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Looking for an awesome YA book that will take you out of this world? Love sci-fi/fantasy series? Check out my guest post atTeens Wanna Know!
I've recommended five fantastic stories by Christopher Golden (Prowlers), Thomas E. Sniegoski (Fallen), Scott Westerfeld (Uglies), Justine Larbalestier (How to Ditch Your Fairy), and Holly Black (The Curse Workers). These books include angels, shapeshifters, surgeries, good luck, and bad luck, among other things.
If you haven't read them yet, you should. If you have read them, let me know which one you liked the best.
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing has teamed up with Mobile Commons to launch a new texting program for YA readers.
Fans of Scott Westerfeld‘s Leviathan trilogy can text “SCOTT” to a special shortcode to try to win a coffee date with him, talk about his books and learn more about future contests. Fans of The Blessed author Tonya Hurley can text “BLESSED” to a special shortcode to try and win a guitar. What do you think of this new marketing venture?
Here’s more from the release: “The Simon & Schuster author campaigns will use the consumer relationship tools on the Mobile Commons user dashboard, which include message editing, data segmenting, targeting, URL tracking, QR codes, and MMS (multimedia messaging). Simon & Schuster will also use the platform’s real-time analytics and reporting to help them better personalize their communications with their teen readers.”
Don't miss Figment's upcoming all-star chat:Writing with Friends: How to collaborate on a novel while not losing your mind (or your pal)!
Authors Justine Larbalestier (Liar) and Sarah Rees Brennan (The Demon's Lexicon) recently joined forces to write Team Human. Through emails and iChats, the two writers worked together to write this very funny novel about Mel Duan, a whip-smart high-schooler trying desperately to keep her best friend from falling in love with the wrong guy--a guy who just happens to be a vampire.
On July 8 at 8:00 pm, the authors are coming to Figment to discuss the tricky task of collaboration. How do two people create one cohesive voice? How do you find the right writing partner? And who gets credit for the best lines?
Joining them as host of this rousing live web chat is none other than
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Behemoth is the second in the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld. Though I liked the first book, Leviathan, I found it somewhat "mechanical," seeming "to be manufactured of parts that would be recognizable to someone who had done much reading." The second book seems like...hmmm...not exactly manufactured filler, but manufactured complications. The complications book in a series. It also seemed odd to me that the book is called Behemoth when the behemoth is quite a minor part of the book. I don't think it's mentioned until around the halfway point, though I can't swear to that.
But, you know, other readers are loving this series. Check out the fan art.
Plot Project: Protagonist Alek wants to be archduke and end a war. Protagonist Deryn wants to serve on an airship, even though she's a girl, and now she wants Alek, too. Behemoth seems to be all about keeping them from getting what they want. So this series does seem to follow the give-characters- something-to-want-and-then-keep-them-from-getting-it plot generation plan.
You know we love steampunk at readergirlz. We had a blast with Scott Westerfeld, right? Well, how about a collection of steampunk short stories by some more of our favorite, favorite YA authors? You'll recognize many from our rgz Circle of Stars, past guests and contributors. Grab your goggles, because this collection by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant delivers!
So, what will you find in Steampunk: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories? How about mystery, murders, and machines? Worlds of gears and steam in amazing new locations from the minds of 14 writers: M. T. Anderson, Holly Black, Libba Bray, Shawn Cheng, Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, Dylan Horrocks, Kathleen Jennings, Elizabeth Knox, Kelly Link, Garth Nix, Christopher Rowe, Delia Sherman, and Ysabeau S. Wilce.
How fun to find new authors I hadn't discovered before among old friends, all writing speculative fiction which often left me with chills. This quote from Cory's short story "Clockwork Fagin" really captures the collective atmosphere of Steampunk!:
"For machines may be balky and they may destroy us with their terrible appetite for oil, blood, and flesh, but they behave according to fixed rules and can be understood by anyone with the cunning to look upon them and winkle out their secrets. Children are ever so much more complicated."
Perfect, right? With three starred reviews already, look for this release October 11th!
