Month: January 2016

January Wrap-Up Plus Random Author Facts #amreading

Here I was thinking I’d read eight books a month throughout 2016–and then started with four books in January. Ah, well c’est la vie (or however you spell that). They were all fun to read.

`the diviners

The Diviners by Libba Bray

With The Diviners, I got to completely immerse myself in a different era and thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven’t read much historical fiction, but I plan to now. The Roaring ’20s was an AWESOME setting for a book about “diviners” (kids with supernatural abilities) chasing down an occult bad guy. Deftly told from multiple points of view, I fell in love with the characters Memphis Campbell and Theta Knight (though Evie was actually the central character). Libba Bray has an excellent writing style, and I look forward to checking out the next book in the series, Lair of Dreams, as well as another Bray book I’ve heard good things about, A Great and Terrible Beauty.

~Random Author Fact ~

Libba Bray is married to her agent, Barry Goldblatt.

magonia

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

I’ll be honest, the first few chapters of Magonia found me skimming a bit, but before long I was thrillingly engaged. What words can I use to describe the world-building? Extraordinary, striking, outlandish, whimsical, hallucinatory . . . and completely believable. It’s so hard to explain without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just say I’m grateful to Beth @ betwixt-the-lines for making me read this book. If you’ve read it, too, I’d love to hear your take on it.

~Random Author Fact ~

In 2005, Maria Dahvana Headley wrote a very different kind of book, non-fiction actually, called The Year of Yes. When Shonda Rhimes (of Gray’s Anatomy fame) recently released a book with the same title, Dahvana Headley was, shall we say, miffed and wasn’t afraid to say so. Publicly. On Twitter.

Maria Dahvana Headley - pissed about copying The Year of Yes title

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The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Let’s see . . . what was my original reason for deciding to read this book? Right, I freaking love time slip stories! (If you have any to recommend, I am all ears–er, eyes?) It’s 1996, and Emma is one of the first kids on her block to get a home computer. Emma’s cute neighbor/former best friend Josh gives her a CD-ROM so she can load email onto her computer and, lo and behold, Emma magically gains access to her FUTURE Facebook account. The story is told through alternating chapters of Emma’s and Josh’s POVs, and I have to admit, the two voices were so similar I sometimes had to check the first page of the chapter to make sure whose POV I was reading. This is a complaint other readers have had, too, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying The Future of Us for what it was: a cute, entertaining, and a pleasantly quick read.

~Random Author Fact ~

The Future of Us came to be because a teen fan asked Carolyn Mackler (a panelist at a book event) what her dream writing project would be, and Mackler decided she really wanted to collaborate with Jay Asher.

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The Door that Led to Where by Sally Gardner

As I type this review for the last of my January reads, I realize I read all four book exactly in order of how much I ended up liking them. Coincidence. . . or not? Yes, pure coincidence. 🙂 The Door that Led to Where was well-written in terms of descriptions and similes and all that (I especially enjoyed Gardner’s fun anthropomorphisms). I definitely wanted to keep reading ’til the end, but The Door that Led to Where didn’t get in-depth enough into the story it sought to tell. Good-natured 17-year-old AJ Flynn discovers a secret door to the past, which reveals important information about his true identity and puts him on the trail (perhaps in the path) of a murderer. I loved the scenes set in the 1830s (hmm, more historical fiction–I sense a personal trend), but my biggest complaint is that I never felt like I really got to know the characters.

~Random Author Fact ~

Because of undiagnosed dyslexia, Sally Gardner did not learn to read and write until she was fourteen.

 

Upcoming Reads :

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Buddy-reading with Beth @ betwixt-the-pages and Jess @ Gone with the Words.)
  • Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (Buddy-reading with Sarah K. @ The YA Book Traveler.)
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
  • Angelfall by Susan Ee
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

 

 

 

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A Moment of Gratitude. . .

sunny forest

A sunny day in green forest with high trees

I love. . .

life.

reading.

my reading friends.

writing.

my writer friends.

my daughter and how she brings sparkle and laughter to my life.

my son and how ambitious, confident and reliable he is.

my husband and how loyal and smart he is.

the city I live in with its small town feel, friendly people, and quaint Old Town and British-style traffic circle, even though it’s actually a big city with all the conveniences.

that I have a short commute to work.

losing myself in music, both as a listener and as a player, and that jubilant moment when I hear, for the first time, a song I know I’ll love forever.

the music and foreign language students of all ages I work with, their enthusiasm, “aha” moments, hugs, and goofy things they say like, “You smell like a seashell.”

my piano students, AKA friends and fellow musicians, who tell me jokes and say Anna is way better than Elsa (I agree!), and get me to do my Stitch, dog, pigeon, and wicked witch imitations.

the excitement of knowing I will publish novels.

my two dogs and two cats, the friendliest, most intuitive furry friends ever, especially Teddie, our not-purebred-poodle-after-all with his really ugly butt.

my friends who make me feel like the nicest, funniest, smartest person in the world and who’ll talk to me about anything.

my parents and wish they lived closer.

my brothers and what good family men they are.

ice cream, being outside on sunny days, being indoors on cloudy days, libraries, meeting nice people, amazing talent, handsome cowboys (but, sorry, not cowboy music), epiphanies,  dumb blonde jokes, walking in the woods, and beauty in all its forms.

–Eve Messenger

 

 

Inspiration: Which Artist Do You Wish You Could Write Like?

