What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'YA')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: YA, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,704
1. STONE COLD TOUCH by Jennifer Armentrout {Review & Giveaway}

Review by Becca STONE COLD TOUCH The Dark Elements #3 by Jennifer L ArmentroutPaperback: 464 pagesPublisher: Harlequin Teen (October 21, 2014) Amazon Barnes and Noble Kobo iTunes Every touch has its price Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend

0 Comments on STONE COLD TOUCH by Jennifer Armentrout {Review & Giveaway} as of 10/31/2014 1:11:00 AM
Add a Comment
2. looking at second-person point-of-view

There are not many stories written in second-person point of view, at least not many that are well-known.  In books on writing, a handful of examples are given that are often repeated among the discussions, but from time to time a new use of the mode will be undertaken by a fresh, contemporary fiction writer.

A very good example of second-person writing (and an excellent work of fiction) is given in a recent short story, "The Rhett Butlers," by Katherine Heiny (The Atlantic, Oct. 2014).  Second-person writing is sometimes described as simply substituting 'you' for ' I ' in what would otherwise be first-person writing.  That's largely true, but just that exchange can have a major effect on how the reader responds to a story.  Moreover, there are many other nuances that also can be called into play with the second-person technique.  Let's just shorten the terminology to POV-2, and for first-person writing, POV-1, etc., for our following discussion.

Heiny's story is about a seventeen-year old girl student who becomes involved with her 40-yr. old history teacher.  It's a story that would probably most often be attempted in POV-1, but how reliable might the girl character be in revealing her motivations and emotional state when she herself might be expected to prevaricate about such things.  By using POV-2 we might be able to challenge her views, and allow her some sidestepping or irony in revealing her motivations. The POV-2 can also be useful in having the second-person narrator reveal some backstory or exposition that might seem unnatural or forced if left to the girl to furnish to the reader.  It will be useful to examine a few excerpts from the story to show the style and nuances that Heiny employs.  Here is one of the early paragraphs that will help set up the story as well as show the POV-2 style she so deftly uses:

YOU AND MR. EAGLETON are becoming regulars at the Starlite Motel.  The first time you stayed in the car while Mr. Eagleton checked in, but now you go in with him to see what name he uses when he signs the register.  He always chooses characters from your favorite novels: Mr. and Mrs. Gatsby, Mr. and Mrs. Caulfield, Mr. and Mrs. Finch, Mr. and Mrs. Twist.  This idea seems very romantic to you, even though you would never change your name, and certainly not to Eagleton.
The woman behind the counter seems to like Mr. and Mrs. Butler best.  "Ah, the Rhett Butlers," she says every time.  "Welcome back."
She is a large, motherly woman, who looks a lot like Mrs. Harrison, the womanwho drives the Children's Bookmobile.  She always has the TV on, and always on a channel showing Wheel of Fortune.  She's unbelievably good--you once saw her guess "Apocalypse Now" just from the letter C.
 This woman makes you feel a lot better.  Nothing bad can happen to you here. 

Notice how the narrator can fill in the reader on the prior frequency of visits, and show an equanimity of the girl, as well as her naivete, and other background things that would have been a lot more awkward in first-person exposition.  

Here is a slightly later paragraph that also illustrates the nuanced values of POV-2:


MARCY TELLS HER PARENTS that she's sleeping at your home.  This way she can stay out past her curfew or even all night.  She's going over to Jeff Lipencott's house; his parents are out of town.
 You agree.  Of course you do--think of all the times Marcy has covered for you.  You sit in the TV room, wearing sweats and your glasses and eating cold Pop-Tarts.  You wish only the very best for Marcy, but you feel forlorn picturing her at Jeff Lippencott's, maybe lying in his parent's bed, leading a real life.
Marcy knocks on the window a little after 11.  You open it and she steps over the window ledge, shaking little diamonds of cold rain from her hair, and says, "Oh my God, he's such an asshole!  He spent the whole time doing hand stands with his friends, and I didn't know anyone and wound up helping his little sister weave pot holders."
 This story should make you feel lots better.  It should make you happy to be you again.  But it doesn't.

The choice of POV-2 for this story seemed so right.  Check out the full story in The Atlantic.  You owe it to your career.  Another interesting story in POV-2, a novel actually, Chris Lynch's, "Freewill," a Printz Honor Award book.  Lynch has a long list of good YA titles, and is such a fine writer that it was inevitable he'd take up the challenge to write an intriguing POV-2 classic.  Read this one, too.

0 Comments on looking at second-person point-of-view as of 10/30/2014 9:07:00 PM
Add a Comment
3. A Very Sad Letter to ENDGAME by Nils Johnson-Shelton & James Frey

Review by Becca ENDGAMEby Nils Johnson-Shelton and James Frey Series: Endgame (Book 1)Hardcover: 480 pagesPublisher: HarperCollins (October 7, 2014)Language: English Goodreads | Amazon Twelve ancient cultures were chosen millennia ago to represent humanity in Endgame, a global game that will decide the fate of humankind. Endgame has always been a possibility, but never a reality…until

0 Comments on A Very Sad Letter to ENDGAME by Nils Johnson-Shelton & James Frey as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
4. THESE BROKEN STARS {Review}

Review by Elisa  THESE BROKEN STARSAge Range: 12 - 18 yearsGrade Level: 7 - 12Series: Starbound (Book 1)Hardcover: 384 pagesPublisher: Disney-Hyperion; 1ST edition (December 10, 2013)Goodreads | Amazon It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and

0 Comments on THESE BROKEN STARS {Review} as of 10/29/2014 10:21:00 PM
Add a Comment
5. A Less Than Perfect Peace by Jacqueline Levering Sullivan

It's January 1950 and for most people, WWII has been over for five years.  But not in the Howard household in Tacoma, Washington.  It was only fours years ago that Annie Leigh's father, who had been MIA, returned from the war, and spent time in a convalescent hospital learning to adjust to his blindness.  Now, he's home, but is starting to withdraw more and more, refusing any more help with his blindness, unlike Uncle Billy, who had also come home from the war with PTSD, and had gotten help for it.  Now, the Howard Brothers are planing on starting a carpentry business together - one that won't require Annie's father to leave home.

On top of that, her mother, who seems to be extremely most self-absorbed and domineering, has started her own beauty salon, a long time dream finally realized, but a bone of contention between her and her husband.  The family needs the money the salon will bring in, but it takes up a lot of her time, or maybe, Annie speculates, what takes up her mother's time is really the florist, Mr. Larry Capaldi, whose shop is downstairs from the salon and who frequently picks Mrs. Howard up and drops her off.

Into all this come Jon and Elizabeth VanderVelde, refugee twins from Holland who have come to  Tacoma to live with their Aunt Dee and Uncle Hendrick.  They live on the estate of a wealthy family,  Aunt Dee is the cook and housekeeper and Uncle Henrick is their driver.  Jon and Elizabeth immediately become friends with Annie Leigh, but they are also carrying their own emotional baggage, especially Jon.   The twins spent the war living under Nazi occupation, and witnessed the terrible killing of their parents, to which Jon responded in ways that left him with his own nightmares and PTSD.

Luckily for Annie, her beloved Grandma Howard from Walla Walla comes for an extended stay and can offer Annie some support, advice and stability when needed.  Meanwhile, Annie gets to know Jon better, and the two find they are attracted to each other, despite his black moods.  But after he  surprises her by telling her the truth about what happened on his family's farm towards the end of the war. Annie begins to question her feelings for Jon.   But, Annie's biggest surprise come when her mother announces that she is pregnant, and Annie can't help but wonder who the real father is.

Yes, this coming of age story is packed with problems that Annie fears might collapse her world.  But in the process of seeking solutions, Annie learns to appreciate what those who were directly involved in the war experienced.  And in her attempt to find solutions and make everyone's world better again, she must learn to sometimes step back and let things unfold without her help.

A Less Than Perfect Peace has some nice elements to it and creates a very realistic sense of place and time, giving the reader an interesting window into the beginning of the Cold War, which is also a good metaphor for what was going on in the Howard family at the time.  At times the story did drag, and it seemed like there were just too many different story threads, but it all works out in the end and it does mimic how real life happens.

When my mother suddenly lost the sight in one of her eyes, I saw how truly panicked she was about it, and the idea of losing sight in both eyes was a really scary thought for her.  I could understand Mr. Howard's desire to stay in the safe confines of his home, where he knew his way around, and to be so resistant to admitting to himself that he is blind and therefore handicapped, even when there were programs and guide dogs to help him maneuver the world again.  His character shows what a paralyzing emotion fear can sometimes be.

