Monday, 28 July 2014

Series Starter Recommendations: Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall, Hero 41: Eye of the Gargoyle by Sam Penant, Secrets of the Tombs: The Phoenix Code by Helen Moss

Still trying to catch up with some reviews! Three below that kick off new series; in each case publishers have been kind enough to send to me for review consideration.

Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall (YA historical fantasy, Highly Recommended, David Fickling Books)

This is the darkest, strangest, and possibly coolest version of Robin Hood I've ever seen. I'm not even going to go into more details than that when it comes to a plot summary, because really, who needs anything more?

Most of your favourite (and not-so-favourite) characters are here; Robin, Marian, the Sheriff, Will Scarlett, Much - but in most cases decidedly NOT as you've seen them before. Robin, whose parents disappear when he's just a child, and who brings himself up from the age of seven, is a well-portrayed central character who's gripping to read about although often seriously flawed. Marian, his bosom companion in childhood who also gets snatched away from him, is perhaps an even more intriguing character, while Will Scarlett might be the most interesting of all. There's good and bad - or at the very least the potential for good and bad - in nearly all of the characters here, the exceptions being the Sheriff and his chief torturer, as evil a pair of villains as I've seen in a long time.

In addition to the strong characters, there's a really compelling plot - so much so that I'm keen to read the second one despite it being a much, much darker read than my normal preferences are. I don't want to go into too many details about what happens, but it's a gripping read which is completely unlike any treatment of the Robin Hood legend I've ever read. The fantasy elements meld well with the descriptions of England at the time period, and Sherwood Forest is a stunning setting. As well, it's nice to see a trilogy opener which gives us a satisfying conclusion - while it definitely leaves us in an interesting position for book two, I thought this did a great job of bringing this instalment to a good climax. 

Also, it's very well-written, with Hall's prose something you'll want to savour. I think Darren from the superb Book Zone for Boys blog summed it up beautifully, saying "It's not a book that is a light read for the beach as it craves for your full attention; it is atmospheric and rich in detail and if you give it the time and attention it deserves it will draw you in completely." I definitely agree there!

One last thing - isn't that cover STUNNING? A really beautifully-designed one to go with a beautifully-written book.

Hero 41: Eye of the Gargoyle by Sam Penant (MG adventure, Recommended, Orchard Books)

40 students have been brought together in an old prison converted into a school. A special school - a school for superheroes! Each of the 40 has a power, and here, they will learn to use it. Except there aren't 40 students - there are 41. Dax Daley, the extra, doesn't have a power at all - yet, at least. This is a shame, because with a bad-tempered gargoyle demanding that Dax and his friends find his missing eye, he needs all the help he can get.

I've not seen that much about this, which really surprises me, because given the number of people actively trying to read more MG at the moment and the popularity of superheroes in all types of media, I'd have thought it would be getting more buzz. I'm unsure why it's not - it's a fun story which does a decent job of setting up the series but also provides a satisfying read in its own right, despite an ending which seems a bit on the abrupt side. The three main characters - narrator Dax and friends Speechless and Cat - form an interesting trio and I like the interactions between them, while the gargoyle is a strong nemesis for them. There are some brilliant scenes, in particularly ones in which the superhero students one by one discover their powers!

I found the ending to be rather dark - as mentioned above, this is personal preference only, but it did take me by surprise a bit. Despite that, I'll definitely be on board for the next in the series, which I believe is coming in February, and look forward to seeing where our heroes go from here.

Secrets of the Tombs: The Phoenix Code by Helen Moss (MG adventure, Highly Recommended, Orion Children's)

Ryan and Cleo's parents are on a dig seeking the mysterious Benben Stone, a hugely powerful artefact. As they search for it, though, the two children become aware that a mysterious cult is also seeking it - but when they find clues, they're unable to make anyone believe them. Despite initial misgivings about each other, they quickly realise they'll have to work together if they want to solve the puzzle of the Benben Stone before the villains can obtain it.

