This week, we’ve been running a blog tour for Heather Smith’s poignant coming-of-age novel, Chicken Girl, and now all the reviews are in!
Monday, February 25
Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads gave us a guest post from Heather, as well as five reasons to read Chicken Girl
Lisa @ Remarkably Lisa loves Poppy’s gay twin brother, Cam
Jaaron @ Worn Pages and Ink called it one of the best YA novels she’s read in a long time
Summer @ Butter My Books is hoping for a sequel about Lewis (or Cam!)
Christine @ Padfoot’s Library posted a short piece about writing from Heather
Olivia @ The Candid Cover thinks the book has a great message about respect – both online and IRL
Nobody writes YA thrillers like Karen McManus. One of Us is Lying was a runaway smash hit—think The Breakfast Club with a deadly twist—and her latest novel Two Can Keep a Secret is just as fun, with shocking reveals and twists that will keep you reading late into the night. Find out about Karen’s writing process and which character she relates to the most below!
Describe TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET in 5 words.
Homecoming turns deadly once again.
Which of your characters from your latest novel is most like you?
Ellery’s twin brother, Ezra. He’s the observer of the story, along for the ride as Ellery starts poking around in their mother’s past and the mysteries of Echo Ridge. Ezra’s running commentary is pretty much exactly what I’d say in the same situation. Also, we like the same music 🙂
Recommend a book for Ellery.
Ellery is a true crime buff, so she’d love something like The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas. The main character in that book was a key witness in the years-old prosecution of a serial killer, but now that she’s older she’s starting to question whether her memories are real.
There are so many twists in this story. How do you keep track of them while writing?
I would love to tell you that I have an extremely clever system, but I use a basic Excel spreadsheet as a chapter guide. I sketch out key beats for plot and characters, and then write in 3-4 chapter bursts. I do a lot of revising of those chapters before I move on, making sure I’m satisfied with how the story is progressing. Then I go back through the larger outline to see if what I’ve written requires any changes to the structure as a whole.
What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever received?
I wish I could remember who said this, because I’d credit them if I did: that characters should be doing something in the last chapter that would have seemed impossible in the first. I love that, because it’s the perfect litmus test as to whether your characters have undertaken enough of a journey to grow and change.
In the Toronto area? Meet Karen McManus at Indigo Yorkdale on Thursday, February 28th at 7pm. Details here!
For National Hat Day on January 15th, we put the spotlight on Stacey Lee’s upcoming The Downstairs Girl and if you’re not already convinced you should read it based on the gorgeous cover, here are five more reasons to pick it up in August.
1. Features a Chinese-American girl in 1860s America
Protagonist Jo Kwan is independent and determined. Despite spending most of her time in the shadows, she slowly finds her way into the light.
2.Jo Kwan leads a double life
Jo spends her days working as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of Atlanta’s wealthiest men. But at night, she writes a newspaper advice column as “Dear Miss Sweetie”.
3. Swoony romance
Jo finds herself falling for her publisher’s handsome son, but she has to hide her true identity from him. Do we need to say more?
4. Stacey Lee is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books
In addition to being a critically acclaimed author, Stacey Lee works with WNDB to promote diverse literature to a young audience.
5. A fascinating insight into suffragists and the New South
There are very few YA novels that cover this particular time period, and Stacey has done extensive research to make sure her New South setting is as realistic as possible.
The Downstairs Girl comes out August 13th, 2019. Add it on Goodreads here.
In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess sets out on a journey, pretending to be a boy. Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl–a subspecies of dragon–who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a child, RACHEL HARTMAN played cello, lip-synched Mozart operas with her sisters, and fostered the deep love of music that inspired much of Seraphina. Rachel earned a degree in comparative literature but eschewed graduate school in favor of bookselling and drawing comics. Born in Kentucky, she has lived in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She now lives with her family in Vancouver, Canada.
Q&A with Rachel Hartman
What books inspired Tess of the Road? Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell made me realize I had a particular story to tell. I think I also subconsciously drew from Don Quixote, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Jane Austen as well.
What are you favourite fantasy novels? The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold Going Postal by Terry Pratchett Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
What books do you think Tess would read?
Anything fast-paced that made her laugh.
Who run the world? Girls! Today we’re highlighting the often untold stories of women in history. The Game of Hope is the debut YA novel by international bestselling author Sandra Gulland. Join the conversation online by following @PenguinTeenCa and using the hashtag #HerStoryTeen.
Q&A with Sandra Gulland
What inspired you to write a YA novel?
Before I became a novelist, I was a book editor, and for over a decade I edited young adult novels for reluctant readers. But even so, it took at least two months to consider. It takes me years to write a novel, and I have to feel passionate about it and fall in love with it. So, I reread books about Hortense and covered our dining room table with plot points on index cards. I needed to see if there was a story there, a story about Hortense’s teen years, an enchanting story.And there was. And it was one I very much wanted to write.
What books did you consult while working on The Game of Hope?
I posted the complete list to my website and it comes to about 150 books and magazine articles, so I’ll spare you the details and generalize. I read Hortense’s two-volume memoir, The Memoirs of Queen Hortense, two decades ago, and it was time to reread them, as well as biographies about her. I read books on etiquette, period dance, and costume, of course: the details of daily life are what interest me the most. The book on sex that Caroline Bonaparte was so enthusiastic about, and which horrified Hortense, was also an amusing discovery. I read quite a lot on Madame Campan, including her letters to Hortense, as well as a little epistolary novel she wrote about two fictional girls in her wonderful school. A historian and I even shared the expense of hiring a researcher in Paris to find a set of letters in the National Archives written by one of Campan’s students. (Yes, you could call me obsessive.)
You’ve written a lot about various historical periods in France. What do you love about French history?
There is something about French history — at least the periods I’ve studied — that is so idealistic (even when it’s brutal), and at the same time almost theatrical. There is often a hint of humour, and I adore that.
What surprised you the most about the lives of teenage girls in post-revolutionary France?
There were many things I already knew, yet I was still surprised that teenage girls were expected to marry. They were so young! Also, it was rare for girls to be educated at all, much less well-educated. Campan’s school was amazingly creative and intellectually challenging. I would have loved to have gone to that school.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SANDRA GULLAND is the author of the international-bestselling Josephine B series, chronicling the life of Napoleon’s second wife. Now, Sandra turns her keen eye for history and her love of story to Hortense, the teenage stepdaughter of Napoleon, in her first YA novel The Game of Hope.