I should mention that this is a sequel to Annie's War, which I haven't read yet, but enough background information is given by narrator Annie Leigh in A Less Than Perfect Peace so that it is a nice stand alone novel and a novel that will certainly resonate with many young readers especially those who are or have family members stuggling with PTSD.

This book is recommended for readers age 11+
This book was borrowed from a friend

0 Comments on A Less Than Perfect Peace by Jacqueline Levering Sullivan as of 10/28/2014 1:23:00 PM
Add a Comment
6. Was "Cress" Worth Paying A Fine For?

It most definitely was.

Cress is the third in The Lunar Chronicles, which began with Cinder, a book I definitely enjoyed. Scarlet I wasn't quite so taken with. I'm back on board with Cress, though.

What Cress does really well is get readers into the story without leaving them mystified because this is part three of a serial and who remembers what happened in part two? Book One was a clear and clever Cyber Cinderella story. Book Two was an intriguing take on Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, but connecting it to Cinder's story a little awkwardly. The awkwardness is gone in Book Three.

Cress is a techie Rapunzel figure, trapped on a satellite for years doing the evil queens bidding. She is also an inexperienced romantic who believes the space cowboy she ends up leaving the satellite with is the hero of her dreams. It makes sense that she gets pulled into Cinder's scooby gang, which is plotting to save a Prince Charming from having to marry an evil Moon Queen who is planning to...

That's enough.

There's some romance going on in these books. It's pretty clear to me that all kinds of couples are going to come out of these Chronicles. I don't usually care for romance. But there are clever things going on with these people. Cress, for instance, is such an over-the-top sucker for romance and the object of her affections is so bad-boy questionable that there is almost a little parody going on there.

This is a serial, and I do wish I'd been able to read them in a binge instead of over a few years. That's pretty much my only complaint at this point.

Cress is a Cybils nominee in the YA Speculative Fiction category.


0 Comments on Was "Cress" Worth Paying A Fine For? as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World – The Zena Sutherland Lecture

When we look to the astonishing growth of children’s books — especially YA books — in the last twenty years, we like to credit individuals — J. K. Rowling, for instance. But while it’s a kind of national obligation in the United States to praise individuals over collectives, I want to argue tonight that making good books for teenagers is dependent upon a vast and fragile interconnected network that collectively functions as what I am going to call the YA genre. All of this is offered, by the way, with the caveat that I might be wrong. I am wrong all the time.

My colleagues at Booklist, where I worked from 2000–2005, will tell you two things about me: first, that I was just about the worst publishing assistant in the 110-year history of the magazine; and second, that I am a bit of a worrier. Like Wemberly in Kevin Henkes’s wonderful picture book Wemberly Worried, I worry about big things (like whether there is any meaning to human life), and I worry about little things (like which suit I should wear to the Zena Sutherland Lecture). More or less, any time people ask me, “How are you?” the true answer is not “fine” or “good” or “sad”; the true answer is: worried.

This suits me well as a writer, since a big part of the job is to think about all the things that might happen and try to choose the best one, which is very often the most worrisome one. It suits me somewhat less well as, like, a person living in the world, because there is so much to worry about that if you are going to be a seriously anxious person, you have to devote all your time to it. You have to become like Bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk whose legs atrophied while he sat staring at a wall for nine years, except instead of meditating you have to worry. So tonight I’m going to share with you some of my worry, but I’m going to wait until toward the end in the hope that you’ll now have to spend the next thirty minutes worrying about why I’m so worried about the future of YA fiction.

Before that, I want to talk about what I think fiction does so well, and why I think it remains so relevant to the lives of children and teens.

When I was a kid, I was a big fan of Ann Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club, a series of novels about enterprising girls who built a small business and also dealt with the everyday problems of being a kid and taking care of kids and dealing with adults and occasionally having boyfriends. I loved these books. I also loved Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik books and many other books that were called “girl books,” and I think I loved them both because I saw myself in them — I worried like Anastasia; I felt socially uncomfortable like Ann Martin’s Claudia — but also because I could escape myself. This was the first big thing that fiction did for me as a kid: it allowed me to see myself but also to escape myself. For me, one of the big problems of being a person is that I am the only me I will ever get to be. I am not like the main character “A” in David Levithan’s Every Day; I wake up every day in this body, seeing the world out of these eyes, and because my consciousness is the only one whose reality and complexity I can directly attest to, the rest of you seem — pardon the unkindness here — sort of not real. Even the people I love the most I see in the context of me: my wife, my children. But Claudia in the Baby-Sitters Club is not my anything; she is Claudia, through whose eyes I can, in an admittedly limited way, see the world.

This phenomenon is often credited with leading to empathy: through escaping the prison of the self and being able to live inside fictional characters, we learn to imagine others more complexly. Through story, we can understand that others feel their own grief and joy and longing as intensely as we feel ours. And I think that’s probably true, but I also think it’s just nice to be outside yourself at times, so that you can pay attention to the world outside of you, which in the end is even more vast than the world inside of you.

Here’s the other thing: I think there is an omnipresent pain inside us, a constant and gnawing pain that we ceaselessly try to distract ourselves from feeling, a pain way down deep in what Robert Penn Warren called “the dark which is you.” For most people, almost all the time, we don’t even have to think about this pain, but then sometimes you’ll be sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room or riding on the train or eating a chicken caesar salad at your desk at work and the pain will come crawling out of the cave darkness inside of you and you’ll feel an awful echo of all the pain that has ever befallen you and glimpse all the horrors that might still befall you.

Maybe you don’t actually know this pain, but I do, and for me it is the pain of meaninglessness. I fear that our selves are without value, that our vast interior lives will die with us, and that our brief miraculous decades of consciousness will not have been for anything. For me there is a terrifying depravity to meaninglessness, because it calls into question not only why I should read or write or love but also why I should do anything, in fact whether I should do anything, and so grappling with that way-down-deep-in-the-darkness-which-is-you pain is not like some abstract philosophical exercise or whatever but a matter of actual existential importance.

The obvious thing to do about this deep-down pain is to try very hard to ignore it, because at least in my life, I find that it comes on mostly in undistracted and quiet moments. And, look, if you can distract yourself from pain, great. I don’t want to minimize the importance of pleasurable distraction, of what’s sometimes called “mere entertainment,” be it Flappy Bird or CSI. But we have plenty of it. To quote David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King,

Surely something must lie behind not just Muzak in dull or tedious places anymore but now also actual TV in waiting rooms, supermarkets’ checkouts, airports’ gates, SUVs’ backseats. Walkmen, iPods, BlackBerries, cell phones that attach to your head. This terror of silence with nothing diverting to do. I can’t think anyone really believes that today’s so-called “information society” is just about information.

It’s also, of course, about distraction. For some readers, books can still be read purely for distraction, but for contemporary children and teenagers, there are far more effective distractions. My four-year-old son does not ask for a book to relieve himself of the terror way down deep in the darkness. He asks for the iPad, so he can play Angry Birds.

For contemporary kids, who can find sufficient distractions in gaming and video, I think books must do something more than just divert attention in order to be successful. And this brings us to morality.

fanfare green Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World   The Zena Sutherland LectureOnce upon a time, I gave a speech at the ALA Annual convention in which I said that I believed in the old-fashioned idea that books should be moral. And afterwards, the publisher of Booklist, Bill Ott, a man I’ve always looked up to immensely, took me aside and said, “That was a good speech except for all that bullshit about morality.” Fair enough. It was, in retrospect, bullshit. Books are not in the business of imparting lessons. What I was trying to say, I think, was that books should be honest without being hopeless. It’s easy enough to write a hopeful story, one that proclaims that If you can dream it, you can do it, or that God has a plan, or that Everything happens for a reason. Be grateful for every day. I parodied these ideas a little in The Fault in Our Stars by having one of the characters’ houses plastered with such pithy sentiments: Without pain, how would we know joy, and so on. In the book they call them Encouragements.

But these Encouragements are unconvincing, at least to me. Sure, you can write a novel about how if you can dream it you can do it, but in actual nonfictional fact there are a bunch of things that you can dream that you cannot do. For instance, I recently had a dream in which I was a banana that had escaped the Earth’s orbit and was slowly floating farther and farther away from my home planet.

