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Have you ever written a scary story? In honor of the Halloween season, we are interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers. Recently, we spoke with author Barry Lyga.
Lyga (pictured) started off writing novels for an adult audience. When those particular manuscripts did not sell, he began penning stories for a teen audience. He established his publishing career with the release of his hit young adult novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. Check out the highlights from our interview below…
Q: How did you land your first book deal?
A: I had written a couple of adult-ish novels that no one seemed to want to publish. It’s not they were bad — plenty of people liked them — they just weren’t sparking anyone’s interest. But a bunch of editors and agents who read them said, “Not yet — show me the next one.” The next one was completely different from those adult books — a YA novel about a bullied, comic book-obsessed dreamer. But I proudly showed it off to every agent and editor I could, and this time the reaction was pretty astounding. Within a few months of finishing the book, I met my agent at a writers’ conference. Within six months, she’d sold The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl. It was sort of a whirlwind.
Today we bring you the first in a series of “Top-10″ posts as part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations. First up is a selection of “Books that Open Windows” by award-winning writer Deborah Ellis.
Deborah’s latest novel came out last month: My Name Is Parvana (Groundwood Books, 2012) is the long-awaited sequel to her acclaimed The Breadwinner Trilogy. As well as fiction, Deborah has written non-fiction highlighting global social issues from children’s perspectives, such as war, AIDS and bullying, and giving affected children a voice. You can read PaperTigers’ interviews with Deborah here and here.
Top 10: Books that Open Windows by Deborah Ellis
Jean Little is a wonderful Canadian author of books for young people. She has a special place in my heart because when I was a child, my parents were friends with a friend of Jean’s – Jane Glaves – and I would get Ms. Little’s books for Christmas. One of my favorite Jean Little books is Look Through My Window, where one character talks about looking through someone’s window into who they are and what their lives are like.
The following books are ten I would recommend to anyone interested in seeing what’s inside someone else’s window.
1. From Anna, by Jean Little ~ Novel for young people about a German family who comes to Canada just before the start of World War 2. The youngest, Anna, has struggles with her eyesight, her awkwardness and figuring out where her place is in her family and in this new world.
2. All of a Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor ~ First in a series of books for young readers about a Jewish family in turn of the century Brooklyn. As the girls go about the adventures of their lives – such as earning money to pay for a lost library book – the family celebrates the calendar of holidays. As a Protestant-raised small-town girl, this was my first window into a different religion, and set off a respect and fascination for Judaism that continues to this day.
3. Obasan, by Joy Kogawa ~ Moving telling of a young girl’s experience in a Japanese internment camp in Canada during World War 2.
4. Nobody’s Family is Going to Change, by Louise Fitzhugh ~ Novel for young people about a girl in New York who can’t make her father see her for who she is. She grows to learn about other kids in other families and their struggles.
5. A Dog on Barkham Street and The Bully of Barkham Street, by Mary Stoltz – Look at the same story from two points of view. They taught me how to look for more than one side of the story.
6. Mighty Be Our Powers, by Leymah Gbowee ~ A powerful memoir of a woman who survived the Liberian civil war and won the Nobel Prize for her work to rebuild the country.
7. Amazing Grace, by Jonathan Kozol ~ About homelessness and poverty in America and the power of the education system to hurt or help the children in its care.
8. Shannen and the Dream for a School, by Janet Wilson – part of the Kids’ Power Book series for young activists, this is a profile of Shannen Koostachin and her First Nations community of Attawapiskat as they try to get a safe school built.
9. Bury Me Standing, by Isabel Fonseca ~ A moving, detailed history of the Roma people.
10. Grey is the Color of Hope, by Irina Ratushinskaya ~ Prison diaries of the Soviet poet who spent seven years in the Gulags. One of the few records we have about what that time and place was like for women.
Sophie's parents are divorced and she is spending her summer with her mother who lives in Congo, running a sanctuary for orphaned or injured bonobos. Sophie isn't thrilled with the idea of being in Africa for the entire summer, until she meets Otto, a bonobo being sold by a trafficker on the street. Sophie manages to save Otto and he becomes her constant companion.
As the summer progresses, Sophie works with Otto, caring for him and teaching him things. When a revolution breaks out in Congo while her mom is away, Sophie knows it's up to her to keep Otto safe until the revolution ends. And when instead of ending, the fighting and bloodshed arrive AT the sanctuary, Sophie knows she has to run.
