Saturday, 30 April 2011

Review for Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

"Desire. Danger. Destiny. Little did I know that this is what I would find at Gottfried Academy. Coming from sunny California, the mist-shrouded Academy was a shock, with its strange customs, ancient curriculum and study of Latin - the language of the dead. Then I discovered that the school has more than one dark secret... I also discovered Dante. Intelligent, elusive and devastatingly gorgeous, most people can't decide whether they love, hate or fear him. All I know is that when we're together, I've never felt more alive - or more afraid." I’ve wanted to read this book ever since it first came out in the US based solely on all the praise it was receiving. So when I found out that it was being published in the UK and the lovely people at Usborne offered to send me a copy for review you better believe I was on it! And oh did I love this book! It’s been a long time since I was surprised by a book. A lot of the time now after reading so much of the same thing I know what to expect and going into the book I know roughly what’s going to happen. However Dead Beautiful is a very welcome breath of fresh air. Yvonne Woon had instead of following everyone else and the hype created her own type of paranormal creature- the Undead- and no their not the vampire or flesh eating zombie kind! In a totally plausible, clever way Woon spins a hidden, ancient tale on these beings and how they have become the world’s very own forgotten supernatural creature. This book for me was a complete joy to read. It reminded me of reading Twilight for the first time. I had that feeling when you’re completely new to a supernatural being and uncover this dark and delicious secret that you actually believe in because the author makes it feel so real. I loved how original this book was and learning the rules of this long lost ancient way of life. Dead Beautiful is a big book reaching a grand total of 505 pages. I’m not a fan of larger books simply because after a while I easily tire of the same story but never at any point did I get bored with Dead Beautiful. It really felt like the book was the length it needed to be to tell Renee and Dante’s story. Not once did it feel like Yvonne Woon was waffling on or padding the book out with pointless scenes so kudos to Yvonne for keeping this reader constantly enthralled. It’s rare that I would describe a novel as interesting but that word really sums Dead Beautiful up. I became fascinated with the use of Latin and all the old mythology and rituals Yvonne used to shape this world. I for one would love to go to Gottfried Academy because Renee seriously has some of the coolest classes ever. I loved the relationship between Dante and Renee and find their situation to be very intriguing. This book ends on a huge cliff-hanger in so many ways and I closed the book with a hunger to know more and a slightly broken heart as I can honestly see no way that these two can ever be together. If you like your forbidden love stories this is up there with the best and most tragic! I didn’t really know much about this book going in to it and I think that’s the best way to read it so the only thing I’ll say about it is that it will be like nothing you’ve read before! There are also plenty of plot twists to keep you entertained and guessing, together making Dead Beautiful a fresh and compelling debut. I am so in love with this story and honestly think that Yvonne is a little bit genius. This is the second young adult novel published by Usborne and Dead Beautiful along with Angel is quickly setting them up as the go to publisher when you need a riveting read. As for Dead Beautiful if you’re looking for an original, gothic, romantic, all around fantastic read this is the book for you. I loved every minute of it and it comes with the highest of recommendations from me. My Rating 4.5/5 stars Thanks go to Usborne for sending me this book to review Synopsis taken from Usborne website
If you enjoyed this review and are interested to learn more about Dead Beautiful be sure to stop by the blog on Monday for my Dead Beautiful tour stop! For anyone interested in following this tour here is a list of blogs participating.
(Click on image to enlarge)

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Covers So Lovely We'd Lick Them! (15) and update

