Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Willow Review: Blue Archipelago

Willow by Julia Hoban Blue Archipelago

Willow by Julia Hoban is the story of Willow; a seventeen year old girl who tries to cope with the tragedy of a terrible accident which took the lives of her parents by secretly cutting herself.

My book review rating: 5 stars - couldn’t put it down

I was beginning to think I’d lost my reading mojo this year; after the vast number of books I got through in 2008 I’ve gotten off to a very slow start. But when I opened the package containing Willow by Julia Hoban, I took one look at the cover and new this book would reignite the spark!

I had to take a four hour train journey today so I settled down in my seat for some uninterrupted reading time. I have to say that this book had me riveted from the first paragraph - I was actually disappointed that I had to take a break in the middle of reading it to attend the conference I was travelling to!

In this Young Adult novel, Hoban takes the very sensitive subject of self-harm and delivers a powerful story. Of how people cope with loss, of our perceptions of the world around us, and how sometimes we see things differently to everyone else, almost to the point of paranoia.

The characters are believable, from Willow herself, a girl wracked with guilt over the death of her parents, who believes the only way to stay strong is to cut her skin with razor blades. Guy - the boy she meets who is the one person she can really be herself with; his sensitivity and understand him make him the kind of person anyone would be very lucky to know. And David, her elder brother who one stormy night finds himself moved to a whole other role, of parent and guardian, and is struggling in his own way to cope with the tragedy that has engulfed them both.

In Willow Hoban forces us to look more deeply into what causes people to resort to self-harm, the effects it has on them and on the people around them. I would highly recommend it to anyone, whether you are a young adult or not, and am looking forward to reading anything else Hoban has to offer.

To read more online book reviews and an interview with Willow author Julia Hoban please stop by Blue Archipelago at

Willow-The Trailer

The lovely Tirzah from The Compulsive Reader made this trailer for Willow. I think it's great and I love the song that she put with it. If you haven't seen this yet, definitely check it out and leave your thoughts.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Amanda Ashby Talks Books!

I want to thank Amanda Ashby (You Had Me at Halo, Zombie Queen at Newbury High) for being so willing and ready to write something for this release week party. She was the very first author to get back to me and for that, she's definitely amazing!

When Lauren first asked me to help celebrate the release of Julia Hoban’s debut book, I was happy to do so since no one loves a party more than I do!!! However, since I haven’t read Willow yet (because let me tell you that poor old authors are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to getting arcs!) Lauren suggested that I talk about reading since it’s one of the themes of Julia’s book.

Anyway, considering that Willow is a story of a teenage girl trying to deal with the guilt she feels over the death of her parents, I thought I would talk about the relationship I had with my father and how it affected my attitude to books.

You see, along with the dry skin and bow legs that he gave me (thanks for that, dad), he also passed on his love of reading and it was because of him that I read The Hobbit when I was ten years old and then fell in love with writers such as Jerome K Jerome (Three Men in a Boat is the funniest book you will ever read. And that’ a promise). He also introduced to me to one of my favorite authors, Raymond E Feist, whose books continue to thrill me twenty years after I first started reading them.

And finally, he taught me that reading is a pleasure not a chore. If I want to read a book that makes me laugh, I will. If I want to read something to help me understand the emotions I’m feeling, then I will. Or, if I...well, you get the drift. The bottom line was he taught me to love books for what they gave me, not for what people would think of me for reading them.

Sadly my dad died almost five years ago and it was three weeks after his death that I sat down and wrote what would become my debut book, YOU HAD ME AT HALO. Even though it wasn’t a dark book or full of angst, it was definitely my attempt to discover how I felt about his death. And it wasn’t just through my writing that I tried to make sense of something that didn’t make sense; it was through turning to books. And actually the first time it really hit me that he’d died was when the final Harry Potter book came out and I realized that he’d never get to read it. That really sucked.

But the cool thing is that every time I enjoy a book I think of my dad. It’s a gift he gave me that will never go away. Oh, and I’m still reading books to help me understand how death affects us, which is why I can’t wait to read Willow. Happy release day Julia!

Willow-The Playlist

If you know anything about me, you know I love music as much as I love reading...and I often try and put the two together. So, I started thinking of songs (and listening intently to the radio) so I could come up with a Willow playlist.

Sadly, I only got four songs, but I really like all of them and believe they fit the book, for me anyway. What do you think though? If you've read the book, do they fit? If you haven't, do you like the songs and think they might work...based on my brief explanations? Share Share Share!

Crawling-Linkin Park: I believe this shows the feelings that Willow is going through after the death of her parents and when she starts cutting herself.

Hanging by a Moment-Lifehouse: For me, this describes Guy’s relationship with Willow. He’s so confused, but he can’t leave. As time goes on, he starts falling in love with her and then he really can’t turn away.

Pain-Three Days Grace: It’s kind of Willow’s thoughts concerning cutting and then Guy saying he just wants to help her.

Because you Live-Jesse McCartney: Willow is upset by her past and trying to shut everyone out, but once Guy enters her world, things begin to change. She sees the good in life and begins to feel again.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Release Party Begins: Week-Long Giveaway!

Willow by Julia Hoban
Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Willow-Julia-Hoban/dp/0803733569
Party: March 30-April 3!

Summary: Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy —one sensitive, soulful boy—discovers Willow’s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world Willow has created for herself upside down.

Told in an extraordinary fresh voice, Willow is an unforgettable novel about one girl’s struggle to cope with tragedy, and one boy’s refusal to give up on her.

Hello Everyone!

Willow comes out on April 2, 2009 which basically means...this Thursday. To celebrate the release week, I asked the help of fellow book bloggers and other authors to help out and write some guest posts on various topics.

If you look in the right hand sidebar, there is a link for the HUGE Willow giveaway going on. If you still haven't read the details, click that link. You have until April 30 to buy the book and be entered to win. You know you want too. Look at that summary above...it sounds awesome, right? And you could win so many other cool prizes if you buy the book in time to enter. I'd say it's worth it!

This post here was my way to explain what this week is going to be about: contests, guest posts, reviews of Willow, and more as well as explain another fun giveaway going on. Please spread the word about this party. I want as many people to enjoy as possible!

Willow is coming out through Dial, which on a large level, is Penguin books. An amazing publicist for Penguin hooked us up with a prize pack of other novels to give away. To be entered, all you have to do is comment as much as you can this week (only one comment for each post will count). If there is a post and it includes ANOTHER contest, those comments only count towards that one post...but if there is a post with no contest, you better comment to get extra entries in this giveaway!

Sadly, Penguin can only send to the U.S., but there will be a chance for some International winners to try their hand later (and you should still comment, regardless, of course!) and if you buy the book and show proof, International winners can win the huge giveaway!!

Now, what's in the prize pack you ask?

Peace, Love & Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

EON by Alison Goodman

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

Chasing the Bear by Robert B. Parker

Pretty nich, huh? So follow this blog through blogger or simply add it to your favorites. You won't want to miss out on the posts this week...whether you are trying to win or simply enjoying the guest posts (and I hope if you're in the U.S., it's both!)

Thanks to everyone who made this week possible and especially to Julia Hoban for allowing me to read Willow early. It's definitely a great book, so think long and hard about buying it. :-) And according to Aerin, it's really "no thinking, just buying". That works too!

And finally...Congratulations Julia! I hope you have an amazing release week!!!