I think this read was one of my biggest surprises of the year. I wasn't expecting to fall in love with the plot (or with Otto!), but I absolutely did. The writing is so fast-paced it reads like a thriller and the depth of Sophie's character was excellent. I found myself shedding tears over the astounding courage and determination she had to save this bonobo, while also learning more about the conflict Congo faced and feeling as if I were a witness to some of the utter horror the people of Congo were forced to experience. I don't think any of us know nearly the amount of information we think we do and it's a truly horrific war, yet one that needs awareness throughout the world. I certainly felt ignorant!
The author includes information in the back of the book on different organizations to get involved with or donate to in order to help the endangered bonobos. I highly encourage checking them out if you read and love this book the way I did. It's one of my favorite reads of the year.
Recommended for older teens. There's quite a bit of extreme violence and emotional destruction throughout the story.
Happy October! In honor of the Halloween season, we’ll be interviewing horror writers to learn about the craft of scaring readers. Recently, we spoke with young adult novelist Gretchen McNeil.
In September, HarperCollins Children’s Books published McNeil’s latest novel. When Barnes & Noble decided not to carry this title in their stores, she launched an internet marketing campaign called the “Army of TEN” and offered incentives for readers who helped to promote the book.
Currently, this title holds the #88 spot on Amazon’s list of bestselling teen books in the “mysteries” category. Check out the highlights from our interview below…
YA author Becca Fitzpatrick has landed a deal for her “stand-alone psychological thriller” called Black Ice. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers plans to release this novel in fall 2014.
Publisher Justin Chanda negotiated the deal with Inkwell Management literary agent Catherine Drayton. At the moment, Fitzpatrick is promoting the final installment of the Hush, Hush saga, Finale. That book will hit bookstores on October 23, 2012.
Fitzpatrick (pictured, via) gave this statement in the release: “Black Ice is about a girl who backpacks the Teton Range over spring break of her senior year of high school but things go terribly wrong. Like Hush, Hush, the inspiration behind Black Ice comes from my own experiences during my teen years. It’s very satisfying to finally be working on a project that has been floating around my head for so long.”
I love when I start reading an author with their very first published book and I can watch them grow as a writer. I'm able to feel a connection with the author that I wouldn't normally get when picking up a 3rd novel or a 6th. With Maggie Stiefvater, I started reading her at the very beginning -- her Wolves of Mercy Falls series and then moved onto The Scorpio Races. Now, with The Raven Boys, I can really see how she is progressing with her characters, her plotting, and how she's added more meat into each book. I love it! I've also met Maggie at the store and she is so, so nice.
So the story starts with Blue, the daughter of a psychic and a fantastic character She almost reminded me a bit of Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. She's fiesty, independent, stubborn, yet has a soft heart. She doesn't want to fulfill the fate that her mother has always told her she will someday meet. She doesn't want to kill the boy the boy she falls in love with, yet part of her knows it's inevitable.
Gansey is a Raven Boy. He attends Aglionby Academy, is rich, privileged, and often insults people without even meaning to. He thinks money can take care of any problem and can post certainly buy happiness. He's totally obsessed with his search for a ley line, roping his loyal friends into helping him, no matter what the cost.
The richness in this story is in the descriptions and the quiet moments inside each character's head. I think Adam was my favorite, as his background really came into play and I found myself looking forward to the parts of the plot that would focus on him. I really hope he plays a bigger role in the next two books.
My only minor issue with the book was the length. I felt some parts could have been left out, not compromising the story, and we wouldn't have had such a long book. I certainly don't mind 400 page books, but there were several scenes, particularly with Gansey that I felt could have been shortened a bit.
Definitely looking forward to book 2!
The Raven Boys Maggie Stiefvater 408 pages Young Adult Scholastic 9780545424929 September 2012 Review copy
Lerner Publishing Group’s Carolrhoda Books occasionally accepts unagented submissions. According to editorial director Andrew Karre, the publisher will take young-adult manuscripts from October 1st until October 31st.
Follow this link to read all the details and Karre’s instructions. Karre added that he does not like university-aged protagonists, manuscripts that exceeds 100,000 words or books that “have series potential.” He prefers projects that feature unusual people, unfamiliar mythologies and doomed romance.
Karre included three tips for authors: “Things I require: That you follow my submission guidelines. That your cover letter be very brief and you not agonize over it for more than twenty minutes. Your extreme patience. I’m slow. I often return to manuscripts several times before I make a decision.”
