The Writing’s On The Wall: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

The Writing’s On The Wall is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I create desktop wallpapers inspired by some of my favourite novels, authors, and literary quotes.

Title The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
Author David Arnold
Pages 432 Pages
Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Fabulism
Publication Date May 22nd 2018 by Viking Children’s
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

The New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland brings a speculative twist to his latest novel. The result: an incisive and deeply humane story with the feel of Haruki Murakami for teens.

This is Noah Oakman → Sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → Gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → Sees changes – inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories – in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations… 

A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.

1280×800 » 1440×900 » 1680×1050 » 1920×1200 » 2560×1400

I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Create The Cut and Connary Fagen Type Design whose clipart and/or fonts I purchased, edited and used in the creation of this wallpaper!

Don’t forget to visit all the wonderful stops along The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik blog tour for a variety of guest posts, reviews, and much, much more!

Week One
May 07 – The Blonde Bookworm
May 08 – Confessions Of A YA Reader 
May 09 – Forever Bookish 
May 10 – Rants and Raves Of A Bibliophile 
May 11 – Adventures In YA Publishing 

Week Two
May 14 – The Nerdy Girl Express 
May 15 – A Court of Coffee and Books 
May 16 – Book Crushin’
May 17 – Mind Of A Book Dragon
May 18 – Tales Of The Ravenous Reader

Week Three
May 21 – Pop! Goes the Reader (You are here – Hi!)
May 22 – The Young Folks 
May 23 – Page Travels
May 24 – Bookfoolery 
May 25 – Dazzled By Books 

Week Four
May 28 – Paper Trail YA 
May 29 – Snow and Books 
May 30 – Reading Writing and Me
May 31 – The Radiant Reader
June 1 – We Live and Breathe Books

Now it’s your turn! What would you like to see made into a desktop wallpaper next? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!

Cover Reveal: The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Hi everyone! Today is an extra special day here on Pop! Goes The Reader as I have the unique pleasure of doing something I can honestly say I’ve never done in five years of blogging before – a cover re-reveal! As regular readers of the blog might remember, back in February 2018 I was fortunate enough to have collaborated with author Laura E. Weymouth on the cover reveal for her October 2018 debut novel, The Light Between Worlds. You might therefore be able to imagine my surprise – and absolute delight – when I opened my inbox this week to discover an email asking me to do it all over again! As lovely as the original cover design was, HarperTeen has outdone themselves with the the latest look of The Light Between Worlds cover, thanks in large part to cover designer, Jessie Gang and cover artist, Colin Anderson. In addition to today’s stunning cover reveal, I’ve also been given permission to share lots of other exciting exclusives with you, including an author’s note, except from the novel, and an opportunity for one lucky reader to win an advance reader copy of The Light Between Worlds! Please read on to learn more!

About Laura E. Weymouth

Laura Weymouth is a Canadian writer currently exiled to the strange and foreign wilds of Western New York. When not reading or writing, you can find her tending things that grow – kids, cats, poultry, plants, and ideas. The Light Between Worlds is her debut novel and will be followed by a second, untitled project in 2019.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

I’m so pleased to be back on Pop! Goes the Reader to share the new, updated cover for The Light Between Worlds with everyone. Light is, at its heart, a portal fantasy. It’s an attempt on my part to grapple with the question of how children would readjust to living in our world after having spent a significant amount of time in another. It’s about how we can never really go back to the people we were before watershed moments, and yes, it is about a magic forest full of wondrous creatures. The design team at Harper did a beautiful job of capturing all those elements in this new cover, and I hope you love it as much as I do!

It’s strange, being out-of-doors so late at night. Shadows loom long and make our postage-stamp lawn and frost-covered shrubs seem eerily unfamiliar. Jamie helps Philippa and me down into the shelter and stands at the entrance, staring back at the house with hunched shoulders and one foot tapping. Philippa wraps a damp blanket around me and we sit side by side, shivering in the cold.

The siren wails on. Somewhere in the distance, bombs begin to fall.

“Do you see them?” Philippa asks anxiously. Jamie shakes his head.

“No, I — wait.” His voice cracks with relief. “There’s Dad.”

