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1. Candlewick Prize Pack with 6 of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Young Adult Books

Enter to win a prize pack with 6 of the listed Candlewick titles from TIME Magazine's Top 100 Young Adult Books. Giveaway begins January 15, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends January 31, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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2. 2014 in Review- The End of Year Book Survey

So, I wanted to do a roundup of this (rather quiet) year.  But I didn’t know how I’d put it together. And then I remembered that there was a giant survey from Jamie (The Perpetual Page Turner). Anyone can do it and I’m sure I should have started earlier as it’s 5 pages spaced and empty, but hey. Let’s try!

2014 Reading Stats
Number Of Books You Read: 110
Number of Re-Reads: 6 (Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Frankenstein,  The Huger Games, Mockingjay, and The Hobbit)
Genre You Read The Most From: I don’t know because I don’t keep track. I plan to work it out some day though, so watch this space.

Best in Books
1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Out of a shortlist of Adaptation, Delete, and this, my favourite this year was probably A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke.  

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
 Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.  I’d heard many great things about it, but the writing style slowed it down and I couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 
Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare.  I knew it was bloody, but four deaths within a few lines... well.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
 Either This Book is Gay by James Dawson, or Persepolis by MarjaneSatrapi.

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
 Series: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens. Sequel: Inheritance by Malinda Lo. Ender: Delete by Kim Curran.

 6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2014?
 Joe  Hill. I’d seen good things about him, but never bothered to read anything. Then I read Heart Shaped Box and really enjoyed it.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I read mostly within my comfort zone, but I think I’ll put down Phillip Larkin’s poetry from The Whitsun Weddings, which I read (and analysed) for school. initially thoroughly depressing, but it grew on me.
 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Delete by Kim Curran. Another of my “cannot put down” reads 

  9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley for school? Eh, I don’t know. Reread love comes and goes. But maybe Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, in preparation for Carry On.

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2014?
This Book is Gay by James Dawson. It’s bold, eye catching, simple, and it works exceedingly well.

 11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Laureth Peak from She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick.  It’s such a good book and so much more than it seems and fuller explanation will follow.

  12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Persepolis, again.  Also, More than This by Patrick Ness, even if I really didn’t get on with the book as a whole.

 13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Persepolis, again.

  14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 
Persepolis, again *will try not to use this again*  Also, The Princess Bride by William Golding.

  15. Favourite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
From Fanny and Stella by Neil McKenna, “French male prostitutes in drag... wore false bosoms made from boiled sheep’s...lungs... “One of the prostitutes complained to me the other day” the Parisian doctor François-Auguste Veyne reported “that a cat had eaten one of his breasts which he had left to cool down in his attic.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: The Card Sharp or The Snake Charm by Laura Lam.  Longest: Winter of the Worlds by Ken Follett.

   17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan because it was SO MUCH BETTER than my expectations that were based on Boy Meets Boy. Does massive improvement count as shock? I don’t know, but it was definitely unexpected.

Reese/David/Amber from Adaptation by Malinda Lo.

19. Favourite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Daisy and Hazel from Murder Most Unladylike. So much love and fun.

 20. Favourite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Delete by Kim Curran.

 21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Can’t think of one.

 22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Amber from Adaptation.

 23. Best 2014 debut you read?
Trouble by Non Pratt. Looking forwards to Remix!

 24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Best worldbuilding: The Wall by William Sutcliffe. Most vivid: The Mirror Empire by 
Kameron Hurley.

 25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Fanny and Stella by Neil McKenna, or American Savage by Matt Whyman.

 26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Can’t think of one. Sorry.

 27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Or one for here.

 28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan because COOPER.

 29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Grasshopper Jungle by Alexander Smith.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
More Than This by Patrick Ness. What feels like fifty pages of a character walking around and describing scenery with not much else happening just...ugh.

Bloggish/Bookish Life

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2014? 
I’ve mostly been keeping in contact with bloggers via means other than their blogs, and the people who I love, I can’t think of people who I definitely discovered in 2014. But down the side, there’s links to bloggers! Go check them out!

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2014?
None of my book reviews stand out for me.  But I do quite like my theatre reviews, so if you’re interested, go have a look.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
Mr. Gove, you are the UK's education secretary. Educate. #saveourbooks
With the help of Georgia’s graphics, there were many of us speaking about against Gove’s reforms to the GCSE and Alevel English syllabus.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Hmm... I loved the Ken Follett and Cat Clarke and David Levithan  and James Dawson talks and signings. Honourable mention for best event goes to the Divergent premier!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Some of the many many conversations I’ve had with some people in the past year. You guys rock.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
I think my post on my We Need Diverse Books display counts by views, if you take into account its tumblr notes, after being reblogged by authors and the WNDB team!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Ugh. Can’t think. Sorry.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Hmm...shops. Two in Edinburgh which I found on the last day of my trip. Word Power, which does independent things, books I’d never heard of and sadly didn’t have money to buy. And Transreal Fiction, which is all the fantasy/ssf/specfic/pretty books that I’d ever need.
10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
No. *laughs* (goodreads doesn’t count becasue I’d adjusted it halfway through the year!)