The Maze Runner author James Dashner has signed a 3-book deal with Random House Children’s Books’ Delacorte Press imprint. Executive Editor Krista Marino negotiated the deal with Dystel & Goderich Literary Management vice president Michael Bourret.
Starting in fall 2013, Delacorte will publish the titles of The Mortality Doctrine series for North American readers. Book one, The Eye of Minds,will come out in both print and eBook format simultaneously. Dashner (pictured, via) has also written original short stories to accompany this series; these shorts will be released in eBook format.
Here’s more from the release: “The series is set in an exciting — and frightening—world of hyper-advanced technology, cyber terrorists, and gaming…The VirtNet is total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Recent reports claim that there’s a gamer going beyond what any gamer has ever done before. He’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet, and the side–effects are horrific. His hostages have all been diagnosed as brain dead—and no one knows what his goal is. The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael.”
Think young adult readers are a bunch of teenagers? Think again.
According to a new report from Bowker Market Research called Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age, 55 percent of people that buy YA books are 18 years and older. And 78 percent of these shoppers are buying these books for their own reading. So what age group of adults are reading YA? The biggest group of adults who buy these YA books are between the ages of 30 and 44.
Publisher’s Weekly has more: “Indeed, 30% of respondents reported they were reading works in the Hunger Games series. But the remaining 70% of readers reported a vast variety of titles (over 220), only two of which commanded more than five percent of overall sales – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Breaking Dawn.”
According to the publisher, Glines has sold more than 150,000 digital copies of the books since October 2011. Simon Pulse editorial director Jennifer Klonsky negotiated the deal with Dystel & Goderich’s Jane Dystel.
Simon Pulse has already released both books in eBook format. The Vincent Boys will come out in both hardcover and trade paperback format on October 30th. The Vincent Brothers will follow on December 18th.
On Roanoke Island, the legend of the 114 people who mysteriously vanished from the Lost Colony hundreds of years ago is just an outdoor drama for the tourists, a story people tell. But when the island faces the sudden disappearance of 114 people now, an unlikely pair of 17-year-olds may be the only hope of bringing them back.
Miranda, a misfit girl from the island's most infamous family, and Phillips, an exiled teen criminal who hears the voices of the dead, must dodge everyone from federal agents to long-dead alchemists as they work to uncover the secrets of the new Lost Colony. The one thing they can't dodge is each other.
BLACKWOOD is a dark, witty coming of age story that combines America’s oldest mystery with a thoroughly contemporary romance.
"With whip-smart, instantly likable characters and a gothic small-town setting, Bond weaves a dark and gorgeous tapestry from America's oldest mystery." - Scott Westerfeld, New York Times bestselling author of the Leviathan series
"This haunting, romantic mystery intrigues, chills, and captivates." - Cynthia Leitich Smith, New York Times bestselling author of the Tantalize series
"Miranda Blackwood's battle against her own history is utterly modern—and utterly marvelous. She's truly a heroine all readers can rally behind." - Micol Ostow, author of family and So Punk Rock
"A deft and clever debut! Bond takes some reliably great elements—a family curse, the mark of Cain, the old and endlessly fascinating mystery of the Roanoke Colony—and makes them into something delightfully, surprisingly new. How does she do that? I suspect witchcraft." - Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
A lonely 423-pound boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make history. This New Year's Eve, he’s going to eat himself to death live on the Internet – and everyone will watch.
When he makes this announcement online, he expects pity, insults, or possibly sheer indifference. Instead, his classmates become morbid cheerleaders for his deadly plan. When that encouragement tips the scales into popularity, Butter has a reason to live. But if he doesn’t go through with his plan, he’ll lose everything.
BUTTER has the relentless immediacy of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY (talk about a ticking clock!), but the keen observations and dark humor of the main character keep the book from becoming grim. I think that the thing that freaked me out most about BUTTER was that I could identify so well with both the bullied... and the bullies. And though I was disturbed by some of the content, I found myself thinking about the book long after I'd turned the last page.
