YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

Archive for the ‘Blogoversary’ Category

Rebecca, co-founder of FallenArchangel.com guest blogs!

Although the two week blogoversary celebration is over, the fun is not over yet! I invited the lovely Rebecca whose the co-founder of Fallenarchangel.com to share with us how the fansite came about!

If you want to win a hardcover copy of Hush Hush with a signed bookplate, head over here and enter! Over 10 books to be won, a handmade bag and did I mention, tons of swag?! Giant blogoversary giveaway opened worldwide with three different prize packs to chose from!

Oh and that giant stack of Hush Hush? I took that picture at my local bookstore. Me, as in Kate.

A big thank you to Kate for inviting us to do this guest blog…we never grow tired of talking HUSH, HUSH!

Before I dive in I should introduce myself. I’m Rebecca *waves enthusiastically* and my sister Jenn and I run the official fansite for Becca Fitzpatrick’s HUSH, HUSH. If you haven’t stopped by to check it out yet come see us at www.Fallenarchangel.com.

Near the end of July I received an advanced reader copy of HUSH, HUSH. To this day I’m not really sure how I came to be so lucky, but it arrived while my sister, Jenn, was babysitting my son. She called me to tell me I had an envelope from Simon & Schuster, of course we both squealed at the idea that it might contain HUSH, HUSH. (we’d totally been lusting over the cover art and sample we read online) Since she’d been helping me by reading my own YA story and creating my website, I told Jenn she could open it and be the first to read it if it was in fact HUSH, HUSH.

Guess what she found in there? Why, a sexy fallen angel, of course.

The next morning (yes, she read it that fast) Jenn called to tell me how incredible the book was and that I had to stop whatever I was doing and read it. A day and half later I fell in love with Patch and Nora too. That’s when I made a small suggestion that would change everything. It went something like this:

Me: So, I have an idea…

Jenn: Oh yeah? What’s that?

Me: You know how we both loved HUSH, HUSH? What do you think about starting a fan site for it?

Jenn: Like an actual website?

Me: Yes. You know how we’ve talked about fan sites we’ve seen for other books and how there’s stuff we like and don’t like, well, I think we make something awesome because this book is going to be huge.

Somewhere in that conversation I managed to convince her to say yes. I say convince not because she wasn’t up for the idea but because Jenn is the techie. I have no clue how to create or update a website. So starting a fan site meant a lot more work for her then it did me. Over a thousand forum members and 64,000 hits later, Jenn is definitely the one working her tail off to maintain the site. But I can safely speak for both of us when I say discovering HUSH, HUSH, starting Fallenarchangel.com, getting to know Becca and our all our new HH friends, and creating a place where all her fans can come together has been one of the most rewarding and awesome experiences of our lives. And we’ve only just begun!

Thanks for sharing, Rebecca! Now let’s take a moment to admire this pretty sight.

Books Sarah Rees Brennan would like to see become movies!

Ain’t I a tease? Saving the best for the last! Without further ado, let’s welcome Sarah Rees Brennan! Author of The Demon’s Lexicon which I thought was fantastic and is also on my Best Books of 2009 list!

*drum roll*

It is important to first add a caveat: there are books I’d like to see as movies. But it is vital that they be good movies.

I dearly love the Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper. It was made into a movie called The Dark Is Rising: the Seeker (Why the Seeker? Nobody knows!). Because they thought having the hero be English was too like Harry Potter (the Seeker, fine, but ENGLISH, a step too far!) they made him American. To add drama, they made his loving family bullies.

Also to add an exciting plot twist… they added an evil twin for the hero.

The villain was keeping the evil twin in a snowglobe.

I just report the facts.

The very first time I ever met my editor it was at a book fair. I gave my editor, who I had just been introduced to, a run-down on the awful, terrible, no-good, very bad movie I had just seen.

Then we stepped away from my publisher’s booth. They had a big poster for the Dark Is Rising on it.

‘Oh. Oh my God,’ I said. ‘Uh. I meant violated my childhood in a good way…?’

