Top Ten YA Books I’d Recommend to the “I Don’t Read ‘Teen’ Fiction” Reader

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In today’s Top Ten Tuesday, I’m taking on the eye rollers of YA fiction.

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Because I’m working so hard outside of my 9-5 to carve out a path to a career as a literary agent and a published author, I often find myself being asked, “What do you like to read? or “What do you write” Since I come with a degrees in English literature and secondary education, I’m assuming people expect me to wax on and on about Infinite Jest or any of the “worthy” novels appearing on the prestigious awards circuit. I assume this because whenever I answer “mainly young adult, although I’m drawn to women’s fiction and middle grade as well,” I’m met with “Oh.” You know, “Oh“, as in “I don’t know what to say, I thought you meant real fiction, not books for teenagers.”

It’s not all Twilight out there, folks. There are so many truly amazing works of fiction out the in the young adult realm that adults need to realize aren’t just wishy-washy romances and whinings of rebellious teens. So here are the 10 I wish I could pound over the head of these YA nay-sayers.

Top Ten YA for no readers

1. The Fault in Our Stars: I know, you’re probably sick of me (and everyone else) writing about this book. But the thing is, this is one of those quintessential books everyone should read, regardless of their age. If Joni Mitchell taught Emma Thompson how to feel, then John Green taught me how to cry.

2. If I Stay: For 17, Gayle Forman’s Mia is very grown-up, but you’re never grown-up enough to face what she must. Losing your entire family is an ageless fear, and Forman digs deep into the heart while still harking back memories of first love the flashback scenes with Adam.

3. The Fifth Wave: For all you SciFi lovers out there, this is the book for you. A big complaint of YA seems to be the return to high school mentality, but that isn’t the case with The Fifth Wave. Yancey’s series opener if fast paced and full of suspense and, in my opinion, is much scarier than the popular alien movies out there (I’m looking at you, Tom Cruise) because of the fact that so much is in your mind.

4. Eleanor & Park: One of the great things about Eleanor & Park that I think would suck non-teen readers in is the setting. Rowell has so perfectly captured the 1980s that older readers are transported not to modern high schools but to their own teen years. Mixed with this smart setting is a story that is so hard-hitting and unfair that you can’t help but read on in hopes of a happy ending for Eleanor.

5. Speak: Laurie Halse Anderson is, in my mind, one of the top-tier YA authors that will last the generations along with Judy Blume. Speak is her best known novel, and there’s no question of why. I remember reading Speak for the first time in high school and liking it, but I didn’t grow to love it until college. Her writing is very literary and unique to the voice of Melinda, and her story is universal… a modern take on I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, wrapped up in a perfectly non-7th Heaven message to both teens and adults.

6. The Future of Us: Like Eleanor & ParkThe Future of Us is set in the near and dear past; this time, it’s the mid-nineties during the rise of A.O.L. in homes. I originally picked up the book because of the authors (the great Jay Asher and Caroline Mackler), but I kept reading for the romance, the butterfly effect, the constant “Oh, I forgot about that” moments, and the great outside view commentary of Facebook: “I don’t know exactly what it is, but it looks like interconnected websites where people show their photos and write about everything going on in their lives, like whether they found a parking spot or what they ate for breakfast… But why?”   ….   “Why does it say she has three hundred and twenty friends”… Who has that many friends?”

7. Code Name Verity: I’m not going to lie, I’m not entirely sure how Code Name Verity ended up on YA shelves other than the fact that most bookstores don’t have NA shelves… and if they do, they are almost entirely steamy romances. Code Name Verity is a wonderful addition to WWII fiction, and it offers a side to women’s participation in the war that I had never heard of before.

8. Looking for Alaska: I’ve often heard John Green’s books referred to as “not really YA”, which I think in meant to be a compliment to Green, but really, this is more of an insult to both John Green and to all the other authors/editors/agents/publicists/etc. of YA literature. Yes, Green is known for his deep notions rivaling David Foster Wallace, but regardless, Green is very active in the YA field, impeccably able to capture the teen experience of confusion and longing, and is proud to be a YA author who just so happens to have a huge adult following. So please don’t tell me John Green is “too literary for YA”.