"A gripping debut about J.P. (aka "Butter") who, tired of being the fat kid at school, decides to binge-eat himself to death live on his website, butterslastmeal.com, on New Year's Eve. When Butter is suddenly swept into the 'cool' crowd, he must decide if popularity is worth dying for." --Brandi Stewart, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ
“When does an Internet dare go too far? Erin Jade Lange tackles a timely topic with a hefty dose of in-your-face intensity, tempered by the droll sense of humor from an unexpectedly fierce narrator. Butter’s voice is loud, funny and unapologetic. I cared deeply for him and found myself rooting for him to find a way out of the mess he’d made.” - Daisy Whitney, author of THE MOCKINGBIRDS
“A clever, tender and emotional page-turner! Butter’s sharp and witty narrative had me laughing out loud on one page and broke my heart just as easily on the next. Debut author Erin Jade Lange proves she knows how to tell a story and this is one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.” - Courtney Summers, author of SOME GIRLS ARE and THIS IS NOT A TEST
I know, I know! I've been lax at blogging lately. I've read so much this summer that I just haven't wanted to do anything else. I have a bunch of blog tours coming up and I hope I can keep up with that! It's just crazy!
I've also stepped out of my comfort zone and started reading some more mature novels. It's nice to get out of the YA genre for a little while. Although, I have read some fantastic YA reads this summer, I seem to be gravitating toward the new adult/mature young adult titles lately. Perhaps they satisfy my romantic need in me. I like the older young adult stories because they really seem to capture the essence of that time period in ones life. Being the mom of a nearly 22 year old, I see the struggles and the enjoyment that they share. It's not easy being the mom of a nearly 22 year because I'm only a few years older (HA!). Deep down, I still feel 17 and want to keep feeling this way. I did something this summer that kinda pissed off my hubby. I colored my hair (the undersides only) blue! I love it, but hubby was horrified. He thinks I'm too old to do something like this, but you know what? We have ONE life and I want to live it to the fullest. If coloring my hair makes me happy, then so be it! I'll be getting a touch up soon and might switch to purple. We'll see.
My little one will be heading into third grade on Tuesday. I've been struggling with her this summer because I just cannot get her to read her summer reading! You'd think with all the books and the nook that she has, she'd be reading up a storm. Nope. Nada. With books a huge part of my life, I just can't seem to tear her away from Spongebob, Phineas & Ferb and Shake it up! Oh throw in iCarly and Victorious. She has to read ONE Magic Tree House book by Mary Pope Osborne. We bought her the whole darn set for the Nook and she REFUSES. And she has a project that she has to finish before next Tuesday. So any ideas as to how to get her to finally read without screaming, yelling and threatening would be very helpful. I can tell her no ice cream for dessert, but I don't think that's strong enough!
I'm kinda sad that summer is ending. It goes by so quickly and then it's fall and winter and I just don't want to deal with short days and long nights and the cold. I like the warmth and the sunshine and the long days (although it gets darker here in MA around 8ish now). I definitely deal with seasonal affective depression. It sucks. Hopefully great books will help me through and great readers of my blog. I'm still thinking of switching over to wordpress, just haven't given it much thought. I know I have books to send out too. I've been extremely lazy about that. I will send them out, soon. I promise.
Well I'm getting ready to hit the gym. I still have a bunch of weight to lose and I'm hoping to go to Vegas this October with the hubs for his bday. We need some time away!
Hope everyone had a great summer filled with wonderful books and for those of you heading back to school, good luck and don't be a stranger!
Debby Dahl Edwardson, My Name Is Not Easy Marshall Cavendish, 2011.
What’s in a name? For many people, it stands for something that directly correlates to that person’s sense of identity. In My Name Is Not Easy, author Debby Dahl Edwardson has taken this idea of identity (whether it’s through a name, an action, or relationships with others) to show how it shapes her characters. There’s Luke Aaluk, whose Inupiaq name has been changed because it’s “too hard” to pronounce, and his two younger brothers, Bunna and Isaac. There’s Chickie, a “white Eskimo” who doesn’t fit into either world. Donna and Junior, both quiet and observant, are on the sidelines, but yearning to finally break out and make a name for themselves. Finally, there’s Amiq and Sonny, the “alpha males” of the respective Indian and Eskimo cliques who are constantly butting heads for control.
The story follows these young children for a span of four years (1960-1964) and begins with the Aaluk family discovering that their boys, Luke, Bunna, and Isaac are being shipped off hundreds of miles away to a boarding school called Sacred Heart School to become “good Christians.” As the story unfolds, the reader learns of the characters’ histories that have made them who they are today (alcoholic parents, abandonment). Edwardson steers clear of any romanticized image of Eskimos and Indians and touches on the hardships that many of them have faced through poverty and ethnocentrism.