Scott Westerfeld is going to have to start writing another gargantuan book series pretty soon. I just finished Goliath, the third book in theLeviathanseries, and I am going to go into Westerfeld withdrawal by November. Also, between this series and Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series, I've become a tad crazy for the steampunk stuff. Someone pointed out to me that the Leviathan books are not technically steampunk, as the engines described in the book don't run on steam. I don't care. So, don't tell me again that I'm mislabeling the series. At Powell's Books, they put Behemoth on the shelf in their steampunk display, so hah!
Goliath begins right where Behemoth left off: World War I rages on across Europe and Asia. It's Clankers vs. Darwinists in this revisionist version of the Great War. Aleksander, the heir to the Austrian throne, has just helped lead a revolution in Turkey and is back on the British airship Leviathan with his best pal, Dylan Sharp. By now, Dylan's secret- that he is, in fact, Deryn Sharp, a girl in disguise- is no longer quite so secret. People seem to be finding out or figuring it out left and right. But as long as the crew of the Leviathan doesn't know, Deryn is fairly certain she can stay on and continue to fly, which has always been her dream. It's when Alek finds out she's not who she says she is and worse, that she's in love with him, that things get a bit wonky.
In the meantime, the Leviathan is on a mission to Siberia to rescue the brilliant scientist Nicolas Tesla, who claims to have built a weapon so powerful that merely showing it to the world will stop the war. Anxious for peace, Alek falls in beside Mr. Tesla, against the better judgement of his advisors and friends. Alek feels that ending this war is his destiny, his great legacy, and no one can talk him out of going along with Tesla's plans. What Alek refuses to acknowledge is that Tesla is a bit of a madman, and his motives may not be as peaceful as Alek thinks.
As the Leviathan crisscrosses the world from Tokyo to Mexico to New York, Alek and Deryn meet a host of historical figures: Tesla, William Randolph Hearst, even Pancho Villa. How far will Tesla go with his weapon Goliath? Is he, and in turn, is Alek, willing to raze an entire city to show the weapon's power? And how can Alek, a royal heir fall for Deryn, a commoner?
Goliath is a fit ending to Westerfeld's action-packed series.The plot zooms along, as was the case with the first two books, though the characters take more time for quie
Dylan/Derwyn, Alek, and the Leviathan are off to Japan when they make a detour to Siberia, to pick up a most unusual cargo, including Dr. Tesla. Tesla claims he has a weapon that is so terrible it’s sure to end the war. The Lady Boffin thinks he’s bonkers, but Alek wants to end this war, especially as it looks like Tesla will give the weapon to the British and use it against the Austrians. The Leviathan then heads to North America where our characters get entangled with actresses, media moguls, reporters, and Mexican rebels.
The main conflict is Tesla and his new weapon. Tesla is more than a little... unhinged and he’s a polarizing figure, especially between Alek and Derwyn. His weapon to end the war is clearly parallel with the nuclear bomb and the tensions at the end of WWII and adds interesting twists to the history.
I loved all the history woven in-- the stuff we now about and remember, and the stuff we may have never learned, and the semi-obscure (like the 1908 Tunguska explosion).
A most fitting end. Just wonderful. I wanted more time in Japan than we got*, but I did like the portrayal of America and William Randolf Hearst. I also liked the history woven in of battling newspapers and Mexican politics at the time. Plus, just the right amount of Derwyn/Alek drama and suspense and some super-exciting scenes on top of the Leviathan during a hurricane.
I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved this trilogy. I might have to buy it. I want to reread all of it in the middle the night.
*I’ll admit it, I was hoping for a Chinese detour, not a Russian one. I did really enjoy the extra history thrown in with the Russo-Japanese War-- a good reminder that conflict is always larger, longer, and deeper than we remember.
Book Provided by... my local library
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THE LEVIATHAN TRILOGY: LEVIATHAN (Simon & Schuster 2009), BEHEMOTH (Simon & Schuster 2010), and GOLIATH (Simon & Schuster 2011), by Scott Westerfeld, ill. by Keith Thompson. Fifteen year old Alek flees from his home into the night with a handful of retainers when his parents -- the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife -- are murdered in Serbia. At the same time, Deryn Sharp, disguised as a boy, enlists as a midshipman on the British airship Leviathan. Together, as Europe erupts into war, their lives intertwine in an around-the-world adventure and in ways that they couldn't possibly have imagined...