What we need, and what good stories provide, are better Encouragements. Encouragements that aren’t bullshit. This is not a question of books being moral; it’s a question of books being hopeful without being dishonest. This is what good YA novels do for teens that Angry Birds cannot: they offer light that can burn bright even in the way-down-deep-darkness-which-is-you. I know this is an old-fashioned way of imagining the making of art, but I believe it. I believe that fiction can help, that made-up stories can matter by helping us to feel unalone, by connecting us to others, and by giving shape to the world as we find it — a world that is broken and unjust and horrifying and not without hope.

So that is why I think books matter. Now I want to turn to genre and talk a bit about why I think it matters. Whenever a properly good writer — Michael Chabon, say, or Joyce Carol Oates — writes a mystery or a romance or whatever, reviewers sometimes say that the author is upending the conventions of the genre. I don’t really find that to be the case — I think Chabon just wrote a really good mystery in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. Most conventions of the genre turn out to be really useful, I think, which is how they got to be conventions of the genre. At Booklist we used to joke about that old cliché that novels only have two plots: a stranger comes to town, and our hero goes on a journey. But that doesn’t mean we only have two stories; we have countless stories, each of them building upon and relying upon others. We often imagine the best stories as having arisen sui generis from the mind of a great genius. But, really, every good story is dependent upon millions that came before it, that incalculably vast network of influences that stand behind every novel.

In 2006, Malcolm Gladwell made a stir when he argued that Kaavya Viswanathan’s plagiarism of Megan McCafferty’s Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings wasn’t really plagiarism, because, and I’m quoting here, “This is teen-literature. It’s genre fiction. These are novels based on novels based on novels, in which every convention of character and plot has been trotted out a thousand times before.” Now, this was a ridiculous defense of plagiarism, and Gladwell later apologized, but he wasn’t entirely wrong. My novels are novels based on novels based on novels. Almost all novels are. But they change in the retelling. Novels change to stay relevant, so that their hope might be less flimsy, so that they remain honest and relevant. It’s a slow process — millions of writers and readers working together across generations to make stories that can be a light in the way-down-deep-darkness-which-is-you. Writing and reading are not about a singular mind emerging from isolation to create unprecedented art. It’s a massive collaboration spanning millennia.

Let me explain how this works, at least for me. In my first novel, Looking for Alaska — in which, by the way, a stranger comes to town and our hero goes on a journey — I wanted to write a boarding-school novel — you know, like A Separate Peace or The War of Jenkins’ Ear or The Catcher in the Rye — but I was also interested in boarding-school fantasies like Harry Potter and A Great and Terrible Beauty. I liked the pranks, and the freaks at war with the cool kids. I liked the sneaking around campus in the middle of the night and breaking the rules and the omnipresence of one’s peers.

But there were conventions of the genre that were really problematic for me, like the one in which the boy — for the sake of simplicity, let’s call him Holden — flutters around, essentializing women, and the only person who ever gets hurt by his total failure to see women as actual humans is Holden himself, when in fact this habit boys have of imagining the girls they admire as flawless goddesses whose problems cannot possibly be as real or as important as Boy Problems…that habit turns out to be bad for women as well as the Holdens of the world. So, okay. You try to show that in your boarding-school novel. This is not upending a genre. It’s trying to make an honest, human story that isn’t bullshit. But lots of people are making YA boarding-school novels at the same time, and in a way we’re all working together. I think E. Lockhart, for instance, gave the genre its best book in recent years with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, but she did it by writing a proper boarding-school novel that also happens to be a proper feminist novel and a proper postmodern novel and a proper romance.

Basically, I believe that genre is good. I don’t think there’s anything embarrassing about being a genre writer. Like, you know how they always have those crazy concept cars at auto shows that look futuristic and exciting and entirely new, but then it turns out that this futuristic car seats 1.5 people and gets four miles to the gallon, and by the time the car actually gets to market…it looks like a car. That’s genre to me. It’s the thing that works. So, yeah, cars look different than they did fifty years ago. They’re safer and more efficient and cheaper to build. But we didn’t actually get there through radical change. We got there through incremental change, by drivers and engineers and designers all working together.

I was thinking a lot about genre while writing my most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars. It’s a cancer book, but one that is very aware of cancer books. There’s a lot I like about cancer books, but here’s what bothers me: there is often a sick person who suffers nobly and bravely and in the process of dying so beautifully teaches the healthy people around him or her important lessons about how to be grateful for every day, or in the case of American literature’s most famous cancer novel, the lesson that “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” This is ridiculous, of course: love means constantly having to say you’re sorry.

Anyway, I’m troubled by this convention because it imagines that sick people exist and suffer so that healthy people can learn lessons. This essentializes the lives of the sick, just as teenage boys essentialize girls when they imagine them as larger-than-life, when in fact the meaning of any life is a complicated and messy business that is about more than learning lessons. I wanted to write a cancer story that was about the sick people, not the lessons the healthy learn from them, about people who are disabled and human, who experience love and sex and longing and hurt and everything that any human does. I didn’t invent this idea, though; it’s the plot of many love stories. A stranger comes to town, and love blossoms, but an obstacle appears. Sometimes the obstacle is a basilisk. Sometimes it’s a jealous ex-husband. Sometimes it’s one’s own body.

And this brings me at last to worry. For genre to work best, I think, you must have basilisk stories and jealous ex-husband stories and cancer stories. Genre is not about individual geniuses; it’s a conversation that benefits from many voices.

The great strength of our children’s and YA genres is that we’re broad — we publish thousands of books a year, whereas Hollywood makes a few dozen movies aimed at kids and teens. Coe Booth, M. T. Anderson, Stephenie Meyer, Sarah Dessen, and Ellen Hopkins share the shelf. We’ve got poetry and sci-fi and romance and so-called literary fiction; we’ve got standalones and series and graphic novels and every subgenre imaginable. This year’s Printz winners included a romance, a futuristic fantasy, a violent fairy tale, a boarding-school novel, and a dystopian thriller. Nothing against the Pulitzer Prize, but it rarely offers such diversity. But I think there’s mounting evidence that our breadth is at risk. Consider the recent study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison saying that of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just ninety-three were about black people. That’s better than Hollywood is doing, but not that much better. Okay, so here’s my worry: we’ll see the breadth and diversity of our literature — at least the stuff that gets read — continue to decline, because there will be less institutional support for non-blockbuster books. There will be fewer review journals, fewer school libraries (and those with ever-shrinking book-buying budgets), and far fewer bookstores.

Imagine a world — and I don’t think this is hard to do — where almost all physical books bought offline are purchased at big box stores like Walmart and Costco and Target, which carry a couple of hundred titles a year. Anything that gets published that doesn’t end up in one of those stores doesn’t really get published, at least not in the sense that we understand the word now, because it won’t be widely available: it will only be available at the vast, flat e-marketplaces of Amazon and iTunes, where readers will choose from among a vast and undifferentiated sea of texts. Ultimately publishers will only be able to “add value” to the two hundred or so books a year that are sold at Walmart and Costco and Target, which will kind of mean that Walmart and Costco and Target will choose — or at least have a lot of say in — what gets published. Every now and again, a book will rise up out of the sea of the Kindle store and become so 50 Shades of Grey–popular that it will transition the author from online distribution to physical distribution, but most books that find readers will be franchises. In short, publishing will split: traditional publishing ends up looking a bit like Hollywood, focusing all its resources on a few stories a year that might make a lot of money. And then everything else will live on Amazon.

Amazon’s position is that in the future everyone will be on a level playing field because all authors will have access to all readers and the publishing business will be entirely disintermediated and books will succeed or fail based on whether actual readers actually like them. But of course that’s not actually what happens, as we’re already seeing.

What actually happens is that the richest and most challenging fiction of any category, particularly if it won’t appeal to a mass readership, struggles to find an audience in a world without critics and institutional support. Toni Morrison’s Beloved became a huge bestseller forty years ago. It’s hard to imagine that happening today, barring Oprah’s endorsement or something, and harder still to imagine it happening in the future.

The problem of discovery is complicated by the terribleness of Amazon’s recommendation engine. It is terrible for bestsellers — right now, it implies that if you enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars you might also enjoy Gone Girl, which is just — I mean, that is not good readers’ advisory. And it’s also terrible for books that aren’t bestsellers. For instance, there is a great nonfiction adult book called Ballad of the Whiskey Robber about an alcoholic Transylvanian semi-professional hockey goalie who becomes a bank robber, and right now if you go to that book’s Amazon page, it will recommend that if you like that book, you might also like A. S. King’s wonderful YA novel Ask the Passengers. These two books have exactly two things in common: they both contain text, and about a year ago, I recommended them both in a vlogbrothers video.