The book not only addresses native culture, but also some of the major events that occurred in Alaska during the 1960s, such as Project Chariot. This was a real proposal made by the US Atomic Energy Commission as a way to demonstrate the peaceful use of atomic energy, and the military really did conduct experiments on native villages using iodine-131. Edwardson doesn’t go into much detail regarding these events, but rather, she uses them as a way of conveying even more ominous things to come. All of the characters are unsure of how or why these events are occurring, but they know it can’t be good for them, their families, or their communities.
My Name Is Not Easy is a moving story and while some of the topics can be difficult to read about, Edwardson has ultimately created something invaluable, a tale to keep history alive and educate people now as well as future generations to come.
Molly Beth Griffin has won the $10,000 Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature for her debut YA novel, Silhouette of a Sparrow. The Minesotta-based indie publisher will release the title in September 2012.
Griffin is a writing teacher at the Loft Literary Center. In 2011, she published a picture book called Loon Baby which features illustrations by artist Anne Hunter. Currently, she has projects in-the-works for both picture book and middle grade readers. Follow this link to read Griffin’s blog post on research.
Here’s more from about the book: “Sent to spend the summer with distant relatives at a resort hotel in Excelsior, Minnesota, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson—budding ornithologist; reluctant troublemaker; adventurous spirit—quickly compiles a list of all the things she wants to do: sneak into the new amusement park, wander the countryside looking for new birds, and somehow convince her mother to let her attend college. It’s 1926 and Garnet is well aware of the world’s expectations for her: after this summer with her relatives, she is to marry, settle down, and become a housewife. But what no one expects—least of all Garnet—is that she’ll fall in love with the beautiful and daring Isabella, a flapper at the local dance hall.”
Kathleen Martin (author-photographer), Kamakwie: Finding Peace, Love, and Injustice in Sierra Leone
Red Deer Press, 2011.
Kamakwie, Canadian writer Kathleen Martin’s moving memoir in photo essay format, reports on a three-week trip to Sierra Leone that opened her eyes and heart to the suffering of the people there during and since their devastating 1991-2002 civil war. Martin accompanied a four-person volunteer medical team; the project was commissioned by the Canadian International Development Agency and World Hope Canada. Kamakwie is the name of one of the villages the team served.
Martin’s present-tense account takes us chronologically through her experience. A young mother herself, she empathizes deeply with mothers whose children have died of starvation or other horrors of war. A man who lost his arm tells her that anger won’t bring back his limb; she is shocked to learn that the woman who betrayed him still lives in the same village. Martin struggles with how to respond to a deserving kid’s request for school fees, later to find the amount is only $5. She organizes English writing workshops for kids to tell their stories and to write to Canadian children, then quotes liberally from their reports and politely desperate pleas for help. She watches a child dying of starvation, learns about the superstitions that have kept her father from seeking treatment, writes frankly of her own incredulousness when she realizes how little she or even the medical team can actually do to help… and yet, they all do offer both concrete help and precious hope for the future. Martin’s candid photographs add immensely to her powerful stories about these beautiful, remarkably forgiving people.
Early on in her 200-page book, readers may find Martin’s naive reactions a bit exasperating. She veers close to stressing her own responses more than the accounts of individual survivors that bring alive their terrible history. But the double purpose of her book gradually becomes clear: Martin wants her young readers to understand both the desperate circumstances of the Sierra Leone people and also the process by which she has honestly faced painful truths about human behavior and consequently aspires to be of greater help. Her touching and revealing openness offers privileged western young people the opportunity to learn how compassion grows by experiencing it for themselves. Back matter includes an author interview and a link to the book’s website.
GUYS. I AM HAVING AN UGLY CRY ABOUT POSTING THIS AND I AM STILL IN SHOCK AND I CAN’T STOP SHOUTING IN RANDOM CAPS-LOCKY WAY BECAUSE…
My agent sold my debut. Our first book deal.
(C’mon. I know you want to sing along with me.)
I can’t believe this is happening. And if you are my twitter friend, or my IRL friend, or my I-haven’t-met-you-yet friend, you may or may not know how daunting and scary and wonderful my writing journey has been so far. Whatever the case, thank you for sharing this moment with me. I love you for it. I would hug you very tightly right now, if you were here. I would ugly cry on your shoulder, and you would get impatient and tell me to stop being so maudlin and so silly, and I would listen to you. But just for a minute. Then I would start acting like a sentimental nincompoop again because…
One of my childhood dreams is coming true. I WRITE BOOKS AND SOMEONE BELIEVES IN THEM AND SOMEONE WANTS TO PUT THEM OUT INTO THE WORLD. I AM A PENGUIN.