9. Tiger Lily: I know I use this term a lot, but if there is one universal book on this list, it’s Tiger Lily. Jodi Lynn Anderson’s version of the story is practically a retelling Peter Pan through the waking eyes of an adult, even if that adult is really a fairy who still lives in Neverland. If I had read this story as a teen, I would have loved it if only because it was based on Peter Pan, but a lot of what I connected to in Tiger Lily’s journey wouldn’t have had as strong an impact on me at 15 as it did at 25.

10. You Look Different in Real Life: This book is about self discovery, looking at how you view yourself, how others view you, and how you view others. Yes, the protagonist is a snarky teenage girl, but I loved her. Jennifer Castle’s story really made me think about how I come across and how I need to stop worrying about living up to the expectations of others and to just become who I believe I am and am meant to be. Not to mention, it’s so well written and multi-faceted that any reader could find something to enjoy in this book.

Whew, I had such a hard time narrowing my list down (I started with over 20 and the list kept growing when I’d try to shrink it). What books would you recommend to the stubborn, “no teens allowed” reader?

NaNoWriMo, Why, Oh, Why?

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Originally posted at The Writer Diaries.

Here’s the thing, NaNoWriMo; every year I say I’m going to defeat you. Every year, I think “This is an AWESOME idea!” Every year, I forget that pants-ing it makes me panic and November seems to be the month in which I get deathly sick and the workload picks up in the rush to beat the December deadlines (side note: working as an editor is apparently no different from college in that way). And I sign up to write all the words. Every. Single. Year.

If I was smart, this is how I would respond to the lead-up of exciting pep talks and day dreams of the perfect NaNoWriMo novel: I’d gawk at all the ambitious and productive writers who seem to have more hours in their day than do (I’m blaming this on you, hour-long commute to/from work and required 7+ hours of sleep to function) or who have apparently found a time turner or a Tardis and simply aren’t willing to share. Post gawking, I’d retreat to my happy little corner of full-time by day, intern by night, writing in the spare moments I find. Smart Me would remember that “slow and steady wins the race” and that I am the queen of over-commitment, at least when it comes to writing. But every year I prove that I am not—in fact—smart.

Now, I’d like to believe there still is a Smart Me locked away somewhere.  She bangs on my rib cage prison every time I make poor choices.  There are cave drawings on my abdomen or my skull of my tongue twisted in knots and my arms hogtied behind my back.  I’m sure one would find eloquent speeches and diabolical plans jotted out in hieroglyphics along my nerve strands.  In a perfect world, she’d be in control and my crazy, sarcastic, act-now-think-next-year self would be deeply sedated, never to see the light of day.  Sadly this is not case.

As much as it breaks my heart, NaNoWriMo only serves as proof that I am no Hermione Granger, who is bloody brilliant and completely organized and makes informed-and-spot-on decisions. I also haven’t become a ridiculously pretty blonde as I’ve matured, either, so there’s that. No, the Smart Me that does exist is more like… well, I can’t even think of a character.  I’m sure her forehead is permanently dented and purple from banging it against things, and I think the reason I don’t hear her so often any more is that she’s already screamed herself hoarse.  I picture her with only patchy hair, as she tends to pull it out whenever I frustrate her (which is pretty much all the time).

I guess Smart Me is like the Hermione in Slughorn’s potions class, where she’s going crazy and Harry’s doing awesome (alibi cheating) and she just does not understand why. Why, oh why?!?  Only Real Me isn’t Harry… I’m pretty sure I’m Ron.  Foot, meet mouth.  You’ll never be lonely again.

