Shelf Analysis: YA has a Heart Attack

You might have heard that the Vampire Academy books in the UK are to be re-released with brand new covers.  Very exciting, of course, as it is bound to attract more readers – hopefully by the masses.  And despite how lovely the new cover is, I can not say that I am a fan.  Why?  Well, take a look.

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead – New Edition
Finding  Sky by Joss Stirling
This book has suffered from its cover, at least on my behalf.  I saw it in the store and thought it was Claire de Lune!  It wasn’t until I saw The Bookette’s review that I remembered that I had seen this book on the shelves… that said, really want a copy!
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
One of the few times this cover is applicable.  Hello, incestuous relationship?  Certainly merits a barbed-wire heart.
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Not quite as hearty as some of the other covers, but it is still clear what they were going for!
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Love this cover, but my goodness gracious is it ever the same as the cover of Forbidden!
The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant
This is the US cover, but I think the UK cover will be the same.  Lovely ghost-smoke effect… but, er, yeah.

I noticed the glaring similarities between The Dark and Hollow Places and Forbidden a couple of months ago, but it seems that publishers have gone crazy with this new trend.  When is unfortunate is that, unless you are really focusing, these covers blur together.  Unlike the Twilight-effect on YA covers – which, at least, resulted in some vaguely distinguishable book covers – I have a feeling all of these books will just blend together and then no one will end up buying any of them.  *frets*  Is no one else worried?

Review: Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

Review: Claire de Lune by Christine JohnsonClaire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Series: Claire de Lune #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse on 2010
Pages: 336
Genres: Paranormal YA, Young Adult
Source: Received for review from author
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Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf.

As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever?

Thoughts: Werewolves are the new it-boys of YA – it is the Jacob effect gone mad. But if you are looking for an it-girl, Claire de Lune will be what saves you from overdosing on all that alpha-male testosterone.

Let’s start off with what I enjoyed from Claire de Lune. The verse was a great twist on your typical paranormal story. Claire lives in a world where werewolves are known and feared – there are neighborhood watch groups and crazy gun-toting activists. And for the rather a-political Claire to discover that she is one of these “evil” creatures? It enlightened her to the dangers of those die-hards pretty darn quick.

I also adored her love interest, Matthew. He came complete with a developed social conscience – despite his father’s prejudicial ways – but without direction. One of those people who knows that something is wrong, but has no idea what to do with that information. While Claire questioned the status quo because she had to, Matthew does it because he is conscientious of suffering and injustice around him. He’s not an activist, but he has the potential for it. I knew I would love him the moment he started comparing werewolf treatment to his dislike of the death penalty!

But there were some structural things I had issues with. I worked out who the killer was the moment they were on the page. The plot was a bit too much of a set up – Claire was kept in the dark at times only so that her stupidity seemed less stupid, and so that her choices could forward the action.

Oh, did I mention my lack-of-love for Claire? She is a perfectly OK character – but her defining features go from zero-to-nothing. That is, other than being annoyingly incompetent for half of the book. It was almost as if she was being purposefully ignorant to her situation, making choices which were obviously badly thought out.

But by the end, though, Claire did start to show some gumption. She became a bit more kick-ass, taking matters into her own hands and embracing her new found werewolf-ism. I think that I will enjoy her far more in the next book of the series!

Bottom line? Good start to what could be a great series. Not the best in the paranormal YA genre, but certainly a very enjoyable book. And if you are a fellow werewolf fan, it is a must!

And check out Christine’ Guest Post about Wolves and Werewolves, and enter the giveaway for some Claire de Lune goodies!

Christine Johnson talks Wolves and Weres

I am thrilled to introduce Christine Johnson, author of Claire de Lune, as she shares her thoughts on wolves and werewolves.

Warning: This post contains *extremely minor* spoilers. If you’re very, very sensitive tothat sort of thing, hurry and read the book before you look at this post.

Christine Johnson - Author Photo
So, when Kay suggested that today’s Claire in the UK Week guest post be about my thoughts on werewolves/real wolves, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about exactly that. I’ve had a lot of opportunity to talk about why the wolves are a female-only species, and the particular lore that plot-twist engenders, but I haven’t really gotten to discuss how the pack acts in their wolf form.

A few people have commented to me that there seemed to be a lot of actual wolf behavior in Claire de Lune and they’re absolutely right. When I wrote about the wolves – especially during the scenes when the pack is together – I relied heavily on information about grey wolf behavior. In fact, it was most common for me to be working on Claire de Lune with three windows open on the computer. One word processing document for the actual novel, one Internet page with grey wolf behavior and a lunar phase calendar. For the wolf-stuff, I have several sites I really like – one has diagrams of physical postures used by wolves, a couple of others described pack interactions and behaviors. There were books and articles that were really helpful for creating a base knowledge, but for quick reference, the Internet was definitely my friend.

In Claire’s world, the werewolves communicate non-verbally when they’re in their wolf-forms, the same way that grey wolves would in the natural world. I tried to anchor the pack’s “conversations” and interactions in real wolf behavior, elaborating and embroidering from there. Ear positions, body postures, snarls and tail position stand in for dialogue tags. No one can “say” anything if the communication is non-verbal, but bared teeth or a lowered, cowering posture have just as much impact. For me, keeping the werewolf’s behavior rooted in actual wolf behavior kept the pack’s interactions and decisions feeling honest. Fitting the magic into the empty spaces made it seem smooth to me – made the Claire’s world feel internally logical and consistent, which is so critical in a paranormal novel.

Part of what makes paranormal so interesting, so evocative, is the possibility that it *could* be happening. It’s the “normal” part of paranormal. It’s not something that takes place on Kronos 9, it takes place here. With humans. It explains the mysteries and oddities that science hasn’t neatly slotted away. Paranormal novels peek at the shadows under the beds. They have a more interesting explanation for that odd, middle of the night noise on the roof. But it all starts with the real, solid, known world. And that’s what I wanted to do with the werewolves in Claire’s world. I wanted them to be a real animal species that was *more*. That was beyond. That was literally – Para. Normal.

It made sense to me that if wolves and dogs are related species that share many of the same behaviors (trufax, both of those,) then perhaps werewolves would be a sort of bridge species that would have characteristics of both wolves and humans, plus some magic thrown in, because, really, who can resist that? So, in their wolf form, they behave much as wolves do, and in their human form, they act like any other person, and the ability to switch back and forth between those forms creates the opportunity – the need – for magic, which opens the door for things like the ability to create fire from nothing, or the special talent of hearing humans who are miles and miles and miles away.

Part of writing is trusting your instincts, I think. Researching and searching and thinking until you come across something that just fits into the story, and then building around that. Stacking the next “right” stone on top of the first one until you’ve got a novel built. (Then, of course, you have to tear the whole thing down and rebuild – aka revisions – but that’s another story.) Putting real grey wolf behavior into Claire de Lune was one of those perfect stones, for me.

Thanks so much for sharing, Christine!  I thought the wolf-detail in Claire de Lune was spot on and, as a wolf-lover, was really impressed.  I also love the idea of werewolves as a kind of intermediary species between wolves and humans – never thought of it that way before.  ♥

If you want to know more about Christine and her books, check out her website here!  Also check out some of the other Claire in the UK blog tour stops – Christine has done a bunch of fab guest posts this week.