I am so incredibly happy and lucky to be able to write that. I have so many people to thank (My family! My fabulous agent, Sara! My dream editor, Heather!). I have presents to give. I have (not very) gory details to share. But that is another post, one I’ll be writing soon. For now, thank you for reading this and being my any kind of friend. It means a lot to me.
Following his middle grade debut, Glee actor Chris Colfer will be publishing a young-adult novel called Struck by Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will release this title in the US on November 20th.
Struck by Lightning was based on a screenplay Colfer (pictured, via) wrote. PerezHilton.com reports that the film, which stars Colfer in the role of Carson Phillips, features a “coming-of-age comedy” storyline. The movie will be hitting theaters later this year after the book release. Follow this link to view the official movie trailer.
Colfer had this statement in the release: “When production wrapped on Struck By Lightning, I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to these characters and was thrilled when Little, Brown asked me to adapt the story into a novel. I felt the best way to tell Carson’s story was through his critical eyes in a journal he kept the last months of his life. So this is a story about adolescence, told through the eyes of a teenager, for other teenagers.”
Sequel to Graceling; Companion to Fire
by Kristin Cashore
Bitterblue is that rare sequel that not only lives up to expectations set by the first book, but exceeds them by quite a bit. Each book in this series is better than the previous one, and Bitterblue is an exceptional book: heartbreaking, deep, and beautiful. Kristin Cashore has managed an amazing and unusual feat: she created a genre story whose primary theme is healing, that is as mesmerizing and page-turning as any epic good vs. evil battle.
Because of the nature of this book, I'm going to have to give some spoilers for Graceling and Fire to be able to adequately discuss Bitterblue. If you haven't read those two books, I highly recommend you read them before continuing with this review. Before you stop reading, however, I wanted to take a minute to give a content advisory. Bitterblue contains some highly disturbing elements, and is probably not a good fit for most middle-grade readers. There are references to rape and torture that happened in the past, and although they are not explicitly described, there is enough implied to make them disturbing. Some of the things that were done to characters, or that they were forced to do, are truly horrific. Some of the characters don't deal well with this past: both suicide and cutting happen during the course of the book, for example. These things are handled sensitively and responsibly, but even so, some readers will not be ready for such heavy themes.
Spoilers for Graceling and Fire Below
Bitterblue is now 18 and has taken her place as Queen of Monsea, with the help of four advisors who had served under her father and who were selected to aid her by uncle, King Ror of Lienid. Things are not well in the kingdom of Monsea. Bitterblue's father, King Leck, may be dead, but the shadow of his reign and his atrocities still looms over the kingdom. Essentially, the entire kingdom is suffering from a kind of PTSD.
Somehow, Bitterblue must find a way to heal Monsea and its people. But like everyone else in the kingdom, her memories are fuzzy from Leck's mind manipulations, and she is so busy with paperwork and administrative tasks that she doesn't have time to learn more about the kingdom. Desperate to understand her kingdom and her people, Bitterblue takes to sneaking out of the castle at night, disguised as a man. She discovers that things are even worse than she suspected. The city is falling apart and people are being killed, apparently to suppress the truth about Leck's reign.
Bitterblue is a deeply emotional book that deals with some difficult topics. Leck did things, horrible things, and it's fair to say that, even dead, he is the primary villain of this story. It's rare to see a genre book delve so deeply into the realm of the psyche and the theme of healing; topics such as cutting and suicide are more common in contemporary teen fiction. Kashore handles these themes and topics brilliantly and sensitively.
Bitterblue is a wonderful character. Much of the book is also a journey of self-discovery for her, as she moves out of the shadow of her father, finds herself, and learns how to be a queen.
All of the other characters are equally fascinating and well-developed, from Bitterblue's tormented advisors, who were hurt at least as much as anyone during Leck's reign, to the dashing sailor Sapphire and his printer friend Teddy, whom she meets in the city. My favorite new character has to b
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I hope everyone has been having a fun summer, and it’s not over yet! I want to tell you about local two events coming up next weekend. All the fans of Joy Preble’s magical trilogy will be gathering for the grande finale of Russian history, romance, magic and mythology with Anne, Ethan and Anastasia.
