Mini Spring Cleaning Giveaway! (closed)

Hello gentle reader,

I thought of hosting a big Spring Cleaning Giveaway to clear a few bookshleves but I found I couldn’t part with the majority of my beloved books. So I *only* have two books to give away today. Both are used paperbacks in great condition.

The Line Teri Hall

The Line by Terri Hall (YA Dystopian)

The Dark Divine

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (YA Paranormal)

The giveaway is open until Sunday 25th May 2014 at 9pm (BST time). It’s open Internationally.

To enter please fill in the contact form below with your name and email. If you follow my blog via email or WordPress, if you are a Twitter follower, if you like my page on Facebook, if you follow me on Pinterest or Tumblr, or if you tweet about the giveaway, this will grant you an extra entry. Mention it below.

Entrants must be at least 13 years of age.

The winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

I hold the right to end the giveaway before its original deadline without any prior notice.

I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

Privacy information: no information given for this giveaway will be used for other purpose than this giveaway. All information provided (names, emails and mail addresses) will be deleted after the giveaway.

Good luck everyone, and feel free to leave me a comment below!

YA Dystopian Books

What’s on my bookshelf ? 4

Today I would like to recommend a few books belonging to the very trendy genre of Dystopian fiction for Young Adults. Immensely popularised by The Hunger Games trilogy, this Fantasy sub-genre offers a wide variety of books, some really worth checking out.

Before providing you with a reading list, let’s remind ourselves of what the Dystopian genre actually is. From Goodreads:

Dystopia is a form of literature that explores social and political structures. It is a creation of a nightmare world – unlike its opposite, Utopia, which is an ideal world. Dystopia is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government. It often features different kinds of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions, and a state of constant warfare or violence. Many novels combine both Dystopia and Utopia, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of the two possible futures.”

For a very long time, dystopian books were just science-fiction novels. But its great success in the last few years has required the renaming of the genre and the creation of a specific category on bookshelves…

So, on my bookshelf, you can find:

1- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (2008)

Teenagers fight to the death on live TV in a post-apocalyptic America. THE dystopian book every teenager has heard about, and most likely read. Made into a very popular movie this year.

2The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano (2011)

In a future America and because of a deadly virus, young people die in their twenties. As a consequence, society is collapsing. A powerful first book, with a second installment that was unfortunately much weaker. Wither is a must-read nonetheless.

3- The Eve trilogy by Anna Carey (2011)

United States, 2032: a deadly virus has wiped out most of the world population and survivors struggle to rebuild a free society. A great, fast-paced read for teenagers who are maybe not ready for “darker” books.

4- The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (2011)

In the imaginary country of Ludania, languages divide classes and words can kill. A powerful story about freedom of speech and democracy.

5- The Line trilogy by Teri Hall (2010)

In a future America, a dictatorship rules the country and a line encloses the US. Nobody crosses it. But what’s on the other side? A good book for youger readers who want to familiarise themselves with the dystopian genre.

6- The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness (2008)

A chilling story about a society where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts.
7- Blood Red Road (The Dust Lands series) by Moira Young (2011)

A tale of adventures in a violent post-apocalyptic world. Very intense. Not an easy read, but it has received numerous literay prizes.
8- Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi (2012)

In the future, the world is a wasteland and survivors live under a protective dome… I haven’t read that one yet, but it has recieved raving reviews.
9- Article 5 by Kristen Simmons (2012)

In the future, the US are a dictatorship, ruled with The Moral Statutes. Nobody has rebelled, yet. I haven’t read that one either, but I’ve heard great things about it.
10- The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner (2009)

 This one has received mixed reviews but it keeps popping up everytime I search for YA dystopian books… Have you read it? What did you think?

That’s it for YA dystopian books sitting on my bookshelf… Any other books you’d recommend? Feel free to comment!

What is Young Adult Fiction?

I was at the London Book Fair last Monday and I had the chance to attend a few thought-provoking seminars and to meet a few interesting publishers/writers there. What was obvious to me from what I heard during those meetings/discussion groups is that nobody agrees on what YA literature is/should be.

The American Library Association describes YA fiction as anything someone between the ages of 12-18 chooses to read. It can include different genres: contemporary, historical, paranormal, fantasy, science-fiction, mystery, etc…

However, this definition cannot be definite, for two reasons:

–          people well over 18 read YA books every day

–          you don’t read the same books when you’re 12 and when you’re 18

I remember going to a seminar on YA literature three years ago and the writers invited there all agreed on the fact that you cannot include violence, sex and swearing in a YA book. However the writers who were at the London Book Fair this Monday disagreed with that point of view, stating that older teenagers deserve to have a literature that deals with those more difficult themes.

To my mind, one cannot give a definite characterization of YA literature. But we can attempt to say what YA books always include and what they don’t have to include to be YA books.

What YA fiction NEEDS to include:

–          The journey of a young person who is becoming an adult. Along the way, this character needs to find the answer to the most important question in life: “Who am I and who do I want to become?” In Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, the whole point of the series is to explore what kind of adult Bella will become, regardless of external factors.

–           Choices and their consequences. Growing up is all about finding out things for yourselves and to understand that the choices you make have consequences in the future and for others. The main protagonist in a YA book needs to be faced with interesting choices that will offer the reader an opportunity to reflect on those decisions. Which is why YA books can include violence/sex/difficult themes, as long as the consequences of such behaviors are explained and explored. For example, you can include children turned into killers (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins), forced marriage (Wither by Lauren DeStefano), graphic violence (This Is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees) and so on.