So what will it mean to write YA in a future where your work might be recommended alongside nonfiction books about bank robbers or adult mysteries about a very, very bad marriage? Well, we’ll keep writing and sharing stories for children and teens, of course. And lots of people — including kids themselves but also adult supporters such as other authors and librarians and teachers — will continue to recommend them. The genre will go on. But YA was weaker and less broad before it got its own physical sections in libraries and bookstores, and I worry that we will find it difficult to grow stronger and broader in the future.

These days, my career is often held up as a model for how YA novels will get to the next generation of teen readers: authors will build communities online around their work, and those communities will read and share their books. We won’t need gatekeepers or institutions to help us share books; we have Twitter for that now. But there are some problems with this idea. For one thing, there’s a massive advantage to being white and male on the internet; you experience less harassment and many privileges. And there’s also a massive advantage to speaking English on the internet. Furthermore, many people who are good at writing novels are bad at Twitter. I realize this advantage has long been with us — Twain owed much of his success to his crazy hair and hilarious lectures — but it’s a strange and dangerous business to judge a novel by its author, and stranger and more dangerous still to judge a novel by its author’s tweets.

But most importantly, it just doesn’t work. My books didn’t become successful because I was famous on the internet; at least initially, I became famous on the internet because I’d written successful books. My first novel, Looking for Alaska, sold a couple of thousand copies — many of them to libraries — before it won the Printz, an award chosen by a committee of librarians. When my brother Hank and I began our video blog series in January 2007, the few hundred people who watched us and helped to found the nerdfighter community were almost entirely fans of my books — including many YA librarians. Without institutional support, without librarians and teachers and critics and the rest of the human infrastructure of YA literature, my books would not have an audience. And neither would my video blog.

All of us together are making up what YA means as we go along. We are all creating the genre, by choosing what we read and write and lift up, by pushing ourselves and one another to think more complexly about teenagers as readers and as characters so that we might welcome them in to the great old conversations. This is no small thing. We are not in the widgets business, my friends. We are in the story business, the business of bringing light to the way-down-deep-darkness-which-is-you. And in that sense, at least, business is good, because that darkness ain’t going anywhere. Our need to turn scratches on a page into ideas that can live inside of our minds ain’t going anywhere. We’re not at risk of people losing interest in strangers coming to town or heroes going on journeys, and we will always need ways to escape the prison of consciousness and learn to imagine the Other complexly. And this is why, despite my ceaseless worry, I remain quite hopeful. We need to grow the breadth and diversity of YA literature. We need to get more books to more kids so that publishing doesn’t become a business driven entirely by blockbusters. And we need to preserve the roles — critics, librarians, professors, teachers — that contribute so much to the continual growth and change in our genre. None of this will be easy, of course, and it’s all intensely worrying.

But I also know that story will go on. That’s the great thing about genre, about novels based on novels based on novels. The stories go on. They find a way through budget cuts and new technologies, winding their way through the flawed vessels who write and review and share them, flowing past history and memory, a process that has been going on so long that our stories, and our readings of them, are shaped by ancient stories we will never know. Somehow, improbably, even long after they are forgotten, the stories endure. And through them, so do we.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Adapted from the author’s 2014 Zena Sutherland Lecture.

share save 171 16 Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World   The Zena Sutherland Lecture

The post Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World – The Zena Sutherland Lecture appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World – The Zena Sutherland Lecture as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. Spotlight and Giveaway: Compulsion by Martina Boone

I have a copy of Compulsion by Martina Boone to giveaway.  Here’s a description:

Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in Compulsion, the first novel in a spellbinding new trilogy.

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

 

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

To increase your chance of winning, answer the question below:

The Question:

?If you could have any “everyday” magical gift, like finding lost things or knowing what people want, what gift would you want and why?

Here’s my answer:  I would like the ability to make people happy.  Now, that might sound kind of cheesy, but think about it for a second.  If your very presence magically made people happier, your own sense of well-being would automatically increase.  If you could make people feel joy at the sight of you, their treatment of you would improve, and your relationships with family, friends, and co-workers would always be harmonious.  It would be really hard to make anyone angry with you if you always made them happy! Talk about reducing stress! 

The Giveaway:

A finished copy of the book – US addresses only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Compulsion by Martina Boone appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
9. THE FALL by Bethany Griffin {Review}

"Review My Books" Review by J  THE FALL  by Bethany Griffin Hardcover: 432 pagesPublisher: Greenwillow Books (October 7, 2014)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Madeline Usher has been buried alive. The doomed heroine comes to the fore in this eerie reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." Gothic, moody, and suspenseful from beginning to end, The

0 Comments on THE FALL by Bethany Griffin {Review} as of 10/27/2014 2:09:00 AM
Add a Comment
10. Ashes by Kathryn Lasky

Life is pretty comfortable for Gabriella Schramm, 13, called Gaby by friends and family.  Living in 1932 Berlin, her upper middle class family is better off than most Germans at the time.  Her father is a renowned scientist, teaching astronomy at the University, and is friends with Albert Einstein.  Her mother, an former pianist who gives lessons at home now, hob nobs with Baba, a well-respected Jewish society columnist for the only newspaper in Berlin that isn't pro-Nazi.  Gaby's older sister, Ulla, is scheduled to begin studying at a conservatory in Vienna next year.  And Gaby, who loves to read anything she can get her hands on, including Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Mark Twain and my personal favorites Rainer Maria Remarque and Erich Kästner, is looking forward to reading Heinrich Heine's poetry in Gymnasium after summer vacation.

But things are beginning to change, both within Gaby's family and all over Germany.  First, Ulla insists on remaining in Berlin for the summer instead of going to the family's lakeside vacation home, claiming she has a bookkeeping job at the cabaret where her boyfriend Karl, an engineering student, works.  But when Karl and Ulla come to visit, Gaby begins to suspect that Karl is a Nazi supporter.  She had already suspected the same thing of the family housekeeper, Hertha and the man who maintains their Berlin apartment building.  In fact, Gaby has noticed a significant increase in the number of Brown Shirts (SA) and Black Shirts (SS) all over Berlin despite the ban on them.

Back in school after vacation, Gaby and her best friend Rosa are overjoyed to begin studying literature with the very beautiful, kind, well-dressed Frau Hofstadt, who is picked up everyday by a mysterious limousine.  But, at home, the talk is more and more about the political situation, which in 1932 is all over the place, though everyone is relieved when the Nazis loose seats in the Reichstag (Parliament), hoping that that will be an end to Hitler and his Nazi party.

But that's not what happens at all and through all kinds of twists and turns, Hitler is named Chancellor by President Hindenburg at the end of January 1933.  And with amazing speed, Gaby watches her previously safe, happy world fall completely to pieces.

The period 1919-1933 was such a complicated time in German history and politics.  The Nazis referred to it as the Kampfzeit, the time of struggle to gain acceptance and power for their radical policies.  Lasky covers only 1932-1933 in Ashes and kudos to her for successfully tackling it in a novel for young readers.  There is lots of talk about events that actually happened, and Lasky provides enough information to understand it without overwhelming or boring the reader.

Ashes is a well-written novel, and although it is a little slow in places, given the time and place of the action, it is indeed a worthwhile read.   I particularly loved that each chapter begins with a quote from a book Gaby loves and which foreshadows what happens in that chapter.  And since Gaby witnesses the Nazi book burning on May 10, 1933, it is all the more poignant a reminder of some of what was lost in that tragic event.

The novel is told from Gaby's point of view, which gives us her very subjective, but very astute observation, not only of what is happening around her, but how she thinks and feels about it all,  A fine example of that is when she witnesses her former math teacher, Herr Berg, being removed from her school by the Nazis for being Jewish, and disappears.  The reader feels her shock, disgust, sadness and  despair all at the same time.

Some of the scenes may feel a little cliche and I am not the first person to realize that Karl resembles Lisle's Hitler Youth boyfriend from The Sound of Music, and that there is a scene similar to one in Cabaret, in which everyone in an outdoor Biergarten joins a Hitler Youth in singing a Nazi song.  But, these scenes also make a necessary point (and people have traditionally joined in singing in Biergartens in Germany, it wasn't just a Nazi thing to show support).

Ashes is a nice contribution to the body of Holocaust and World War II literature and on its own, a very interesting book about a very complex time made accessible by good research and skillful writing.