Don’t even get me started on the Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. And I was warned about the move of Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate, which changed the ending of the book and made all the werewolves evil and European.

Some movies, even of wonderful and beloved books, are hideous travesties. But if I was absolutely guaranteed a wonderful movie, here are some books I’d love to see made. They are mostly YA books, because I loooove teen movies with an unholy passion and think Clueless and Mean Girls are among the best movies ever made.

Maureen Johnson’s Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes – Not only because I would like to see the crackly, funny dialogue in person, but because the heroine Ginny travels to lots of different places, and the sets in Italy and England could be really wonderful. Road trip through Europe! We Europeans never get road trips. (Mind you, a road trip in Ireland pretty much goes like this. Drive. Drive. Drive into the sea.)

Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers I’d love to see a not-so-hot hero being chased by evil forces on the big screen. And I’d love to see a tiny blond heroine stab a werewolf in the leg. My needs are so simple…

Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. Ships! History! Costumes! The Royal Air Force… fighting Napoleon on talking dragons? How is that not something you want to see on the big screen? Plus Peter ‘Holy God the Lord of the Rings Was Awesome’ Jackson has already optioned the books for movies, and thus it is guaranteed to be awesome.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Steampunk is a gorgeous visual thing: even though The Golden Compass was a bit of a flop, it was exciting to see history mixed with clockwork machines. How much more awesome to see World War I fought between machines and living, animal ships and balloons.

Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel Since I’m on the steampunk train already – clockwork demons! Plus cobblestoned streets! Bookish ladies in pretty dresses! Dashing silver-haired gentleman with sword canes!

And of course I would like to see Demon’s Lexicon made into a movie. Because I think it might make a pretty cool movie, and because the idea of seeing my imagination translated into a flood of bright living images is a dazzling one (I became completely overexcited by a mock movie trailer for my book).

Also because I have no serious objection to someone tipping up a money truck into my garden. Which I understand is what happens when they make a movie of your book…

If it’s not what happens, don’t tell me, okay? Let me have my dream.

They’d probably add an evil twin in a snowglobe anyway.

Thanks for guest blogging Sarah! I would love to see The Demon’s Lexicon be made into a movie too! Logan Lerman for Nick (except I can’t picture him as a bad guy..) Haven’t read The Demon’s Lexicon yet? No worries, I will be giving away The Demon’s Lexicon here on the blog today! Big thanks to Simon & Schuster UK.

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.

Sydney Salter is dangerous around cakes!

Oh, earlier on, I accidentally posted a review which wasn’t suppose to be up till next week. Sorry! I didn’t want it to clash with blogoversary posts. I think my brain was still rather groggy.

Sydney Salter is the author of My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters and the upcoming Swoon at Your Own Risk! Come back at the end of the week to win both books (together with other great books!).

What first inspired My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters?
I didn’t like my nose in high school, but I also wanted something good to come from a disastrous job experience I had one summer (think smashed wedding cakes, crushed delivery van doors…and a very angry boss). The title kind of wrote itself.

Jory is a rather accident-prone protagonist. Was she inspired by anyone you knew in real life?
Me! I don’t think I’m a terrible driver, but when it comes to backing up—well, I’ve gotten into a few scrapes (those parts of the story are unfortunately true). Last winter I backed into my sister-in-law’s car in my driveway. And I knew it was there. I’d just been talking to her!

I’m also dangerous around cakes. While there’s only one bride who may never forgive me for destroying her wedding reception, I’ve since had my share of other frosting-based mishaps (tumbled cupcakes, a cake gnawed by my dog minutes before a birthday party, a pirate ship cake that looked like it had lost a big battle).
I’m just not as coordinated as I’d like to be!

If someone told you 20 years ago that you would be a published author, what would your reaction be?
Are you sure? I’m not too boring? Too normal? Really!?! I mean that’s what I want, but I’m kind of too afraid to try. What if I can’t do it?

I spent a lot of years desperately wanting to write, but I was so afraid to fail at my biggest dream, that I simply didn’t try. Now I know that rejection is part of the publishing experience—for everyone.