Helen Moss is an author I'd never read six months ago; in that time period I've read fifteen of her books. In a fortnight in which I concentrated on MG earlier this year, I marathoned the Adventure Island boxed set, intending to read one a day (but actually finishing two days early because I couldn't bring myself to wait any longer to come to the conclusion of such a wonderful series!) As you can imagine, my expectations for this one were rather high; I'm glad to say it didn't disappoint! As I'd come to expect from the earlier series there's a great plot with a challenging mystery for the heroes to solve and a huge amount of action packed into the book. Unsurprisingly, I made lots of guesses about, well, pretty much everything, and got NEARLY all of them wrong - even though I'm sure I should have been able to pick up on clues! However there are noticeable differences from the Adventure Island series in that it's clearly aimed at slightly older readers - it's still MG, I'd say, but with more potential to draw in YA readers as well. It's a much meatier read than the other series was, and there's more of a hint of romance here, which is very nicely done.

If I'm honest, as much as I enjoyed this, it's not quite taken the place of the superb Adventure Island series in my heart just yet, but that DID have fourteen books to get me to fall in love with Jack, Scott, Emily, Aunt Kate, and - best of all - Drift! I think that this is better than the first book in that series was and I have no doubt that I'll soon feel just as strongly about Ryan and Cleo as I do those characters. Definitely a series I'm really looking forward to continuing with.

I also reviewed Runaway by Marie-Louise Jensen, published by OUP, a really enjoyable historical action/romance. Head over to The Bookbag for fuller thoughts!

Oh, and I read The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, coming in February from Scholastic. I'm going to review nearer the time as it's not out for ages (and I'm kicking myself for reading it so soon as I'll have to wait forever for the sequel) but if you like brilliant, breathtaking, beautifully written fantasy novels, pre-order it!

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Joy of Rereading

Up until earlier this year, I'd pretty much stopped rereading books. There were plenty of reasons for this, but the main was simply a lack of time, and an overabundance of books. (People who say that you can never have too many books, I kind of agree with you, but if you take a look in my flat you may come to a different conclusion.)

Then I went through a real reading slump, and couldn't find anything I liked that would bring me out of it. In desperation, I turned to Have A Little Faith by Candy Harper, and Undeniable by Liz Bankes, and found that reading these for the second time actually managed to kickstart my reading again.

So what is it about rereading that had that effect on me? I think it's a combination of things - firstly, those two books in particular are such warm and funny reads that I'd completely fallen in love with them the first time around, and reading them again brought back memories of this, reminding me that there'd been a time not that long ago (in the case of Undeniable, I think it was only a month or  two prior to this that I'd first read it) that I had absolutely adored reading. This happens perhaps even more when rereading books I'd loved as a child, particularly things like the Jennings series, which hold huge sentimental value to me as my dad used to read them to both me and my sister, and he's still a massive fan of them.

Secondly, I don't feel I have to read them the same way. When I'm reading a book that I might review - which probably describes the vast majority of my 'new reads', as I'll generally have the intention of writing about something if I love it, even if I don't end up getting around to it - I feel compelled to concentrate really closely on it, to try and make sure I'm thinking about strengths and weaknesses as I go along. When rereading, especially a book I've already reviewed, I'm far happier to flick through, skim read parts I don't enjoy as much (not that there ARE any parts in those two I don't love, to be fair), and generally not feel the need to concentrate as closely.

Thirdly, I think rereading when you know what's happening gives you a completely different perspective on a book. This is particularly true of Undeniable, where there's a relatively big revelation fairly late on. In the context of this reveal, some things from earlier in the book read very differently, and it's intriguing to see! Similarly, Daniel Abraham wrote a year or two back that he didn't think spoilers could destroy a story. I'm currently rereading his epic fantasy sequence The Dagger and The Coin in preparation for book four's upcoming release, and while it's too amazingly strong a series for anything to destroy it, I think you definitely get a massively changed experience reading it knowing what's coming. It's fascinating to see how well he sows the seeds for the character development of Geder and Cithrin, in particular, in the early books, knowing what happens to them. Despite this, I'm still very glad I had the thrill of being taken by surprise on my initial reading!

I've started rereading far more since this happened, and I'm really enjoying it. Apart from the books mentioned above, most of the ones I've taken to going back to are childhood favourites, but there's a few more recent ones I'm eager to reread as well. See below for a couple of lists.

How about you? Do you reread much, or do you concentrate on new books? What are your favourites to reread, or books that you really want to read again?

My favourite books to reread:

1. Have A Little Faith by Candy Harper - I've now read this four times in under a year, the third in preparation for the sequel, and the fourth because I was stuck on a train with nothing else to do, a bunch of books I'd already read, and no battery to read e-books (the joys of unexpected six hour journeys!) It is STILL marvellous fourth time around!