This book is recommended for readers age 11+
This book was purchased for my personal library

0 Comments on Ashes by Kathryn Lasky as of 10/24/2014 8:09:00 AM
Add a Comment
11. Why I've Got To Read, Read, Read "Cress" By Marissa Meyer

I was hit with a warning a couple of days ago from my library letting me know that the copy of Cress by Marissa Meyer that I'm reading was almost due. I finally got around this morning to renewing it on-line, but no luck. There's a hold on it. I'm at least two-thirds of the way through, so I'm going to bite the bullet, get hustling with my reading, and pay whatever fine I need to pay.

Why am I telling you this instead of writing what some might consider a real blog post? Well, I think it's very significant that someone wants this book. We don't have anyone beating a path to the YA section's door at our library. Until recently, we were still using one of those stamp-the-book systems for letting people know due dates. What that meant was that anyone could check the popularity of a book. I would take out new YA books, read them, see them back on the new books shelf, and there they'd stay. So I'd take a look at the date stamps. There wouldn't be any other than mine. Time would pass, and I'd look again. There'd be one. Maybe, but sometimes not.

So, yes, I think it's very significant that someone wants to read Cress badly enough to take it from me, when so many other books I've read were of no interest.

And now I must go get that book and get cracking with my reading. Time is money. Seriously.

0 Comments on Why I've Got To Read, Read, Read "Cress" By Marissa Meyer as of 10/23/2014 11:59:00 PM
Add a Comment
12. Giveaway: Win Kindle Fire from Kimberley Griffiths Little, Author of Forbidden

Here’s an awesome giveaway that I wanted to share. You can win a Kindle Fire, as well as a ton of other goodies!  Kimberley Griffiths Little is celebrating the release of her historical novel FORBIDDEN with a giveaway!  Check it out!

On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.

 

 

Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter. TO ENTER:

  • You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to forbiddengiveaway@gmail.com.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter below
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
  • Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
  • Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
  • If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.
PRIZES:

(1) GRAND PRIZE WINNER: 1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB — choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt)

2. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson

3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White

4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt

5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf

6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)

7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings

8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)

9. “Will YOU risk it all?” button (not pictured)

10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards

11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)

(1) SECOND PLACE WINNER:
1. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
5. “Will YOU risk it all?” button (not pictured)
6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
(13) RUNNERS-UP WINNERS:
1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
2. “Will YOU risk it all?” button (not pictured)
3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
About Forbidden: In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.
Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.
With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.
Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.
Follow Kimberley:
About Kimberley: Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com.
Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!

The post Giveaway: Win Kindle Fire from Kimberley Griffiths Little, Author of Forbidden appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
13. THE FIRE ARTIST by Daisy Whitney {Review}

Review by Valerie  THE FIRE ARTISTby Daisy WhitneyAge Range: 12 - 17 yearsGrade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 288 pagesPublisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (October 14, 2014)Goodreads | Amazon Aria is an elemental artist—she creates fire from her hands. But her power is not natural. She steals it from lightning. It’s dangerous and illegal in her world. When she’s recruited to perform, she seizes

0 Comments on THE FIRE ARTIST by Daisy Whitney {Review} as of 10/20/2014 1:17:00 AM
Add a Comment
14. A Letter to GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE by A.S. King

Review by Becca  Glory O'Brien's History of the FutureHardcover: 320 pagesPublisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2014)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities--but not for Glory, who has no plan for what's next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she's never stopped wondering

0 Comments on A Letter to GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE by A.S. King as of 10/17/2014 3:11:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. 3 Ways to Know If Your YA Fiction Is Really New Adult Fiction


30 Days to a Stronger Novel Online Video Course

Sign up for EARLY BIRD list for discounts



In the immortal words of Charlotte in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”

I was privileged to have Deborah Halverson edit my Harcourt picture book, Searching for Oliver K. Woodman. When we met at a retreat, it was instant friendship, and anytime we talk, it feels like we’ve been friends forever. That’s why I am so excited about this new book. Well, I’m excited because it’s Deborah’s book, but also because it’s the first book I’ve seen to explain the latest fiction genre, New Adult. In Deborah’s capable hands, the topic comes alive and I’ve already got tons of ideas for stories. Here, she answers a basic question; but if you want more, you’ve got to buy her book!


Slider-WnSNAF3-686x345

Guest post by Deborah Halverson

YA writers often ask me to explain the difference between Young Adult fiction and New Adult fiction when the story’s main character is 18 or 19 years old. Some of those writers are curious about this new fiction category that brushes up against their own, but others are trying to noodle out whether that upper YA story they’re working on is really NA. “Tell me what NA is, Deborah, and then I’ll know what I’ve got.” Happy to help! Here are three ways to determine if you’re writing a story about a young adult or a new adult.

DearEditor.com Deborah Halverson is doing a special giveaway for the blog tour for the kickoff of this book. Enter to win “One Free Full Manuscript Edit!

Pin Down Your Protagonist’s Mind-set

How does your character process the world and her place in it? Teens are typically starting to look outward as they try to find their places in the world and realize that their actions have consequences in the grander scheme of life, and they yearn to live unfettered by the rules, structure, and identities that have defined their lives until now. New adults finally get to live that free life they dreamed of—for better or worse. They move forward with the self-exploration they began in their adolescence, going big on personal exploration and experimentation and expanding their worldview. They get to build identities that reflect who they’ve become rather than who they grew up with, and they get to try things out before settling into a final Life Plan. All of this can be overwhelming even when it goes well—after all, even good change is stressful, and “change” is new adulthood in a nutshell. For some, though, the instability is a total freak-out. The clash of ideal vs. reality can shock their system. They’re gaining experience and wisdom hand over fist, but yikes. Luckily, new adults tend to brim with personal optimism, and their explorations and experimentations—both dangerous and beneficial—are endearingly earnest.

If this sounds like your protagonist and her circle of friends, you might have an NA on your hands. You can use this knowledge to give your story a solidly NA sensibility by exposing your character’s inexperience in her decision-making, by imbuing the narrative with a sense of defiance, by conveying stress, by conveying self-focus (not selfishness), by lacing the exposition with personal optimism, and by showing the character’s awareness of her growing maturity. YA characters who are overly analytical about themselves and others risk sounding too mature, but NA character journeys ooze with self-assessment no matter the individual details of their journeys.

Assess Your Circumstances

New Adult v. Young AdultIn fiction, the plot exists to push the protagonist through some kind of personal growth. Thus, our character’s mind-set and the plot are interdependent. Whether your character is a young adult or new adult, the circumstances of your story—the events, problems, places, and roles—should sync with that character. New adults tackle their problems with their new adult filters in place, whether the story is a contemporary one set in college, or a historical one, or a fantastical one. Self-actualization is an essential growth process whether you’re at a college kegger or battling evil overlords.

Once you’ve pinpointed whether your protagonist’s mindset feels YA or NA, consider if your plot events and the circumstances of your protagonist’s life jive with her concerns, fears, coping skills, maturity, and wisdom level. NA story lines tend to remove structure and accountability, tweak the characters’ stress levels by playing musical careers and homes, make money an issue, force the characters to establish new social circles at play and at work, show characters exhibiting ambivalence to adult responsibilities, show characters divorcing from teenhood, show characters striving to “move on from trauma” rather than to “survive trauma”, deny the characters the “ideal” NA life of carefree self-indulgence, put characters in situations that clash their high expectations for independent life against a harsh reality, and show the process of evaluation, of trial-and-error, of weighing exploration and experimentation against consequences, at least by the end of the story.

Deal with the “Sexed-Up YA” Thing

Romance is part of almost any older YA story, and certainly all NA. As it should be—romance is one of the three main areas of identity exploration after puberty, along with career and worldview (think politics, faith, and personal well-being and outlook). The difference is that teens are very solidly in the “what is love, what does it feel like?” realm, whereas new adults are generally working on who they want to be in a relationship, what they want from their partner, what they want from the relationship in general. That doesn’t mean they’re actively searching for Mr./Mrs. Right—there’s plenty of time for that!—but it does mean they want a satisfying, meaningful relationship. Where is your character on that romance spectrum?

Of course, romance isn’t really what people focus on when comparing YA and NA relationships, is it? Nope: it’s sex. So let’s talk about sex. In its early days, NA was accused of being “sexed-up YA”, but after reviewing numbers 1 and 2 above, you’ll see that the differences between YA and NA are more substantial than simply how explicitly you describe two bodies connecting sans clothing. Ask yourself your goal with the romance, and what level of sexual detail is necessary for that goal. Then consider your audience: NA readers are mostly adults of the same 20- to 44-year-old “crossover reader” demographic that shot YA into the publishing stratosphere. (A Digital Book World study reported 2013’s dominant YA crossover readership as being 20- to 29-year-olds; compare that to the 18- to 25-year-old age range of new adulthood). Those grownups can handle—and often flat-out want—explicit sex scenes. Some teens will read NA, but mostly they’re not into that mind-set yet so the stories don’t resonate with them, making them plenty happy to stick with the many great YA stories out there that reflect their current time in life.