Looking Ahead

 1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
 The many on my ex-to read pile of doom. Especially Look Who’s Back by Tim Viernes.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
Prudence by Gail Carriger because I can’t wait to go back and maybe get bits of Alexia and Maccon, as well as seeing the new things.

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Tatum Flynn’s  D’Evil Diaries. Looks funny, and has been compared to Good Omens, which I love.

  4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
Does Carry On count as a tie-in or sequel to Fangirl? It’s going here.

 5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015? Review books once they’re read! A post with further 2015 plans will come soon.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Other things: 
Thank you so much for sticking with me, even though it’s been relatively quiet around here. That goes to all of you-readers, publishers, bloggers, authors, everyone. I hope be blogging more soon, and interact with blogs, not just the bloggers behind them, more. I also hope to pick up some failed projects from earlier on in the year- anyone still up for Bard to Bookshelf? 

Throughout the year, I have  had really bad days. You won't have heard from me about them, because when that happens I take myself off the internet and curl up in my bed. But I get through them, and then I'm back, with the things I've done on my good ones. 

 I've gotten involved in theatre, and did Godspell and Lucky Stiff with two separate, brilliant groups. I got into a program called Pathways to Law. I went to some blogger events and met people. I tried teaching myself Spanish and can now understand basic pieces. I did exams and ended up with a batch of A and A* GCSEs that I'm proud of myself for.  

I have read a  lot  this year, if you take into account the fact that this year I discovered my kindle can download mobi files off the internet and so I read many novel length fanfiction pieces (such as a 280k piece by SaraNoH and the_wordbutler called 180 Days and Counting about the Avengers being teachers at a primary school which is cute and funny and brilliant, which I started at noon one day and finished at 5pm the next).

Thank you, everyone. I hope that 2014 wasn’t entirely awful for you (anyone who says it was entirely brilliant must have had an exceptional year –and- have been ignoring the news), and I hope that 2015 is better. 

0 Comments on 2014 in Review- The End of Year Book Survey as of 1/4/2015 9:11:00 AM
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3. #NoiseforNess Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness Giveaway

It’s no surprise I’m a huge Patrick Ness fan. In the past I’ve written about how inspiring his work is as well as the time when I was actually able to meet him in person. I’ve also reviewed quite a few of his books:

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Ask and the Answer
Monsters of Men
A Monster Calls

I’ve also interviewed the narrator for the audiobooks, Nick Podehl, whom is a personal favorite of mine. The way that Nick narrates The Knife of Never Letting Go will turn any non-audiobook fan into a audiobook listener for life. He’s brilliant!

Chaos Walking paperback

So when the publisher, Candlewick Press, reached out to me to offer a giveaway featuring the newly designed paperback covers for The Chaos Walking series I couldn’t resist. Not only do I love the redesign, but it also reminds me a bit of the UK edition that I love. Also, they’ve added additional content to each book! Each paperback includes a short story that was only previously available in eBook format. Candlewick has really done an excellent job with this new edition and I’m thrilled to have a full set to giveaway to one There’s A Book reader!


Thanks to the wonderful people at Candlewick Press I have ONE FULL SET of this new edition of The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness which also includes a bonus short story within each book! Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US and Canadian residents only.


Find the new paperback edition of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN10/ISBN13: 0763676187 / 9780763676186

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, Google+ and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

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Original article: #NoiseforNess Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness Giveaway

©2014 There's A Book. All Rights Reserved.

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4. Guest Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness


Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (July 22, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763676209
ISBN-13: 978-0763676209
Genre: Dystopian
Suggested reading Age: Grade 9+

Three stars

Seventeen-year-old Seth drowns; in fact his action is deliberate. He wants to escape the horror of his existence. Racked with guilt over the fate of his younger brother, an event he feels is his entire fault, he doesn’t have much to live for. Then he wakes up, back in his old home in England, and things start becoming very weird indeed. He is wrapped in silvery bandages, and his old street is deserted. The whole place is uninhabited and overgrown. He seems to be the only person left alive in the world. He must now forage and scrounge for clothing, food and water. He wonders if this is hell. His dreams don’t help because his previous life comes back to him in huge, unwelcome chunks of memory. Then he meets two other people, with their own unique and strange tales to tell.

Despite the fantastic beginning, with a description that pulled me right into the ocean with Seth, I struggled to finish this book. Parts of it were incredibly exciting and then would grind to a halt with unnecessary introspective and philosophical meanderings on the part of the main character, meanderings which became boring and one had the urge to say, “Oh, just get on with it!” The plus side: an utterly riveting and plausible story premise that comes much later on (just when you are wondering what on earth this is all about and is he dead or not, and if everyone else is dead, then where are the bodies?); really wonderful descriptions that have the reader in the grip of the moment; action and tension to add to the positively bleak and hopeless situation; events that come out of nowhere that have a cinematographic and surreal feel to them; the depth of emotion Seth feels for the loss of his younger brother and his friends. In fact, Seth’s guilt is so palpable that one is consumed with curiosity to learn the truth. The two characters that join him are so different, so lost as well, and so eager to hide the circumstances of their lives/deaths. One feels the pain of the characters as they reveal the humiliating and tragic burdens they each carry.