But I digress.  Anyway, Smart Me is probably in there in a coma because not only did I sign in, I posted my profile and my planned summary, joined the regional community, made sure to connect with an old friend so we could “do it together”, and then proceeded to talk about it to anyone who would listen.  Like, “Hi, person pumping gas, this is the month I write a novel” and “Yes, Dr. So-and-So from Yale, your article is awesome…like me… The next J.K. Rowling.  Wait until December, you’ll see.”  Oh jeez.

So why did I do it?  In theory, it sounds great. I place so much pressure on myself and take on so many commitments that while the Muse is still flying around, the Bard in me has retreated into the corner and refuses to acknowledge that she can write at a level higher than a cave man.  I say “please,” she says, “me no write.  me crushed.  me tired.” Oh dear. I thought maybe presenting myself with a rigid challenge would be a good kick in the pants for the Bard. I mean, that’s what NaNoWriMo is—a challenge.  Which it is.

Here’s the thing, though.  In theory, 50,000 words in a month is totally doable.  I mean, I used to write 8 page papers overnight. When I’m on a writing kick, I can hammer out 5,000 words at the corner coffee shop on a sunny Saturday afternoon. So why should 50,000 words be a big deal?  Why, because every day isn’t Saturday (heck, most Saturdays haven’t been café days lately) and I’m lucky to get out a couple thousand words a week with my other obligations, like a full-time job in which I’m taking on more responsibility, and two different internships… and the traffic. Argh, the traffic… my one true nemesis.

Oh, and did I mention NaNo’s 50,000 words?  Because it is.  The failed Mathematician in me (who frequently has to re-calculate invoices 5 times to get them right and once had me completely convinced that at midnight I had 14 hours to finish a project that was due at 8am) calculated that at about 2,500 words a week.

Good job, idiot.  Try 1,665 words per day.  Yeah. 

So now, it’s the end of week one.  I have a couple thousand words, the most half-a**ed outline I’ve ever seen (seriously, at one point it says “girl talks to someone ??”), and a load of non-writing work to get done this weekend, and I’ve looked at the calendar to see that I have 23 days to produce at least 48,000 words and a viable plot line.

While the Muse is floating on air about the “brilliant” idea this story could be, Bard is rolling her eyes and signing “see you in January”.  Smart Me just read this and said, “Oh good lord, you’re really just now realizing this?”  Mathematician said, “Wait… Oops??”

So here’s the stats and the details (since NaNoWriMo is all about them):

The intended story: An upper-YA weaving contemporary mystery and historical romance, interweaving the story of a post-senior Latin class trip to Italy and a narrative of the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Comparison-wise, it’s part Lauren’s Morrill’s Meant To Be, part Disney’s Aladdin, and part Last Days of Pompeii.

Word Count after one week of writing my story: 2,484 words (average ~350 words per day), along with massive bouts of backspace usage

Word Count after one hour of writing this blog: 960 words

Maybe I should just write journals and sell those instead.  Readers like crazy people, right?  I mean, I just said I had how many people living in my head? 5? 20? 3.14…..? Who knows.

OK, I’ve gotta run. The Mathematician is now being beaten unconscious by Smart Me, who has some how produced iron knuckles, and the Muse is singing Bad Romance at the top of her proverbial lungs to the sulking Bard.

To summarize: It’s been a week, and I’m already viably insane.  Who wants to guess how I’ll be on day 49?

To all you NaNo-ers out there: How’s it going? All I can say is, no matter how crazy you go, good luck and God bless!

Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait To Get My Hands On

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I know, I know. You’ve all been wondering where I’ve been. You see, sometimes I go on vacation and come home, and my brain waits another month to catch the return flight. But now I’m back, mental capabilities and all, with reviews to post, a new NaNoWriMo project (details to come), and the latest Top Ten Tuesday!

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This was a hard one for me, because it seems that most of the sequels I’ve been chomping at the bit for all released in the last month or so; I’m afraid that this time, I only have 6 actual sequels for you. This must mean I need to find some new series beginners. Any suggestions?