Perhaps you determine that your character’s mind-set and story circumstances are solidly YA but you want/need to include some sex scenes in your story because the theme or plot of the story calls for it. In that case, maybe you have a solid YA that requires a “Mature YA” categorization to let readers know that there’s sexual content between those covers. Those scenes will be tamer than the full-on explicitness of NA—your are writing/positioning this story primarily for and about young readers after all, and there are gatekeepers involved—but the sexual content is there and readers are warned. Weigh your goals with your romance, your story’s scene needs, and your audience’s expectations and sensibilities as you make the NA/YA determination on this aspect of your WIP.

So there you have it. Three ways to know if that story you’re writing is Young Adult fiction or New Adult fiction. Good luck with your WIP, and with all your publishing endeavors.


Authorphoto_Halverson_8x8_small3Deborah Halverson is a veteran editor and the award-winning author of Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies. Her latest book, Writing New Adult Fiction, teaches techniques and strategies for crafting the new adult mindset and experience into riveting NA fiction. Deborah was an editor at Harcourt Children’s Books for ten years and is now a freelance editor, the founder of the popular writers’ advice website DearEditor.com, and the author of numerous books for young readers, including the teen novels Honk If You Hate Me and Big Mouth with Delacorte/Random House. For more about Deborah, visit DeborahHalverson.com or DearEditor.com.

Add a Comment
16. Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail

In spring 1944, Hungary was occupied by German soldiers and in the city of Debrecen, a ghetto was formed at the end of April.  Thinking her family was lucky because their apartment fell within the walls of the ghetto, Hanna Mendel continued to believe she would be able to attend Budapest Conservatorium of Music, where she had just been selected for a hard won place as a piano student.

But in the middle of a night in June 1944, a knock on the door by officers informed them that the Mendel family,  parents, high-spirited, defiant older sister Erika and Hanna, 15,  was ordered to assemble outside the synagogue at 8 the next morning.   Before leaving, Hanna rips the C-sharp from her beloved piano and takes it with her.  The next morning the Mendels, along with all of Debrecen's Jews, begin their long trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.

Once they arrive at Auschwitz, the family is split up, but luckily Hanna, Erika and their mother are able to stay together in the same barrack, even sharing a bunk.  Put to work in the quarry, one day Hanna sees her music teacher playing piano with an ensemble made of up inmates and called the Birkenau Women's Orchestra.  Piri thinks that maybe she can get Hanna a place in it.

When that doesn't work out, Hanna is sent to audition with five other inmates for the camp's cruel commandant.  Believing she doesn't stand a chance at being chosen, the commandant leave the choice to his totally disinterested son, Karl Jager, who points to Hanna.

Day after day, Hanna trudges to the commandant's house to await the order to play for him and any guests he may have.  The only perks to playing for the commandant is a warm shower everyday (the commandant detests dirt), shoes, a warm coat and a warm house while she's there.  The only extra food is leftovers she must steal and risk getting caught and shot.

Gradually, however, she discovers that Karl Jager harbors his own dangerous secrets and is not as disinterested or as indifferent as she originally thought.  When he treats her kindly, Hanna finds herself more and more attracted to him.  But returning to the barrack at the end of each day, she sees that her mother and Erika are cold, starving and barely surviving.  To make matters worse, her mother, who had started going mad during the roundup in Debrecen, is having more and more trouble surviving the selections each time they are done.

Their one hope is that the Red Army is really moving east as rumored around the camp and that they arrive in time.

Playing for the Commandant is certainly a very readable book.  I read it in one day.  It is told in the first person by Hanna, a very observant 15 year old and on many levels her voice rings true.  Her descriptions of the camp, of the cruelty inflicted on innocent people are spot on.  When she talks about the lice, the smells, the moldy bread or about how skeleton thin her sister and the other women are becoming, you can clearly see and smell what she is describing.

Despite everything, Hanna'a father had told her to survive at any cost to tell the world what happened to the Jews of Europe and so, she is determined to do what her father wanted.

But when she talks about the danger of stealing scraps of leftover food, or of  living under the pressure of always having to please the commandant, Hanna's fate feels just as capricious or dangerous as her fellow inmates.  For example, when the gardener, a Jew, steps on the grave of the commandant's dog, he is shot in the head for it.  But, when a girl at the commandant's house drops a tray with tea and cakes on it, I thought for sure that when she is removed from the house, she is also killed, but she shows up later, and I have to admit, I was surprised to see her again in the novel.

But, Hanna's growing romance with Karl is very most disturbing and a real flaw in the novel.  I guess I thought Hanna should be thinking more about food than a boy.  She didn't get that much more to eat than her sister, and what she got, she shared with Erika.  Also, at one point, Hanna gets angry at the people, ordinary farmers, who watch her walk to and from the commandant's house every day and do nothing.  I got mad at Karl for being against what the Nazis were doing to the Jews, but who passively sits by and watches it all happen.  I would be curious to know how others feel about this part of an otherwise good novel.  

Yet, despite this criticism, in the end, I thought that Playing for the Commandant is definitely worth reading for its message of survival and hope, but not for its gratuitous romance.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This was an EARC received from NetGalley

Though Playing for the Commandant is a complete work of fiction, Jews actually were often used to play music for the Nazis.  Here is the obituary of Natalie Karp, a famous pianist who played for Amon Goeth's birthday on December 9, 1943.  She and her sister allowed to live because of the beautiful piano playing that night.  Goeth was the cruel commandant of the Kraków-Plaszów Concentrtion Camp in Poland (you may recall Goeth from Schindler's List).




0 Comments on Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Spotlight and Giveaway: Night Sky by Suzanne and Melanie

 

Title: Night Sky

Authors: Suzanne and Melanie Brockmann

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal)

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Skylar Reid is thrown into a strange world when she discovers that she has unique telekinetic and telepathic powers.  After Sasha, the child she babysits, is kidnapped and believed to be murdered, Sky and her best friend Calvin are approached by Dana, a mysterious girl who has super-abilities similar to Sky’s.  With the help of Dana and her sidekick Milo, the four teens embark on a quest to discover who killed Sasha, and to bring the killers to justice.

With Dana as Skylar’s surly and life-toughened mentor, Sky attempts to harness her powers to aid them in their quest. Complicating an already complex relationship with the older girl, Skystarts to fall for the dangerously handsome and enigmatic Milo – and begins to suspect that the attraction is mutual. But then Sky realizes that Sasha might still be alive, and the unlikely foursome’s mission becomes one of search and rescue, pitting the heroic teens against a very deadly enemy.

Excerpt

“Look what I can do look what I can do,” the woman, who I nicknamed Little Miss Sunshine because of her fancy clothes, yanked a massive-looking gun out of her bag.

Everyone in the store hit the deck at the sight of the gun—everyone except Calvin and me.

She pointed the barrel at my face.

A wave of deja vu washed over me. It was mixed with a hefty dose of panic and combined with at least a small degree of consolation that Calvin, as always, had my back.

“Oh, hell no!” he barked. All the fear had vanished from his tone, and now he just sounded pissed. “You wanna mess with someone? You wanna put your gun in her face? You’re gonna have to shoot me first!”

And then, things got really weird.

“Hey!” someone called form behind Little Miss Sunshine. It was a girl, older than me but probably only by a year or two. She’d appeared as if out of nowhere, but she must’ve come in through the front doors while my attention was on that gun. Dressed in full motorcycle garb—a red leather jacket and black steel-toed boots—she hollered again. “Hey, you!”

Little Miss Sunshine whirled around.

Motorcycle Girl charged froward and flicked the pistol out of crazy lady’s hands as easily as if she was removing a piece of lint from a buddy’s jacket.

The gun spun a couple times before landing on the floor. Motorcycle Girl kicked it back into the air with her foot and caught it with one hand. She tucked it deftly into the back waistband of her pants and then slammed the crazy woman down onto the ground using the palm of one hand. I could have sworn Little Miss Sunshine took a nosedive before Motorcycle Chick even touched her, but then again, I’d been seeing all kinds of crazy things this week.

“Whoa,” Calvin said, while the crowd gasped again.