Our father looks in at the entrance, and everything’s suddenly a little less dreadful than it was before. Until he frowns and looks at Jamie. “Didn’t your mum come out?”

Before Jamie can answer, Dad sprints back across the lawn. The dull blast of explosions is growing louder, closer. I gnaw on my lower lip and Jamie joins Philippa and me. We put our arms around each other and wait, and I would give anything to be away from here — to leave the dark and danger and fear behind.

“Where are — ?” Philippa asks, choking with worry. But a bomb falls so close that it drowns out her last word and shakes the walls of our small shelter.

“Anywhere but here,” I whisper. Philippa pulls me close, as if her very presence can shield me from harm. Squeezing my eyes shut, I will away the present, picturing somewhere calm, somewhere peaceful — a haven of silence and golden light. “Anywhere but here. Anywhere but here.”

And then, silence. The dark in the shelter grows, till I can make out nothing but my brother’s and sister’s pale faces.

After a moment a sound begins. It’s neither air raid siren nor bombshell. Ringing through the air, it’s low and insistent, halfway between the bellow of a bull and the bugle of an elk. It pulls at my blood and bones until I want to crawl out of my own skin to answer it. Jamie, Philippa, and I stare at each other, wide-eyed.

“Hold on to me,” Jamie orders, panic lacing his words. We join hands and I can barely breathe, I’m so afraid. Under that fear, though, there’s something new and unexpected — anticipation.

The call grows louder and louder until at last light explodes around us. I blink and squint, eyes watering, sure I’ll see only rubble and devastation when my vision clears. But the light stays constant, unlike the flash and sizzle of shelling. It resolves into afternoon sunshine and my heart leaps to find that, impossibly, we’re standing in a wood.

Title The Light Between Worlds
Author Laura E. Weymouth
Pages 351 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Historical Fantasy
To Be Published October 23rd 2018 by HarperTeen
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersBarnes & NobleIndieBoundThe Book Depository

Six years ago, sisters Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell were swept away to a strange and beautiful kingdom called the Woodlands, where they lived for years. But ever since they returned to their lives in post-WWII England, they have struggled to adjust.

Ev desperately wants to return to the Woodlands, and Philippa just wants to move on. When Ev goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

As an extra, exciting bonus, Laura has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader the opportunity to win an advance reader copy of The Light Between Worlds! One winner will be chosen at random at the conclusion of the giveaway and the prize will be distributed by Laura when ARCs become available. This contest is open internationally. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Kids On The Block 2018 with Maxine Kaplan

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2018? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at I would love to collaborate with you!

About Maxine Kaplan

Maxine Kaplan was born in Washington, DC. She and her twin sister spent their early childhoods trotting behind their journalist parents as they traveled around the world, eventually settling in Brooklyn, NY. Maxine graduated from Oberlin College in 2007. Following a long stint in the world of publishing, she has worked as a private investigator since 2009. She lives in her adopted hometown of Brooklyn, NY, with her lovely husband and complex cat. The Accidental Bad Girl is her debut novel.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterGoodreads

The Art & Science of the Femme Fatale

My first exposure to the trope of the femme fatale was via the great (if occasionally problematic) director Alfred Hitchcock. The movie was North By Northwest and the femme in question was Eve Kendall, simultaneously the film’s most potent antagonist and the source of its romantic tension. I reimagined her as Kendall Evans for my debut The Accidental Bad Girl.

Ever since I saw Eve Kendall, at age eight, I have thought a lot about femme fatales. After intensive study (a.k.a. massive overconsumption of all forms of media), I have developed the following evolutionary taxonomy of the femme fatale:

1. The OG Femme Fatale – Exhibit: Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair)

So you know that shelf in your high school library just called “literature” with all the really old, dusty, boring books that were written before your grandparents were born? Yeah, that was where fifteen-year-old Max hung out. And, one day, literally because of the apparent anachronism of the title, I pulled out a book called Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, originally published in serialized form in the Victorian-era Punch magazine, from 1847 to 1848. It follows the life of the lowborn and impoverished, but highly educated and canny AF Rebecca Sharp as she determinedly climbs her way up the social ladder with charm, seduction, deception, fraud, and even flat-out theft.