Top Ten Sequels (TBR)

1. The Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2): If you haven’t figured it out from my other TOP TEN posts, I’m desperately in love with Libba Bray’s books. The first book of this series, The Diviners, introduced a lot of great characters I’d love to see deepened, and chilling villain, and so many paths the series could take. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

2. The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave #2): I have no words to explain my longing for this book other than: DID EVAN SURVIVE?!?!?! Speculative novels are taking more risks now, it seems; killing off beloved characters for the sake of the story (sorry Prim and Tris) instead of keeping them for the sake of the reader, so I can honestly say “I don’t know”.

3. Perfect Lies (Mind Games #2)Kiersten White’s Mind Games was a book I didn’t even know I was craving until it popped up in my recommended listening list on Audible. The ending to the Jason Bourne-esque YA opener was spot on, and I’m craving the next dose of White’s wonderfully human Femme Fatale.

4. The Treatment (The Program #2): What I loved most about The Program was that, while being speculative, it was so very now. Unlike most speculative novels, which are set decades in the future and are typically post-apocalyptic or post-WWIII, Young’s series seems only 1 step ahead of us… and could become real so easily that it’s scary. But I have to say, Suzanne Young, you kind of ruined the suspense for me here. Word to the wise, authors: give nothing away before the sequel is released.

5. Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3): We first saw Isla and Josh (poor, poor Josh) in Paris in  Anna and the French Kiss. Stephanie Perkins is the master of sweet YA romantic comedies and fascinating characters, and I’ve been jonesing for this book for what feels like forever.

6. The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus #5): I blame by little brother for this, 110%. It took me a while to get into The Heroes of Olympus series, since, for the first time , it was narrated by someone other than Percy (which really threw me off), but I love Riordan for getting millions of middle-schoolers interested in world mythologies, and I loved his finale for the original Percy Jackson series, so I’m sure I’ll love this series ender as well.

But of course, the sequel I’ll spend my life waiting to get my hands on is and forever will be Book 8. We’re waiting, Jo. What’s it going to be?

What about you? What sequels are you waiting anxiously for? What series should I jump on the bandwagon for before the next installment comes out?

Book Review: My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Mr. Darcy is the literary heartthrob above all others. Karey White’s MY OWN MR. DARCY brings Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy into the modern eye in this cute, breezy romance.

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The Book Jacket Blurb

After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough. Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place

The Author

Karey grew up in , Idaho, Oregon, Missouri and Utah. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist. She loves to travel, read, cook, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four children that make them look good. She loves salmon and marzipan (not necessarily together, but it might be worth trying). Someday she wants to take a research trip to Norway and Iceland, and Scotland and New Zealand.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

The Review

I’ve been craving a good, cute romance lately, so I was excited to be able to be an early reader for MY OWN MR. DARCY.  I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t exactly wowed either.

The Good

It was cute, easy to read, and well written, with non-existent angst and a sweet and lovable love interest. And sometimes, that’s exactly what I’m craving… a sweet, uncomplicated romance.

It was nice to pick up a NA romance that wasn’t all sex, all the time. Steamy romances are always appreciated, but the hopeless romantic in me, who’s still probably about 13, was very happy with this book.

I loved the exploration of fantasy versus reality. I probably should have read this book back in college. It would have saved me a lot of issues during my obsession with finding my Mr. Darcy.

Although they were a bit heavy, I enjoyed the interior decorating scenes. Karey’s descriptions were spot on and lovely.

The Bad

MY OWN MR. DARCY was exactly what I thought it would be… to an absolute tee. There wasn’t a single surprise or twist. I knew the ending before reading the first page, and never once in the 200+ pages was I surprised. I’m not saying predictable is bad (I love rom-coms even though they follow a pattern), but even rom-coms have a saving grace, be it humor or wacky quirks or a fresh twist. Lost in Austen and Austenland both take on the same idea (granted with broader premises), but both kept me guessing what would happen to the MC.

Elizabeth was a wet noodle. I’m sorry, really, but she was. She had not real characterization except for her “quirky” colored tights and her obsession with Matthew Mcfayden. By the end of the book, I still didn’t know who she was as a person.