THE LEVIATHAN TRILOGY offers a fascinating alternate history and steampunk technology, along with action and adventure, and compelling and likeable co-protagonists. Three absolutely terrific, fun reads.
Today's Ypulse Youth Advisory Board review come from Julia Tanenbaum on Leviathan the latest novel from Scott Westerfeld. A longtime fan, Julia shares her thoughts on the book as well as the shift in genre from the post-apocalyptic world of the... Read the rest of this post
Eariler this week, I talked about some of the characteristics of what can make a good action scene.
On Wednesday, I shared an action scene and today I’m going to share another one from a YA novel that I think executes characteristics of an action scene really well.
These paragraphs come from a chapter titled “Pursuit” from Specials by Scott Westerfeld. The title name itself clues the reader that they are getting ready for some action.
The protagonist,Tally, is pursuing a helicopter on a hoverboard to rescue her friend Zane from danger. Tally is a “Special” so she has some seriously kick-a** skills, which had to be nothing but fun to write.
Here’s the first example of the author setting up the action scene (underlined emphasis mine):
The wind hit Tally in a roiling wave, whipping her legs out from under her and sending the hoverboard fluttering away. Her ears popped in the eddies and currents of the helicopter’s vortex, and for a terrifying second she saw the giant blades loom close to her in a great blurred wall of force, their ear-shattering beat pounding through her body.
Right away you can feel the essence of being in the air and the danger of the helicopter. The author uses strong verbs (whip, flutter, pop) that match the scene’s setting and shows it all in movement.
Here’s another paragraph in the same scene that shows the protagonist Tally in action (underlined emphasis mine):
Tally begin to fall…
She stabbed her crashed bracelets’ controls, setting them to exhaust their batteries, to pull her toward the tons of metal above as hard as they could. A sudden, crushing force seized her wrists—the combined magnetics of twenty boards shooting up and taking hold. The bracelets dragged her upward, pinning Tally against the nearest riding surface, her arms almost ripped from their sockets by the sudden jerk.
The author continues to show movement using strong verbs (stab, seize, drag, rip) to portray Tally’s reaction of trying find safety after falling from her hoverboard.
Just like Wednesday’s example, Scott Westerfeld’s books are great to study action scenes. The Pursuit chapter is definitely one to study as a great action scene with the setup and the closing.
So that wraps up my action scene week. I hope that you found it helpful to make your own action scenes better.
The May Y’ALL book was Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. A question that arose during discussion was what is “steampunk”? Below is a starting point to sources more qualified to answer and recommend titles for further reading.
That’s what Neil Gaiman writes on Twitter whenever he links to one of his blog posts. “Warning: Contains Me.” Well, today’s a nice me-centric post, but let’s start off by looking at a “them” instead. Specifically, a “them” of awesome.
Two years ago authors Jim Averbeck and Maria Van Lieshout had an idea. Since the words Newbery/Caldecott Banquet are already synonymous with glitter and glam, why not do a Red Carpet Interview series? The series was a hit, and this year Jim and new partner-in-crime Kristin Clark Venuti have a whole new crop of On the Red Carpet interviews. Now you have 18 days to vote for your favorite interview. They may not all be up quite yet, so be patient, but when they are you’ll have twenty-two fine and fancy names to choose from. This year, my primary job was to grab folks as they walked past so as to MAKE THEM talk to Jim and Kristin. I did okay. But I was hindered by an injured extremity. In this video, Jim sets my tale of woe against a rather convincing game of Frogger.
Beats Pac-Man. Or Centipede, for that matter. Go to this site to see more videos.
Speaking of ALA, Laura Rogers, the cute as a button girl who read all the Newbery winners, recently participated in a Mock Newbery Committee meeting at the Hussey Mayfield Memorial Public Library that sported a record turnout. Check out the kids. Woah. Good readers! Thanks to Kelli Brooks for the link!