2. The Burglar series by Lawrence Block - I think comic books often work better when rereading than serious ones do, so this gets the nod over Block's equally superb Matt Scudder series. Bernie, a bookseller/burglar who ends up solving crimes with the help of his friend Caroline and detective Ray, the best cop money can buy, is a wonderful narrator. It helps that my memory is so terrible I quite often can't remember whodunnit even if it's the third time I'm reading it!

3. Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K Jerome - Jerome's meandering story of three men, and a dog, on a trip along the Thames is utterly outstanding, however many times you read it.

4. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald - I may have mentioned I rarely like dark books, but despite that, this is one of my very favourites ever. Showing the dark side of the American dream, it's a gorgeous novel which simply sings in its lyrical prose.

5. Jennings series by Anthony Buckeridge - Fossilised fishhooks, I could never leave a series like this out! As I said, this has sentimental value, but it's also a stunningly funny, consistently excellent series.

6. Drina series by Jean Estoril - I read the entire series in a few months last year, finishing the final book in Red Lion Square where the Dominick School is located for most of the books. Still probably my single favourite reading experience since moving to London!

7. Jeeves and Wooster series by PG Wodehouse - The repetitiveness of the plots doesn't bother me, because really, who reads, or rereads, these for the plots? Instead, every time I pick one up, I'm pulled into Wodehouse's unparalleled prose, which never fails to raise a smile.

8. Undeniable by Liz Bankes - As mentioned above, this is a stunning read which you look at from a different perspective after the first time. Gaby is one of my favourite narrators for ages.

9.  Anything by Agatha Christie - As with Block, my hopeless memory is a big plus when reading Christie, especially since a lot of her books are ones I first read as a teen back in the Nineties!

10. Trebizon series by Anne Digby - I think that considering I was never that big a fan of the Trebizon books compared to other series I grew up reading like the Chalet School and Abbey Girls, Digby's books have perhaps aged rather better than many of the rest. It helps that they're incredibly short (I reread First Term earlier in this train journey and it only took about half an hour) but they're also warm stories about friendship with strong characters.)

Series I most want to reread

1. Harry Potter by JK Rowling

2. GONE by Michael Grant

3. Flappers by Jillian Larkin

4. Wereworld by Curtis Jobling

5. Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter

Starring Kitty Blog Tour: Keris Stainton's Favourite Films

Thrilled to welcome one of my favourite authors, Keris Stainton, to the blog today as part of the Starring Kitty blog tour! Starring Kitty was utterly amazing - I published my rather incoherent e-mail to Keris and Catnip's Liz Bankes last month, and followed up with a (slightly) more coherent review yesterday, so you should definitely read ASAP - as soon as you've finished this blog post, in fact!

My Top 5 films

In Starring Kitty, the three friends - Kitty, Sunny and Hannah - enter a film-making competition (despite not knowing anything about film-making). I don't know much about film-making either, so I thought I'd share my five favourite films instead. 

When Harry Met Sally

I've lost count of how many times I've seen this film, but I never get tired of it. I love every single thing about it. And New York looks beautiful. I find it harder to watch since the writer - and one of my heroes - Nora Ephron died, but I still watch it at least once a year. 

The Sixth Sense

I don't usually like scary movies, but I adore The Sixth Sense. It's brilliantly acted and properly scary, but also genuinely moving. There are four bits that make me cry every single time and I still find the opening (with Donnie Wahlberg!) so shocking and sad. ("Do you know why you're afraid when you're alone? I do. I do.")

Singin' in the Rain

My nan was mad about musicals and introduced me to loads of them. Singin' in the Rain is my favourite. It's got Make 'Em Laugh and Moses Supposes and, of course, the most glorious routine in the history of musicals (that'd be the Singin' in the Rain bit). It's given me a lifelong love of Gene Kelly and taught me to never jump out of a cake wearing a swimming costume. 

Man on Wire

This documentary about the French high-wire artist Philippe Petit's wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Centre is utterly breathtaking - funny, sad, thrilling, charming. Even my scared-of-heights husband loved it (although he did have to cover his eyes quite a lot). 

Finding Nemo

I could claim I watch so many children's films because I've got two small-ish children, but the fact is I've always watched children's films, particularly Disney. I still love the classic Disney films (apart from the too sad ones like Dumbo and Bambi), but Pixar has taken over as our family's favourite. It's hard to pick just one, but I think I'd have to go with Finding Nemo. It looks beautiful, is funny, sad, and inspiring, and I never tire of watching it (and I've seen it hundreds of times). Oh and it's got Ellen Degeneres. Just keep swimming!

