of lovely): I've been looking forward to this one for a while so I was SO excited when I won a copy.

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett (Review from Thomas Allen & Sons): Like I've said probably 50 times by now, I love Greek mythology. This one sounds like a pretty insane twist!

Forgotten by Cat Patrick (Won from Emilie at A Beautiful Madness): This is part one of a two-book prize pack I won from Emilie (the other is a pre-order for December). I've been dying to read this book for so long but kept putting it off because I really prefer the Australian cover (yeah, yeah). Actually though, this looks so much better in person! The front cover is still nothing fabulous for me but the spine, back and cover flaps? So, so pretty.

Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm (Review from Thomas Allen & Sons): This book looks adorable! It won't be out until May 2012, but I'm still really excited to start it.

Remembrance by Michelle Madow (Review from author): I am a big Taylor Swift fan and after I heard this was inspired by the Love Story video... had to read it! Big thanks to Michelle for sending this my way :)

Wherever You Go by Heather Davis (Yet another review book from Thomas Allen & Sons): Ghosts and relationships and death lalala I want to read this so badly.


Okay, so that's it. I have to go do homework now before I fail out of school. Bye!

Friday, 23 September 2011

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
(Goodreads profile)

Source: NetGalley
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320

On the night of Skye’s seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites—like fire and ice—Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye’s life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move—only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can’t help falling for, and Devin, who she can’t stay away from, the consequences of Skye’s choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.

A Beautiful Dark is the first book in a captivating trilogy by debut author Jocelyn Davies.
A Beautiful Dark is the dazzling start to a new series from debut author Jocelyn Davies.

The main character, Skye, is easily relatable. She studies hard so that she can get into a good college and skis after school to feel that rush of cold air and the exhilaration that follows. She also actually has real friends that she hangs out with - Dan and Cassie were great characters and you could see the easy comfort the three of them had together.

Cue Asher and Devin, and suddenly Skye's normal life has been flipped upside down (and then rattled around a bit for good measure). These two "cousins" were polar opposites and I was as torn between them as Skye for a good portion of the book!

The first half of the novel eases you into Skye's world before things really start to heat up. I must say, my favourite part of the novel was the mythology behind it all and I'm so curious to see how that will affect everything in the future. There is definitely an awesome foundation that's been set and I imagine that the sequels will be even more exciting!

Fair warning though: the ending of this novel kills. It is like the definition of cliffhanger. Honestly, the only thought that was running through my head when I completed the book was, "that's just a really mean joke, right"? Followed by, "wow, I really liked that" of course!

Cover Comments: This cover is so beautiful. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is I love about it... maybe a combination of elements? I do have to say that I LOVE the different fonts they chose for the cover and author name. Harper, you sure do have some pretty packaging.


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (22)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to spotlight the upcoming releases that readers are most looking forward to.

This week, I've chosen...

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Add it: Goodreads
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: October 4, 2011
In The Lost Hero, three demigods named Jason, Piper, and Leo made their first visit to Camp Half-Blood, where they inherited a quest:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

Who are the other four mentioned in the prophecy? The answer may lie in another camp miles away, where a new camper has shown up and appears to be the son of Neptune, god of the sea...

You guys, I am SO excited for this one. I love Rick Riordan and his fun, crafty novels. The Lost Hero was awesome and I'm sure this one can only be more awesome because HELLO, Percy is back.

Which book(s) are you desperate to get your hands on today?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst
(Goodreads profile)

Source: S&S Galley Grab
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320

Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees.

The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?
As soon as I read this summary (actually, as soon as I saw the cover) I knew I had to try the book out. Just the basic concept of the story - typically evil vamp gets stabbed in the heart with a unicorn horn and starts to grow a conscience - sounds fun, original and witty. Drink, Slay, Love is exactly that.

