Friday, March 30, 2012

Mixed Bag: March 30th

Good morning friends. Here's a collection of bits and pieces online that have interested or amused me (I hope you enjoy them too!)
Side note: Again, I'm sorry for the lack of activity around here - I recently gone back to uni, whilst still working full-time and it's taken a while to get used to.
image source: we ♥ it
Between the Lines has unveiled their new name and look: Penguin Teen Australia! I think they have the strongest online presence in Australian YA and am really looking forward to seeing more great things from the Penguin team.

Marchetta Madness at Chachic's Booknook is all kinds of awesome. There's a  guest post from Melina herself, and plenty of other fab bloggers, including one of my faves, Nomes from inkcrush.

♥ I love Chronicle Press and think their business cards are amazing - they print cards with the book cover on one side (and their covers are seriously beautiful), with the author and title info on the back, so authors are able to promote their own work more easily.
Call My Agent! is one of my favourite agent blogs (and is a must read for aspiring authors in Australia). Be sure to check out her Greatest hits: the fiction submission rant

♥ Is anyone else on Pinterest? I'm finding it rather addictive!

♥ I've extended both of my Dead, Actually giveaways until April 10th. Up for grabs is a handbag and a copy of the book so hop to it!
Happy Friday!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dead, Actually Giveaway #2

I'm so excited to share a second giveaway to celebrate the launch of Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney. You  can read my review of the book here and I think a lot of you will love it as it's such a fun read!

This prize contains:
♥ A copy of Dead, Actually
♥ Super cute heart-shaped sunglasses

Now because footwear plays an important role in Dead, Actually to enter this giveaway, leave me a comment telling me about your favourite pair of shoes (feel free to include a picture) and please include your email address!

This giveaway is open internationally and you don't have to be a follower (though of course, that's always nice!).
Entries are open until April 10th and Kaz Delaney will be picking the winner!

Thanks to Kaz for donating this generous prize for My Girl Friday readers!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dead, Actually Giveaway

I feel like it's been forever since I've had a giveaway, so this one is way overdue!

To celebrate the release of Kaz Delaney's young adult debut Dead, Actually, I am thrilled to be giving my Australian readers the chance to win a gorgeous handbag.

If you have read Dead, Actually you will know that the bag below plays a big part in an important scene in the novel. For a chance to win this great prize, all you have to do is answer one teensy-weensy question:

Which character in Dead, Actually is accused of carrying a designer knock-off bag?

To win, please email me your answer before April 10th. This giveaway is only open to Australian residents (sorry!) but for international readers, please stay tuned as I have another global giveaway coming very soon.

Please note:
♥ This is an imitation handbag (fitting with the plot of  Dead, Actually)
♥ The winner will be announced on April 2nd

Thanks to Kaz for donating this generous prize for My Girl Friday readers!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - Preloved: Shirley Marr

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine to "spotlight upcoming releases".

I am a huge fan of the delightful Shirley Marr, and was lucky enough to hear her speak at the 2010 Melbourne Writers Festival (and get my copy of Fury signed). Now I can't wait to get my hands on Shirley's sophmore novel, Preloved.

Preloved - Shirley Marr
Walker Books - April 1st, 2012

From Walker Books: Amy is always the support act to the beautiful and glamorous Rebecca. When they find a locket during an 80s dress-up day, Rebecca does not want anything to do with it as she thinks it is ugly. Using wisdom borrowed from Tolkien, Amy is able to open the locket and when she does she releases the ghost inside. Logan, the handsome teenager - obviously meant to haunt Rebecca, but stuck with Amy.

Quick, add to to your Goodreads wishlist!
If you don't already, start reading Shirley's blog Life on Marrs.

What books are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Interview with Kaz Delaney

Today I'm thrilled to bits to share my recent interview with Kaz Delaney, author of Dead, Actually and bling-queen. Below, Kaz shares her experiences about writing and publishing a young adult novel.