Hi guys, so it’s been a week since I last posted and I feel like I owe you guys an explanation. Things are kind of crazy for me personally right now. I have been SO busy with day to day life and have barely had any time to read never mind blog. On top of being super busy I’ve been having computer troubles again, it’s very on and off at the moment (quite literally) and seems that I’ve been having so many problems with it that it looks like it’s on its last legs. This means that I’m going to have to save to buy a new laptop and in the meantime work with what I have with far less posts going up until the foreseeable future. On top of computer troubles I’ve also been having crippling ear ache, I went to the doctors yesterday and it turns out I have a nasty ear infection. At the minute I am quite literally deaf in one ear so that’s really been bumming me out and is incredibly painful. Overall it’s not been happy sunny times over here at the moment resulting in my unexpected week from blogging. I guess I just wanted to let you guys know that I’m still here and have some exciting things planned for the blog there just having to take a bit of a backseat at the moment with real life getting in the way. Hopefully I will have some posts up over the next few weeks for you guys and will be back to full time blogging with a brand spanking new laptop in a couple of weeks :-) In the meantime here’s another fresh batch of cover loveliness…
The new feature co-created and co-hosted by LadyViolet and Jess hearts books where we show off a book cover which we find so damn scrumptious that we'd actually be willing to lick it! Every week we each pick a different cover so be sure to check both blogs!
My Pick for this Week
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto
I love, Love, LOVE this cover! The cover for the first book in this series Halo completely rocked my socks off and is definitely up there with my most favourite covers ever. I really didn’t know how they were going to create a second cover to live up to it but I think they’ve done a fantastic job with Hades. While the first book had a softer more romantic cover Hades looks full of action and danger. I love the colours and the shadow effects and how it all looks very sinister. Whilst it’s a very different cover compared to Halo I think it can proudly stand next to it and will have readers very interested to find out what’s going to happen next. I think the detail on the motorbike is gorgeous and it literally looks as if all hell is about to break loose! Honestly who wouldn’t want to pick up this book to find out what happens? I love this cover and can’t wait to see it in the flesh come August! So that’s my cover for this week. Feel free to leave me comments letting me know what you think of this week’s pick and if you ever get insane lust over a book cover, does a lovely cover influence you buying the book? Let me know and don’t forget to stop by Rachel’s blog to find out what cover she’d like to Lick this week!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Covers So Lovely We'd Lick Them! (14)

The new feature co-created and co-hosted by LadyViolet and Jess hearts books where we show off a book cover which we find so damn scrumptious that we'd actually be willing to lick it! Every week we each pick a different cover so be sure to check both blogs!
My Pick for this Week
Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien (UK edition)
I bought the US hardcover of this book a good while back now because I’d been hearing AMAZING things from bloggers across the pond. At the time I didn’t realise it was being released in the UK and now I wished that I had waited because I’m completely in love with our cover. This cover to me is completely different to anything else out there on the market and I would certainly pick it up based on the cover. I love the cool duck egg blue of the background and I think the way the girls face forms around the words is awesome! I also love the pop of colour with the purple flowers making sure it stands out. I think whoever created this cover was a little bit of a genius and I’m contemplating replacing my copy with the UK version just for the pretty! (I can be very shallow when it comes to book covers) for me this cover is 100% lickable. So that’s my cover for this week. Feel free to leave me comments letting me know what you think of this week’s pick and if you ever get insane lust over a book cover, does a lovely cover influence you buying the book? Let me know and don’t forget to stop by Rachel’s blog to find out what cover she’d like to Lick this week! P.S I’m not sure if Rachel will be doing Covers this week. She started a new job yesterday (yay!) and has been busy with that and family stuff so I haven’t had chance to find out. If she has done a post head on over for more cover loveliness and if not you should check out her blog anyway because she’s awesome :P

