Archive | April, 2012

Q & A with author Jen Wylie

17 Apr

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of my favorite things about Twitter is discovering new to me authors. Such is the case with Jen Wylie.  We chat on Twitter regularly and I was so happy she was up for a little Q & A here on the blog. I also had the chance to read her YA short Ring Around the Rosie, which I will be reviewing tomorrow. (It was delish!) So a big thanks you and welcome to Jen.

Lavender Lines: What is the attraction, for you, to writing primarily short stories?
Jen: I actually started out writing novels, quite a few over the years actually. Short stories and novellas rather came as a surprise. For me stories come like movies into my head. My first short stories I published were like this… just the movies in my head weren’t very long. I was lucky enough to get them published and later also asked to write a YA short story series (which I kind of did- it turned out to be more of a novella series LOL)

My favorite thing about writing shorts is that the whole process is a LOT quicker than writing a novel, from the actual writing, to the edits, the final proofs and so on. It’s great to see everything come to completion and get out into the world so quickly.

LL: Are there any challenges to writing short stories for teens?
J: Everyone once and a while I have to watch myself trying to stray into more adult themes. I’m rather a kid at heart though so I don’t find it too difficult and rather enjoy it.

LL: When you wrote your novel, did you find the process very different from writing your short stories?
J: I organize more when I write novels. I’m not an outliner, but I take extensive notes as I write, everything from character descriptions to common phrases to maps. I do this for my shorts as well, but to a much smaller degree. Novel writing of course takes a lot longer, and the edits exponentially so. Shorts I can finish up a round of edits in a few days, a week at the most. With a novel it’s closer to 3-4 weeks. There are a number of rounds of editing, and my editor will take just as long, if not longer, to over a work as well so getting a short ready to go to publication is certainly much quicker, and a lot less daunting at times. 🙂
Thanks so much for having me today! 🙂
~hugs and rainbows~

LL: Aw, thanks so much for popping in, Jen! And you guys should come back tomorrow and check out my review of Ring Around the Rosie.

And if you want to find Jen on the Interwebs, here’s where she hangs:

Jen’s website:

Twitter: @jen_wylie


Facebook fan page:

Smashwords author page:

Amazon Author page:

Barnes and Noble:

Jen’s blog:


Pure – Julianna Baggott

11 Apr

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .

Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

I have to be honest: for the first couple of chapters, I really wasn’t feeling this book. Could have been my mood, could have been the writing, could have been the characters, could have been the pull of the tides, I dunno. But I almost put it down a couple of times. But something – some nugget – kept me going. And I’m very glad that I did. Because by chapter three I was in love with this book.

It’s a bit hard to talk about what I liked about Pure without giving some of the story away, and I HATE spoiling things for other readers. So I’ll try to skirt around some of the surprises and secrets while still letting you know why you may want to give this book a go.

Okay, first Pressia’s world. The fusing that is mentioned in the book blurb? So cool and gross and disturbing and disgusting and brilliant. I want Pure to be made into a movie just so I can see the fusing come to life. But really, I don’t need to see it in a movie because Baggott describes it so well and vividly that I felt, quite often, that I COULD see it. (Which may be why it took me a couple of chapters to like the book, maybe. She’s quite graphic in her descriptions right off the bat, and I think it took me a while to feel comfortable with it).

After the brokenness of Pressia’s world, when we’re first introduced to where Partridge lives, The Dome, its order and starkness are obvious. I loved how even though The Dome is supposed to be the better option of the two, it quickly becomes evident that all is not as it appears.

Pure is told from several different view points. It took me a bit to understand why some of the secondary characters were getting their own chapters. But trust me, it all fits together. And a couple of those secondary characters ended up being my favorite parts of the book.

Pure took a bit of time to grow on me, but once I warmed up to it, I warmed up to it completely. I think this is a dystopian that will appeal  to a lot of people.

Thanks bunches to the folks at Hachette Canada for the review copy.

Divergent – Veronica Roth

9 Apr

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue-Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is-she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are-and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

When Divergent came out, everyone was all like, “OMG Colleen! You HAVE to read it!” And I was all like, “Yeah, okay, when I get around to it.” Well, I put it on my Christmas wish-list and the hubs got it for me. I was about three pages in when I realized that I had been a twit to wait this long to read it. Because guys? It’s full of the awesomesauce.

The thing is, I can’t really talk a lot about the plot or story without ruining it for those why haven’t read it yet. So this will be a sort of vague review. What I can tell you is that I LOVED the layering of Tris’ story. There are different elements and lots of things going on that just made me so freaking happy. I love when things that seem to have nothing to do with one another come together for that “OH!” moment. That happens a few times in Divergent and each time made me giggly.

Okay, I can’t do my review without mention one of the other characters, Four. I’m not one to get crushes on book characters. It just doesn’t happen. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I thought a male character in a book was swoon-worthy (I think it was Gilbert Blythe about a zillion years ago when I first read Anne of Green Gables). With that being said, I just love Four. The boy made me sigh quite contently a few times during the book.  I can’t even put my finger on why I kinda fell for him. He’s just a great character.

Speaking of great characters, they are splattered throughout Divergent. And bad guys! Jeez, there were a couple of characters that I had a great time hating.

I think this is one of my favorite dystopian reads. And to say I am impatiently waiting for the sequel would be putting it mildly.

All These Things I’ve Done – Gabrielle Zevin

5 Apr

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she’s to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight–at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Okay, I don’t think I could handle it if chocolate were banned. I mean, seriously. The coffee I could do without (though I’m sure the hubs would be a joy to live with) but chocolate? No freaking way.