Little Miss Sunshine landed, hard, and made a gurgling sound. She looked up once at me and pointed, still smiling that awful smile, before her face dropped to the ground.

The room once again was silent. 

Motorcycle Chick turned, running a hand gruffly through her platinum-blond pixie cut as she looked at me and frowned, her eyes the color of icicles.

Around us, the crowd began to move almost as one, with everyone rushing for the door.

I was about to turn too—getting out of there seemed like a brilliant idea—when Motorcycle Girl spoke again. Her words stopped me. “Way to protect everyone here, Sky. What were you waiting for? A sign from God?”

I looked at Cal—Cal looked at me. And I knew we were both thinking the same thing.

How the hell does this girl know my name?

Goodreads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21996356-night-sky


Buy Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/AmazonNightSky

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNNightSky

iBooks: http://bit.ly/AppleNightSky

Biography

Suzanne Brockman, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author, has won 2 RITA awards, numerous RT Reviewers’ Choice, and RWA’s #1 Favorite Book of the Year three years running. She has written over 50 books, and is widely recognized as a “superstar of romantic suspense” (USA Today). Suzanne and her daughter, Melanie Brockmann, have been creative partners, on and off, for many years. Their first project was an impromptu musical duet, when then-six-month-old Melanie surprised and delighted Suz by matching her pitch and singing back to her. Suzanne splits her time between Florida and Massachusetts while Mel lives in Sarasota, Florida. NIGHT SKY is Mel’s debut and Suzanne’s 55th book. Visit Suzanne at www.SuzanneBrockmann.com.

Social Networking Links


Website: http://www.suzannebrockmann.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneBrockmannBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuzBrockmann

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/32638.Suzanne_Brockmann

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Night Sky by Suzanne and Melanie appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
18. COMPULSION by Martina Boone {Review}

Review by Andye COMPULSIONSeries: Heirs of Watson IslandHardcover: 448 pagesPublisher: Simon Pulse (October 28, 2014)Goodreads | Amazon Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse. All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a

0 Comments on COMPULSION by Martina Boone {Review} as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. FAMOUS LAST WORDS by Katie Alender {Review}

Review by Valerie FAMOUS LAST WORDSby Katie AlenderAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 320 pagesPublisher: Point (September 30, 2014)Goodreads | Amazon Willa is freaking out. It seems like she's seeing things. Like a dead body in her swimming pool. Frantic messages on her walls. A reflection that is not her own. It's almost as if someone -- or something -- is trying to send

0 Comments on FAMOUS LAST WORDS by Katie Alender {Review} as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. Review: Dead Over Heels by Alison Kemper #zombies

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I enjoyed Alison Kemper’s Donna of the Dead, so when I saw Dead Over Heels on Netgalley, I was all over it.  I was expecting a continuation of that story, but Dead Over Heels features different characters.  It is set during the same time period, in the mountains of North Carolina.  It’s not as campy as the previous book, but once again, I was hooked and couldn’t step away from the zombie apocalypse.

Ava’s parents purchased a vacation home in rural North Carolina, so she’s stuck in the cold mountains during Thanksgiving break, instead of prowling the mall with her friends in Florida.  After her parents head to town, a 45 minute drive from their new digs, Ava’s world comes crashing to a halt.  Cole, who has been doing yard work for her father, comes pounding up the porch steps with unbelievable news – the zombie flu has arrived from China, and a band of zombies are about to eat them both.

Ava doesn’t believe him at first, but a glance at the shambling corpses quickly convinces her.  Grabbing her purse, which holds her live saving EpiPen, she races into the woods with Cole.  She’s desperate to stay alive and find her parents.  With zero wilderness survival skills, it’s a miracle that Cole was there to shepherd her away from the zombies.  He is familiar with the woods, he has extensive camping experience, and he has hunted on the mountain his entire life.  And oh, yeah, he’s drop dead gorgeous.

I am not a big fan of roughing it, so Ava’s extreme roughing it adventure was spellbinding.  She and Cole have practically no supplies, and did I mention that she is allergic to everything?  One insect bite and she goes into anaphylactic shock.  She is toast without her EpiPen.  She has spent her entire life avoiding the great out doors, and now she’s fleeing through the woods from zombies, trying to avoid wasps, bees, and every other stinging creature out there.  The zombies are the least of her worries.  While they are certainly a threat, she can outrun them.  A bug is a death sentence.

Dead Over Heels is a frantic race through the woods, battling hunger, the weather, bears, and the walking dead.  With all of the adrenalin pounding through their systems, Ava and Cole are constantly in a state of distress.  They hit it off like oil and water at first, due to their very different backgrounds.  Cole thinks of Ava as a Floridiot, and Ava rudely calls Cole a redneck.  As they are forced to rely on each other, and as they save each other from death time and again, they begin to develop feelings for each other.  Who could blame them?  They have no idea if anyone else is still alive, or whether everyone on the planet is now a stinky zombie.  It’s comforting that they have each other.

Told in alternating POV, I found both Cole and Ava likable and relatable.  I charged through Dead Over Heels, and I can hardly wait to see what’s next.  

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

The end of the world just might be their perfect beginning…

Glenview, North Carolina. Also known—at least to sixteen-year-old Ava Pegg—as the Land of Incredibly Boring Vacations. What exactly were her parents thinking when they bought a summer home here? Then the cute-but-really-annoying boy next door shows up at her place in a panic…hollering something about flesh-eating zombies attacking the town.

At first, Ava’s certain that Cole spent a little too much time with his head in the moonshine barrel. But when someone—or something—rotted and terrifying emerges from behind the woodpile, Ava realizes this is no hooch hallucination. The undead are walking in Glenview, and they are hungry. Panicked, Ava and Cole flee into the national forest. No supplies, no weapons. Just two teenagers who don’t even like each other fighting for their lives. But that’s the funny thing about the Zombpocalypse. You never know when you’ll meet your undead end. Or when you’ll fall dead over heels for a boy…

The post Review: Dead Over Heels by Alison Kemper #zombies appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

Add a Comment
21. Innocent Darkness

Innocent Darkness Suzanne Lazear

Steampunk Faeries. Oh yes. And that’s all you really need to know.

Ok, you want to know more.

Noli comes from a good family that’s fallen on hard times. She’s an ace engineer and too reckless and spirited to ever be the perfect Lady her mother expects. After one-too-many brushes with the law, she’s sent to a reform finishing school.

Kevighn Silver is drawn to the school--it’s a school devoted to ridding young ladies of the Spark. The Spark may make them less-than-society-perfect, but every 7 years, the faeries in the Otherworld need to sacrifice a mortal girl with Spark in order to keep the magic going. The time is coming fast, and it’s Kevighn’s job to find the girl. A well-timed wish in the wrong place, and poof, Noli’s in the Otherworld, slated to die.

On top of all this is Noli’s best friend and next-door-neighbor, V. Noli knows V’s father would never let them marry, so it’s all very platonic, despite her wishes that it could be something else. V knows something is very wrong and tracks her all the way to the Otherworld, where he just happens to be an exiled prince. YEP.

First off, despite the awesomeness of STEAMPUNK FAERIES*, Noli is what makes this book. Noli knows who she is. She likes who she is. She struggles that who she is isn’t who her mother wants or needs her to be and how she can best take care of what’s left of her family. I like that despite the tensions between who her mother (and society) expect her to be and who she is, she still really loves her mother. There's tension, but it's not much greater than most teen daughter/mother tension. I appreciate that it's not a breaking point between them. Unlike many "modern before her time" historical heroines, she chafes at the restrictions, but kind of understands them? Also, more than many historicals, Noli and the text understand that many of these restrictions are actually the restrictions of her class rather than the time period. (She wants to work. The fact her mother won't let her isn't because she's a girl, it's because girls of their station don't work. Even though her mother (most shamefully) does.) She’s brave and bold, but will still cry when things go to hell.

As with all good faeries stories, court politics and tradition are intriguing and dark (even if this one is dressed up in crazy fashion choices and steampunk toys.)

The first in a series, this one pretty much just sets everything up, but it builds a pretty awesome world you’ll want to stay in for longer. (Just don’t eat anything.)


*This is kinda like whenever I talk about His Fair Assassins, I just end up randomly shouting ASSASSIN NUNS! ASSASSIN NUNS!