Firstly, what was your inspiration for Dead, Actually?
I’d been writing sweeter YA, and I wanted to write something kind of heavier, but still fun.  We were holidaying on the Gold Coast when the idea hit. We visit there as much as we can, and always stay at the same place in Surfers, right on the Esplanade and that has fabulous views. Views not only of the ocean but of all the people who parade past along that beach strip. I am soooo  a people watcher; this is just nirvana to me.  Anyway, I was watching this group of girls one day. They were obviously used to a lux life and were dripping in ‘designer’.  It was huge fun because it was all kissy kissy and ‘you’re the best! / ‘No you are!’ you could just tell that behind all that surface love was this huge rivalry to be the best, most gorgeous, most ah-dored... And so I start thinking, ‘What if...’.

What made you choose to set Dead, Actually on the Gold Coast?
I ah-dore the GC! It totally rocks!  I know, I know... It gets a bad rep sometimes but I often think that comes from people who have forgotten how to let loose and have fun! It’s vibrant and gorgeous and has fabulous energy. The weather’s great, the light is just magic, the restaurants are great and the people are great.  And actually, choosing that setting should have been a no-brainer given that the idea was born there, but initially, I was going to set it in San Francisco. I was just back from the States and my books were being pubbed over there at that time. So, I started writing it set in SF. Fast forward a year or so,  and we’re back on the GC for a conference and I found myself re-living those first moments of the story’s birth.  And I was seeing those girls: Gold Coast girls... Cue the first doubts. Added to that, throughout the following days, everywhere we went, I could ‘see ‘another scene.  So, I ditched months of work and set the story where it had always belonged: on the GC. And hoped someone would agree with me. Thankfully they did!

What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing Dead, Actually? What was the most enjoyable part?
Oh wow... Biggest challenge? Initially, Willow I think. Willow is the moral centre of the story; everyone around her has been, or is, living on the edge. They’ve all got secrets they’d like to keep buried – as most of us do. But while The Angels will do anything to keep their own secrets deep –sixed,  they’d throw their  friends under the bus at the slightest provocation. Although, I have to clarify that they’re not so-much amoral as they are self-absorbed. Except for JoJo of course... That’s a whole other thing...  

But back to Willow – who is kind of the light to their dark. Note I didn’t say white to their black because it’s not that straightforward.  So, the challenge for me was keeping Willow real. I wanted/needed her to be different to the others – but then if she was a saint, who’d want to read about her? She needed to have her own issues and her own flaws.
The fun part? Without doubt, creating JoJo. JoJo has no moral filter. Creating JoJo was like letting my inner mean-girl off the chain for a while. Not that I would ever think, say or do those things... Ne-vah! 

Creating JoJo was outrageous fun.  She’s ruthless and has no sense of accountability. She says what she thinks; does what she wants.  It’s awful! Really?  You wouldn’t want her as a friend – especially if you have any juicy secrets! LOL.
Although... if we’re honest there are times in life when we’d secretly all like to be JoJo or like her, just for a moment. Hasn’t there been a time – even one – in your life when you’d  love to have that freedom to just let fly and not be hampered by what’s socially acceptable and what’s not?  But then again look what happens of you do let go? Obviously JoJo  didn’t believe in karma. Maybe she should have... 

Click below for the rest of my interview with Kaz!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review: Dead, Actually - Kaz Delaney

The Facts
Author: Kaz Delaney
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: March 2012
Length: 259 pages

The Fiction
From Allen & Unwin: Willow's having a bad week. A dead body, a funeral and now she's being haunted by the star of it all, the dead queen of Ruth Throsby High herself, JoJo Grayson.
Being dead hasn't made JoJo any nicer. She's still venomous and vacuous and, unfortunately, determined to stick around unless Willow finds out what happened. But the mystery keeps multiplying. There's a missing phone. An anonymous blackmailer. Dirty secrets that won't stay buried. And the blame is being cleverly pointed right at Willow. The only good thing? The gorgeous Seth Pentecost. He's got his own agenda but it looks like he's going to help Willow out. Could solving this death be what it takes to finally bring him into her life?

Watch the book trailer

As I’ve mentioned before, I was lucky enough to get a sneaky-peek at Dead, Actually a while ago, so I was really excited to get the completed version (and was thrilled that it is snarkier and more fun than I remembered). 

So let's start with our heroine Willow Cartwright. Despite coming from family money and having ex-druggie-turned-religious-zealot parents, Willow has somehow managed to keep a fairly level head (thanks in large part to her grandparents). She's independent, thoughtful and into social justice (without coming across as preachy) and has a major crush on best-friend’s brother. I found Willow to be quite a relatable character with a quick, sharp sense of humour and distinctive voice.