Monday, 18 April 2011

Review for Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

""Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it." "Okay." "Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?" "Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?" According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie—-she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago. Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer." I bought this book back when it very first came out in 2009 before I’d even heard any reviews for it purely because the synopsis sounded so freakin’ good! It’s rare that I’ll buy a book before reading some reviews on it first but for Twenty Boy Summer I didn’t need to, I knew it would be the kind of book I enjoy. I love coming of age stories especially if the coming of age takes place during a summer vacation with lots of sun, tans and boys! I’m a big fan of Sarah Dessen and the synopsis reminded me of the kind of book she would write and so I’ve been saving this for the perfect summer’s day and that day finally came along last week. I expected this book to be a lot sadder than it was, I expected to cry and get angry and throw things like I do when a book really moves me but I didn’t. Whilst this is the story of a girl whose boyfriend died the twenty boy summer takes place a year after Matt’s death so although the characters are still grieving they’re not in the first heart wrenching all-consuming grips of bereavement, so although this book has it’s sad parts when Anna’s reflecting on Matt, his death and their relationship the majority of the book reads like a fun summer novel. I really enjoyed Sarah Ockler’s style of writing mixing the past with the present, sunny days and friendship with ghosts and salt water tears. It was a light, quick, fun, summer read which was exactly what I was after mixed in with change, growing up, moving on and letting go. The plot was original and thought provoking reminding me of other summer authors I love like Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen. The only thing that let this book down for me was the characters. I didn’t not like them exactly but I just found them to be a little undeveloped. They aren’t the most memorable characters in the world and if I had to pick a favourite it would be Matt-who was dead- yeah… So although the characters weren’t the most accomplished it didn’t really effect my enjoyment of the book as I got what I was after – a quick, fun, coming of age summer story. I’ve always wondered what was with the cover for this book and why there was only one piece of red sea glass (I get curious about these kinds of things) and it *is* relevant to the book and is actually a nice touch to the story when you find out how it fits together. All in all Twenty Boy Summer was exactly what I was looking for. It’s the perfect book to take with you to the beach or to read on a hot summer’s day in the garden like I did. It’s not too demanding and the plots compulsive enough to keep you turning the pages in a haze of sun, sea and sand. Overall I would recommend this as a summer read and am excited to read Sarah Ockler’s second novel Fixing Delilah later this summer. My Rating 4/5 stars **** Synopsis taken from goodreads

Saturday, 16 April 2011

In My Mailbox!

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren Hello fellow readers, I’m bringing this week’s IMM to you a little earlier this week as I’ve just finished my current read and thought before I get stuck into another book I might as well do my IMM post. I got some pretty good books this week and received my very first Random Acts of Kindness gift which I was uber excited about I’ll leave a linky here in case you guys want to find out a little bit more about the wonderful meme where lovely people can send you books off your wishlist and hopefully you can return the favour to them or somebody else at some point. I think it’s such a lovely idea making peoples book wishes come true! Anyway let’s take a peek at what I got this week!
Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan After by Amy Efaw The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom
For Review/ Borrowed/ Gift
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (for review from the publisher) City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (for review from the publisher) Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (ARC borrowed from Lyndsey, thank you!) Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (Gift from Lisa, thank you!) So that was all the awesome I got this week big thank you’s to everybody who sent me books! If you’ve read any of the books I got this week and want to leave me a comment letting me know what you thought please do and make sure you leave me a link to what you got in your mailbox. Here’s to another week of fantastic reading ahead :-)