A quick note here: Becky, you guys. Oh my god. BECKY. If you saw the Mira Nair movie with Reese Witherspoon, you don’t even know. Becky is the smartest person in every room. She knows how to give everybody exactly what they want and then how to discard them efficiently when they how outlived their usefulness.

Becky is a talented musician and artist. She is attractive, but not classically beautiful. She has people she cares about, but not enough to deviate from her plan of world domination. Becky fails and comes back stronger. Becky makes the most out of every bad hand of cards. Thackeray follows the lives of the people she wrecks, but only rarely dips into Becky’s perspective. We don’t end the book in her head. She is the star, the catalyzing influence, but she is a supporting character in her own biography.

Pay attention, this will be important later.

2. The Bond Girl – Exhibit: Seriously, every single Bond Girl. You know who I’m talking about. Let’s go ahead and say Pussy Galore.

So here’s a thing to know about me: I not only will watch any Bond movie, any day, I have actually read numerous of the original Ian Fleming Bond novels. Some of these characters are goddamn delights in their own right, but here’s what they all have in common.

The Bond Girls are sexy, but in a damaged way. They are sad, they like luxury, they are elegant, and they are doomed. While key to unraveling the plot, and involved in criminal activity, they are conflicted in their motivations, primarily due to romantic entanglement either with Bond or the villain of the piece. They themselves are not the villain of the piece. They mostly don’t survive.

3. The Noir Broad – Exhibits: Brigid O’Shaughnessy (The Maltese Falcon), Vivian Sternwood (The Big Sleep)

This type of femme fatale is probably the most iconic. They tangle duplicitously with private investigators or similar (but, seriously, mostly private investigators) and are generally truly guilty — I mean guilty of murder, but also of deceiving the lead with their feigned innocence and love.

These women are indelible because they are undeniably “bad,” but they are also loveable. They do not commit crimes out of cold calculation or banal greed, but out of madness, hysteria, or misplaced devotion. They are the focus, but they are not focused on. They never tell their stories until the end and the hero always walks away, worse for having loved them.

4. The Neo-Noir Wild Card – Exhibits: Harley Quinn (DC Comics), Amy Dunn (Gone Girl)

(Disclaimer: Harley Quinn is cheating, because Harley Quinn has evolved. Uniquely, even her creators’, the brilliant Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, have evolved their conception of her into a fully realized, pathos filled antiheroine. She’s extremely important and I could write an entire essay about her. That’s not what this is, but I could.)

The Neo-Noir Wild Card is unique because of the sheer delight she takes in wreaking havoc. The delight is infectious and she is therefore adorable. She is frightening, she is insane, she is hilarious, she is uncontrollable, and she is just human enough to convince you that she might stop being fatal. She is the cutest, and she is terrifying.

This is where we’ve landed in 2018 with the femme fatale: Harley Quinn was allowed to develop beyond her original brief because so many people — notably, especially in the still male-dominated comics field, so many women — responded to her in a way that was entirely unplanned and unexpected. Her rage and violence was contextualized, her heart and her motivations taken seriously, and her persona and personhood allowed to develop on its own terms. Amy Dunn, in contrast, was written by Gillian Flynn, as expert a writer of female rage as anyone ever has been, as an explicitly feminist counterpoint to the traditional domestic “wife-in-peril” narrative.

Harley Quinn started as existing only in relation to the Joker. Hell, he even named her. But she later got an instant classic retelling of her origin in Mad Love, from her perspective. A recent issue, by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, sees her finally beating the hell out of her puddin’ and leaving him to rot. It was instantly iconic. It was badass. Similarly Amy’s “cool girl” monologue was epic and stunning, turning her story into a sensation all women related to.

But Harley’s true, real-world origin will always be as a one-off sidekick to the Joker. She will never stop painting her face in homage. And who is Amy without Nick to f with? Where is her story without her marriage?

(I want to be clear: I LOVE all of the characters I’ve written above. I love them with all my heart. This is not to knock what’s come before.)