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

0 Comments on Innocent Darkness as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. Atmospheric audiobooks

These audiobooks offer intrepid listeners stories of supernatural and psychological suspense, all with vividly evoked settings.

stroud screaming staircase audiobook Atmospheric audiobooksIn the world of Jonathan Stroud’s The Screaming Staircase (first book in the Lockwood & Co. series), ghost-busting firms employ psychically sensitive children to neutralize supernatural pests infesting London. Lucy Carlyle joins an indie agency — consisting of Lucy, amiable teenage owner Anthony Lockwood, and sardonic George — just before Lockwood accepts a client with a very haunted property. Miranda Raison’s narration imbues Lucy with the right balance of droll humor and compassion for uneasy spirits. Her pacing ratchets up the tension while allowing the teens’ snarky banter room to breathe in this thrilling and funny story. (Listening Library, 10–14 years)

sedgwick midwinterblood audiobook Atmospheric audiobooksMarcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood chronicles life on a remote Scandinavian island—going backwards from the future to the distant past — through seven related stories. The tales gradually reveal Blessed Island’s dependence on a strange drug and disturbing history of human sacrifice. Each tale centers on two bonded souls, reincarnated variously as family members, lovers, and intergenerational friends, who reunite only to be wrenched apart again. Narrator Julian Rhind-Tutt ably captures the emotional extremes of this unsettling novel: the uncanny recognition and tender reunion of the protagonists; the desperate fear and violence of their community; and the dark machinations of the island itself. (Listening Library, 12–16 years)

foxlee midnight dress audiobook Atmospheric audiobooksNew girl Rose’s sharp edges gradually soften through relationships with classmate Pearl and eccentric dressmaker Edie in Karen Foxlee’s The Midnight Dress. Edie teases out Rose’s past and shares her own as they sew Rose’s (possibly magical) gown for the upcoming harvest festival. Reader Olivia Mackenzie-Smith transports her listener to a specific era and place (1980s coastal Australia) while also imparting the lyrical prose’s dreamy sense of once-upon-a-time. But there’s no happily ever after here: interspersed interludes reveal that one of the girls has disappeared; Mackenzie-Smith gives these interludes an ominous tone as they progress inexorably towards betrayal and tragedy. (Listening Library, 14 years and up)

lockhart we were liars audiobook Atmospheric audiobooksAfter a two-year absence due to an accident she can’t remember, Cady returns to the private island where her beautiful, privileged family spends its summers. Relationships (particularly among Cady, her same-age cousins Johnny and Mirren, and family friend Gat) feel oddly strained, and no one will tell Cady what happened the summer of the accident. The pieces of her fragmented memory slowly come together to reveal a truth more devastating than Cady (or the listener) could have imagined. The shocking denouement of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars hits hard — and even more so with narrator Ariadne Meyers’s disbelieving, heartbroken delivery. (Listening Library, 14 years and up)

For more on recommended audiobooks from The Horn Book, click on the tag audiobooks. From the October 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

share save 171 16 Atmospheric audiobooks

The post Atmospheric audiobooks appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Atmospheric audiobooks as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. YA supernatural baddies

Looking for a book to send a chill down your spine? These four new novels involving creepy paranormal characters are perfect for the occasion.

ritter jackaby YA supernatural baddiesAbandoning university for a (failed) archaeological dig in the Carpathian Mountains, Abigail Rook, star of William Ritter’s Jackaby, finds herself aboard a ship bound for America. Landing in the town of New Fiddleham in 1892, the young Englishwoman begins working for the remarkable Mr. R. F. Jackaby — a detective whose perceptive observations are of the paranormal variety. Right away, they’re hot on the heels of a murderer — in the process encountering a banshee, a shape-shifter, and a redcap goblin. It’s a riveting mash-up of mystery and folklore, with vivid details and striking turns of phrase. (Algonquin, 12–16 years)

winters cure for dreaming YA supernatural baddiesIn Cat Winters’s The Cure for Dreaming, seventeen-year-old Olivia Mead supports women’s suffrage while her overbearing single father adamantly does not. Dr. Mead hires handsome visiting hypnotist Henri Reverie to set Livie straight about men and women’s proper roles and squelch her ability to argue. But sympathetic Henri hypnotizes Livie to see the way things are — not accept them. Livie’s visions, unsettling and surreal as nightmares, end up empowering her in this story about hypnotism and emotional manipulation. (Abrams/Amulet, 12–16 years)

kiernan into the grey YA supernatural baddiesTwin teens Patrick and Dominick move with their family to a shabby seaside cottage. Pat sees that Dom is being haunted by a young boy’s ghost, while Pat himself has nightmares about a WWI soldier. Eventually Dom is utterly possessed by boy ghost Francis, and Pat is desperate to do what he can to retrieve his brother. Celine Kiernan’s storytelling in Into the Grey is confident, powerful, and poetic. The twisting plot involves family love, local history, loyalty, and protectiveness, with a well-drawn cast of characters, energetic drama, and dialogue pierced with Irish dialect. (Candlewick, 12–16 years)

knudsen evil librarian YA supernatural baddiesSixteen-year-old Cynthia Rothschild’s ordinary junior year goes to hell — literally — when Cyn and her crush Ryan catch new librarian Mr. Gabriel unmasked with demonic wings and fangs in Michelle Knudsen’s Buffy-esque Evil Librarian. Cyn and Ryan team up to research demon-kind, recruit allies, prepare for a showdown with Mr. G. and co., and put on a damn fine musical production (she’s the tech director, he’s a theater prodigy). Smart, loyal, and witty, Cyn is an engaging heroine. Fans of Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Tantalize series or Larbalestier and Brennan’s Team Human will enjoy this blend of supernatural action, school story, romance, and dark comedy. (Candlewick, 14 years and up)

From the October 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

share save 171 16 YA supernatural baddies

The post YA supernatural baddies appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on YA supernatural baddies as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
24. An Open Letter to BELZHAR by Meg Wolitzer

by Becca BELZHARby Meg WolitzerHardcover: 272 pagesPublisher: Dutton Juvenile (September 30, 2014)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks. She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a

0 Comments on An Open Letter to BELZHAR by Meg Wolitzer as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. A bookish microcosm of Russia

My family often wonders about my propensity to jump from one seemingly unrelated topic to another, often within seconds.  What they usually don't realize is that in my mind, the topics are connected; I've merely forgotten to fill them in on the links.

With that in mind, I offer you three new books on Russia that in my mind, are dramatically different and yet completely complementary.  A young adult nonfiction book, a young adult fantasy, and a children's picture book a microcosm of Russia in history, magic and dance.

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Candace Fleming's, The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of the Imperial Russia (Random House Audio, 2014).  My review and an audio excerpt are linked here.

You can read my review or any number of stellar reviews, but I will sum up  by saying that whether you listen to the audio book or read the print copy, The Family Romanov is a fully immersive experience into the final years of tsarist Russia - the time, the place, and  the tragically doomed family.

I was happily mulling over this excellent book when I immediately received an opportunity to  review Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire (Brilliance Audio, 2014).  I had received a galley copy of Egg & Spoon in the spring.  I thought it looked intriguing, but hadn't had time to read it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is a folklore fantasy that takes place - of all places - in tsarist Russia.  I couldn't believe my good fortune.  The book was enhanced by my recent reading of The Family Romanov.  With the history of modern tsarist Russia fresh in my mind, the location and historical setting was vivid, leaving me more time to ponder the story's underpinning of Russian folklore, of which I was mostly ignorant.  I knew little of the witch, Baba Yaga and her peculiar house that walks on chicken legs, and I knew nothing of the magical Russian firebird.

My reviews are linked here and here.  Again, you can read my review or any other, but I will sum up by saying that Egg & Spoon is grand and magical - a metaphoric epic for readers from twelve to adult.

I was so happy to have read these excellent books in tandem and was recommending them at every turn, when I happened to hear an interview with Misty Copeland on the radio speaking about her experience dancing in the Russian ballet, The Firebird. What a coincidence, I thought - the firebird flies again in my milieu. A greater coincidence ocurred at work when I received my new copy of Misty Copeland's, Firebird. (Putnam, 2014)  Reading Egg & Spoon gave me an historical context for The Firebird ballet, and Misty Copeland tied it all together - a modern and immediate manifestation of history's struggles and stories - all rising like the mystical firebird.

So there you have it, my serendipitous encounter with Russian history, folklore and culture.  As our two countries struggle with our relationship, may we always remember that there is more to a country than its leaders and politicians.  There is always us, the common people. And as Egg & Spoon and Firebird will show you, there is always hope.



0 Comments on A bookish microcosm of Russia as of 10/8/2014 8:51:00 AM
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts