Monthly Archive: February 2016

February, briefly

Well, it’s safe to say February was a whirlwind month. Between my launch party, my first official book signing, and lots of reading and writing, I didn’t have much free time for anything else. But I feel as though I have finally achieved that elusive work-life balance that was missing since Firsts came out, and I’m in a good mental place coming into March. Plus, I finally get to reveal something I’ve been bursting to share with all of you: A series of ten short stories from the perspectives of the first ten virgins Mercedes hooks up with in Firsts. These have been in the works for awhile, and I really hope fans of Firsts love getting into the guys’ brains! I’ll be sharing one story per week starting March 1st on my Tumblr and Wattpad accounts, so I hope you’ll tune in!

At my first book signing at the Chapters Indigo in Erin Mills. What a fun day!

At my first book signing at the Chapters Indigo in Erin Mills. What a fun day!

This month, I have been…

Working on: Two different YA contemporaries have been preoccupying my head. One, I’ve been able to write quickly ,but the other has put up some resistance. I’m a firm believer that working on more than one project at a time can help you get unstuck if you’re not sure where one of the projects is going. Next up for both projects is revision-land, and I’m confident I know the changes that need to be made.

There’s also an extremely shiny idea percolating in my head, but I’m not letting myself touch it until I revise both of the aforementioned projects! It’ll be the ultimate reward for surviving the revision trenches. (That, and champagne, of course.)

Reading: February has been a seriously stellar reading month. I read eight books, all of which I absolutely adored! I started the month with Unscripted Joss Byrd by Lygia Day Peñaflor. It’s an amazing story about a child actress struggling to find her place in Hollywood, and both the internal and external obstacles she faces. Next, I read Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley– it’s a fast-paced, action-packed look at a future where the lack of an Internet footprint is the most valuable form of currency. Then I read Flirting with Fame by my agent-sister Samantha Joyce (which just so happens to be out TODAY!). It’s a gorgeous New Adult book about nineteen-year-old Elise, who has written a successful book series… but because she’s so self-conscious about her appearance, she put another girl’s photo on her book jacket, and nobody knows about her secret career.

Next up was Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee, a debut with one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen (and the words inside are even more beautiful). It’s the story of conjoined twins Clara and Hailey and how they learn to live and dream both together and apart. Then I read Jerkbait by Mia Siegert, wherein twins Robbie and Tristan are skilled high school hockey players– but it’s Robbie, who everyone thinks is destined for hockey stardom, who is hiding a huge secret.

I’d heard so many amazing things about Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Well, this book more than exceeded them. It’s a brilliant story about friendship, sexuality, secrets, and, well, plenty of Oreos.

Another debut novel that seriously impressed me was Please Don’t Tell by Laura Tims. It’s dark and twisty and complicated and the language is so gorgeous and original. This is the kind of book where you dog-ear every second page because you want to revisit the words later. Similarly powerful was Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate, Told from seven different perspectives, each embodying one of the deadly sins, this story was ambitious and bold and I loved every page of it.

Watching: My husband and I discovered the new show Love on Netflix. I promptly fell in, well, love with it. It’s hilarious and actually made me laugh out loud, which is rare when I’m watching TV. I only wish there were more episodes!

I’m looking forward to what March has in store… hopefully some warmer weather and more great reads!

Don’t miss the first short story, which will be live on Tumblr and Wattpad at 10am tomorrow!

Spotlight on Sixteens: Burning Glass

When I got my hands on an Advanced Reader Copy of this book, I knew I was in for a treat if the words inside were even remotely as gorgeous at that cover. I can honestly say that Burning Glass blew past those expectations and continued wreaking havoc with my head and heart. This is a story filled with complicated relationships and political intrigue and cartwheeling emotions and romance—oh, the romance!

Burning Glass is the story of Sonya, who is an Auraseer. Her powers give her the ability to feel what others around her are feeling, both physically and emotionally. It’s both a gift and a curse, as Sonya’s power is reckless and all those emotions can combine into a deadly cocktail threatening to consume her. It was this concept that made me want to read the book immediately. After a terrible mistake (trust me, you will probably forget to breathe during the first few chapters) leaves Sonya the only Auraseer able to serve Emperor Valko, she is forced to use her powers to discover would-be assassins in his court and protect the emperor against internal threats. But as seeds of rebellion grow in the palace, Sonya grapples with rebellion within herself, and she must decide where her loyalties (and heart) lie—to the emperor, with whom she has forged a tenuous alliance, or his brother Anton, the crown prince who makes Sonya feel things she hasn’t before.

As someone who loves twisty plots, changing relationships, and complicated, forbidden romance, this book sucked me in from the first page. Sonya is the kind of protagonist you’ll root for and also relate to. Yes, her power makes her unique, but her dueling emotions make her so uniquely human. Author Kathryn Purdie’s writing is deep and lush, gorgeous and evocative, just like the setting and all of its details she so beautifully weaves throughout the book.

