#HCCFirstLook: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider


The third #HCCFirstLook pick is here and we have a new book for you keen readers out there!

We are looking for FIVE readers to read advanced copies of Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider.

An overachieving boy. A slightly eccentric girl. Neither of them imagined they would be terminally ill at age seventeen. When Lane is sent to Latham house, it’s his last resort for a fatal disease. Then he meets Sadie and his hope for a cure has never been more desperate.

For fans of The Fault in Our Stars, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.


Here’s how #HCCFirstLook works:

Step 1: We’ll pick 5 readers, from the submissions,  to have the ‘First Look’ at Extraordinary Means. They’ll receive an advanced reader copy and a letter from us explaining the program.

Step 2: The 5 readers have a month to read the book.

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The Terror of Last-Minute Revision: Confessions of Editor Turned Novelist Sandra Gulland

Before becoming a novelist, I was a book editor. I was the one who sent authors devastatingly long memos detailing the problems in their work. One author, in a rage, called the president of the publishing company I was working for. He was convinced that he would die of a heart attack because of all my editorial notes. Another author, on the other hand, cheerfully accepted my suggestion that his boy main character should be a girl, and then, only a month later, just as cheerfully accepted changing the girl back to a boy. (This was not my finest hour as an editor.)

A significant part of my work was as co-editor with the inimitable Paul Kropp, of a Young Adult series aimed at teen non-readers: Series Canada and Series 2000. Our authors were tops. In addition to Paul Kropp, we published William Bell, Martyn Godfrey, Marilyn Halvorson, Kevin Major, and Sylvia McNicoll, to name a few. These authors were already successfully published. They certainly weren’t writing “Hi-Low” (high-interest, low vocabulary) books for the money, and most certainly not for prestige. Rather, they were willing to generously put their talents to use in order to lure non-readers into the magic of story.


Many assume that if a book is easy to read, it must be easy to write. Au contraire! These authors worked very, very hard through many drafts. The results made it worthwhile: our titles were often the first book a teenage boy or girl had ever read. And they got hooked.

I learned a great deal about writing from these wonderful authors. I also learned a great deal from readers. To help edit Series Canada and Series 2000, I set up a “JET” group—a “Junior Editorial Team” of boys and girls. I would distribute manuscripts, which they would read and then discuss when we next met. Over popcorn and pop, they would talk about the story (often all at once, and always passionately). I would record the discussion and send the tape back to the author along with my editorial notes.

When I began writing my own novels, I longed for an adult JET group to discuss my work in draft. I had excellent editors, but I wanted to know what everyday readers thought. And then it occurred to me: book clubs. Book club members were dedicated readers. Plus, they were accustomed to discussing the strengths and weaknesses of a work. Perfect.

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5 Reasons To Get Excited for Nimona by Noelle Stevenson!


Nimona is the graphic novelization of Noelle Stevenson‘s beloved and critically acclaimed web comic about an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Here, Ashley shares 5 reasons why you, regardless of whether or not you typically read graphic novels, should pick up Nimona when it goes on sale May 12th.

1. Noelle Stevenson herself is more than enough of a reason to get excited. Stevenson has been taking the comic industry by storm with her quirky, unique drawing style. From Lumberjanes to the cover of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Stevenson is the next big thing to watch out for.

2. The abnormal plotline. Stevenson has given us a gloriously uncommon occurrence in Nimona: a supervillain crew that you grow to love. It is fairly unprecedented in young adult literature, both novels and graphics, to have anti-heroes—people who you are stereotypically unheroic but you love anyways.

3. A kick-butt female lead character (with all the sass!). The main character, Nimona, is a shapeshifting female with a bad habit of getting herself into villainous things. Although she is the lead, she has both unheroic and redeeming qualities you will grow to love. And that which doesn’t kill her only makes you love her more.

4. The humor. Stevenson is known for her dry, hilarious, humor, and Nimona is no different. This graphic is chalk full of hilarity and fun. And dragons. And Science! Who doesn’t love science when it is mixed with dragons!?

5. It is based on Stevenson’s web comic of the same name. This should appeal to all those Tumblr/ book nerds out there. This novel is living proof that the love you show for something online can make it real – literally. The support and love everyone has shown for Stevenson’s work online is why this graphic will exist – in your hands – not at the touch of a button. That’s pretty cool. You have power, you do, you do!


Follow Ashley on Twitter @ashawash and YouTube here.

All illustrations included in this post are by Noelle Stevenson. Visit her on Twitter and Tumblr, or http://gingerhaze.com/ for more.