What I did not enjoy: the flashbacks were sometimes jarring and intrusive, until I accepted them as part of the story-telling process; the fact that this world, while it began as an interesting construct, did not have enough to sustain the story and/or the last three inhabitants. I found the ending abrupt and it short-changes the reader in a way. There were many loose ends in the unfolding of this tale that I feel the author might have tried to answer. The characters were confused and, as a result, the reader becomes confused. It is as if the author didn’t bother to work things out to the last detail, which is possibly not the case, but feels that way. The reference to same sex love/relationships was dealt with sensitively and delicately, in an almost tender way. However, this might surprise readers who are not prepared for it, especially if the reader is younger than the protagonist’s age of 17. Ultimately, the characters’ thoughts on what constitutes life and death, and the option of living in a constructed world, avoiding the reality of a life too sad/tragic/hopeless to contemplate should give readers food for thought. However, I have no doubt that the intended audience of older teens and YA readers will love this book.



Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

0 Comments on Guest Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness as of 8/14/2014 5:20:00 AM
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5. Diva Delight: A Monster Calls and Rhyme Schemer

Don't miss these even if they are catalogued in middle grade. A good story is a good story, right? When I picked up both of these works, from the first pages there was that feeling of instantly knowing these are brilliant books. These are the ones to savor and then share. Go. Find. Them.

"At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined."

A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
Candlewick Press, 2013

"Kevin has a bad attitude. He's the one who laughs when you trip and fall. In fact, he may have been the one who tripped you in the first place. He has a real knack for rubbing people the wrong way—and he's even figured out a secret way to do it with poems. But what happens when the tables are turned and he is the one getting picked on? Rhyme Schemer is a touching and hilarious middle-grade novel in verse about one seventh grader's journey from bully-er to bully-ee, as he learns about friendship, family, and the influence that words can have on people's lives."

Rhyme Schemer
by K. A. Holt
Chronicle Books, 2014

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

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6. Patrick Ness Inks Deal For 2 YA Novels with HarperCollins

Patrick NessWriter Patrick Ness (pictured, via) has signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Editorial director Rosemary Brosnan negotiated the deal with literary agent David McMillan. According to the press release, the first book, entitled The Rest of Us Just Live Here, will be released in Fall 2015.

This novel examines “what it would be like to live in a world that’s a lot like a YA novel, where some kids in school are battling forces of evil, and some kids just want to go to prom and graduate before someone goes and blows up the high school again.” The second book which will also feature a stand-along story; no other details have been announced.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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7. Charlie Kaufman to Adapt Dytopian YA Novel

In the wake of Hunger Games success, Lionsgate Entertainment acquired the film rights to the young-adult fantasy series, Patrick NessChaos Walking trilogy. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman will adapt the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Here’s more from Deadline: ”The Carnegie Medal winning book is set in a dystopian future with humans colonizing a distant earth-like planet. When an infection called the Noise suddenly makes all thought audible, privacy vanishes, chaos ensues, and a corrupt autocrat threatens to take control of the human settlements and wage war with the indigenous alien race.”

Kaufman won the 2004 Oscar in the Best Original Screenplay category for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He also wrote the scripts for the adaptation of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Adaptation (based The Orchid Thief).


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. Charlie Kaufman to Adapt Dystopian YA Novel

In the wake of Hunger Games success, Lionsgate Entertainment acquired the film rights to the young-adult fantasy series, Patrick NessChaos Walking trilogy. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman will adapt the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Here’s more from Deadline: ”The Carnegie Medal winning book is set in a dystopian future with humans colonizing a distant earth-like planet. When an infection called the Noise suddenly makes all thought audible, privacy vanishes, chaos ensues, and a corrupt autocrat threatens to take control of the human settlements and wage war with the indigenous alien race.”

Kaufman won the 2004 Oscar in the Best Original Screenplay category for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He also wrote the scripts for the adaptation of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Adaptation (based The Orchid Thief).


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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9. Web of Words: A Monster Calls

50 Book Pledge | Book #23: The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

I present a passage from Candlewick Press‘s A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd.

Nevertheless, the monster said, standing, the roof beams of his grandma’s office seeming to sigh with relief, that is what will happen after the third tale.

“Great,” Conor said. “Another story when there are more important things going on.”

Stories are important, the monster said. They can be more important than anything. If they carry the truth.

“Life writing,” Conor said, sourly, under his breath.

The monster looked surprised. Indeed, it said.

0 Comments on Web of Words: A Monster Calls as of 4/26/2012 7:47:00 AM
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10. A trio of goodies I couldn’t let you miss out on

(1) All this past week, and next week, BBC Radio 4 Extra is serialising Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls. It’s wonderfully read by David Hayman. Anyone can listen, worldwide, but episodes are not available for long online so don’t hang around. In each case the reading of A Monster Calls starts about 45 minutes into the host programm (The 4 O’Clock Show)
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5, today’s episode, isn’t yet available on line.

