YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Archive for March 13, 2010

Katie Alender on her favorite book growing up

Katie Alender is here to talk about her favorite book growing up which is none other than This Place Has No Atmosphere by Paula Danziger. Katie’s novel, Bad Girls Don’t Die was one of the best horror books I read in 2009. The book isn’t exactly horror, but it was scary at times. It’s a really great book so I encourage you to check it out! You can also find Katie on Twitter, follow her, she’s a cool person!

First of all, happy birthday to Read This Book! What a great milestone to reach.

One of my favorite books growing up was called “This Place Has No Atmosphere,” by Paula Danziger. It’s about a popular girl named Aurora, living in the year 2057. Just when her life seems to be perfect, her parents decide to move the whole family to an experimental colony on the moon. Aurora has to leave behind everything that defines her-her popular friends, her hunky boyfriend, her wardrobe-and find a way to fit in on the moon. Gradually, she learns that she can enjoy things and people she never would have given a second thought to on Earth.

I don’t consider it a masterpiece, but over the years, it remains among the books I remember most fondly. I loved the setting, I loved getting inside the head of the “popular girl” (which was as far from my own social life as you could get), and I loved watching Aurora figure things out.

But maybe what stands out to me the most is Aurora’s voice. The book is in first-person, and Aurora is funny, authentic, and likeable-even when she’s thinking selfish or negative thoughts.

The main character in my series, “Bad Girls Don’t Die,” is a girl named Alexis. She’s not the popular girl. She doesn’t even really have any friends, for a while. She does and says things that probably would make her hard to get along with in person. But I took the lessons I learned from Aurora and set out to make Alexis likeable and sympathetic to the reader, even while she was blasting her own social standing to bits.

I forget where I heard this quote (I should really look it up): Everyone is the hero of his (or her) own story. Nobody thinks, “Gee, I’m a bad person and I’m going to keep making these dumb choices for no particular reason.” Everyone has reasons for doing what they do-even if you know they aren’t great, you’re still acting out of some conviction that you’re doing the right thing.
Sometimes the right thing is only the right thing for a millisecond, and then it becomes a mistake. Sometimes it’s the right thing for the wrong reason. Sometimes it’s the right thing in our eyes even though every single person around us would say we’re wrong.

It’s the author’s job to let the characters make those choices and to make the reader understand why someone would choose such a thing. Sometimes it’s lashing out because of a past hurt, like Alexis, or sometimes it’s just a lack of realizing what’s truly important, like Aurora. When someone can rob an old lady at a bus stop and the reader can think, “Okay, I don’t like that, but I see why she did it,” then the writer has achieved success.

My copy of “This Place Has No Atmosphere” is worn nearly to pieces. It’s a quick read, the kind of book you can zoom through in a couple of hours. But after those hours are over, Aurora will stay with you. Not because she saves the world or defeats an army of the undead or has the hottest vampire boyfriend on the planet. But because she’s just herself, and she’s funny, and she’s the hero of her own story, no matter how big or small that story is.

Click to enlarge!

Katie has been so generous to provide one of her handmade bags for giveaway! YES, you can win this awesome looking tote! It would definitely be a fashion statement if you brought it to school or to work. 🙂 So come back on SUNDAY for the biiiiiig contest!

By the way, you can win the paperback of Bad Girls Don’t Die here.


Spread the Flower Love Blog Tour: Interview with Amy Brecount

Hi all! Today we have Amy Brecount, author of Forget-Her-Nots, stopping by as part of the Spread the Flower Love blog tour. I tried to be as creative as I could in my questions– enjoy!

What was your first reaction when you saw the cover for Forget-Her-Nots?
Amazement. It wasn’t what I expected – which was a hand holding forget-me-nots or something like that – but so eye-catching. I knew immediately it was going to appeal to flower lovers of all ages!

If someone told you 20 years ago that you would be a published author, what would your reaction be?
I would have jumped up and down, because that’s been my dream for a long time. I just didn’t think it would take quite this long! It was worth the wait!

If you could go back in time and tell your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Can I give myself two?

One: Enjoy the ride. I was really focused on good grades, good college, etc. I had a great time, too, but I could have relaxed more and realized things have way of working out.

Two: Don’t go out with the same guy for more than six months. I dated one guy for about two years, because he’d start crying every time I tried to break up, and he was a really nice guy. Not a good enough reason to stay together. High school dating (and college too) are times to figure out what you want in a guy and what you need. Very few people find their soul mate in high school, so I wish I would have dated more people. It all did work out, though. I’m very happily married to my college sweetheart. 🙂

What was one Young Adult book that left you a lasting impression long after you read it?
Definitely The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It was so beautifully and originally told, and I just bawled at the end. I also read that Zusak wrote and rewrote the story from several points of view, so that made me feel better about taking a long time to write my first novel.

What are your top 3 favorite flowers and why?
Gardenia (for ecstasy and transport) – I adore the scent, the smooth ivory bud, and waxy green leaves.
Purple irises (to send a message) – I love the Siberian ones which are smaller and daintier and form clumps. However, the larger irises have the most amazing scent. You should never pass one without inhaling. J
Pansies (for thoughts of you) – In Virginia, you plant them in the fall and they come back in the spring. They are just so cheery and have a variety of lovely colors!

Back in high school, if a guy wanted to ask you out, what type of flowers would you want him to buy for you (it’d be great if you mention the color of it as well)? 😀
Red tulips to declare love would be a good choice or purple lilac for the first emotions of love. If a guy did that, I’d know he was serious.

Are you currently working on anything? Is it ok if you tell us in one sentence what it is about? (unless it’s super top secret!)
I’m writing a realistic novel called STRING THEORIES that’s about the physics of relationships, love and lust, and getting even.

Fellow Tenner Christina Gonzalez, says like the petals of a rose, this book has layers of loveliness. Ultimately, what would you like people to take away from your book?
I LOVE that quotation from Christina. She’s so lyrical! My Publishers Weekly review said I showed a “reverence for the natural world.” I’d really love for people to take that reverence away from the novel and also the idea that we all need a whole lot more flowers in the world!

Thanks so much for having me, Kate!!

Amy asked me to chose a flower and I decided to go with amaryllis. Here’s a little background about the story of the amaryllis.

Legend has it that the amaryllis – the stunning red flower we’ve come to associate with the holidays – began as a shy, timid nymph. Amaryllis fell deeply in love with Alteo, a shepherd with Hercules’ strength and Apollo’s beauty, but her affections were unrequited. Hoping that she could win him over by bestowing upon him the thing he desired most – a flower so unique it had never existed in the world before – Amaryllis sought advice from the oracle of Delphi.

Following his instructions, Amaryllis dressed in maiden’s white and appeared at Alteo’s door for 30 nights, each time piercing her heart with a golden arrow. When at last Alteo opened his door, there before him was a striking crimson flower, sprung from the blood of Amaryllis’s heart. With this romantic – albeit tragic – tale as its beginning, it’s not surprising that today the amaryllis has come to symbolize pride, determination and radiant beauty.

Follow the blog tour and collect those flowers and you can win copies of Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu and Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins along with FHN swag and a Language of Flowers booklet! This is kinda top secret info but Amy said that she will be mentioning amaryllis in her next book! Too cool!