I have to confess that I definitely have a soft spot for Willow’s best friend, Macey. She’s this dynamic combo of beauty, brains and balls – all wrapped in a gorgeously presented package. She’s the girl you normally would hate, but as she’s so fiercely loyal and sassy, you kind of love her (just quietly, I think she's a bit of a scene-stealer, in the best kind of way).

While I don’t normally read supernatural YA, I have to admit I’m kind of partial to the odd ghost story, and Dead, Actually worked for me as the paranormal aspect is really played for comedic purposes. I also liked the way that social media is utilised (Jojo’s Facebook page is the cause of much drama following her death). The Gold Coast setting is perfectly suited to the flavour of the story (for non-Aussies, it’s a popular tourist destination with lots of high-rises, nightlife and beach access). There are also some really laugh-out-loud moments, like a candid discussion about whether or not it's appropriate to hook-up at a funeral.

Surprisingly, Dead, Actually is Kaz’s first YA novel, but she comes from a background in romance-writing – which I think certainly shows in this book (there is plenty of swooning!). Kaz writes with a real flair for dramatics, but also does well with capturing catty teenspeak, spiky one-liners and wry observations.

Dead, Actually will definitely be a big hit with fans of the Gossip Girl, It Girl and Pretty Little Liars series. It's a really fun read (perfect for by the pool or a lazy afternoon) and Kaz has certainly hit upon the right balance of snark and supernatural.

You can also buy Dead, Actually for your kindle here and your Apple or Android device here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Second Blog Birthday

image source: we ♥ it

I can't believe it - last weekend was the second birthday of My Girl Friday and in between work, university and a lack of internet, I completely forgot!

So this is a belated birthday message to my friends and readers - I'm still a bit shaken to realise it's been two whole years since I first started writing here!! Thanks for reading what I have to say (when I do get around to posting), for making me smile and sharing your thoughts (and reading recommendations) me me. I love having a place in the blogosphere where I talk about my love of reading, share screencaps from my favourite films and freak you out with my musical theatre obsession.

I know two is pretty small in book-blogging years, but I'm rather chuffed that I've stuck with this for as long as I have. Here's hoping you will all stick around and we can keep on sharing the bookish love!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

February: My Month in Books

Guys, a question – where did February go? Seriously. Between working and starting uni, I feel like it just completely flew by. I’m still getting a lot of reading done on my daily commute, so here’s a little run-down of what I’ve read this month and my reading plans for March.

Total books read: 6
Bittersweet – Sarah Ockler
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire – Stieg Larsson
The Reluctant Hallelujah – Gabrielle Williams
Dead, Actually – Kaz Delaney
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Bittersweet left me with mixed feelings. There were elements I really liked (ice hockey and cupcakes) but just wasn’t really emotionally invested in the story and it’s characters (except for Bug). I kind of feel I’m one of the last people to read Stieg Larrson’s Millenium trilogy (though I’m saving the last book until next week). I’ve been really enjoying the books and feel like they are living up to the hype (so far).

The Reluctant Hallelujah was one of my most eagerly anticipated 2012 reads and wowsers it was worth it (I adored Gab Williams’ Beatle Meets Destiny). Hopefully I’ll review it soon. I had also been really looking forward to reading Dead, Actually (after getting a sneaky peek at it a while back). It’s a really fun read and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on it with you all.

And then there was The Fault in Our Stars. A word of warning: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK WHILE ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT. You will cry and it will be embarrassing. Learn from my mistakes. You all know I’m a total JG fangirl, and yes, I loved TFioS. It’s a really beautiful book and I definitely recommend reading it (with tissues nearby.)

Books I attempted to read (but didn’t finish): 1
Everything’s Eventual – Stephen King. I got through about 75% of it and enjoyed some of the short stories more than others. This was borrowed from the library and I kind of just ran out of time!

What I’m looking forward to reading in March:
I’m currently re-reading This is Shyness before I dive into Queen of the Night (which is currently sitting on my bedside table and oh my goodness, it’s so hard not to just devour it). I’m also looking forward to finishing the Millenium trilogy with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

What did you read in February?

(I just really wanted to excuse to post this gif!)