A Monster Calls continues all of next week, every day at about 16.45 on Radio 4 Extra (digital or online).

(2) The House of Illustration has created a gorgeous looking set of resources for teachers of science at KS2 (7-11 year olds, here in the UK, though I’m sure these will be useful anywhere science is taught). Science + Illustration? I love it! You can find out more by watching the video below, or by clicking on http://www.houseofillustration.org.uk/teachers-resources/.

(3) Finally, we’re huge comic fans here and I found out this week about a comic which needs your help.

“LOAf Magazine is a new publication for 9-12 year olds, jampacked with comics, stories, puzzles and more. LOAf is dedicated to creating a place where the imaginings of brilliant emerging and established illustrators, writers and narrative artists are collected for children to read and enjoy. More than that: it’s our aim to make it a magazine where children ARE some of those talented contributors. A perfect circle!”

It sounds terrific, but it needs financial help to get off the ground and so it’s working on crowd-funding the first issue. If you’d like to support LOAF you can find out more, and pledge your support here: http://www.peoplefund.it/loaf-magazine/

It’s current list of contributors includes Joff Winterhart, Rose Robbins, Mel Castrillon, Alexis Deacon, Liv Bargman, Daisy Hirst, Mike Smith and Trudi Esberger amongst others, and I for one would love to see it get off the ground.


4 Comments on A trio of goodies I couldn’t let you miss out on, last added: 9/17/2012
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11. Turning the Final Page on My 50 Book Pledge

50 Book Pledge | Book #51: Sutton by J.R. Moehringer

I’m ecstatic to report that as of Monday, October 8, 2012, I turned the final page on my 50 Book Pledge. For those doing the math, that’s nine months, seven days, eleven hours and twenty-eight minutes.

I still can’t believe I did it because when I first set out I wasn’t entirely convinced I could. I considered fifty books in fifty-two weeks a tall order, especially since I’ve never read that many books in a single year before. My greatest fear could be summed up in a single word: Time.

What a fool I was. Time wasn’t a factor at all. In fact, my biggest dilemma ended up being what to read next. But, obviously, that didn’t last very long.

By the Numbers
3     # of non-fiction books I read

4     # of classics I read

2     # of series I started

3     # of poetry books I read

1     # of books I stopped reading

15   # of books I read by HarperCollins Canada

43   # of authors I read for the first time

The amazing part about participating in the pledge was how it turned me into a literary monster. With every book I finished, I found that my hunger for reading grew exponentially. I couldn’t get enough! In the words of George R.R. Martin the reader in me wanted to live “a thousand lives.” (Now I’ve only got 950 to go.) And that’s precisely why I’m going to continue reading and why I’ll be taking the pledge again next year.

Looking back it’s hard to pick a favourite because I read some truly phenomenal books. Instead, here’s just a small sampling of books that knocked my socks off:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Now that I had finished, the beauty of my dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart …

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll

Dignity begins when an animal feels that she is the chief instrument of change in her life.

100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings

i like my body when it is with your body.

It is so quite new a thing.

Muscles better and nerves more.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.

A huge thank you to The Savvy Reader for making 2012 the best reading year of my life!

2 Comments on Turning the Final Page on My 50 Book Pledge, last added: 10/12/2012
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12. We children's authors are a supportive bunch, cheering each other on through gritted teeth

By Candy Gourlay Hilary Mantel (Photo: Harper Collins) Go, Hilary! After winning the Booker Prize a second time (with the second book of her trilogy), Hilary Mantel also grabbed the Costa Prize. £30,000 prize money. Blimey. Sally Gardner of course won the Children's Costa for Maggot Moon. Go, Sally ! Mantel's historic win brought back fond memories of the children's book industry's own

16 Comments on We children's authors are a supportive bunch, cheering each other on through gritted teeth, last added: 2/7/2013
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13. More Than This by Patrick Ness

With his "Chaos Walking" series, Patrick Ness earned a spot on my favorite authors shelf. Then came A Monster Calls and I loved that almost as much as the series. Now, with More Than This, Ness has really solidified his place and is one of the YA authors I recommend the most to both adults and teens looking for awesome reads. 

I loved the mystery of this latest book and how the reader isn't quite sure where Seth is, just as he isn't. He believes he's dead, remembering himself drowning, and quite possibly in hell, but when he finds two others in the same place he is, a place that appears to be the same town he grew up in, after days and days alone, he's unsure if hell is really where they are. Until the Driver shows up. He's crazy-pants.

As Seth starts making discoveries of his surroundings -- it looks just like a decimated version of the town he grew up in and oh yeah, the fact that he woke up in a coffin in his old bedroom -- I needed to turn the pages faster and faster. The writing is beautiful and lovely to read, which almost makes it seem a little cruel to make such a heart-pounding story, but that's exactly what it was. 

There are so many layers to both Seth and his back story that it was a great experience to uncover those, while being totally riveted by Seth's current circumstances. Another absolute winner from Patrick Ness!

Thank you to Candlewick to the review copy!

1 Comments on More Than This by Patrick Ness, last added: 9/6/2013
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14. Making words count

I have become more than a little obsessed with word counts.