This book had such a unique premise that I was really hoping to fall hopelessly in love with it. But I didn’t. I didn’t hate it but I had an issue and for me it’s a big one. The pacing in All These Things I’ve Done?  It was way, way off for me.

Okay, so, I LOVED the parts about her mafia family and the chocolate poisoning and such. But sandwiched in between was the romancey stuff. It just seemed like in the middle of the book there was a shift from the mystery of the poisoning to the smoochy part and then back to the mystery again. I found it jarring and quite noticeable. I would have much preferred if the mafia stuff stayed the main focus and the romance part was woven in better.  It’s not that I didn’t like the romance stuff, it’s just that it kinda stopped everything else that was happening. And yes, I realize that when teens fall in love (or anyone for that matter) that pretty much everything else is at a stand-still for a while.  I just found it jarring, is all.

But still, I did enjoy the book and really loved the prohibition throwback and the tone of the book.  Even though it made me crave chocolate like nobody’s business.

Hemlock – Kathleen Peacock

3 Apr

Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.

Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer:

A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boy-friend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

It’s, you see, I just, this book… gah!!!!!!! I have so much flipping LOVE for this book that I’m a bit of a blabbering mess trying to write this review. Even more so than normal. If I could, I’d give each of you a copy of Hemlock, a day where you don’t have to do anything, some great tea, chocolate and a cozy blanket and tell you TO READ IT. And you would. In one fell swoop. Because when I sat down to read Hemlock, I did nothing else until I was finished. But this is a review blog and I’m not a millionaire, so let me try to explain why I have so much love for this book. But first I have to thank the folks at HarperCollins Canada for the review copy. And for not serving me with a peace bond. I kinda pestered them for the last six months about getting my grubbies on an ARC of Hemlock. 😀

Lately I’ve been very meh about paranormal YA books. I think I had just read so many of them that I kind of burnt out on the genre. They were all blurring together and I was having a hard time differentiating one from another. Then Hemlock landed on my door and it pretty much kicked me in the ass. It made me excited about the genre again.

Kathleen’s writing style is just beautiful. It’s detailed without going overboard, flowery where it needs to be, straightforward in other parts. From the first page her writing flows and just keeps flowing until the last word. Which, in my opinion, came way too fast.

The story was tight and had just enough twists and turns to keep me happy without making it seem like they were just put in willy-nilly to make things more dramatic. There were a couple “HOLY HELL!” moments and they were absolutely delicious. I mean I was all like, “WHA?? OMG!!!!”.

Mac is just a great, well rounded character. Actually, they all are. And the Trackers? EVIL. But fascinating. Yups. There’s just something about a burly group of psychotics with access to weaponry that adds a super WTF element to a book. Would it make me sadistic if I said I think they may have been my favorite part of Hemlock?

There’s also some romance, but it’s not all mushy-gooshy. I actually really liked it. It was real and it added to the story, rather than being a separate element. It didn’t feel like it was just shoved in because the book needed some romance, you know?

So yeah, in case you couldn’t guess, I absolutely LOVED Hemlock. It’s one of my favorite reads so far this year (if not THE favorite read) and I know it will be one of my go-to books for when I want to read something awesome. And I cannot wait until the second book comes out. Wonder if Kathleen needs a beta reader……..

Q&A with author Kathleen Peacock – Hemlock Blog Tour

2 Apr

I first “met” Kathleen about a year or so ago on Twitter. Besides being one of my favorite authors (yes, Kathleen, you have made it on my polite stalking list!) she’s one of my favorite all around people. So I’m tickled pink to have her on the blog today for a little Q&A. And make sure to pop back in tomorrow for what is sure to be an incohesive and babbling review of Kathleen’s debut novel, Hemlock. (So much LOVE for this book. SO. MUCH.)

Lavender Lines: Heya! Thanks so much for popping by the blog and chatting. I promise I won’t make the questions too intrusive. 🙂

Kathleen: No problem! I… hey… wait a sec… why do you want my social insurance number? Who told you I had mono when I was in college? WHERE DID QUESTION NUMBER SEVEN COME FROM?! Number ten is just… inappropriate. The truth? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!


LL: How close did the finished version of Hemlock look to what you had envisioned when you set out to write it?

K: There were some fairly substantial changes. Hemlock was, quite literally, my first book, and there was a huge learning curve and more than one revision. Some plotlines, characters, and settings from my original draft were moved to book two and the characters were all aged down a year (the original story took place the summer/fall after graduation).

LL: Writing or editing: which do you find harder?

K: Option C: Plotting. Followed by Option D: Pacing (which probably comes under editing).

LL: Coffee or tea?

K: Neither. Roll up the Rim won’t ensnare me!

LL:  What books are currently on your nightstand?

K: Right now? I was trying to read Paradise Lost by John Milton (one of my New Year’s resolutions), but I got distracted by revisions. The last two books I read were The Guardians by Andrew Pyper (which was deliciously creepy) and Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (which was even more amazing than the pre-ARC/edited version I had read). Some books in my TBR pile/on my Kobo are: Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst, Slatwater Vampires by Kirsty Eagar, and Bossypants by Tina Fey. I’ve also got an audio book of The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America by David Hajdu on my iPod.

LL: So, I found Hemlock totally, absolutely squee-worthy. What’s the last squee-worthy book you read?

K: Awww. *blush*

Since it was a re-read, it’s probably cheating for me to say Incarnate, right? Incarnate out of the equation, I’d say Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I finally got around to reading it a few months ago, and it totally swept me off my feet and enchanted me.

LL: Merci Kathleen, for answering these hard-hitting questions. 🙂

K: Bienvenue!