Who says there are no second chances on Broadway? Or, in the case of Mr. Frank Wildhorn, third, fourth, and fifth chances. From the man who brought you Jekyll & Hyde (which I admit to liking in college) and Dracula: The Musical (not so much) comes Wonderland: A New Alice. A New Musical Adventure. I’m not hep enough to my Broadway history to know how many Alice musicals have trod the Great White Way before, but I suspect that this is not the first. Interesting. Thanks to @PWKidsBookshelf for the link.
I’m about all things bird, and now Peter Sieruta has put up a post that includes an interlude on how Laura Amy Schlitz’s The Night Fairy inspired him to hang a hummingbird feeder outside his home. Check out the video feed he got of a little surreal bee-like bird taking a sip or two.
Westerfeld bravely shakes hands with one of his fans.
BookMoot was extremely lucky to visit a junior high school today where the estimable Scott Westerfeld spoke to more than one hundred students.
The group of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders were quiet and attentive as he described the history of illustration in novels. The illustrations in Leviathan and Behemoth hearken back to the heyday of the illustrated novel. His presentation was extremely well done and had some great laugh moments in the auditorium where he spoke. Regular readers of his blog may recognize some of the visuals. Westerfeld describes illustrator, Keith Thompson's artwork as "“Victorian manga” style, part steampunk and part old-fashioned biotech." His images of war machines and characters grabbed the kids' attention today and they loved it.
The absolute best part of any author visit for me is watching the kids, the fans. After the presentation was over, a small group ran forward to talk with him. As they stood arou
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I love Teen Read Week! This year, I'm getting a head start by visiting 5 middle schools in my neighboring state of Idaho. Then, on Friday, Oct. 30, I'll be joining a group of fabulous YA authors (Scott Westerfeld, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Sara Zarr, James Dashner, Bree Despain, Jessica Day George, Kristin Chandler, Carol Lynch Williams, Ally Condie, Ann Dee Ellis, Lisa Magnum, Sydney Saltar, Nathan Hale, Ann Cannon, Dene Lowe, Sheila Nielsen, J. Scott Savage, and Chris Crowe) at Provo City Library for Teen Book Fest. Click HERE for mo' info. If there's any way you can make it to Provo, Utah, you won't want to miss it. What are YOU doing to celebrate Teen Read Week? And remember to stop by the blog all week to see what the other Bees are up to. :)
Behemoth. Scott Westerfeld. 2010. October 2010. Simon & Schuster. 485 pages.
Alek raised his sword. "On guard, sir!" Deryn hefted her own weapon, studying Alek's pose. His feet were splayed at right angles, his left arm sticking out behind like the handle of a teacup. His fencing armor made him look like a walking quilt. Even with his sword pointed straight at her, he looked barking silly.
Behemoth is the sequel to Leviathan. It's a science fiction action-packed historical novel that presents an alternate what-if to the Great War. Its alternative world is fascinating. A world divided into two camps: Clankers (those who love machines and technology) and Darwinists (those who love splicing together 'incredible' new beings).
The books have two narrators: Alek, a young boy who is trying to hide his real identity, and Deryn, a young woman who is trying to keep her gender hidden so she can be in the British Air Service. She's living her new life as Dylan Sharp. In the first novel, these two begin an unpredictable friendship. After all, he's a Clanker, she's a Darwinist. Both have secrets--if his secret is revealed, he'd become a prisoner--if her secret is revealed, then her military career would be over. (She's guessed his secret. But he doesn't have a clue about hers.) Can they trust each other? Can they help each other?
The setting for Behemoth is interesting. It's set in Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire. It's a compelling novel. I enjoyed it more than the first novel.
We spent last week chatting about my favorite holiday of the year: Halloween. And I'm not sure about where you live, but here in Utah, we pretty much celebrated it yesterday since it fell on a Sunday this year. Here's how I celebrated Halloween.