Find out more about Keris on her website, blog, and the fabulous UKYA site she runs with fellow fabulous authors Keren David and Susie Day! You should definitely be following her on Twitter, of course. Also, check out the other tour stops, as listed in the banner on the right.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

July Recommendations - Starring Kitty, The Castle and The Iron Trial

All provided by publishers for review consideration.

The Castle by Sophia Bennett (YA adventure, Highly Recommended) 

Peta's mother is getting married again, much to Peta's dismay. She's convinced her army hero father isn't really dead, even though his ashes were sent home. But no-one believes Peta, even after a mysterious phone call gives her hope - so she sets out to find her father herself. Somehow, she ends up getting trapped on board a superyacht; can she save herself and possibly find her father?

I wasn't sure what to expect here - I've only read one book by Sophia before and while it (You Don't Know Me) was one of my favourites of the last few years, it was a VERY different idea to this one, being a gorgeous, summery YA contemporary read. This is much more action-packed, as the synopsis above suggests, but it's also an amazing read! Peta is a clever and resourceful heroine, the people she meets who end up helping her are well-drawn, while the villains are truly evil, and it's ingeniously plotted.

Perhaps the best thing about the book, though, is Peta's voice - she's a wonderful, likeable narrator who really makes you want her to succeed in her quest. Highly recommended and I'd love to read more in this genre from Sophia in the future!

Starring Kitty by Keris Stainton (YA LGBT romance, Very Highly Recommended)

Kitty is falling for someone she's just met - but that someone is a girl. Will her friends Sunny and Hannah ever understand her feelings for Dylan? And can she open up to any of them about her mother's illness? Kitty is keeping a lot of secrets, does she come out into the open, or risk losing Dylan forever?

This is, in a word, adorable. In two words, absolutely adorable. In three words... you get the picture, yeah? Kitty and Dylan are a super-cute couple and I loved getting to know them both, while the subplot with Kitty's mum's multiple sclerosis is handled with the sensitivity and tact you'd expect from the wonderful Keris Stainton. It's also a really diverse book - in addition to the two girls as the central couple, Kitty's brother is also gay (I loved one scene in particular between the two of them!), while Kitty's friend Sunny, who will be the main character in the sequel, is a Muslim. It's always interesting to read about different cultures and I think it's hugely important that readers (especially younger YA readers, which is the age range that this is aimed at) see more than just the 'straight white kids' who tend to populate most YA books.

It's told with Keris's usual easy to read writing style, it's a short, quick, and above all fun read, and it's absolutely perfect for the summer. A massive recommendation!

The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black (MG fantasy, Highly Recommended)

I've never read anything from Cassandra Clare before and have only read one book by Holly Black, somehow, so was intrigued to get my hands on this thanks to the lovely people at Random House's blogger brunch a few weekends ago. This is set in a version of the modern-day USA but with added magic, and we see Callum Hunt, the main character, get accepted into the mysterious Magisterium - despite doing his best to fail the Iron Trial as his father has warned him throughout his life that he should stay away from magic.

With barely any idea what to expect, I was pulled into the story really quickly by Black and Clare's clever plot, likeable characters, and vivid world-building. I think the friendship between Callum, Tamara and Aaron is very realistic, the masters at the school are well-portrayed, and the villains are suitably dreadful. (On that note, I LOVE that cover, with a truly haunting picture dominating it, and the trio of heroes looking very small and insignificant in comparison!)

I have to comment, by the way - I've seen a few comments about similarities between this and Harry Potter. There ARE, to an extent, but only really so far as they're both set in schools for magic-users and they have central trios - both fairly common tropes in fantasy stories. It's something of an occupational hazard when writing MG fantasy these days that there's a fairly chance you'll get HP comparisons, in the same way 90% of dystopians get compared to The Hunger Games, of course - I think there are enough significant differences between this and HP that you definitely shouldn't approach this expecting just a rehash!

I definitely don't want to give anything away about the ending, but I have to give the authors credit for a really stunning climax which had me desperate to get my hands on the next in this 5-book series. I can't wait to find out where we go from here!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Teen TV Shows

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Dance Academy - Could it be anything else? As everyone knows, this absolutely destroyed me when I discovered it earlier this year, with season 2 being perhaps the saddest thing I've ever seen. Heartbreakingly beautiful. Also, Abi's character arc over the entire 3 seasons is utter perfection - almost certainly my favourite ever character.