One of my favourite parts of the story was the main character, Pearl. In the beginning, her behaviour is completely what I would expect of a vampire. She's confident to the point of arrogance, hostile, looks down on humans and adds a healthy dose of sarcasm to everything that comes out of her mouth. Her thoughts are hilarious and made me laugh out loud several times. With the stellar additions of Evan and Bethany, who are definitely not dark and cynical, Sarah created a cast of characters that constantly kept me entertained.

I was curious to see whether or not the transition from evil vamp to slightly-less-evil vamp would be pulled off smoothly enough to be realistic (er, as realistic as possible anyways). Happy to say it was! Pearl is completely unused to surprises of the nature she gets in the book, and I could see her struggle to maintain her composure at times. There is real character development at work as Pearl evolves into a totally new brand of vampire.

I have to admit that I was incredibly wary of Pearl going to high school. I knew it was coming from the summary, but it still took me by surprise in the actual book. My fears of the high school experience turning the story were completely unwarranted because Pearl is as fantastic as usual. Pulling the humans closer, scaring them away, rinse and repeat... I loved watching Pearl test the waters and navigate her way through the school. With the constant threat of what will happen if she lets her Family down at the back of Pearl's mind, there is carefully built-up tension every step of the way.

I think I've found my new favourite vampire novel!


Cover Comments: Love it! It's fun and quirky. How perfect is a blood-red bottle filled with blood for a vampire novel?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Character Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

I'm so thrilled today to welcome Sarah Beth Durst along with the characters Pearl and Evan from her latest YA novel, Drink, Slay, Love. I LOVED this book and I would definitely recommend it! If you have read the book, I hope you like this extra bit from Pearl and Evan. If not... hopefully this covinces you to!

Can you describe each other in ten words or less for us?

P: Handsome idiot with hero complex.

E: Evil vampire... with potential.

What do you look for in a best friend?

E: Kindness. Compassion.

P: Type AB blood. Nice neck.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

E: I'd love to see the library at the British Museum.

P: So would I.

E: Seriously?

P: You think because I'm a bloodsucking fiend of the night that I can't read?

E: I didn't think it was high on your priority list.

P: Librarians are just as tasty as everyone else.

It's Halloween! What are you dressing up as?

P: Vampire.

E: You know you have a sick sense of humor, right?

If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?

P: Ability to withstand sunlight. Oh, wait, I can! Excuse me while I cackle maniacally.

E: Ability to withstand maniacal cackling.

Sarah Beth Durst: Thanks so much for interviewing us!


No, thank YOU! :) I've missed my favourite snarky vamp. and the always-lovely Evan.

Also, for those of you who are interested, my review of Drink, Slay, Love will be posted tomorrow.

Find Sarah:

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Meet Melanie Card!

THIS JUST IN (my inbox): Author of the newly-released novel Ward Against Death, Melanie Card, will be meeting readers and signing books in Canada very soon. Here are the details:

Melanie Card signing
Monday, September 19, 2011 (tomorrow!)
6:00-8:00 PM

Let Them Eat Cake
23 Albert Street, Stratford, Ontario

I know this is very last-minute, but I just got the e-mail from a publicist at Entangled Publishing a minute ago. If you're in the area and would  like to attend, all the details can be found here. There's info on that page for you to make a reservation and also some other interesting tidbits.

I won't be able to attend the signing personally, but I hope any and every person that does go has a blast!

That's all for now :) Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

In My Mailbox (9)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren which gives bloggers a chance to share the books, swag, etc. that they've received each week.


It's been a few weeks since my last IMM so this one is a little bigger than usual. Here we go:

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (Purchased) - I FINALLY GOT IT! :) Haven't started yet (I'm trying to hold off until I can get through some more library books) but at least now it is in my possession for when I'm ready to read it!

Falling For Hamlet by Michelle Ray (Library) - I'm reading this right now and it is so good! I actually really like Hamlet (the character) and although certain things about Ophelia bug me, she's pretty cool too.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (Library) - After being ordered by Victoria Schwab (and many other people) to read something by Neil Gaiman, I finally caved and checked out this one. I'm excited, but a little daunted by the Neil Gaiman fanbase.