And if you think that sounds like an incredibly boring subject for a blog, you might be right. But let's see what happens.

When I first began writing, one of my many fears and doubts I had was that I didn't really know how long my book should be. I didn't even know how long a chapter should be. So I did some research, and discovered that the first Harry Potter was 76, 944 words long. But then again, The Golden Compass - another literary lodestone as far as my ambition was concerned - was more like 125, 000.

I ended up with a first draft of my first middlegrade novel which was over 100,00 words long, which as my agent rightly said was also too long for my intended readership. The Deathly Hallows, the last Harry Potter, is about 198,000 words long which just goes to show what happens when you're too successful to take notes. Sorry, I mean, which just goes to show how there is no limit to a child's reading stamina if they really love a world and the characters.

US kids in line to get their hands on 198,000 words of The Deathly Hallows

(And truly, of course there is no "right" length to a book. Some of the most perfect middlegrade books - A Monster Calls, Once, Holes - are all much shorter than any of those. I would broadly say that any book which verges on fantasy and involves substantial world creation, is going to always be on the longer side because part of the pleasure comes from luxuriating in the rich, embroidered nature of the imaginary universe conjured up. The story is the length of the story you need to tell. But it's always useful to have some kind of bench mark to work towards in your head, I reckon.)

Either way, I was no J K Rowling, and cutting 100,000 words down to the ultimate 67,000 words my first book was published as became something of a laborious task. Because word counts have real implications for storytelling. For every bit you hack out, you still need to compress or explain elsewhere, so word counts never strictly go down or up, they fluctuate, like a water table.

Which meant that when it came to my sequel, which I had less than a year to write, I was determined not to so massively overwrite the first draft, to avoid the later pain. Luckily, along the way, I discovered this marvellous software called Scrivener, which I'm sure some of you are aware of.  Some love, some are baffled, I'm certainly not here to evangelise, but there are two very useful word count features it has over MS Word.

The first is this. You divide your chapters up into your separate text files, which apart from being very easy to manage, means you can keep a constant check on your word count as you go along, like so. The word count appears automatically at the bottom of each part or chapter, and you can make a note in what Scrivener calls the 'binder' - basically a long column to the left of your writing window:

And I find this more than helpful. Patrick Ness (who has some great tips on writing and chapter length here ) said he decided each chapter of The Knife of Never Letting Go had to be pretty much 2500 words for reasons of rhythm. That gets to the heart of why I find word counts so important. There isn't always time to endlessly re-read and edit when you're drafting, and many feel that's counter productive anyhow. So word counts are an incredibly useful, visual shorthand for seeing if any part of your story is really out of balance. Like Ness, my view with these current books I'm writing is that if I can't tell the chapter's story in around 2000 words, it's too long. And generally - if it's way under 1500, I'm probably not there yet.

There's one last reason I find word counts useful, and that's for the daily routine. Graham Greene famously wrote 400 words a day, always only 400, even if that meant finishing mid-sentence. He rarely revised, wrote over 25 books and was a genius. Others I know like to binge-write - anything from 2000-5000 words a day, although that could be hard to sustain.

Which brings me to the second really handy feature of Scrivener. The daily word target. You type in your submission deadline, the target length of your book, and set various options like whether you write at weekends or not and this handy pop up window tells you - every day - what you need to write. Here's mine for Book 3 today.

It may sound horribly automated and soulless to some, but trust me, as that bottom progress bar begins at red and proceeds to green, nothing can be more motivating. The counter includes negatives, so if you delete loads of stuff, it increases accordingly. The truth, for me at least, is that in the wide empty sea writing a book can be - no end in sight, following a chart that keeps being affected by so many variables, feeling alone - just hitting my daily word target is an incredibly easy way to stay focused and motivated. Even on the dark days, when the ideas refuse to flow, if I can just get to my words, I feel I've achieved something. Even the greatest task feels manageable broken down into small chunks.

Speaking of which, I had better get on it...

*This blog is about 1000 words long, and the ideal average blog is considered to be about 500 words, so too long. I always overwrite. Which is why I'm not much good at Twitter. Sorry.

*My second book was longer than my first, and the third will be longer again. No matter how hard I try! Does anyone else have this problem?

Piers Torday

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15. Patrick Ness and Me!

I'm a huge fan of Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking triology. So it was a huge honor to be asked to interview him on the Columbia Stage at Portland's very own Wordstock.

The bad thing about being the interviewer is that I have a hard time remembering all the answers to my questions. I was too busy focusing on how I would segue to the next. And at one point, when I looked down out of the corner of my eye, I saw little white stars. You know, the kind you get when you're dizzy. It was all I could to keep talking and not think What if I pass out? But I soldiered on.

We talked about how he came up with the idea for Noise. In the books, people can overhear any man's thoughts. Patrick made the point that this generation is living their lives on live, and arguably has the least privacy of any generation every.

We also talked about the heat he got for killing off a much-loved character in the first book (no spoilers!). Patrick said he never guessed that decision, and that he cried when he wrote it, he cried when he edited, he cried when he copy edited, and he continues to cry when he reads it.