Friday, 15 April 2011

Review for Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

"Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still. When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all." With the big build up for City of Fallen Angels the fourth Mortal Instruments book by Cassandra Clare I decided to finally pick up and read Clockwork Angel. Clockwork Angel is the first book in the Infernal Devices series a prequel to The Mortal Instruments. Although it’s not mandatory to read this book before City of Fallen Angels Cassie herself does recommend on her website to read them in release order to get the full experience so I decided to do just that! Clockwork Angel is set in the same world as The Mortal Instruments series but the similarities pretty much end there. This series is set in London during 1878. Our main characters are Tessa a downworlder like no other who can shift forms and wear the appearance of another person. Will- ancestor to the infamous Jace- is a bad ass shadowhunter who shows that attitude and good looks run in the family, and then there’s Jem the gentle and kind natured shadowhunter and best friend to Will who seems to be hiding a big secret of his own. Clockwork Angel features some names you may recognise from The Mortal Instruments and some excellent new characters that I very much enjoyed getting to know. I think I actually preferred the characters in this series better than Clary and Co as there wasn’t one person who got on my nerves or who I didn’t love. I loved both Will and Jem as different as they both are and could relate to Tessa in a way that I never have with Clary. Tessa’s bookish and smart and her unique ability makes for fascinating reading. I also loved the character of Jessamine, flaws and all; it was interesting to read about a shadowhunter who doesn’t want to be a shadowhunter and what that entails for her. This book also features the warlock Magnus Bane one of my very favourite characters from The Mortal Instruments. I loved seeing what Magnus was like in 18th century London before glitter and other extremities that he’s so fond of in modern day New York were invented. I loved the setting for this book and learning what life was like for shadowhunters and downworlders at this period in time. As always the plot was fantastic with an unexpected twist at the end. The only complaint I have to make as was with City of Bones and City of Ashes I felt the book was longer than it needed to be and I found myself getting bored in the middle thinking that Cassandra Clare could get to the point a little faster. Cassie had definitely grown as a writer since City of Bones with her writing and ideas getting stronger with each book. She’s definitely grown to be one of my favourite authors as her books have gone on. Fans of the Mortal Instruments series or Historical fiction with a supernatural twist are going to LOVE Clockwork Angel and I think this series has the potential to be as big or if not bigger than Cassie’s first series. I love the direction the author is taking this series and I’m excited to finally be all caught up ready to read City of Fallen Angels. This book finishes on a bit of a cliff hanger something I wasn’t expecting as Cassandra usually ties things up nicely at the end of her stories. I wasn’t a huge fan of the cliff hanger as I like all things finished and tied up neatly but I must admit it definitely has me pining for the next book in The Infernal Devices to get some answers! I’m already so in love with this series and the characters and can’t wait to see what happens to them next. If you haven’t yet checked out any of Cassandra Clare’s books then I highly recommend that you do. If ever a book deserves all the hype it gets it’s a book by Cassandra Clare. My Rating 4.5/5 stars Synopsis taken from goodreads

Monday, 11 April 2011

Review for City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

This is a review for the third book in The Mortal Instruments series. Although there will be no spoilers about City of Glass there may be spoilers about the first two books in this series. "To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight. As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her new found powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?" I jumped on the wagon for these books a little late compared to other people but decided I finally wanted to read this series in time for the fourth books release City of Fallen Angels. I’ve been working my way through this series over the last few months and could straight away see what all the fuss was about, however, as much as I enjoyed the first two books there seemed to be something missing for me, making both City of Bones and City of Ashes fall just short of the big 5 star mark and so it gives me great pleasure to finally be able to give Cassie Clare top marks because at last- for me- this book was perfect. City of Bones and City of Ashes always fell just that little bit short for me as I’d get bored at some parts. A lot of the book seemed to be written just for the purpose of padding the book out and I only ever found it completely unputdownable towards the end. It always seemed to take a while to really get going but City of Glass dives straight into the action and I couldn’t put it down. Throughout something exciting was going on in every chapter and I can safely say at no point did I get bored even for one moment! City of Glass was originally the end to The Mortal Instruments series and so all your questions regarding the first two books are answered and can I just say wow? Cassandra Clare tied things up in such a clever way and I really loved the end result. Although this book would have made a brilliant and satisfying final book I’m really glad Cassie has decided to carry this series on writing a further 3 books. One because I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of these characters and two because Cassandra Clare has clearly reached her peak right now showing us just what she’s capable of and I can’t wait to see more of that! Another reason City of Bones and City of Ashes didn’t blow my mind was because – and I’m well aware that it’s considered a crime among YA fiction fans to say this- I never really liked Jace. There I said it. I was definitely team Simon but in City of Glass my opinions on him completely changed and I’m now rather found of him although Simon will always personally have my heart! I loved all of the characters in this book and as usual loved the relationships and banter between them. What I love so much about Cassandra Clare is how in City of Ashes she gave Simon and Clary their chance and we as readers got to see how it didn’t work so although I’ve always loved Simon ultimately I knew him and Clary weren’t right together and so surprisingly at the start of City of Glass was rooting for Clary and Jace to find a way to be together…and that is as much as I am going to say on that as I don’t want to make this review spoilery for anyone who hasn’t yet read this book, although I fear I may be the only one! Not since Harry Potter has a world had so much detail put into it as The Mortal Instruments series. It’s such an exciting place to visit and read about and is so rich with detail and plot. I’m SO glad that I decided to give in and read this series, it’s been such a fantastic experience and I’m pleased to announce that these books will be taking their rightful place on my favourites shelf very soon! I’m so happy that I can now dive right in with City of Fallen Angels and don’t have to wait like old Cassie Clare fans, dudes, you have my deepest sympathy for having to wait such a long time! The books are exciting and romantic and absolutely deserve every second of hype they’ve received, if you haven’t checked them out yet I highly recommend that you do! My Rating 5/5 stars ***** Synopsis taken from goodreads