On Thursday our local elementary school had their parade and class parties, and since two of my kids are in school, I helped out with both of their parties. For my fifth grader's class, I got to dress up like a witch (above) and tell a spooky story about Boo Hags while making a brew (which was more like a trail mix). It was a blast and I have a feeling some of those kiddies had a nightmare or two! (The true sign of success, eh?)
On Saturday, I was honored to be part of Provo City Library's 1st Annual Teen Read Fest. I'm always excited to receive an invitation there because that library is, in a word, amazing. They totally know how to fill their beautiful historical building with readers and authors and proud parents. I got to do a reading, speed dating Q&A sessions, book signings, and hang out in the green room with my new BFF (though he might not know this yet) YA author extraordinaire Scott Westerfeld. Then, I came home in a rainstorm to homemade chili a la my husband and spent the night handing out Halloween candy to goblins.
By the way, can you guess what I dressed up as???
And if you dressed up, what did you go as this year?
The mark of a good parody is when you don’t need to have seen the original. A billion thanks to 100 Scope Notes for this one. Never would have found it myself.
Well, it’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in New York City. Daylight savings just granted me an extra hour to sleep and the New York Marathon appears to be ending, virtually, just outside my front door. You should hear the happy music. It’s kind of enchanting.
On that cheery note, let us watch a different kind of parody, only this time with cute kids.
Before I show this next one, I should explain that the Robin Hood Foundation here in New York City has created what they call the Library Initiative where public schools can get beautifully designed library spaces. Maira Kalman created a mural for one such school.
I heard about this video at a recent Simon & Schuster librarian preview, and then saw it on Bookmoot not long thereafter. It’s Scott Westerfeld interviewing Alan Cumming about doing the audio versions of his books. Pretty much any excuse to show Alan Cumming, I will take advantage of.
Author Kathi Appelt is very good about letting me know when she’s interviewed her fellow author friends. Ms. Appelt noticed that I recently reviewed Ms. Kimberly Willis Holt’s book The Water Seeker on the Katie Davis podcast Brain Burps About Books. With that in mind, she let me know that she’d spoken to Ms. Holt with her Flipcam. If you’ve ever been curious to see what Ms. Holt looks like, here ya go!
Aren't they amazing? I really like the old covers, but these ones are so much more mysterious, enticing and appealing. Besides, I love everything white and minimalist and these covers make me go "OOHH!" Too bad I have the old covers, and I don't even know if the new covers will be published in Argentina.
What do you think? Had you seen them before? Do you like these new ones or the old ones better?
I loved Leviathan. I even took a risk and recommended it to a patron that I talk to a lot* but usually don't recommend books to, as he and I read very different things. (Ok, not too big a risk. He's a steampunk kick and last year was on a huge WWI kick.) We were both very excited for Behemoth. I was even nice and let him put a hold on it before me (but I was #2 on the list, so it's ok!) And we waited. And it came in. Two days later he came in shouting and raving "JENNIE! DID YOU READ IT YET? IT WAS AWESOME! IT WAS SO AWESOME IT MAKES LEVIATHAN LOOK LIKE A PILE OF CRAP!" He was so excited that I didn't have the heart to tell him that he shouldn't (a) shout in the library (b) shout the word crap in the children's room.
But guess what dear reader, HE WAS TOTALLY RIGHT. Compared to Behemoth? Leviathan, which used to get a "love love love OMG love" out of me now gets a mere "meh"
AND! No sucker punch cliff hanger ending. THANK YOU Mr. Westerfeld. You clearly know how to write a second book in a trilogy. It didn't just serve to further the plot and set up the next book. NO. It is it's own perfect book that will lead nicely into the next adventure.
Deryn and Alek are headed towards Constantinople, with the lady boffin's beastie peace offering. But, of course, nothing goes according to plan. When they land, the two are soon separated as we're thrust into an Istanbul where the 1908 revolution was unsuccessful. I also loved how much of the conflict between England and Turkey wasn't of Westerfeld's making. Turkey is upset because it ordered a warship from England, but when WWI broke out, instead of shipping it to Turkey, Churchill (as head of the Admiralty) kept it "temporarily" so the Brits could add it to their navy. Turkey is caught in a between great forces on a strategic point of land** and where England failed, Germany is more than happy to give Turkey what it wants. All that is true. The twist Westerfeld adds is that in addition to a warship, the Brits also kept a beastie...