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout + swag (Publisher) - This one is kind of a huge deal to me because it's the first book I've ever requested for review (not counting NetGalley). Thanks so much to Spencer Hill Press and to Hayley from The Fable Faerie who was really helpful throughout the entire process :)

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen (RAK from Nicole at Nicole's YA Book Haven) - I've read this before (as well as all of Sarah's works) but it's nice to have my own copy. Thanks, Nicole!

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (Library) - I really liked The Lonely Hearts Club which is a book by the same author and immediately went in search of this after finishing it. It's quite short, so hopefully I'll be able to just pick it up and quickly read it soon.

Ripple by Mandy Hubbard (Library) - I finished this earlier today actually. It was good but I had a few problems with it... a fun read overall.

Vanish by Sophie Jordan ARC (Won from Arena at The Nerd's Wife) - I read this as soon as I got it and loved it. I don't want to say I told you so about the whole Cassian thing but.... I told you so.

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer (Library) - I am nervous as hell to read this book. I really enjoyed Nightshade but this one will have more Shay and less Ren (plus pack!), which is a little scary since Shay annoys me for no particular reason, at least as a love interest. Also, I've heard the history chunk at the beginning can go either way and I'm not sure where I'll fall. Still, I've read some good reviews to balance out the negative!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Booklover Discovers

Hey everyone! Just thought that I'd give you all a heads up that I'm being featured over at YA Booklover Blog today. For those of you who don't know, the fabulous blogger that heads up that site is Chloe, and every Friday she hosts Booklover Discovers where bloggers sign up to be interviewed. The questions were a lot of fun to answer so I hope you'll all go check that out :)

That's all for now. Hope you're having a great week!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Insta Love with GIFs!

Let's talk insta-love.

To get the obvious out of the way, insta love is the classic love at first sight. Here's how it goes*:

The shy and quiet (but totally gorgeous and genius) girl is minding her own business, probably surrounded by a crowd of people dying to be her BFF 'cause she is like WOAH. Then, the dark and brooding guy that never talks to anyone but instead spends his days exuding bad boy hotness will glance up and they'll lock eyes.


Then suddenly, the bay boy's icy exterior starts to melt away. Underneath, he is sensitive, protective and warm like a marshmallow. (Only to said girl though. Never try to cross this moody teenager - he will hack you into tiny pieces if you go near his girl.)

Now, sometimes (probably the first few times) you were like this:

And if you're anything like me, now you're likely more like this:

But you know what? Sometimes, that connection a couple makes is real and honest. It's adorable when you read about it and everyone is rooting for them. Sometimes it starts off as insta love, sometimes it doesn't. Either way, at the end of the day, I'm more like this:

And it's worth it.

*That was, of course, as stereotypical as possible. Not all insta love happens like that (although a lot ACTUALLY DO)

How do you feel about insta love? I want to know!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (21)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. The purpose of the event is to spotlight the upcoming releases that readers are most looking forward to.

This week, I've chosen...

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Add it: Goodreads
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: September 29, 2011

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Hereafter by Tara Hudson
(Goodreads profile)

Source: Library
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 404

Can there truly be love after death? 
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive. 
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.
I don't read many ghost stories at all. The only ones I can actually remember reading are the Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong - if you even count that. Still, I was excited to read Hereafter. The mystery and romance that the summary promises drew me in and I'm a sucker for gorgeous covers like this one.

Hereafter opens with Amelia thinking of her death. It's sudden, it's spooky, it's dramatic - and I loved it. Amelia is hopelessly lost as to who she is and what will happen to her, so as readers, we get to piece together her old life with her. Besides trying to figure out her past, Amelia does grow into her own throughout the course of the novel. There's nothing I love more than some good character development and I was glad to see that happen with Amelia.

