Kobo Emerging Writer Prize: Ann Y.K. Choi, M-E Girard & Lynne Kutsukake

IMG_4388The shortlist for the third annual Kobo Emerging Writer Prize was recently announced and I was so thrilled to see Canadian authors Ann Y.K. Choi, M-E Girard and Lynne Kutsukake on the list. Their debuts are some of my most anticipated so I wanted to take the time to highlight them:

Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake

This award is handed out to a debut novel (published the same year) in each of three categories: Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction, and Genre Fiction (Speculative Fiction this year). Along with a $10,000 CAD cash prize, each winning author receives promotional, marketing, and communications support. This is such a big award for Canadian debut authors and I’m especially happy to see a YA title on an awards list usually dominated by adult books. If you haven’t already, add these three books to your TBR. You can check out the rest of the shortlist here.

Also, if you’ve read any of these be sure to leave a review on book retailer sites like Amazon, Chapters/Indigo and Kobo. For this specific award, book completion rates, customer ratings and reviews were considered when selecting the shortlist titles. Your reviews, even if only a few lines, do matter! You can also follow these authors on Twitter by clicking on their names below:


Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety by Ann Y.K. Choi

Simon and Schuster | May 3, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s.

This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence.

A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety vocatively portrays the life of a young Korean Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family.

-I believe this was published as adult fiction but could appeal to YA readers


28217802Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

HarperCollins | September 6, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.


25893533The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake

Knopf Canada | April 5, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Set against the pulsing backdrop of post-war Tokyo, The Translation of Love tells the gripping and heartfelt story of a newly repatriated Japanese-Canadian girl who must help a classmate find her missing sister. A dazzling New Face of Fiction for 2016 that will appeal to readers of All the Light We Cannot See and Anita Shreve.

Thirteen-year-old Aya Shimamura is released from a Canadian internment camp in 1946, still grieving the recent death of her mother, and repatriated to Japan with her embittered father. They arrive in a devastated Tokyo occupied by the Americans under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Aya’s English-language abilities are prized by the principal of her new school, but her status as the “repat girl” makes her a social pariah–until her seatmate, a fierce, willful girl named Fumi Tanaka, decides that Aya might be able to help her find her missing older sister. Beautiful Sumiko has disappeared into the seedy back alleys of the Ginza. Fumi has heard that General MacArthur sometimes assists Japanese citizens in need, and she enlists Aya to compose a letter in English asking him for help.

Corporal Matt Matsumoto is a Japanese-American working for the Occupation forces, and it’s his overwhelming job to translate thousands of letters for the General. He is entrusted with the safe delivery of Fumi’s letter; but Fumi, desperate for answers, takes matters into her own hands, venturing into the Ginza with Aya in tow.

Told through rich, interlocking storylines, The Translation of Love mines a turbulent period to show how war irrevocably shapes the lives of both the occupied and the occupiers, and how the poignant spark of resilience, friendship and love transcends cultures and borders to stunning effect.

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Blog Tour: The Broken Ones by Danielle L. Jensen

thebrokenones_144dpi-676x1024The Broken Ones (prequel to Stolen Songbird, Hidden Huntress, and Warrior Witch)

Danielle L. Jensen 

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Publisher: Angry Robot

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

A prequel to the USA Today bestseller and Goodreads Choice finalist Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy).

Below Forsaken Mountain, a revolution stirs with the aim to overthrow the tyrant king of Trollus, and Marc is the right hand of its leader. It’s a secret more than one troll would kill to possess, which is why he must keep it from everyone, even the girl he loves.

Since a tragic accident revealed her affliction and ruined her sister’s chance at the throne, Pénélope is an anathema to her father, the Duke d’Angouleme. Deeming her life worthless, he gives her one chance to survive: find proof that the boy she loves is a leader in the sympathizer revolution.

Marc and Pénélope must navigate the complex politics of Trollus, where powers on all sides are intent on using them as pawns, forcing them to risk everything for a chance at a life together.

Except being together might be the greatest risk of all.

I’m so happy to be part of the blog tour for THE BROKEN ONES by Danielle L. Jensen. Today I’m posting an interview I got to do with the author. THE MALEDICTION TRILOGY is one of my favourite YA fantasy series, so I was thrilled to hear there’d be a prequel. If this series is new to you please check out STOLEN SONGBIRD, the first book. This gorgeous debut has trolls and magic and a city under a mountain. If you haven’t read STOLEN SONGBIRD, I recommend reading it before THE BROKEN ONES. Thank you to Danielle for joining me on the blog today.

interviewlogo

Q: In THE BROKEN ONES, Marc and Pénélope find themselves right in the thick of the complex politics of Trollus, both holding dangerous secrets of their own. How did writing THE MALEDICTION TRILOGY, which became more complex with each book, prepare you for this story?

A: It taught me patience. I’d love to say that all the interconnections and depth of plot for the trilogy appeared fully formed in my brain, but that was really, really, not the case. While writing those three novels, I learned to dig deeper. To make sure actions had not just one believable motivation, but layers of them. To find the connections between characters and events, even if those connections didn’t make it onto the page. THE BROKEN ONES is technically the backstory for the trilogy, but calling it such makes it sound boring. I prefer to consider it the beginning of the story. There are countless ties to the trilogy, some big and some small, that I hope readers will pick up on, and building those in was part of what expanded THE BROKEN ONES into a full-length novel. This is just a silly, non-spoiler example, but did you ever wonder how Tristan managed to smuggle a piano into Trollus for Cécile? Well, he didn’t – it was already there… 🙂

Q: THE BROKEN ONES is told in the joint point of view of Marc and Pénélope, different from THE MALEDICTION TRILOGY, which were told in the POV’s of Cécile and Tristan. What was that like? Were you ever worried that Marc and Pénélope would sound too similar to Cécile and Tristan?