–          Themes that are relevant to teenagers: friendship, first love, independence, school, religion, racism, parents’ divorce, bullying, teen sex, teen pregnancy, ecology, politics… But YA books can also tackle issues that are not directly based on the lives of teenagers that read them but are nonetheless important because they open their eyes to problems dealt by others in other times (see YA historical and dystopian novels on slavery, witch-hunts, bleak future, etc…) or in other places (see YA contemporary novels on child labor, child soldiers, child trafficking, etc…)

What YA fiction DOESN’T NEED to include:

–          A first-person narrative. Writers! Third-person narrative is fine! The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine is not a first-person narration and it still is a NY Times best-seller.

–          Parents that are dead/gone/out of the picture/bad at parenting in general. The Line by Teri Hall includes a main protagonist with a loving mother, yet she still manages to learn to make her own choices and to become independent.

–          A teenage girl as the main character. Hey, boys are cool too.

–      A school. A boarding school. Details on the main character’s school life. Usually, writers get them wrong, so unless it’s incredibly relevant to the story, don’t bother recreating in details a biology lesson that will sound nothing like an actual biology lesson.

–          A love triangle/An impossible love. A regular love story between just two people can be complicated enough, you know.

–         Vampires and/or werewolves. Characters with superpowers/magic powers in general. Gods. Sirens. Witches. Contemporary novels with regular people sell well too.

–         A bad boy with stalking habits whose heart melts for the main female protagonist. Seriously. Fictional characters deserve more than to be stereotypes.

So what do you think? What is YA fiction according to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

This post was inspired by two excellent blog posts that I suggest you check out:

Defining YA literature

The YA Drinking Game

You might also want to read : Campbell’s Scoop: Reflections on Young Adult Literature by Patty Campbell (Scarecrow Press, 2010)

A writer in the spotlight – Teri Hall

This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! The idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published (and bestselling) authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. Today’s interview is with Dystopian writer Teri Hall.

Author : Teri Hall

Genre : Dystopian, young adult literature

Location:  Washington State, USA

Website :

Books : The Line Trilogy – The Line (2010), Away (2011), The Island (no release date yet)

My interview (12/04/2012)

On “The Line” trilogy:

Why did you decide to write a YA Dystopian novel?

I think dystopias offer a unique opportunity to explore big questions.  Are the values our society holds the ones we should be reinforcing?  What is important?  What is true bravery?  What choices would you make if you were put in a situation where every one of them was crucial?

Is Rachel, her mother and Ms Moore based on real people?


The Unified States are a very interesting (and frightening!) place to live in. How did you come up with the Unified States?

I really just took what’s happening now (border tension, nationalistic fervor, loss of personal freedom in hopes that it will somehow “protect” us from harm, humanity’s innate fear of the “other”) and extrapolated in order to try to envision what things could look like in the near future.  The scariest part of that process was that it was so easy to see how we could get to a place like the Unified States within a very short time.

The relationship between Vivian and Rachel is very well described, as well as the contradictory feelings that teenagers can experience toward their parents. How did you go about writing about those? 

I remember being a teenager, and I know plenty of teenagers and mothers, so that special sort of love/resentment thing was pretty easy to write about.  The way you think your Mom might be the stupidest person on earth sometimes, and then as time passes you realize what she’s been dealing with, and how you had no idea that her actions might have had a whole set of adult concerns attached to them that you had no idea about.

What type of music did you listen to when you were writing this book?

I don’t like to listen to music while I write.  I generally like only silence or bird sounds from my open window.

What are you working on now?

Book three of the trilogy.  It’s called The Island, and I am having a lot of fun writing it.

On writing:

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Nope. Nobody ever mentioned that as a possibility.

When and where do you write? 

I write in a tiny home office, whenever I can find time.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Hmm.  I do experience difficulty writing sometimes, but I think it’s less of a block than it is just being too tired, or too distracted, or too . . . something.

What do you say to people who want to be writers? How difficult is it to get published?

I try to say very little except “good luck” and “keep trying” to people who express to me that they want to be writers.  I think all writers’ paths are unique, and that advice about some general way of doing things is not very useful.  In terms of how difficult it is to be published, I don’t have a good answer.  I’ve watched some great writers get passed by or published only after exhaustive attempts, and I’ve see the opposite happen, too.

Away is already available in hardcover in the UK. It will come out in paperback in September 2012.

Book of the Week – 4

This week I’m reading The Line by US author Teri Hall. Its is a Dystopian novel published in 2010. The second book in the series, called Away, came out last September and I have had them both on my TBR pile for ages. After watching The Hunger Games I have decided it was time for me to dive into this original story.

According to Teri’s website, here is what the series is about:

“Rachel lives with her mother on The Property. The good thing about living there is that it’s far from the city where the oppressive government is most active. The bad thing, at least to most people, is that it’s close to the Line—an uncrossable section of the National Border Defense System, an invisible barrier that encloses the entire country.

She can see the Line from the greenhouse windows, but she is forbidden to go near it. Across the Line is Away, and though Rachel has heard many whispers about the dangers there, she’s never really believed the stories. Until the day she hears a recording that could only have come from across the Line.

It’s a voice asking for help.

Who sent the message? What is her mother hiding? And to what lengths will Rachel go in order to do what she thinks is right?”

What are you reading this week?