While there are some creepy bits (if you're anything like me, you'll love them), a huge aspect of the story is also the romance between Amelia and Joshua, the first one to actually see Amelia after her death. The chemistry between Amelia and Joshua is apparent as they grow closer, and I loved this sweet, understanding boy. That said, I do almost wish Joshua had been a little less understanding. I mean, you find out this girl you've met is a ghost and that only you can see her... wouldn't you be a little freaked out?! I sure would!

The entire time Amelia and Joshua are trying to get to know each other, darker forces are at work as well. Eli, another ghost, is dead-set on having Amelia for himself and makes no secret of it. Still, it's hard to know how evil he really is, as he switches around at a heart-pounding pace. I liked the break from the classic bad guy act, as I really do think Eli was a well-rounded character with many facets to him.

A tale that is both haunting and sweet, Hereafter attracts your attention and pulls you right in.

Cover Comments: The blue and the yellow make such a pretty combination and I love how Amelia's body appears. Such a gorgeous cover!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Captivate by Carrie Jones

Captivate by Carrie Jones
(Goodreads profile)
Source: Library
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: January 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 273

Zara and her friends knew they hadn't solved the pixie problem for good. Far from it. The king's needs grow deeper every day he's stuck in captivity, while his control over his people gets weaker. It's made him vulnerable. And now there's a new king in town.

A turf war is imminent, since the new pixie king, Astley, is moving in quickly. Nick nearly killed him in the woods on day one, but Zara came to his rescue. Astley swears that he and Zara are destined to be together, that he's one of the good guys. Nick isn't buying it, though Zara isn't as sure -- despite herself, she wants to trust the new king. But it's a lot more than her relationship with Nick that is at stake. It's her life -- and his.
Captivate is the sequel to Need, which I liked but wasn't crazy about. I'm happy to report though, that I liked this installment quite a bit more. I'm not sure why that is, really. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood last time around... Whatever the reason, I'm glad I decided to give this book a go.

Captivate continues the storyline from the last book but also tosses a bunch of exciting new additions into the mix. I loved reading about Valhalla and the intrigue that's currently surrounding that, especially since Norse mythology isn't something I know much about.

Zara is a great character - she's loyal and quite strong but always, always tries to do the right thing. As for the romantic interests... step aside, Nick! You're alright, just a little too alpha male for me. Astley on the other hand? Swoon. I can't see wait to see where the love triangle goes next!

The only problem I had with the characters was Devyn, who really annoyed me in this book. Last time, I liked him well enough (especially with Issie - cutest pair ever!) but he just came off as way too arrogant this time around. That's a minor issue though.

With exciting developments to an already interesting concept, Captivate makes for a great sequel.

Cover Comments: I have no idea why anyone would be crying gold, glittery tears but it looks pretty so whatever. Also, I have this problem where I can't dislike sparkly things so obviously I like this. I'm not shallow. Just... appreciative... of shiny objects... that's all.

3.5 stars

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Verdict

Doesn't that title sound dramatic? I thought so. Maybe it's just because I'm in the process of doing my law homework...

Anyways, before I say anything else, I just want to apologize for being so absent lately! With school starting and just my crazy schedule in general, I haven't had a chance to update or really comment on many other blogs either. Sorry! Hopefully things will be back to normal now.

The point of this post is basically just to go over the results from the poll (regarding whether or not I should create a rating system) and to announce my decision. I'd like to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone that commented and voted - you were so helpful! There were definitely a lot of different opinions and I tried to take all of it into account.

As for the actual results... it was so close! The YES voters won in the end but they only made up 51% of the total. That being said, 27% said no and 21% said they didn't care (appreciate the honesty, folks!). Even without the poll though, I think I would have come to the same decision.

I WILL be trying out a rating system. I don't know if it will become a permanent addition to my blog, but I want to test it out to see if it works for me. The stars (I'm thinking maybe crowns) will go up to 5, but if it's a book I love to pieces, I may reserve a special 6th star ;)

Thanks again!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Interview with Jennifer Castle

Hey everyone! Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Jennifer Castle, author of the upcoming debut novel, The Beginning of After. I got the chance to read and review this book early from Net Galley and it's wonderful. Hope you enjoy!

