Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lauren, Liesl, Po, and "Pandy": Book review, signing recap, and giveaway!

I'm not a big middle grade reader, but a great book is a great book, and Lauren Oliver's LIESL AND PO is awesome enough to make anyone a middle grade convert. LIESL AND PO is Lauren's first foray into MG novels, after writing BEFORE I FALL and DELIRIUM for the YA crowd.

LIESL AND PO drew me in, charming me entirely. I felt such an emotional connection to the novel -- about an orphan girl locked in an attic by her villainous stepmother; two curious, friendly ghosts (one human, one animal); the abused apprentice of an greedy, egomaniacal alchemist; and the greatest magic in the world.*

On a completely superficial level, the book is gorgeous. Both the inner and outer covers are beautifully intricate (and perfect for the book!), and the drawings inside capture the atmosphere of the story.

It's a novel about hope, and love, and reclaiming sunshine in a world gone gray. It balances perfectly the whimsical and the sad, acknowledges darkness but emphasizes the persistence of joy despite all circumstances. (All this becomes even more meaningful when you read the author's note, in which Lauren shares that she wrote LIESL AND PO while mourning the death of a friend.)

I fell in love with this book, which reminded me a lot of CORALINE in tone and main character (Liesl and Coraline would totally be friends and go on adventures together), and Will from L&P would definitely be friends with "assistant-apprentice" Will Henry from THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST (though the alchemist in L&P makes the monstrumologist seem downright affectionate!).

On Tuesday, Frankie, Sara, and I headed to Children's Book World in Haverford, PA for Lauren's signing there. We've met her a couple times before, and she's always awesome to talk to and very down-to-earth. Of course, many of the Philly book blogger crew was in attendance! (Love those ladies -- Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner (see her recap here), Jenna and Lillie (the greatest pair of sisters who write and blog), and new blogger-pal Vi!)

Lauren talked about her creation process for LIESL AND PO, and how it was different from BEFORE I FALL and DELIRIUM because she wrote the first draft in two months, and the story developed organically as she wrote.

She's also working on an adult novel, which I love, because she basically follows (and writes) the stories that call to her, no matter the tone, plot, or genre. Love the diversity! (And after reading all three of her novels, I'll pretty much follow Lauren's writing wherever it goes. This gal is TALENTED.)

Get ready for Pandy.
It will be fierce.
Next up from Lauren is DELIRIUM's sequel, PANDEMONIUM, which comes out in March. She affectionately refers to it as "PANDY" (because who doesn't love a silly nickname for such a dramatic, epic book?) and thinks it would be hilarious if everyone did the same. So here it goes -- March 2012: PANDY is coming. Pass it on.

But until then, we're giving away our two BEA-gotten ARCs of LIESL AND PO, plus an additional SECRET ARC for each winner! And in order to see the gorgeous complete artwork in the book (the ARCs' drawings are only partially finished), be sure to buy your very own copy!

* Whenever I read about anything that's "the greatest in all the world," I always think of Miracle Max:
"Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT - mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe ... [smacks his lips] They're so perky, I love that."


  1. That's so awesome you got to meet Lauren Oliver. Even though I just won a book, I really want to win this.

  2. Fabulous thank you!!


  3. I utterly adore this book. In fact, I'm featuring it on my own blog tomorrow!!

    But I won't enter your giveaway because I just won another arc (thank you all very much) and because I have my own arc of this. Nice review, though, Donna.

  4. Looks like you guys had a ton of fun! I love reading about author events because unfortunately, where I live is a cultural vacuum and we don't get cool stuff like this.

    Thanks for sharing, and for the giveaway op!


  5. Wish I would've gone. I live in PA, but I havent heard of Haverford.

  6. @Natalie, @Joanne, @Lori - Your replies are via email!

    @Marybelle - Good luck!

    @Jessy - Haverford is in the suburbs of Philadelphia in Montgomery County. If you're nearby, you should totally check out Children's Book World!


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