If you could go back in time and tell your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Be true to yourself—that’s what people really find attractive (and you’ll be a lot happier too).

Do you have any advice you like to give to aspiring young authors?
Write in a diary every day—even on those boring, nothing-good-ever-happens-to-me days. You’ll develop your writing voice as well as collect amazing tidbits that will be useful in writing fiction.

My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters is both funny and heartbreaking. Ultimately, what would you like people to take away from your book?
I want my readers to be nicer to themselves (and others too). Maybe you don’t hate your nose, but could you maybe love your thighs a little more? Give yourself credit for being amazing, okay?

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 just sent my agent a YA about an art prodigy who wants to keep her painting private, but her dad hangs her artwork in his new museum exhibit for the whole world to see.

Chose one:
Lady Gaga or Britney Spears?
Lady Gaga (love her creativity!)
Romeo or Mr Darcy?
Mr. Darcy (That whole Romeo and Juliet situation just frustrates me).
Hardcover or paperback?
Paperback to read, hardcover to own.
Fairytales or zombie apocalypse?
Fairytales (I love a happy ending).

Luisa Plaja takes a look at Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart!

Luisa Plaja, author of Split by a Kiss, Extreme Kissing and Swapped by a Kiss (out 29th April, pre-order on Amazon now!), is here to share with us her thoughts on Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart.

Come back tomorrow to find out who inspired Jory, the accident-prone protagonist, from My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter!

On the happy occasion of Read This Book’s anniversary, I wanted to write about a teen book which has made a lasting impression on me. It’s a book that uses unexplained fantasy elements in a contemporary, realistic plot – a device I love, and one I have used myself in a couple of my novels. It’s an inspiring, funny and all-round excellent read.

It’s Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart.

There’s a lot packed into this short, inventive, surreal tale of a girl who wakes up in the body of a fly. Gretchen Yee is a girl who feels too ordinary for her surroundings at a school where everyone is super-talented. Gretchen too has talent, but it seems to be the wrong sort. In fact, everything about her seems to be all wrong. She wishes she could stop being a spineless girl who is confused about her parents’ imminent divorce and is too afraid to act on her crush. She wishes she could find out more about all the things (and people) she doesn’t understand. And then she wakes up in the body of a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room and she ‘sees everything’, as the tagline of the book says. This is true both literally and metaphorically. Not only does she get to see exactly what’s under the boys’ clothes, but also what’s really going on in their lives.

This book has stayed with me because it’s simple, entertaining and thought-provoking. It also stands up to multiple readings. There’s the beautifully creative use of language – the not-quite-familiar terms that you instantly absorb and understand as you read, like ‘gherkins’ , ‘biscuits’ and ‘milkshake’; words that fit their purpose perfectly. Then there are the gently addressed issues which are close to my heart: the casual homophobia that high school students can display; the kids who are coping with bullying; Gretchen’s feminist awakening. Throughout all this, there are wonderful references to Kafka and comic book superheroes. And lastly there’s a gorgeous love interest, whom you can’t help but see through Gretchen’s admiring eyes. For me, this book is utterly fantastic in every sense of the word, and I loved it.

Happy anniversary, Kate, and many happy returns to your great book blog!

Interview with Malinda Lo!

Today I am please to present to you Malinda Lo, author of Ash which is a nominee for the Andre Norton Award, was a finalist for the 2010 William C. Morris Award, and was a Kirkus Best Young Adult Novel of 2009. It was also a book I loved.

What’s one of your favorite first sentences from one of your favorite books?
Ha! You are sneaky, taking a question from my own First Sentence Tour (I’m interviewing authors about their favorite first sentences all year on my blog). However, since I came up with the question, I can’t deny it’s a good one. 🙂 Here’s my answer:

“I saw him for the first time at the funeral.”
— From A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle

Why was it your favorite?
This book has been one of my favorites since I was 12. I reread it a few years ago and realized that this novel deals with many of the themes I find cropping up in my own fiction, specifically mortality and spirituality.