He also said that he knew the last line of each of the three books before he started writing them.

And we talked about A Monster Calls, the book he is finishing for Sibohan Dowd, the author who had four books published, most of them posthumously after she died from breast cancer at 47.

All in all, it was a great time - even if I don't remember parts of it. (And thanks to Sara Gundell, Wordstock's YA stage coordinator, for the pics.)

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16. Hook them, and then hook them again (and again)

Last week, I finished reading Patrick Ness's Monsters of Men: Chaos Walking: Book Three.

Pretty much every chapter ends with a cliffhanger. Call it a cheap trick if you like, but man, does it keep those pages turning.

Here are some examples:
- And Angharrad leaps forward into battle.
- "Viola?" I hear from out of the darkness.
- Then we're really in trouble.
- The Spackle are on us--
- Because her mouth has dropped open. And I can see fear move right across her face.

Those are just in the first 30 pages. But you have to read on, to find out about the battle, about who's calling from the darkness, about what the trouble us, about what the Spackle do, about why she's so afraid.

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17. Who got a Carnegie?

Guess who just won a Carnegie Medal? Not me, of course, but Patrick Ness for the fantastic Monsters of Men: Chaos Walking: Book Three, the third in the wonder Chaos Walking series.

Last fall, I had the pleasure (and the panic) of interviewing Patrick live onstage at Wordstock.

We talked about how he came up with the idea for Noise. In the books, people can overhear any man's thoughts. Patrick made the point that this generation is living their lives on line, and arguably has the least privacy of any generation ever.

We also talked about the heat he got for killing off a much-loved character in the first book (no spoilers!). Patrick said he never second guessed that decision, and that he cried when he wrote it, he cried when he edited, he cried when he copy edited, and he still cries if he reads it.

He also said that he knew the last line of each of the three books before he started writing them.

And we talked about A Monster Calls, the book he is finishing for Sibohan Dowd, the author who had four books published, most of them posthumously after she died from breast cancer at 47. It comes out in October and I can't wait to read it!

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18. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, inspired by an idea by Siobhan Dowd

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, illustrated by Jim Kay) is, quite simply, the best book I’ve read this year and also my favorite book of the year. If I only convince you to read one book this year, make it this one. It is brilliant and unforgettable and I don’t think I’m capable of doing it justice, but I’m going to try anyway.


The nightmares are nothing new to Conor—he’s had them for months now, ever since his mother got sick. But the monster who comes for him and calls his name one night, well, the monster is new to Conor. Not that the monster itself is new. The monster is ancient and timeless. And it has come for a reason.

Here is what will happen, Conor O’Malley, the monster continued, I will come to you again on further nights.

Conor felt his stomach clench, like he was preparing for a blow.

And I will tell you three stories. Three tales from when I walked before.


Conor blinked. Then blinked again. “You’re going to tell me stories?”

Indeed, the monster said.

“Well-” Conor looked around in disbelief. “How is that a nightmare?”

Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled. Stories chase and bite and hunt.

“That’s what teachers always say,” Conor said. “No one believes them, either.”

And when I have finished my three stories, the monster said, as if Conor hadn’t spoken, you will tell me a fourth.

Conor squirmed in the monster’s hand. “I’m no good at stories.”

You will tell me a fourth, the monster repeated, and it will be the truth. (p. 35-36 of ARC)

What follows is a magnificent story that is both straightforward and layered, direct and subtle. The layers to this story are so rewarding, though it’s actually told pretty simply in terms of structure and narration (no dialect or misspellings a la Ness’s awesome Chaos Walking trilogy), and, boy, does it pack an emotional punch. There are some truly devastating moments, heightened by the unflinching narration and the largely chronological structure—a directness that I think makes the story even more powerful. And yet despite this simplicity, there is so much depth, so much heart to this story.

Of course, A Monster Calls also has the remarkable backstory of being based on an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd. And knowing—knowing she died of breast cancer—makes some scenes later in the book even more gutwrenching. The book is further enhanced by Jim Kay’s numerous black and white illustrations, which add to the sense of wonder and magic, and are seamlessly intertwined with Ness’s words.

A Monster Calls is quite different from the Chaos Walking books, plotwise, as well as being quieter and more accessible. But they share a willingness to address big themes with intelligence and honest emotion, instead of sentimentality or a calculated detachment.* And, actually, emotion is what comes to mind first when thinking of A Monster Calls. Not plot, not action, not the lack of those breathtaking Chaos Walking cliffhangers. Instead, I think of how much I

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19. Video Sunday

Thanks to @doseofsnark for the link.

Ah, Banned Books Week.  It only comes but once a year (as opposed to banning books which appears to be a year long occupation).  For the one stop shopping round-up everyone needs, bookshelves of doom has compiled just a top notch collection of links for the occasion.  One of these is to the blog for ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom.  They’ve started posting video testimonials from authors.  One of them?  My man Jay Asher.  Tell it like it is, Jay!

Also recommended, the Bigfoot Reads Scientific Approach to Book Banning.

Were it not Banned Books Week, of course, I would have begun with what I’m going to far as to declare the Best Book Trailer of the Year.  See if you agree:

Seriously.  That rocked my socks.