I never saw the appeal in Matt. I also didn’t understand how they were dating for like half the book (“You will have lunch with me every day without my asking, only telling”  = romantic?), or why he was even interested in her (did he ever say? All l remember is his rant at the end). The attraction between them was more like they were thrown together for the sake of the plot, but I never felt romance or passion or even interest (once Elizabeth got past the Matthew Mcfayden Mr. Darcy thing). Why did she stay with him for so long when she didn’t even seem to like him?

And then there’s Chad. Why, after…what…3?…dates, was he so dedicated to Elizabeth that he basically waited for her to come back to him. I mean, it worked out well for them in the end, and it was the whole point of the story, but the whole time I was thinking, MOVE ON, MAN! I wanted to love Chad, but he was too darn perfect. I might be in the minority, but I can’t stand flawless characters, even love interests. The flaws keep things interesting.

Also, and I’m pretty sure this was just me, it kind of grated at my nerves how out of her way the author went to prove this was a clean romance. It had to be pointed out that Mexican dinner was accompanied by virgin margaritas, pizza was ordered with root beer, etc. It would have been better to just let it slid. Tacos. Pizza. The end. Additionally, I almost missed the first I-don’t-even-know-how-many times Elizabeth and Matt kissed because it was so glossed over.

The Bold and the Beautiful

No quotes, I’m afraid. I forgot to highlight as I read, but I will say…

Risky move setting Matthew Mcfayden up as the best Mr. Darcy. I mean, I was in love with his portrayal for a good while, but millions of readers will read the blurb and be like “Imma let you finish, but Colin Firth was the best Mr. Darcy of ALL TIME!”

The Grade

3.0/5.0
3.0 stars
MY OWN MR. DARCY is exactly what it promises to be. A modern, Mr. Darcy obsessed girl realizing her fantasies aren’t always what she really wants. If you’re looking for a cute, easy read, then I’d recommend. If you want passion or a fresh spin, then maybe watch BBC’s Lost in Austen instead.

MY OWN MR. DARCY is on sale now.

Tour Giveaway: Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card or Paypal cash

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Special thanks to I Am a Reader, Not a Writer for hosting this tour and providing the ebook.
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Top Ten Best Sequels Ever

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Hi readers! It’s time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This time, we’re talking about sequels. I was surprised to find that I had difficulty coming up with 10 sequels I loved. I love stand alones and series, but book 2 tends to fall flat compared to the first (and third). But here are the sequels I enjoy. Top Ten Sequels

1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: While I was sucked in to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I didn’t become obsessed with the series until book 2. Even as a kid, I loved dark stories, and the Chamber of Secrets won me over.

2. The Lord of the Rings: The most epic sequel of them all… although it was divided into 3 volumes, it wasn’t exactly a trilogy.  For a long time, I operated under the assumption that The Hobbit was actually a prequel to LoTR. And in a way, it was… Tolkien did rewrite a portion of The Hobbit after releasing LoTR, bringing Golem’s ring into proper focus.

3. Where She Went: Gayle Forman took a risk with this sequel to If I Stay, but it definitely paid off. Where She Went is everything that I had hoped New Adult fiction would be (and still hope it will eventually become).

4 .The Last Little Blue Envelope: I know this book got a lot of flack, but I actually loved it more than the first book. I loved the mystery of the final letter and the new love interest much more than the last.

5. Little Men: I don’t remember much about this book, honestly, but I do remember reading it obsessively as a kid.

6. Rebel Angels: The best book 2 in a three-parter I can remember. Rebel Angels served as more than just a vehicle between books 1 and 3. It introduced Simon and Sarah-Rees Toome, set Gemma’s character path, and deepened the story, the fantasy world, and the characters of Felicity and Ann.

7. Prince Caspian: I honestly don’t think there was a disappointing Narnia book… well… no, I take that back. I didn’t like The Last Battle. Really, C.S. Lewis, Susan doesn’t get to go to heaven because she likes lipstick and boys?!

8. The Boy Next Door: I’m a sucker for romantic comedies, and I’ve loved Meg Cabot’s writing since I was about 12. Boy Meets Girl and The Boy Next Door both had be snorting with laughter and melting… all while running on the treadmill. Now that’s a marker of a good book.

9. Through the Looking Glass: Yet again, I actually liked this book better than the first when I was a child. I can’t remember why now, but I think it was partially because I had to imagine it for myself instead of relying on Disney cartoon images.

10. America Again: And last but certainly not least, Stephen Colbert. What I love about his books is that they are so accessible. I can laugh about them with my friends who love the Colbert Report, but I can also talk about the Colbert’s points with my grandpa. I like talking politics, and I LOVE laughing at politics, so what’s not to love about this book.

What are your favorite sequels and/or series’ book 2?

Weekly Radar Report: September 20, 2013

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Weekly Report

Maybe it’s just me, but it felt like a slow weeks in publishing news. It seems everyone is too focused on the National Book Awards long lists to worry about anything else. But here’s what has appeared on my radar in the past week.

In the News

nbamedallionNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS: Over the course of the last week, the National Book foundation announced their long list nominees for the 2013 National Book Award in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. Finalists will be announced on October 6, and the winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in late November. I’m sad to say that I haven’t read a single book on the list (what is wrong with me!). What about you? Have you read any of the nominees? You can find the lists here.

untitledFUNDED BY JAMES PATTERSON: Bestselling and multi-genre author James Patterson announced this week that he will be donating $1 MILLION to independent bookstores around the country. Says Patterson, “We’re making this transition to e-books, and that’s fine and good and terrific and wonderful, but we’re not doing it in an organized, sane, civilized way. So what’s happening right now is a lot of bookstores are disappearing.” To be eligible, bookstores must have a viable business model and that their shops must include a children’s section. Store owners can apply on here. This is not the first initiative of Patterson’s to promote book culture; he as an advocate of literacy in children and funds scholarships, as well as the ReadKiddoRead project.  (source).

Sherman_alexie_2007SHOP WITH SHERMAN ALEXIE: Meanwhile, award-winning author Sherman Alexie (best known for his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) has joined the American Booksellers Association’s Indies First movement. On Small Business Saturday (November 30), he and several other authors will spend a day as booksellers in their local indie bookstores. In his letter to authors, Alexie writes “We book nerds will become booksellers….We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends’ books….I think the collective results could be mind-boggling (maybe even world-changing).” Authors and booksellers can sign up to participate here.

15745753CENSORING ELEANOR: Last week, I wrote about Meg Medina, whose book even was cancelled after the superintendent became aware of the inappropriate language. News broke this week that best-selling author Rainbow Rowell’s scheduled book event for the beautiful ELEANOR & PARK at a Minnesota school library had been cancelled after multiple complaints from a group called the Parents Action League. This group of parents formed in response to a district policy about discussing sexual orientation in the schools in their county… the same county, in fact, that was featured in Rolling Stone’s article on the “war on gay teens”. The Parents Action League objected to the “extreme profanity” and “pornographic” material, and called for the book to be banned. Rowell was, of course, appalled, saying “Eleanor & Park isn’t some dystopian fantasy about a world where teenagers swear and are cruel to each other, and some kids have terrible parents. Teenagers swear and are cruel to each other. Some kids have terrible parents. Some girls have terrible stepdads who shout profanity at them and call them sluts – and some of those girls still manage to rise above it.” You can read Rowell’s full interview here.

reading-to-childREAD, FUTURE MATHEMATICIANS: A study published in Great Britain found that children who read for pleasure test higher in not only language, spelling, and reading skills, but math as well. The British Cohort Study studied thousands of participants, all born within in the same week of 1970. The subjects were interviewed and  took cognitive tests at age 5, 10, and 16, and then again at 42 (results pending). The researchers found that, as children, those who read for pleasure more than once a week as adolescents not only tested higher, but were also 4 times more likely to test higher than children with parents possessing a college degree. (source)

mockingjayMOCKINGJAY ROLL CALL: In the past few weeks, several of the new cast members for the final installment of the Hunger Games trilogy have been announced. Franchise newcomers include Tony-nominated Patina Miller as Commander Paylor; The Tudors/Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer as capital filmmaker Cressida; Ashlee Simpson’s boyfriend Evan Ross as her assistant, Messalla;  Australian actress Stef Dawson as the fragile Annie Cresta; and Emmy-winning, 4-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin. (source)

Newsworthy Book Deals

Ricky Martin‘s first picture book, Santiago the Dreamer in Land Among the Stars (illustrated by Patricia Castelao), will be released with Celebra Children’s Books on November 14. Santiago the Dreamer… is based on Martin’s own childhood in Puerto Rico and will be available in both English and Spanish.

Rush Limbaugh has been working with Threshold Editions on a book series to corrupt our youth teach children about important event in American history. The first book, Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims tells the story of a middle school teacher who travels back in time to the first Thanksgiving.

Terry Prachett, best known his satirical Discworld series, signed a 10-book, 7-figure deal with Doubleday and Anchor Books this week. The first book, Raising Steam, is set to be released in March.

Lexa Hillyer, former HarperCollins Children’s Books and Razorbill (Penguin) editor and co-founder of the literary developer Paper Lantern Lit landed a two-book deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books. Her debut novel, PROOF OF FOREVER, is set to release in 2015. PROOF OF FOREVER is a “a lyrical, heart-wrenching novel about four girls who miraculously relive the summer they were fifteen, discovering friendships, second chances, and one devastating secret”. The deal was negotiated between Foundry Literary + Media agent Stephen Barbara and HarperCollins editor Kate JacksonRosemary Brosnan will edit both books.

Happy Book Birthday this week to:

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Guest Post: Helen and Tom Docherty — The Snatchabook

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snatchabookI am joined today but Helen and Tom Doherty, the author and illustrator of the wonderful new picturebook, The Snatchabook.

As stated in my review earlier this morning, I love this book, especially because of the messages of sharing and the importance of story time with those you love, not to mention how reminiscent the book is of the some of my favorite picture books growing up.

Could you tell me a little bit about your inspiration behind The Snatchabook and the authors who influenced you?

Helen

I have always been drawn to characters that transgress in some way – characters that are flawed, but not beyond redemption. Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas has always been one of my favorite children’s books, and was definitely an influence in the creation of the Snatchabook (although they are, of course, very different characters). I am also interested in outsiders, and how their arrival impacts on a community (a theme also explored in our next book, Abracazebra).

The idea of a book thief who steals children’s bedtime stories popped into my head at the end of a long day of trying (and failing) to think up interesting storylines. A book cruncher? A book snatcher? No, a Snatchabook! Almost immediately, I saw the potential to develop the story as a mystery with plenty of suspense, a brave heroine and a twist in the tale – namely, that the Snatchabook is just a pitiful little creature, whose motivation for stealing all the books is simply that is he is desperate to be read to; to be included in the bedtime story rituals of Burrow Down. Bedtime stories were a big part of my life as a child, and they now play a large part again (we have two young daughters). So I guess that’s where my primary inspiration came from!

Tom

When it came to illustrating Helen’s text I was very excited that the story was set in a forest. As children, my brothers and I spent a lot of time playing in the woods behind our house and I have always liked drawing landscapes. The element of mystery in the story seemed to fit perfectly with an autumn setting and falling leaves.

I love working in pen and ink and really admire the illustrations of Tenniel, Shepard and Tove Jansson. Here are a couple of my earliest sketches of Burrow Down:

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Thanks so much to Helen and Tom for stopping by, as well as the publicity team at Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for setting up this blog tour.

The Snatchabook will release on October 1, 2013, and is available for preorder at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie bookstore.