Warning: You’ll get to the end of the book wanting more of these characters, more of this world. The good news is there are two more books in this trilogy. The bad news is that we all have to wait a little longer for them.

Add Burning Glass to Goodreads and preorder your copy!

Check out Kathryn Purdie’s website here!

Spotlight on Sixteens: The Girl Who Fell

March is full of incredible Sweet Sixteen releases! The Girl Who Fell kicks off the month– it’s out March 1, but I wanted to share my review early so you can preorder your copy!

Let me preface this by saying when I first heard about The Girl Who Fell, it was the bookish equivalent to love at first sight. The concept gripped me. I knew it was the kind of book I not only wanted to read but had to read. So when an ARC arrived in the mail last week in all its gorgeous glory (seriously, have you seen that cover?), I was more than a bit excited that my time to read it was finally here.

I knew it would be an emotional book. I knew it dealt with difficult subject matter. What I didn’t know was that I’d hold my breath while turning pages, get sucker-punched in the feels over and over, and feel so attached to the characters that they were real people to me. That, everyone, is the talent of Shannon Parker.

The Girl Who Fell is the story of Zephyr Doyle, a senior hell-bent on attending Boston College, which has been her dream since forever. She’s a fierce field hockey player and driven to succeed in all aspects of life. But on the inside, she’s hurting—reeling from the fact that her dad picked up and left her and her mom, and trying to deal with her feelings of being not good enough in his absence. When she is instantly attracted to new student Alec, she’s swept up in how he makes her feel—like she’s the only girl in the world, a girl worthy of his love. But when Alec starts to become more and more possessive and pull Zephyr away from her old life, she is torn between the boy who says he loves her more than anything and the things she wanted more than anything before him.

As a heroine, Zephyr is someone you’ll cheer for, laugh with, and want to hug more than once. You’ll want to point out the warning signs, the glimpses into Alec’s true nature. You’ll want to scream at her that it’s not her fault, none of it, and tell her over and over again that she’s worthy of everything good in life. But that’s what makes this book so vivid, so true. Real life isn’t like that. In real life, those warnings signs aren’t always easy to see, especially if you want to see someone for the person you think they are, the person you desperately want them to be.

The language in this book is like poetry. Shannon Parker takes risks with her writing and they pay off, big time. Her choices of words are evocative and lush, never expected, never familiar, never something you’ve read before. This story is beautiful and romantic and shocking and dangerous and sad and real and hopeful, and Shannon’s writing goes to all those places.

This is also an important book. So, so, important. Anyone who has ever been manipulated by someone they love, by someone they thought loved them, needs this book. Teens need this book. Adults need this book. Because if you’ve ever been someone like Zephyr—if you still are—you need to know that it’s not you. That you deserve better. That you deserve the world.

I could probably talk forever about The Girl Who Fell. That’s how much my heart is bursting with it, how heavily my brain is still processing its pages. Once in awhile you read a book that burrows into you and fills you with a whole kaleidoscope of emotions, and that book for me is The Girl Who Fell.

Add The Girl Who Fell to Goodreads and preorder a copy!

Check out Shannon Parker’s website here!

 

Firsts Launch Party Recap!

I had been looking forward to the Firsts launch party for what felt like a very long time. I’m a huge fan of planning parties, and I wanted this one to be extra-special. After all, an author only gets one debut launch party!

My amazing publicist at Raincoast Books arranged for the party to be hosted by the Oxford Book Shop and held at the Landon Branch of the London Public Library, which was the perfect venue. I wanted the party to be interactive and fun for everyone, and it was definitely all that and more!

I had the idea early on to have a candy bar and sparkling cider, and one of my very talented friends made cupcakes with icing colors to match the Firsts cover. (This same friend, incidentally, ruined me in terms of cake frosting. Now I’m completely obsessed with hers!) I tried to color-coordinate the candy bar as well, and luckily for me, Valentine’s Day fell the same week as my launch party. I spent way too much time in the Bulk Barn picking out candy. The biggest challenge was not eating it before the party started!

When we arrived at the venue, Hilary from the Oxford Book Shop was already set up to sell books, and Carolyn and Nicole from the library helped me set up and get started. A reporter from Our London who had previously interviewed me took some photos for a local story that will run soon.

When people started filing in, it was incredible to see so many friends and family members who came out to the event. Two of my Sweet Sixteen friends, Catherine Lo (author of How It Ends) and Casey Lyall (author of Howard Wallace, P.I) both drove from out of town in bad weather to support me. I also got to meet two book bloggers in person who have been so wonderful—Jamie Victoria from Books and Ladders and Suzann from Alice’s Book Vault. It means so much to me that they drove all the way to London to attend the event! Overall, there was a great turnout, especially considering the fact that Mother Nature and I have a tumultuous relationship (she tends to wreak havoc on any events I try to plan)!

Choosing a reading was the most difficult part. I wanted to read something that wouldn’t make me giggle or blush too badly, and at the same time, something non-spoilery that would hopefully entice people.( I settled on Chapter Four.) I was very nervous to read in front of people (I always hated giving presentations back in high school), but I think despite reading too fast at the start, it went well overall!