Speaking of sock rocking, I don’t know if you were aware of the creation of the animated take on Mary Norton’s The Borrowers out there, but the film is done and coming out.  Doesn’t look half shabby either.

Those of you curious as to how good it is (and how it diverges from the book) may want to visit this review over at Fantastic Reads.

I’m awfully grateful to this next video because it clarifies for me what exactly this new collection of Dr. Seuss stories being promoted right now (The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories) actually is.  As you’ll see, they weren’t some stories left in a drawer that Seuss “didn’t think were good enough” for publication.  I think that’s an important distinction to make and I love that this tells you a bit of backstory as well.

Thanks to Mary Van Akin for the link.

So I’m in my library the other day and who should just waltz through the door, easy as you please, but none other than Sam McBratney of Guess How Much I Love You?

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20. An interview with Patrick Ness

As you all know, I absolutely love A Monster Calls, which was just published a few days ago. So when Candlewick offered me a chance to send some interview questions to Patrick Ness as part of a blog tour*, I jumped at the chance. (Even though I also felt more than a bit intimidated, because, hello, Patrick Ness. He’s brilliant!)

Anyway, for more background information about A Monster Calls, read this interview with Ness at The Mountains of Instead. Here’s my interview:

The Chaos Walking series and A Monster Calls were written for young adults but have earned you a passionate adult fan base as well. Do you have any thoughts about why your books have attracted such ardent adult readers?
I always say that I never write for a particular audience, that I just write for myself. It’s the principle that if I don’t like it, then no one else ever will (you’d be surprised at how many writers don’t do this). And so I have to be the one who’s entertained and who laughs and who cries. If I don’t, then I feel like I’m lying to my reader. The result being, possibly, that since I’m responding to them, maybe other adults do as well? I really do write them for me, though. And then it’s up to the book to find its natural audience. I’m good with that.

There were several occasions in A Monster Calls when the monster said something that I thought could have come straight out of the Chaos Walking books. I’m still not quite sure how to phrase my question here, but mostly I’m curious about whether this was coincidental or a conscious decision, a reflection of some of the same thematic concerns explored in Chaos Walking?
Not necessarily conscious, but I suppose I didn’t change the person I was between each book. The same things still concern me, my beliefs about ambiguity, complexity and redemption remain the same (but also evolving), so any writer’s personal concerns are going to shine through, I think, because those are the types of stories we’re going to keep responding to and want to write. For me, human complexity is our blessing and our curse, and I find it absolutely fascinating, so it’s no wonder it keeps popping up in my stuff.

You touched briefly on emotion vs. sentiment in the interview that’s available on the Candlewick website. Can you expand on this? And, when you are writing, how do you hone the emotion and eliminate the sentiment in your work?
I think sentimentality is mostly a nice lie we tell ourselves, and I’ve always had a real allergy to it. Sometimes it can be nice, sometimes sprinklings of it can improve a story, but I think the real emotions underneath are always far more dangerous (but also more thrilling and deeply felt) than the safety sentimentality lets us feel. And the very last thing I want to do for a character like Conor is to chicken out and not go with him all the way to the hardest places.

I don’t think it’s all that hard to get away from in writing, in that I think writers instinctively know when they’re spinning bullshit. But I also think it’s the writer’s sacred duty to look at something and write about what’s ACTUALLY there, not what we think should be there, not what we expect to be there, not what others have written is there before us, but what we actually se

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21. The Rise of the Illustrated Young Adult Novel

I had heard so much that was so good about A Monster Calls, the Patrick Ness novel inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, that last night, when my arms were too achy to type a single letter more, I downloaded the book onto my iPad2.

Had I known that this book was so beautifully illustrated, I would have gone out to the store and bought myself a copy instead, so that I could, from time to time, look at these extraordinarily interesting, wildly textured Jim Kay drawings.  A Monster Calls would be a very different book without these images, just as Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, the Ransom Riggs books enlivened by surreal old photographs, would not be the book it is had not a publishing house decided that teens, too (and the adults who inevitably read teen books) need, every now and then, to stop and see the world not through words but through images.  Maile Meloy's new historical YA book, The Apothecary, is due out soon—a book that (if the preview pages on Amazon are accurate) features some very beautiful illustrations by Ian Schoenherr.  And let's not forget The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, with its beautiful Andrea Offermann images. (And, of course, there are so many, many more.)

A Monster Calls reminds me, in so many ways, of the great Roald Dahl story The BFG.  Dahl's books, illustrated by Quentin Blake, sit beside The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer) on my shelf—books that take me back to some of my favorite mother-son reading days.  We loved the stories.  We loved the illustrations, too.  We loved the entire package.

Maybe we have Brian Selznick to thank for this return to the visual—to ageless picture books.  Maybe it was just plain time.  I only (with absolute surety) know this:  I recently completed a young adult novel amplified by (in my eyes) gorgeous illustrations. I can't wait to see where that project goes, and on what kind of journey it takes me.