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Blogger Break- I’m taking a Staycation!

Dear Followers, As of Sunday 3rd April to Sunday 10th April I will be taking a break from blogging returning to normal posting on Monday 11th. Don’t fear nothing’s wrong and I have no plans to quit blogging anytime soon. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the UK and a few days after it will be my mum’s birthday. She’s booked the week off as have I and we’re neglecting all commitments and making a bit of a holiday out of it without actually going anywhere hence the Staycation! It’ll be a good time to just chill out and catch up on a few things and just spend some girl time together something that we rarely get to do as we’re both usually busy! I’ll be taking a full break from blogging and a partial break from the internet. I may pop on once or twice during the week to check my emails and go on twitter (you know coz I’m addicted and all) but I’m going to try and spend as limited time on the internet as possible so please bear that in mind if you try to contact me via email. I may get lots of reading done or I may slow my reading down. I’m not really sure and don’t intend to make any plans I’m just going to relax and do whatever I feel like at the time so I’m not sure how much catching up I’ll have to do when I get back! I’ve planned no posts so the blog will be bare for the week but you may be able to catch me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading. Anyway I’m rambling on! For my UK followers I hope you all have a lovely mother’s day tomorrow whether you’re a mum and getting spoiled or spending some quality time with your own mum! And to everyone else I’ll see you all soon ;) Happy reading until next time, Jess x

March Round Up and Book of the Month!

March’s Book of the Month is...Where She Went by Gayle Forman!
This should really come as no surprise to those who regularly follow my blog. As I said in my review this is definitely my favourite book of the year so far and definitely one of my favourite reads ever. I’ve read a lot of amazing books this month and between them it would have been so hard to pick a book of the month had it not been for Where She Went. I found this book to be completely beautiful and heart-breaking and felt emotionally connected to it in a way that you only do with those really special books that make you think differently. I enjoyed If I Stay but Gayle Forman completely excelled herself with Where She Went in my opinion. For my full thoughts on this book and why I think everybody should read it you can check out my review here.
Best Plot: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare Best Writing: Where She Went by Gayle Forman Best Cover: Rockoholic by C.J. Skuse Best Characters: Rockoholic by C.J. Skuse Best Ending: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare Best Romance: Where She Went by Gayle Forman Most un-put-down-able: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare Most Memorable: Where She Went by Gayle Forman Best Moral: Rockoholic by C.J. Skuse Books read this month 14.) To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell (4*) 15.) Where She Went by Gayle Forman (5*) 16.) The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (4.5*) 17.) Amy and Rogers Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (4.5*) 18.) Beauty by Robin McKinley (2*) 19.) Clarity by Kim Harrington (5*) 20.) Rockoholic by C.J. Skuse (5*) 21.) City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (5*) Top 3 Most Recommended Books: Where She Went, City of Glass and Rockoholic Bookish Highlights of the month Lots of fab stuff happened in March! I joined the Amazon Vine Program, Joined Netgalley and got picked up by a few more publishers :-) I’ve read plenty of excellent books, discovered Read it Swap it and bought lots of great books. Bookish Lows of the month Uh it has to be reading Beauty the only book I didn’t absolutely love this month. In fact I really disliked it, other than that it’s been a fab month for books! Book’s I’m looking forward to in April April is a pretty fantastic month for books so many new releases! City of Fallen Angels anyone? Yep we’re all super excited for that! The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong, The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan, We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han, Stay by Deb Caletti and they’re just off the top of my head! It’s going to be an awesome month although I imagine by the end of it I’ll be skint! So that’s my reading for March all summed up for you guys. Have you read any of the books I’ve read this month? What were your thoughts on them? Leave me a comment and let me know and I hope some of you check out Where She Went and the other books I’ve enjoyed this month- you won’t regret it!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Author Interview with Lorraine Zago Rosenthal author of Other Words for Love