Lots of adventure and building relationships and tension***. I loved seeing a Clanker Istanbul, but one where the machines were built to look like animals. I loved how the characters worked things that are special to Istanbul into their plans (oh! the spice! so wonderful!) It was very exciting without being totally plot-driven, which is hard to do. I love how Westerfeld is writing an alternate steampunk history, but is still very true to historical detail and sense of place-- a very hard balance to strike, I imagine.
So... why is this better than Leviathan? Part of it is that the world and characters are established so they are free to grow and fill out even more. Part of it is that they are now in the middle of things, action and intrigue-wise. And part of it is just that certain je ne sais quoi.
Enter the alternate world of 1914 Europe, where mechanical machinery is in odds with gentically engineered beasts. Leviathan is a fun, exciting YA steampunk tale where science fiction meets fantasy. Once again Scott Westerfeld has created a fantastic world that will take readers away to imaginative places. Read more of my review at YA Books Central.
Revision update: I can always tell the parts of my first draft where I was struggling. This morning, I found one of those parts at the beginning of this next chapter I’m working on, and I found a much better way to get into the story.
I love this. But it also gave me an idea about research for us writers.
If there’s an area we want to work on — plot, characters, word choices — we can read books that excel in those areas. We can learn something new, something good in every book we read. But, like Frenetic Reader points out, writers tend to be strongest in one or two areas, and the rest follows.
If you want to know what books to read for these different areas, read the reviews. Look at what’s on the bestseller lists and honors lists that are in the genre you’re writing and read what reviewers say. If you’re looking for books strong on plot, read the books reviewers say have a strong plot, or Google search review, your genre and plot and see what kind of results you get.
Most of the books in my must-read list I’ve found through reading about them in blogs, but I was only looking for popular books in the genre I write. From now on, I’m going to scour reviews and let them be my guide based on what I’m looking to build on.
Well, hello there! I know it’s been a long time since my last ATB post (and I know I promised an anti-Twilight edition; it’s still in the works…). But I’m back, and this one’s more fun than a barrel of… well, you know.
Now, I don’t claim to know a lot, but there are a few things I do know:
Zombies are cool
Steampunk is cooler than cool
Seattle is cool (or so I’ve heard…never been there, actually)
So imagine how beyond cool beans with extra hot sauce a book would be if it threw all of these things together, and even had a cool teen protagonist (with an even cooler mom!)!
It has been 16 years since inventor Leviticus Blue, supposedly attempting to test a massive drilling machine (the ‘Boneshaker’) to support the gold rush trail between Seattle and Alaska, released a deadly gas that turns people into the living dead. The resulting cataclysm has left the Seattle of 1879 a walled-off dead zone, populated by shambling flesh-eaters (called “rotters” herein) and mysterious bands of survivors who have refused to leave. The name of Blue has become a curse to the inhabitants of the city outskirts, and life is particularly hard for Blue’s widow, Briar, and their teenage son Ezekiel.
After a lifetime of taunts and fights, Zeke is determined to clear the family name, and he sneaks into the city in search of his father’s house. Briar, angered and terrified, sets out as well, determined to bring him back safe. To find their way out alive they must find each other while facing air pirates, mad scientists, and an army of the groaning living dead! Helped along the way by the city’s strange and steadfast residents (as well as a few colorful and crusty airship captains), the two eventually make their way towards Leviticus’ workshop, where the final mystery is solved, and the terrible secret Briar has been keeping is revealed.
Beyond the obvious cool factors, the draw here for teens is Zeke – an angry, idealistic 15-year-old who is determined, bright and fearless – even if he has no bloody idea what he’s getting himself into. Much of the journey of Zeke and Briar is about a mother and son learning to trust, and be truthful with each other, even if it hurts; a journey many teens (and their parents) are probably going through themselves.