From Joy’s website: Secrets within secrets. Truths within lies. Anastasia—She was the darling of the glittering Winter Palace while her half brother Viktor was relegated to the shadows. Now he’s ready to take his turn in the spotlight…and revenge on the world that shunned him. Anne—The visions won’t stop. One minute she’s in her bedroom on her cell phone. And the next she’s in the past witness to the private moments of the royal Romanov family. Ethan—He’s been eighteen for nearly century and finding Anne is the best thing that’s ever happened to him. But the magic in his blood is turning darker, forcing him to wonder whether he’s the most dangerous threat of all. History Doesn’t Tell Us Everything….
August 11, Saturday, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. THE BOOK NOOK Multiple Author Visit
Fifteen of authors from Fort Bend are meeting to sign your copy of their book! This event includes authors of many genres, including Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of THE CONCH BEARER and authors of other children’s books.
Back in March, Sally highlighted the launch of our current Book of the Month, Tomo, edited by Holly Thompson (Stonebridge Press, 2012). Carrying the by-line “Friendship through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories”, this is a wonderfully rich book that readers will want to dip into again and again, and all proceeds go to orgainisations working with young people affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Our review is coming soon; in the meantime, I wanted to return to the poem that Sally highlighted in her post: “Be not Defeated by the Rain” by Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933).
I didn’t know the poem before I read its opening cited at the beginning of Tomo and I wanted to know more about it. I was not only bowled over by the poem itself, but I was also much struck by Holly’s description in her Foreword of how the poem came into her head and repeated itself over and over as she attempted to come to terms with the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last year.
The rest of the poem is no less powerful than the opening. Although I am sadly unable to enjoy the poem in the original, I love the sonority and simplicity of David Sulz‘ translation, quoted in full here:
Be not defeated by the rain, Nor let the wind prove your better.
Succumb not to the snows of winter. Nor be bested by the heat of summer.
Be strong in body. Unfettered by desire. Not enticed to anger. Cultivate a quiet joy.
Count yourself last in everything. Put others before you.
Watch well and listen closely. Hold the learned lessons dear.
A thatch-roof house, in a meadow, nestled in a pine grove’s shade.
A handful of rice, some miso, and a few vegetables to suffice for the day.
If, to the East, a child lies sick: Go forth and nurse him to health.
If, to the West, an old lady stands exhausted: Go forth, and relieve her of burden.
If, to the South, a man lies dying: Go forth with words of courage to dispel his fear.
If, to the North, an argument or fight ensues:
Go forth and beg them stop such a waste of effort and of spirit.
In times of drought, shed tears of sympathy.
In summers cold, walk in concern and empathy.
Stand aloof of the unknowing masses:
Better dismissed as useless than flattered as a “Great Man”.
This is my goal, the person I strive to become.
Tomo has a blog running alongside it, featuring a wealth of interviews etc. with the book’s contributors. Do read the interview with David Sulz, in which he discusses his translation of the poem and its impact. He generously gave his translation to the World of Kenji Miyazawa website, who have made it freely available. You can also read more information about Kenji Miyazawa and his children’s stories and poems, including background to “Be Not Defeated by the Rain” here, and other poems to download here.
So as some of you know, I'll be attending LeakyCon for the second time next weekend. I'm excited because last year was SO fun. I love Harry Potter, I love Chicago, I'm basically obsessed with all my fellow LitDay participants....basically I'm going to BE NERDY and GET MY RAVENCLAW ON.
But sadly I don't JUST get to guzzle butterbeer and run around a hotel in a cape. I'm also, you know, doing official stuff. I'm on a Diversity in YA panel, I'm on a "How Not to get Published" panel... and I am MODERATING at panel too!
Moderating? Me? YES!
Is This Panel Too Dirty? For many, sex is a tricky and sometimes squicky business. How do you write a sex scene? Should there be sex in YA novels? Our panelists discuss the pros and cons and talk about how it’s done. (Possible graphic content.)
Panelists: Daniel Ehrenhaft (editor & author), Laini Taylor (author), Kate Schafer Testerman (agent), moderated by ME!
So here's where YOU come in. I want more points of view on this stuff. I have some questions - what do you think? How would you ANSWER them? And what other questions would YOU ask the esteemed editor, author and agent on this panel?
* Lot of people say there can be sex in YA books as long as it is not "gratuitous" - what does that even mean?
* How far is "too far" -- is there any topic TOO TABOO for a YA book?
* For the editor and agent: Have you ever asked an author to tone down sex scenes? Why?
* For the author(s): Have you ever been asked to tone down (or ramp up!) sex scenes?