A: I didn’t worry about it, because the characters are so different. Pénélope is the quintessential quiet heroine. She’s soft-spoken, thoughtful, elegant, and about as far from my reckless and impulsive Cécile as you can get. Marc is a younger, slightly more naïve, version of the troll you got to know in the trilogy, and he also has a much quieter voice than Tristan. Tristan has a huge role in THE BROKEN ONES, so you’ll get PLENTY of his younger, smart-ass self to sate yourselves! I’m digressing here a bit, but as much as the cover copy makes it sound like THE BROKEN ONES is about Marc and Pénélope’s relationship, it’s actually just as much about Marc’s relationship with Tristan. They have their fair share of conflict, but they have an exceptionally close friendship that didn’t get the page-time it deserved within the trilogy.

Q: This is a prequel to your debut novel STOLEN SONGBIRD. What was it like writing something where the ending is already in print? Were you ever worried the plot would head in a different direction?

A: It was tough, for sure. I never felt like the plot was driving toward a different ending, but it was often challenging ensuring that how I got to that ending remained consistent with the details I provided within the trilogy. There were many times when I was banging my head against my desk, because what I wanted to write wouldn’t work within the parameters I’d inadvertently set for myself when drafting the other books. But that forced me to dig deeper and get creative, and I think the novel is better for it.

Q: This book was originally supposed to be a novella. Is it safe to say you really enjoyed writing it? What was your favourite part about returning to this world?

A: I LOVED writing it! Trollus was my favorite setting within the trilogy, and it felt so good to walking through its streets again.

Here’s the thing about it morphing from a 30k word novella to a 68k word novel: if it had remained a novella, all it would’ve contained would be a slightly elaborated-upon version of what readers already knew. And I wanted it to be so much more than that. Marc deserved more than that. Despite readers knowing the ending, I wanted the story to be exciting and unexpected and full of new plot that would leave readers wondering if they actually knew how things would turn out. As far as what my favorite thing about writing it was… I’d say the cameos, especially the appearance of Chris. His friendship with Tristan was one of my favorite things to write in the trilogy, and it was great to include their relationship’s origin story!

Q: If Marc and Pénélope lived in our world, what books would they be reading right now?

A: Haha, this made me laugh, because there is a scene in the novel where Pénélope confesses that she doesn’t spend much time reading – she prefers to spend it on her art. That said, she is a guild-trained artist, so I’d envision her with a book about art history or technique. Marc is deeply concerned about the state of Trollus, so if he lived in our world, I’d see him reading non-fiction about social or political issues. How different they are from Cécile and Tristan, who both like to read escapist fiction!

aboutauthor

DaniellView More: http://heatherpalmer.pass.us/danielle-jensene L. Jensen was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous, and it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy: Stolen SongbirdHidden Huntress, and Warrior Witch.

Follow Danielle L. Jensen on Amazon

My website: danielleljensen.com

Twitter: @dljensen_

Instagram: danielleljensen

Facebook: @authordanielleljensen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7091823.Danielle_L_Jensen

Top 5 May Releases

Today I’m sharing my top 5 May releases! This list was super hard to narrow down because there’s so many amazing books coming out this month. I hope you add these to your TBR, buy/preorder them and request them at your local library. You can read more about this feature here.


28458598When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 

Simon Pulse | May 30, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


31449226That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim

Harper Teen | May 9, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

This young adult novel by Sheba Karim, author of Skunk Girl, is a funny and affecting coming-of-age story for fans of Jenny Han, Megan McCafferty, and Sara Farizan.

Shabnam Qureshi is facing a summer of loneliness and boredom until she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack. Shabnam quickly finds herself in love, while her former best friend, Farah, who Shabnam has begun to reconnect with, finds Jamie worrying.

In her quest to figure out who she really is and what she really wants, Shabnam looks for help in an unexpected place—her family, and her father’s beloved Urdu poetry.

That Thing We Call a Heart is a funny and fresh story about the importance of love—in all its forms.


32890474The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Duet Books | May 4, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.


31447601Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Amulet Books | May 2, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped … revered … all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.


29640839Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman

Sourcebooks Fire | May 2, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis: 

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.

April Wrap-Up Post

I didn’t get to read too many books in April. I was in a reading slump and only finished three books in the last two weeks or so. I did participate in A Very ARC-ish Readathon hosted by Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. I only read one arc but I’m happy to have least completed the challenge.

Books Read:

Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

ICYMI:

Book Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake

A Very ARC-ish Readathon + Update Post

Book Review: Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

Top 5 April Releases

25 Books I Must Read Before 2018

Book Review: Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

Update: A Very ARC-ish Readathon

a-very-arcish-readathonAt the beginning of April I decided to participate in A Very ARC-ish Readathon hosted by Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. This was a very low-key challenge: read as many arcs as possible during the month of April. Although I’d hoped to finish more, I did read one arc – Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. Thank you to Aimal for hosting such a fun reading challenge! Check out the hashtag #AVAReadathon on Twitter to see how everyone did.


24763621Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Thomas Dunne | February 7, 2017

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.