What do all of these dangerous women have in common? Their importance and/or success in a narrative are based on their ability to control, or their proximity to, a more important man. Their charm is primary, their rage explained away as madness, and, until recently, their pathos insignificant to the outcome of the story.

They are not the protagonists of their own story — not all the way through.

When you hear the phrase “femme fatale,” you instantly see these women in your head—the Veronica Lake wave, the knowing smile. They have some deep resonance in our experience of human nature. When I wrote The Accidental Bad Girl, it was because I wanted to know more about one of these women. Archetypes are archetypical for a reason, but, truly, I should not be able to use such a rigid taxonomy for such an indelible symbol of womanhood. These girls should not be so easy to put into little boxes, to codify.

Femme fatales are not just props for telling other peoples’ adventures. They are not just sex appeal, color, intrigue — set dressing. They have their own stories. And we deserve them.

The Accidental Bad Girl is my attempt.

Title The Accidental Bad Girl
Author Maxine Kaplan
Pages 384 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date May 15th 2018 by Amulet Books
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Kendall used to be a good girl.

That was before the entire senior class discovered her hooking up with her best friend’s ex. And before became an instant pariah, and vowed to keep her head down until she escaped her small Brooklyn private school for good.

But no such luck: She discovers her online identity has been hacked and she’s being framed for stealing a drug dealer’s stash. If she wants to repair her tattered reputation and save her neck, she’ll have to pretend to a be the bad girl everyone thinks she is. And the longer she plays the role of bad girl, the more it seems to fit.

Friends and enemies, detectives and drug dealers — no one is who they appear to be. Least of all Kendall.

Do! Judge A Book By Its Cover Issue 91: Graphics Novels & Comic Books (Part 4)

Do! Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I pay tribute to some of the best and brightest the publishing world has to offer in the way of book cover design. This feature is inspired by Katie’s feature Cover Love on her blog One Page At A Time. The idea is being used with her gracious permission.

Some of my favourite covers this week include Blackbird by Sam Humphries, Outcast: This Little Light by Robert Kirkman, Batgirl: Summer of Lies by Hope Larson, Snotgirl: Green Hair Don’t Care by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Forgiveness Is Really Strange by Marina Cantacuzino and Masi Noor, ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria For The End Times by Andrew MacLean and Tomb Raider: Survivor’s Crusade by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly.

Please Note: I’ve done my best to credit the designers, artists and illustrators responsible for the beautiful covers below whenever possible. If you know of an uncredited contributor responsible for any of these designs, please let me know and I would be happy to include proper attribution in this post. Their work is lovely and deserves to be credited.

01. Blackbird by Sam Humphries (Illustrated by Jen Bartel)
02. Another Castle: Grimoire by Andrew Wheeler (Illustrated by Paulina Ganucheau)

03. Outcast: This Little Light by Robert Kirkman (Illustrated by Paul Azaceta)
04. Doctor Strange: The Last Days of Magic by Jason Aaron (Illustrated by James Robinson, Chris Bachalo, Leonardo Romero, Danilo Beyruth and Mike Perkins)

05. Batgirl: Summer of Lies by Hope Larson
06. DC Comics Bombshells: Uprising by Marguerite Bennett (Illustrated by Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Pasquale Qualano and Sandy Jarrell)

07. Rashomon: A Commissioner Heigo Kobayashi Case by Víctor Santos
08. The Damned: Three Days Dead by Cullen Bunn (Illustrated by Brian Hurtt)

09. Idle Days by Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau
10. Rise of the Dungeon Master by David Kushner (Illustrated by Koren Shadmi)

11. Collecting Sticks by Joe Decie
12. DC Comics Bombshells: Allies by Marguerite Bennett (Illustrated by Marguerite Sauvage, Laura Braga, Mirka Andolfo, Sandy Jarrell and Maria Laura Sanapo)

13. Snotgirl: Green Hair Don’t Care by Bryan Lee O’Malley (Illustrated by Leslie Hung)
14. Captain Marvel: Rise of Alpha Flight by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters (Illustrated by Kris Anka and Felipe Smith)

15. Forgiveness Is Really Strange by Marina Cantacuzino and Masi Noor (Illustrated by Sophie Standing)
16. ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria For The End Times by Andrew MacLean