* For editor: Do sales & marketing departments ever have a say on a books content? Does "cleanness" or "edginess" affect how you publish & promote the book?
* Sometimes books come under fire or are banned because of content issues. How does this affect the authors?
* What are some of your favorite "sexy" YAs? Are they actually "dirty" or is it more sexual tension than outright s-e-x?
Anything else I should be sure to ask?
*comments are moderated - if I'm not at my computer it might take awhile. sorry!*
Edited and with a Foreword by Holly Thompson, Tomo
Stone Bridge Press, 2012.
‘Tomo’ means ‘friend’ in Japanese and the purpose of this Anthology of Teen Stories is to offer friendship to Japan following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 11 March 2011: specifically, the book is dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives and to “all the young people of Tohuka”. Author Holly Thompson (The Wakame Gatherers, Orchards) has gathered contributions from creators of prose, poetry and graphic narrative, as well as translators, whose shared connection is Japan. Their work makes for a remarkable collection.
Many of the contributors’ names such as Alan Gratz, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Shogo Oketani, or Graham Salisbury may already be familiar to readers; others such as Naoko Awa (1943-1993) or Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) will be less so, though famous in Japan. A great deal of Tomo’s success lies in its blend of expertly translated older stories with contemporary, new writing, and this is true also of the stories’ content. Many modern Japanese phenomena colour the stories, such as the particular fashion of Harajuku girls (“I Hate Harajuku Girls” by Katrina Toshiko Grigg-Saito) or the Purikura photo sticker booths (“Signs” by Kaitlin Stainbrook), yet these sit easily alongside more traditional stories such as the magical Ainu fable “Where the Silver Droplets Fall”, transcribed and translated into Japanese by Yukie Chiri (1903-1922) and translated into English by Deborah Davidson. The anthology is all the richer for its varied array of writing, and its success is also in a great part due to the skill of the different translators involved.
The thirty-six stories are divided into sections: Shocks and Tremors, Friends and Enemies, Ghosts and Spirits, Powers and Feats, Talents and Curses, Insiders and Outsiders, and Families and Connections. The opening story, “Lost” by Andrew Fukuda, is the gripping account of a girl regaining consciousness in a hospital bed following the Kobe earthquake in 1995; the other four stories in that opening section, including Tak Toyoshima’s graphic strip “Kazoku”, all have the raw immediacy of being set in the aftermath of the March 11th disaster.
Among the other stories, readers will find stories to suit every mood: thought-provoking tales of conflict, spine-tingling ghost stories (I’m glad all these happen to have fallen to my reading in hours of daylight!), ostracism and friendship, romance, magic and surrealism. Yearning to belong is a thread running through many stories, and the intensity for those characters seeking their identity is heightened where they are part of a bicultural family. Nor does the collection flinch from addressing racial prejudice or the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War.
As with all good short-story anthologies, Tomo needs to be read slowly in order to savour the intense individual flavors of its contents. Framed by an extract from David Sulz’s translation of Miyazawa’s thought-provoking poem “Be Not Defeated by the Rain” as well as Holly Thompson’s moving Foreword, and a glossary and note on the book’s contributors (a rich mine for future reading), Tomo is a very speci
Harper Lee‘s To Kill a Mockingbird is the No. 3 best YA novel ever written, according to NPR listeners. The 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels list was, not surprisingly, led by the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games. The Hobbit, The Catcher in the Rye, The Lord of the Rings and Fahrenheit 451 also made the top 10.
An impressive 75,220 NPR listeners voted. The contest began with listeners sharing their favorite titles, which resulted in a list of more than 1,200 nominations. Then a panel of book experts whittled this down to a list of 235 choices, which was then put back to NPR listeners to decide.
Panel members included: Pamela Paul, The New York Times Book Review’s features editor and children’s book editor; Diane Roback, Publisher’s Weekly’s children’s book editor; Tasha Robinson, book editor for The Onion’s A.V. Club; and teacher and librarian Ted Schelvan.
Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence will earn $10 million for starring in the sequel, Catching Fire. Lawrence only earned $500,000 (plus bonuses) for her performance in the first Hunger Games movie.
Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “[Lawrence's] original deal with studio Lionsgate locked her into four planned films based on the best-selling Suzanne Collins trilogy, but producers — recognizing the success of the franchise — moved to renegotiate her contract as the film became an international sensation.”
Co-stars Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson are also rumored to be seeking pay bumps.