As some of you may know I’m a huge fan and supporter of Other Words for Love a fantastic 2011 debut by the lovely and talented Lorraine Zago Rosenthal. Lorraine was kind enough to stop by the blog today to answer some questions about Other Words for Love. This book was my book of the month for January and has received plenty of praise already across the blogosphere but for those of you who are new to this book here’s a little bit about what it’s about :)
"When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York--and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.
When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?"
Interview with Lorraine Welcome to Jess Hearts Books Lorraine! Thanks so much, Jess! 1.) How did you come up with the idea for Other Words for Love? My characters are what inspire me most, and the idea of Ari and her family was the genesis of this novel. I was also inspired by the concept of “limerence,” which pertains to the intense emotional highs and lows a person can experience when involved in a romantic relationship. 2.) Other Words for Love is set in the 80's, why not present day? There are a few reasons why I chose to set the story during the 1980s. First of all, the 1980s are a neglected era in YA fiction. The only other YA novel I know of that is set during this decade is The Carrie Diaries. There is YA fiction set in the 1800s, 1920s, etc., so why not the 1980s? This decade is as valid historically as any other, and I believe that no time period should be restricted from the YA genre. There are stories to tell from the viewpoint of young people in every era. I thought that if teens could identify with historical fiction—time periods with cultures and values so different from now—then they could easily relate to a time period that they didn’t live through but wasn’t all that long ago. The ideals of the 1980s weren’t exactly the same as today, but they weren’t completely different, either. I also thought that adults who read YA fiction and lived through the 1980s might connect with the story. But the main reason I set Other Words for Love in the 1980s is that the story wouldn’t work in the present day. As I mentioned, culture and values weren’t radically different then, but they weren’t exactly the same as today. For example—in the novel, Ari’s sister has a baby when she is seventeen years old, and although teen pregnancy isn’t encouraged now, I think it has less of a social stigma than it had during the 80s. There was no “Teen Mom” on MTV back then! Ari is more embarrassed about her sister having been a teen mother than she might be today, and Evelyn’s choices are extremely disappointing to her parents. Also, the issue of AIDS is prevalent throughout the novel. Although AIDS unfortunately still exists, it is better understood than it was during the 80s, when it was new and many people didn’t fully comprehend how it could be contracted. There was an undercurrent of hysteria when AIDS first appeared, and this is present in Other Words for Love. Finally, although Ari is intelligent and mature, she’s also more innocent than most girls her age would be today—for various reasons. For example, the internet didn’t exist during the 1980s, so teens didn’t have as much access to information as they do now. The 1980s were more conservative than the present time—just take a look at how teens were represented in the media back then as opposed to now. 3.) Were any parts of Other Words for Love hard to write? Did you use any of your experiences as a teen to write this book? I wouldn’t say that it was difficult to write Other Words for Love, but it was certainly challenging because my goal was to create characters with complex personalities and traits that aren’t all positive or all negative. Blake’s brother, Del, was a challenging character to develop because there are so many sides to him. He’s a slick womanizer and the black sheep of his family, but he’s also emotionally wounded from his mother’s death and because he knows that his father doesn’t approve of him. He’s envious of Blake and has a hard time hiding it, and yet he cares about Blake, too. He also sees Blake’s flaws when other people—especially Ari—overlook them. He does some things that Ari finds surprising. The most challenging aspect of writing this novel was getting inside the mind of the main character. So much of what takes place in the story has to do with Ari’s feelings and perceptions, and it was therefore necessary to unearth the reasons why she feels and perceives things as she does. We are all the product of our experiences, and I wanted Ari’s actions and reactions to make sense based on her experiences. In order to depict this in a credible way, I had to create her life—her interactions with her family, her friends, and her peers—in a manner that would explain why she is so affected by her relationship with Blake. Another challenging aspect was portraying Blake as a sympathetic character even though he ends up damaging Ari. He also required a strong back-story to explain his actions. Regarding my own experiences, I think that all authors use their experiences in their writing. Some of what we write is based on experience; some is experience mixed with imagination; and some is pure fiction. Like Ari, I grew up in New York and went to a prep school, so that is one aspect of the novel that reflects my experiences. Also, I think that many of the things Ari goes through and feels are universal—we’ve all been there in one way or another. 