17. Dark Fang by Miles Gunter (Illustrated by Kelsey Shannon)
18. Giants by Carlos Perez Valderrama (Illustrated by Miguel Valderrama)

19. The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy and Travis McElroy (Illustrated by Carey Pietsch)
20. Grimm: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Caitlin Kittredge

21. Tomb Raider: Survivor’s Crusade by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly (Illustrated by Ashley Woods, Mike Atiyeh and Hannah Fisher)
22. Piper by Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg (Illustrated by Jeff Stokely)

Now it’s your turn! What are some of your favourite Graphic Novel covers? Did I list one of your favourites here or is there one I forgot that just has to be included? Let me know in the comments!

New Kids On The Block 2018 with Nisha Sharma

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2018? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at I would love to collaborate with you!

About Nisha Sharma

Nisha Sharma grew up immersed in Bollywood movies, eighties pop culture, and romance novels, so it comes as no surprise that her first novel My So-Called Bollywood Life features all three.

Nisha credits her father for her multiple graduate degrees and her mother for her love of Shah Rukh Khan and Jane Austen. She lives in New Jersey with her cat Lizzie Bennett and her dog Nancey Drew.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

Bollywood Basics with Nisha Sharma

I grew up in a rural town in Northeast Pennsylvania. To occupy my time, I read a lot, trained as a classical Kathak dancer, and watched a ton of Bollywood movies. It was common in my house to hear Bollywood music on weekends blasting from the stereo my mother set up in the kitchen. As long as I can remember, Bollywood movies have been a part of my life.

It’s no surprise that my first YA is about Bollywood movies. I wanted to focus on positively portraying Bollywood and its impact on South Asians. Bollywood, the Hindi language film industry located in Mumbai, India, produces more movies a year than Hollywood. They have a global reach and with video streaming, they’re now making their way into non-South Asian households every day. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when someone who isn’t Indian has an in-depth conversation with me about the latest Bollywood movies in theaters.

For those of you who are interested in getting into Bollywood movies but require some guidance, here are some details that can help you get started.

1. Bollywood movies used to be 3-4.5 hours, but with changing times (and shorter attention spans), the average film is approximately two hours.

2. Yes, Bollywood movies still have dancing and song numbers kind of like Hollywood musicals from the 40’s and 50’s. However, rarely do actors sing their own songs (there is a playback singer who does the music for them), and no, most of the time the song numbers don’t make sense during the film. The modern shift in the industry shows directors trying to insert musical numbers in a way that makes more sense, but they rarely succeed.

3. You must be willing to accept the improbable, the impossible, and the over-dramatic. Sometimes things seem to be a little cray-cray, but go with it. Bollywood is supposed to be fun no matter what genre.

4. You’ll see a divide in the types of movies that were made in the era prior to 1985, the era prior to 1999, and the era now. Movies are changing to allow for a more global mindset. Divorce, sex, and online harassment are all elements in Bollywood films these days that effect story lines.

5. Last but not least, Bollywood has diversified today, so if you’re looking for something that epitomizes cheese, you’re better off with a mid to late 90’s movie. If you’d like something that really encapsulates the changing generation in India, I’d try a movie made in the last three years.

For specific Bollywood movie recommendations, check out the glossary in My So-Called Bollywood Life! I list a ton of movies that readers should consider along with their rating and a snarky review blurb from my main character, Winnie Mehta.

Jen, thank you so much for having me! I can’t wait for everyone to meet Winnie Mehta and learn more about Bollywood. Stay filmy, guys!

Title My So-Called Bollywood Life
Author Nisha Sharma
Pages 304 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date May 15th 2018 by Crown Books For Young Readers
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soulmate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her 18th birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked to return from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. Worse, Raj is crowned chair of the student film festival, a spot Winnie was counting on for her film school applications. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there is Dev, a fellow film geek, and one of the few people Winnie can count on to help her reclaim control of her story. Dev is smart, charming and challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope to find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy, and her chance to live happily ever after? To get her Bollywood-like life on track, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Like an expertly choreographed Bollywood dance scene, Nisha Sharma’s off-beat love story dazzles in the lime light.