I like this first sentence because it immediately places us in a setting full of drama and emotion: a funeral. Significantly, the whole book is about life and the end of it, so it’s very appropriate that it begins at this place. The sentence also makes the reader wonder who this “him” is and why the narrator would remember meeting him at a funeral, which creates a sense of suspense right away.

If someone told you 20 years ago that you would be a published author, what would your reaction be?
Well, 20 years ago I was 15, and I had already had my first poem published in a magazine (it was about my cat, Fluffy). So I would probably have said in my annoying know-it-all teenage voice, “Duh.”

But seriously, underneath that semblance of cool (which would have been totally fake), I would have been jumping up and down with excitement.

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?
Louisa May Alcott, for sure. She wrote Little Women, among other books, which was one of the first novels I read and loved.

If you could go back in time and tell your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
Man, this is tough, because if I had known what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have turned out to be the person I am. Going through lots of difficult situations has made me learn so much about myself and other people. So while it’s tempting to tell my 16-year-old self about things to avoid, I guess I would just say this: “Don’t worry about high school. It’ll be over soon, and the rest of your life is going to kick ass in so many ways you will never expect.”

Do you have any advice you like to give to aspiring young authors?
I really encourage young writers to simply enjoy the heck out of what they’re writing. Have fun with your storytelling! Don’t be afraid to try out new genres (explore sci fi, or write a mystery story), or new styles of writing (first person, third person, bubbly, sardonic). Basically, this is your time to play with writing. Only by playing will you figure out what your voice is, and what kinds of stories you most love to tell.

Kirkus described Ash as “an unexpected reimagining of the Cinderella tale, exquisite and pristine, unfolding deliberately.” Ultimately, what would you like people to take away from your book?
You know, I just hope that readers find a way to connect with the story in Ash. For me, that’s what writing is about: making that connection. Every reader will connect with a book differently, and some won’t connect with it at all. All of those are valid responses to a book.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the interview! I enjoyed the questions. 🙂

Beth Fantaskey on a YA book that left her a lasting impression

Happy Tuesday everyone. Today we have Beth Fantaskey, author of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and the upcoming Jekel Loves Hyde! She will be talking about the book A Separate Peace by John Knowles. It is about two friends at boarding school during World War II. I have never read it or even *gasp* heard of it, but now I am tempted to pick it up the next time I go to the bookstore!

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read John Knowles’ “A Separate Peace.” I might’ve been ten – or I might’ve been as old as fifteen. I do remember that it was summer, and I fell completely under the spell of this amazing, unique novel – a spell so strong that just thinking about the book is still enough to make me feel the vivid, wonderful mix of emotions that it evoked in me back then.

For those of you who don’t know the story, it’s set during World War II and involves two prep school boys, one of whom is intelligent but not physically gifted (Gene), and the charismatic, natural athlete (Phineas) who becomes Gene’s best friend. The plot revolves around Gene’s conflicted love for and jealousy of Phineas, which has an unhappy end for both of them.

The magical spell was related, in part, to the book’s setting. I lived at home with my parents, and had lots of rules (of course), while Gene and Phineas already seemed to live like adults. Sure, they had teachers to deal with, but it seemed as though most of their time was spent independently. Each time I picked up the book, I felt like I was getting a chance to live that way, too.

I was also captivated by Phineas. He was my first literary “crush” – and, not to spoil the ending… cause of a pretty broken heart.

Last but not least, I loved that Knowles treated Gene and Finny like adults, in terms of their emotions. The two boys felt things deeply. They worried about the war, they worried about each other, and Gene, in particular, suffered profoundly for a single misjudgment that would change his life.

I think there’s a temptation for adults to believe that young people don’t feel emotions as strongly as older people. But I believe Knowles got it right. I think young people sometimes live life at a stronger emotional pitch than adults. And the fact that, about 30 years after I read that book, I can still recall how I felt that summer would seem to support that opinion, because I can’t think of a novel that I’ve really wept over since.

Four days left till the BIG contest! Come back tomorrow for Malinda Lo’s interview and Luisa Plaja’s guest blog the day after.