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After the reading, there was a Q&A session. People asked such great questions, and it was so much fun sharing my thoughts and parts of my writing process with the audience. The Q&A was followed by a raffle draw for some books by my writer friends, then I signed copies of Firsts for everyone.

I really couldn’t have asked for a better night with better people. I feel like the luckiest author to have such a great support network behind me. I gave out a lot of hugs, but I could give a thousand more. Thank you to everyone who made this very special first so memorable!

And extra-special thanks to my friend Shirley Vander Heide for taking photos during the event. Thanks to her, I have a whole album I can look at every time I want to relive the memories!

 

 

Here are some more photos from the night! If you want to view the whole album, click here.

 

Spotlight on Sixteens: AFTER THE WOODS

AFTER THE WOODS by Kim Savage will grace bookshelves everywhere with its dark beauty on February 23, but for Spotlight on Sixteens, I’m sharing my review of this incredible debut!

I was immediately intrigued after I heard the premise for this book. I love a good twisty plot, and it sounded like Kim Savage’s debut had just that. But I wasn’t prepared for just how twisty, just how deep and dark and gorgeous and terrifying this story would be. I wasn’t prepared to feel like I was getting yanked in by a pair of claws, unable to put the book down until I read just one more chapter. Even now, after turning the last page, what happened after the woods haunts my brain and hurts my heart.

AFTER THE WOODS is the story of two best friends, Julia and Liv. One year after they were attacked in the woods, they’re both living in the aftermath of what happened. Liv chose flight. Julia chose fight, and saved Liv in the process. But it’s not that clear-cut. After a girl’s body is found in the woods and Julia starts to piece together what happened, and as she faces memories of her time spent with her attacker, a whole new layer is exposed—a rotten layer, an underbelly even more grotesque than Julia could have imagined.

The friendship between Julia and Liv is so beautifully drawn. I loved the details about how close they were before the woods, and what changed for each girl. Julia is the kind of protagonist I feel lucky to have spent a book with. She’s whip-smart, perceptive, sarcastic but sensitive, and determined—determined to find out why her best friend is self-destructing after getting a second chance at life, determined to face her own fears, and most of all, determined to figure out why the woods happened at all.

This book is at times a thriller, at times a highly emotional contemporary, and at times, a puzzle with jagged edges that you’ll be increasingly desperate to put together. I was breathless with the desire to know what happened—as much as I wanted to savor Kim Savage’s incredible writing, I was flipping pages lightning-fast to figure out the mystery of what happened to Julia and Liv in the woods. And without giving anything away, I’ll say that this book was never once predictable. The plot twists had twists. And for this reason, AFTER THE WOODS is a book I will continue to think about for a long time.

Add AFTER THE WOODS to your Goodreads bookshelf here and preorder it here!

Visit Kim Savage’s website here!

Learn about other awesome Sweet Sixteens debuts here!

My OLA Experience

As a proud Canadian, I was more than a bit excited when my publicist at Raincoast Books reached out to see if I could do a book signing at the Ontario Library Association Super-Conference in Toronto. The signing took place last Friday, and the best part is that my lovely friend Catherine Lo, author of How It Ends, was signing her ARCs at the same time! It was so great to meet teachers, librarians, and bloggers who are so passionate about books and education. Getting to sign and dedicate books to students and libraries was so cool—I hope the teens enjoy reading Firsts!

After my signing (we went through all the boxes of books!), I experienced a serious fangirl moment when I got to meet the one and only Courtney Summers, who was signing copies of her most recent book, All The Rage (aka my favorite read of 2015). Courtney is one of my writing idols, and her YA inspires me endlessly—when I go back and reread pages from her books, I’m always left in awe of how honest and unflinching her voice is. She’s incredibly sweet in person and now I adore her even more!

Later in the day, I got to meet up with two fabulous writer friends. I had the best hot chocolate and great conversation with Erika David. Erika and I first got to know each other during a writing contest a few years ago, and kept in touch after the contest was over. Erika is one of the most thoughtful writers I know, and such a kind person. We later went into a Chapters Indigo to see if Firsts was there… it wasn’t, but it was still great to talk books with a fellow author!

Before my train departed, I met up with Samantha Joyce, one of my agent-sisters! I felt like I knew Sam already since we’ve been talking online for awhile now. It was so wonderful to chat in person about books, hobbies, our amazing agent Kathleen Rushall, supportive husbands, and our paths to publication. Sam’s debut, Flirting With Fame, comes out February 29… you can preorder it here!

Overall, my first OLA experience couldn’t have been more fantastic. The Raincoast Books team is utterly amazing– I’m so lucky to be working with them! The day went by so fast, and I feel so lucky to be part of a truly wonderful community of smart, funny, talented book people. Next up is my launch party on February 10 (details are here!), and I hope to see some of you there!

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