Could you describe The Beginning of After in seven words for us?

Laurel discovers there is "life" after tragedy.

What was the inspiration behind your book?

I've always been interested in writing a story about someone who lived while others close to them died... someone who got left behind. What really tugged at me is how everything in that person's life, like their daily routine, their friendships, even the future, would suddenly change. But the real spark came when I met a young woman who, like Laurel, had lost most of her family to a single tragedy; this person was doing some cool things with her life years after the loss and I was really moved by that. I also recently read "The Lovely Bones" and was blown away by how Alice Sebold could build this beautiful story around such a heartbreaking theme. It was not long after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 so everyone was thinking in terms of "before" and "after." It was like we'd lost all our childhoods in a sense and were trying to find our way in a new reality. All those things came together almost at once, and voila!

Your novel deals with some heavy subjects - was it hard sometimes to seperate that from your normal life?

It's funny, because while I was doing most of the work on this book, I was going through some very intense times myself: new motherhood, a second pregnancy, adjusting to having two kids, and then preparing to move from California to New York. Even though Laurel's challenges were very different than mine (and much harder!), I think I channeled some of my stress into heavier parts of the story. I guess you could say that Laurel's world was an escape because even though her world was tough, it was still a world I could control completely.

Which is easier for you - description or dialogue?

Ooh, let me think. It always depends on the scene. Some description just lands on the page fully formed as if someone else wrote it for me, but in general, I find dialogue easier. Especially when I know exactly what I want to have happen, and I know the characters really well. Then they just talk on their own and all I have to do is listen!

What's one major pet peeve of yours?

When people mix up "its" and "it's" or use "apostrophe s" as a plural. I'm a grammar nerd. It just bugs me! Especially when I see that on store signs or printed ads. It's actually pretty easy to remember the difference: if you can replace the "apostrophe s" with the word "is,", use the apostrophe. Otherwise, don't. And now I'll stop with the irritating English lesson...

{HA! I have the exact same problem. Please learn the correct uses of apostrophes, guys...}

Is there a particular routine you go through when writing?

Before I sit down, I have to do about 15 minutes of what I call Screwing Around Online because it helps me chill out. Then I play a game of online Mahjongg, and turn off my Internet connection for at least 90 minutes so I'm not tempted. I don't write at a desk. I have to have my laptop on my lap -- that's a weird quirk I have about feeling more connected to the keyboard or something -- so I sit in bed or a comfy chair. Ideally, there's a cup of tea and a sleeping cat within reach, too. I know that's a cliche but I honestly think those two things are necessary for writing!

Are there novels that you would recommend to fans of The Beginning of After?

Definitely "The Lovely Bones," as I mentioned before. "The Sky Is Everywhere" by Jandy Nelson and "Jellicoe Road" by Melina Marchetta. And for something a little less obvious, maybe "Life As We Knew It" by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I think all these books touch on the same theme that mine does: no matter what we experience in life, no matter how terrible and game-changing, I believe we can survive it. Each of us is strong enough.

Do you have any plans for release day? How are you feeling - nervous, excited, anxious...?

I'm feeling all those things! Mostly disbelief that the day has finally come. Ironically, it's also my older daughter's first day of first grade so in the morning I'll be focused on getting her ready, taking the obligatory photos, loading her onto the school bus. I'll take my younger daughter to preschool and then... who knows? I plan to stop by the local indie bookstore to say hi and see the book (and take more obligatory photos!). There must be sushi involved at some point. Beyond that, maybe a drive up to Barnes and Noble for more of the same. I just plan on being a total geek all day long. This will be a true "Before and After" moment and I'm looking forward to the After, whatever it may bring!


Thanks so much, Jennifer! Mark your calendars for September 6th, when The Beginning of After hits stores. You can also pre-order the book from the Book Depository here and add it to Goodreads here.

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