4.) Did you do any kind of research before or during writing? Yes, I did a lot of research before and during writing Other Words for Love. There were several elements of the story that required research. As I previously mentioned, an aspect of the novel is the concept of “limerence,” which is when a person has extremely strong love/lust/infatuation for someone else, has high hopes and expectations for the relationship, and goes through a painful crash of depression if things don’t work out. Limerence causes very high and very low emotions. It’s a psychological phenomenon, and I researched it before writing the novel. I also researched post-partum depression, which Ari’s older sister deals with in the story. Additionally, I had to research details relating to the setting, time period, and other real-life references that appear in the story. Fortunately, Random House has very efficient copyeditors and proofreaders who fact-checked everything! 5.) Why did you want to write about first love and the highs and lows that go along with it? Like many writers, ideas often just pop into my mind, and this novel is no exception. For a long time before I began writing OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE, I carried around the idea of a teenage girl who is deeply affected (positively and negatively) by her first serious relationship. Then I had the idea for Ari’s character, and I put the story and character together. I knew that Ari would be perfect for the storyline. This type of story wouldn’t work with a girl who is older and/or more sophisticated, because Ari’s inexperience is one of the things that causes her to react so strongly to the good and bad things that happen with her boyfriend, Blake. Because Blake is Ari’s first love, everything that goes along with her interactions with him is new and deeply felt and highly emotional. I wanted to write about a girl who goes through a very difficult time because of her first love, but who learns and grows from it. 6.) Why do you write for teens above all other genres? I write in the YA genre because I love creating realistic stories that feature teen protagonists. The teen years are an exciting, frustrating, and complicated time that contain rich material for an author and can spark many story ideas. I enjoy creating teen characters and watching them change and grow. Writing YA is also great because it’s read by such a wide audience—people of all ages enjoy YA fiction. 7.) What do you hope readers take away with them after reading Other Words for Love? When I write, I don’t have an agenda. I just tell one person’s story—in this case, Ari’s story. Fiction is extremely subjective, and people analyze and judge it based on their personal experiences and values. Because of that, every reader will take something different from my novel. However, if there’s one message that I think readers—especially teen readers—might take from Ari’s story is that your existence won’t always be exactly as it is now. Young people don’t have enough experience to know that life is always in flux, and circumstances constantly change. So even if you’re not particularly popular or happy or appreciated at the moment, it won’t always be that way. What makes you different now will make you special later. I also think that Ari’s experience in Other Words for Love demonstrates that even if things don’t work out the way you expected, you will be okay—and maybe even better. 8.) Are you working on anything at the moment? If so can you tell us a little bit about it? Yes, I’m currently working on another YA novel that is set in NYC. The story and main character are different from Other Words for Love, but the novel also deals with love, family, and other relationships. 9.) Describe Other Words for love in 3 words. Ari grows up.
Thank you so much for doing this interview for us Lorraine! Other Words for Love is available in all good bookshops across the US or available online internationally on sites like the Book Depository now. To find out more about Lorraine or Other Words for Love check out her website here and for my thoughts on Other Words for Love and why you should read it right this second you can check out my review.
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