2. Gilmore Girls - I love the Lorelei/Rory, Rory/Paris, and Lorelei/Emily relationships so, so much. And Stars Hollow is my all-time favourite setting.

3. The OC - Just rewatching this now, and it's so good, even third time around! I think the adult characters here are better than in perhaps any other teen drama. And woot, Jim Robinson!

4. Buffy The Vampire Slayer - I loved Buffy but found it ever so slightly hit and miss at times. At its best, though, it was AMAZING.

5. Byker Grove - I think I started watching BG when most other people stopped - after Ant, Dec and Donna Air. In the late 90s, though, this was compelling viewing, with brilliant characters and some great plots.

6. Beverly Hills, 90210 - I've only ever seen the first 4 seasons or so but still live in hope of completing it one day. Luke Perry, Jason Priestley, Shannon Doherty - all fab. And as it was being filmed when I was a teen, instant nostalgia for my own teen years, even if I did have less wild parties and rich friends!

7. My So-Called Life - Claire Danes is amazing. Jared Leto as Jordan and Wilson Cruz as Ricky are breathtaking. It also dealt with some really hard-hitting issues with great tact.   

8. See How They Run - Little-remembered, this witness protection thriller on the BBC was awesome. Great performances, particularly Australian actor Peter O'Brien as the father, and a fantastic script with some excellent twists.

9. Head Over Heels - This Carlton show, set in a Fifties boarding school, is one of the first things I ever remember watching by myself - at the time there was a TV in my mum and dad's room but not in mine, and I'd go and lie on their bed and watch while they were downstairs watching LA Law or Cheers. I would have been 11 at the time, I think. I've never seen it repeated, although owned the fabulous rock 'n' roll soundtrack on cassette. Book link here, with show creator Jane Prowse going on to write the excellent Hattori Hachi books.

10. Saved By The Bell - I haven't seen SBTB for years and doubt it holds up particularly well, but I was hooked at the time. Partly because Screech was perhaps the only person I'd ever seen LESS cool than me as a teen.

11. Neighbours - Sneaking it in here as it's not really a teen show, but they play an important part in the life of Ramsay Street. I still quite like Neighbours when I catch it today - although I haven't for a while because Paul's constant flipping between evil and nice annoys me due to making everyone else look like idiots for giving him so many chances! - but the golden era for me will always be the late 90s. With great teen characters like Amy, Anne, Billy, Lance, and Toadie, this was a must watch.

Honourable mentions:

Children's Ward - from what I remember, it was staggeringly good, but my memory's not quite good enough for it to get in the top 10.
Dawson's Creek - hit and miss at times but very entertaining on its best days.

Grange Hill - went downhill badly towards in the last series or two, but a real British institution with some memorable storylines and characters.
Press Gang - all about Spike and Linda, but what a fabulous pairing!
Roswell - great 1st season, good 3rd season, hated the middle one.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Author interview with Morgan Matson

As most readers of the blog/my Twitter feed will know, not only is YA contemporary my favourite genre, but Morgan Matson is one of my very favourite authors in the genre. I've loved all three of her books - Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, Second Chance Summer and the new one, Since You've Been Gone - so I was completely thrilled when I got the chance to interview her!

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, what do you see?

I’ve actually been lucky enough to meet a lot of my readers – on tour, at conferences, and book events.  They’re the most awesome people ever, and I’m unbelievably lucky to have such amazing readers.  But when I’m writing, especially my first drafts, I can’t think about the fact that this will someday be in a bookshop, which anyone may read.  I think if I did, I’d never get past the first page.  I think I have to trick myself into pretending I don’t have any readers, and nobody will ever see it. 

2. I love the list of tasks that Sloane leaves for Emily – especially the ones that take her out of her comfort zone! When you were a teen, if someone had written you a similar list, what would have been on it?

I think they mostly would have been about telling people how I felt about them.  Skinny-dipping as a teenager didn’t scare me as much as breaking up with someone in person J

3. Another question about you as a teen – I adore the playlists in this book and Amy & Roger. What six songs would have been top of your ultimate playlist when you were growing up?