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22. Review of the Day: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls
By Patrick Ness
Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
Illustrated by Jim Kay
Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5559-4
Ages 11 and up
On shelves now

I don’t mind metaphors as much as I might. I think that generally I’m supposed to hate them when they show up in children’s literature. I don’t if they’re done well, though. Maybe if I were an adult encountering The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe for the first time I’d find the Jesus allegory annoying, but as a kid it flew right over me. Similarly, if I were an eleven-years-old today and someone handed me A Monster Calls I could read this whole book and not once speculate as to what the monster “really means”. Author Patrick Ness (who also wrote a book called Monsters of Men just to confuse you) writes a layered story that can be taken straight or at an angle, depending on what you want out of the book. What I wanted was a great story, compelling characters, and a killer ending. That I got and so much more.

The monster comes at 12:07. It would probably be easier for everyone, the monster included, if Conor were afraid of it, but he isn’t. Conor’s afraid of much worse things at the moment. His mom has cancer and this time the treatments don’t seem to be working as well as they have in the past. He’s plagued by a nightmare so awful he believes that no one else ever need know of it. Bullies at school pound him regularly, his grandmother is annoying, and his dad lives with a different family in America. The crazy thing is that Conor kind of wants to be punished, but the monster has a different purpose in mind. It’s going to tell him three stories and when it’s done Conor will tell him a fourth. A fourth that is the truth and also the last thing he’d ever want to say.

For the record, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate a book that includes the word “monster” in the title and then proceeds to include lots o’ monster. Since we’re dealing with the serious subject matter of a boy learning to forgive himself as his mother dies of cancer, Ness could also be forgiven for just putting a dab of monster here or a dribble of monster there. Instead he starts with the monster (“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”) continues to pile on the monster scenes, and by the time you reach the end there’s not a kid alive who could say they were mislead by the cover or title. The monster in this book isn’t the only wild Green Man to be published this year. Season Of Secrets by Sally Nicholls

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23. Get ready for the 2012 SLJ Battle of the Kids Books!

Who says February is a bummer? Imagine my joy this morning when my sleepy eyes spied the announcement in my Twitter feed that the 2012 BoB contenders had been announced! I adore the Bob's (also known more formally as the School Library Journal Battle of the Kids Books.) I love the guest judges. I love the monkey wrench of the Undead contender. I love the debate and conversation and

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24. Cancer!

On my nightstand is an ARC of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews.  I am having a very hard time getting into it because ...it's about a dying girl.  DUH!  I mean, I already read John Green's The Fault in My Stars.  That's sort of about a dying girl.  And last night, I had the ambiguous pleasure? - honor? - um experience? of reading  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.  The person dying in that book is a grown-up girl. 

Writing about dying people is not new in books written for younger people - or in any books for that matter.  But it just feels weird that so many books on the subject of cancer have crossed in front of my eyes this Fall/Winter.  Because of the Dad with cancer thing.  That's why it feels weird. Except, God willing, Dad is not dying of cancer - just of living a long life - and not yet.

I am nostalgic for the days when no one from my immediate family had cancer.  It seems like a very long time ago.

Back to the books.  The Monster Calls set me off on a crying jag!  Conor's anger, guilt and pain as he deals - or avoids dealing with - his mother's cancer and imminent death are absolutely wrenching.  The book served as biblio-therapy for me.  But there is nothing clinical about this book.  Ness creates a monster that forces Conor to face what is going on in his life with some very dramatic results.  The narrative is spellbinding.  This book is a worthy opponent in the Battle of the Books.  Read it, but as with The Fault in Our Stars, keep a box of tissues handy.

The book is based on an outline developed by author Siobhan Dowd who died of breast cancer herself.  I think she would like what Ness did with her story.

As for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl?  I haven't finished it yet but the premise of the book is one I bet a lot of teens can identify with.  Rachel - Greg dated her in sixth grade - has been diagnosed with leukemia and Greg's mom has decided that Greg should spend more time with poor, poor Rachel.  Awkward!  Greg is a good kid.  And he's got a manic motormouth that is very funny.  So his renewed friendship with Rachel seems to actually help her. There's something about film making here, too.  I'll give you my final verdict when I get through the whole book.

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25. It’s Chaos Walking Week

hosted by Loving Books. Basically, a week dedicated to Patrick Ness’s amazing series, which I found out about from Lisa is Busy Nerding.

Anyway, I have no idea if this is some kind of coincidence or what, but…

screencap of Amazon.com's 3/28/12 Daily Deal - The Chaos Walking series…the Chaos Walking series comprises today’s Kindle Daily Deal. If you have a Kindle and haven’t read the series yet, the books are 99¢ each! You can’t go wrong!

I don’t mean to turn this into a buy-stuff-from-Amazon post, since I’m not a fan of many of their practices (I’m not, nor have I ever have been, an Amazon affiliate), but Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock is currently (as of this writing) on sale for $3.49. And wouldn’t you know, last week was Marchetta Madness at Chachic’s Book Nook.

There are some awesome posts there, by the way, like Trish Doller on how Jellicoe Road influenced Something Like Normal. Which makes me want to read Something Like Normal even more.

Filed under: Book News, Things That Make Trisha Go, "Hmm"

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