I went through a bunch of different music phases in high school. I was a big musical theater fan, so definitely something from that genre – probably “Stars and the Moon” from Songs for a New World and “Moments in the Woods” from Into the Woods.  Then I went through a big girls-with-guitars phase, so let’s add “Untouchable Face” by Ani Difranco.  And then I got very into Barenaked Ladies and Dave Matthews Band (I’m dating myself here) so let’s say “If I Had a Million Dollars” and “Ants Marching”.  I also got very into oldies when I was in high school, so let’s finish out with the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t it be Nice?”

I hope you're not dating yourself TOO much; I was a big Barenaked Ladies fan for a while! And I love Songs From A New World; Jason Robert Brown is amazing!

4. Since You’ve Been Gone is about friendship – not just between Emily and Sloane, but also between Emily and the new friends she meets. Who are your favourite pair, or group, of fictional friends?

I think it would have to be the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron from the Harry Potter books.  And I loved when the group would expand and Neville and Luna and Ginny would be hanging out too. 

Fab choices! I love Harry Potter, although I think I actually prefer Ginny/Luna/Neville to the 'main' trio.

5. After so many big film adaptations of speculative MG/YA fiction in recent years, there’s been a rush on contemporary adaptations recently. Perks of Being A Wallflower, The Spectacular Now, and The Fault In Our Stars have all received great reviews while the upcoming If I Stay looks amazing.  Is there any chance of a screen version of Since You’ve Been Gone or of your earlier books?

No chance yet – none of my books have ever been optioned for film. Maybe someday!

6. Your books frequently feature whenever people are talking about perfect summer reads! If you were going down to the beach for a day, which other author’s books would you want to take down with you to read?

Definitely Sarah Dessen – I adore her books, and think they’re perfect summer reading.  I also love Jenny Han’s Summer series – just the perfect summer books!

7. I know you’ve talked on your website about previous road trips, including the one you did to research Amy and Roger. If you had the chance to go on another, where would you go from and to, what one place would you absolutely have to detour to, and which other YA authors would you take along for the ride?

Such a hard question! I’m actually dying to do a road trip across Australia.  I can say this because I’ve done absolutely no research about what this might involve.  But I met a couple a few years ago who told me about how they did that for their honeymoon, and it sounded like the coolest thing ever.

I would absolutely have to detour to Perth – I’ve heard such amazing things about it!

And if I could take any YA author with me, I’d pick Rachel Cohn. She’s lovely, practical, knows Australia, and would be wonderful company!

Sounds amazing!

8. In addition to the three books you’ve released under your own name, you’ve written four as Katie Finn. Why do you use the two names?

Well spotted! You found my (not-so) secret identity! I started writing the Katie Finn books when I was working at the publishing house Scholastic.  I was working as an editor, and we started talking about a book about social networking.  I got the opportunity to write it, and so I wrote Top 8, which I always describe as a “Facebook mystery”.  But at that point I was already working on Amy & Roger, and knew these would be very different books with different feelings to them.  And I wanted to do something to separate the two.  And Katie Finn is my middle name, so it doesn’t feel like it’s totally made up!

9. I love all three of your covers – so utterly gorgeous, and perfect for the books! Do you get any say in them, or do you just wait and get pleasantly surprised?

Thank you – I’ve been thrilled with every one of them! I do get some say.  For the American version of Amy & Roger, the finished cover was shown to me and I loved it.  For Second Chance Summer (US) I spoke to the cover designer about the setting and what was in my mind – a girl on a dock, by a lake with mountains.  And what she did with that blew me away!

I love love LOVE the UK covers of my first two books. The attention to detail, the small touches – they feel like my books, come to life.  I even commissioned the cover artist to make me an original of the A&R cover, which I have framed in my office – it always looked like a piece of art to me.

But I think it’s great that the Since You’ve Been Gone cover is the same in the US and the UK.  I did have more input for this cover.  We did a photo shoot and I got to weigh in on the models and locations.  And both girls are wearing my clothes, jewellery and sunglasses! I sent along a box of things to the designer, expecting they would just be used for inspiration, and when she sent me the pictures from the shoot, I realized they were wearing my things, which made it all the more special.

That's really cool! I love that it's the same cover for both countries, as well.

10. What’s next for Morgan Matson?

I’m going to start writing my new book in August. It’ll be out in the States in summer 2016. I don’t want to say too much, since I haven’t written a word yet. But I’m really excited about the story, and looking forward to starting to write it later in the summer.

Fantastic - I can't wait to read it! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, Morgan!