Janelle Monae

Musician and performance artist Janelle Monae makes music the way I want to write: totally out of the box and genuine.  If you have not watched her video for the song Tightrope, please do not pass “go;” head directly to YouTube. . . or watch it here. 🙂

 

Talk about truth and singing from the heart, watch what happens starting at 1:33 when Janelle Monae sings, “I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me.” She released this video as-is. Why? Because it’s deeply honest.

 

Which artist would you like to write fiction like?

What to Do If a Song Gets Stuck in Your Head

twenty one pilots

An earworm is a snippet of a song WISH I COULD TURN BACK TIME. . . that gets stuck in your head and relentlessly refuses to leave. TO THE GOOD OLD DA-AYS It drifts off to sleep with you each night and greets you every morning even before you’re fully awake. WHEN OUR MOMMA SANG US TO SLEEP

Day after day, the earworm camps out in your mind, lays out a picnic, and loops endlessly. AND NOW WE’RE STRESSED OUT.

Sometimes the earworm may bounce to a different–also very catchy—part of the same song.
MY NAME IS BLURRY-FACE AND I CARE WHAT YOU THINK.
MY NAME IS BLURRY-FACE AND I CARE WHAT YOU THINK

How do you get rid of an earworm? WISH I COULD TURN BACK TIME. . .

Here’s some conventional wisdom:

  1. Ignore it. TO THE GOOLD OLD DAYS.. .
  2. Watch the music video.
  3. Sing it with people, friends, strangers, anyone who will join you.
  4. Replace it WHEN OUR MOMMA SANG US TO SLEEP with another song.
  5. Read a book. Or several.
  6. Do anagrams. AND NOW WE’RE STRESSED OUT
  7. Blog about it and ask others for help. WISH I COULD TURN BACK TIME. . .

HELP! If you’ve ever had a song stuck in your head, how did you finally get rid of it?

What’s Your Favorite Thing about Goodreads?

man staring excitedly at computer screen

Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories recently wrote a hilarious post about the dark underbelly of Goodreads called 10 Thoughts a Goodreads User Has. It made me laugh and also got me thinking about what I enjoy most about Goodreads.

Do you use Goodreads? If so, what are some of your favorite things about it?

I recently chatted with a fellow book junkie who says she never uses Goodreads, which surprised me. I’m definitely a Goodreads devotee, though I’ve barely scratched the surface of all its features–the reason for that is Lack Of Time. I wish I had more time to even write reviews. At some point I think it would be a blast to start categorizing books I’ve read into special shelves. I’d also like to get more involved in the Goodreads reading community but, yeah, to date have a sum total of about 11 friends.

WANT TO READ – For sure, my favorite thing about Goodreads is being able to click “want to read,” thus adding promising books to my TBR.

UPDATE READING PROGRESS – Oh, and I like publicly updating my reading progress (though I have no idea why this is important to me).

COMPARE BOOKS – I also love this feature I recently discovered (go ahead and laugh, Goodreads veterans) where I get to compare my reading lists/ratings with authors I follow. When I did this with Lauren Oliver, our ratings on books we’ve both read (around 15) matched 100%. No wonder Lauren is one of my favorite writers. (Incidentally, Neil Gaiman and I have zero books in common.)

COMMUNITY REVIEWS – Another thing I really enjoy about Goodreads is checking out other readers’ reviews. There are some cuh-razy readers out there and, yes, some of the reviews are very, very harsh. Strangely–even though I’m a writer–I don’t know that I’m totally averse to the ridiculously mean reviews. Admittedly, even a single one-star review would be terrible for new writers with only a handful of reviews because it would kill their book’s overall rating. Still, maybe I’m wrong, but I suspect there are some ringers out there, too, as in authors with tons of friends or die-hard fans who post 5-star reviews before they’ve even read the book. Why not also have the one-stars at the other end of the spectrum? As a book lover, it’s interesting to browse all the different reviews, both good and bad, and try to suss out whether or not I might like a particular book. Yeah, reading other people’s reviews is definitely my next favorite thing about Goodreads.

–Eve Messenger

A brief word about writing success, featuring Eve 1 and Eve 2

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EVE #1: How are you ever going to publish novels if you keep spending too much time online?

EVE #2: But going online is fun! I’m learning about all kinds of books I’d like to read, and I love talking with other book lovers and writers.

EVE #1: Seriously, though, as soon as you progress to a point where you might actually complete a really good novel–as in ready to send out to agents–you get distracted and start spending more time online. What’s up with that?

 EVE #2: Yeah, what IS up with that? I think I may have a fear of success.

EVE #1: Fear of succe–what even is that? . . . Okay, here. . . Susanne Babbel, Ph.D., M.F.T., could you please tell us what you wrote on Psychology Today about fear of success?

Susanne BabbelSusan Babbel, Ph.D., M.F.T.: People who have experienced trauma may associate the excitement of success with the same physiological reactions as trauma. They avoid subjecting themselves to excitement-inducing circumstances, which causes them to be almost phobic about success.” 

 

EVE #2: Whoah, that’s deep. Is anyone else finding it difficult to ignore that “Babbel” is a hilarious surname for someone who probably engages in a lot of talk therapy?

EVE #1: Focus, Eve. You’ve been through trauma. It’s something to keep in mind. You don’t want it to hold you back from your dreams.

 EVE #2: Alright, I will definitely keep it in mind. Now. . . I have an admission to make.

EVE #1: Uh-oh.

 EVE#2: I think today might have been first.

EVE #1: A first? So you made good headway on the novel?

 EVE #2: A little. But, nope, this is about headway I made on someone else’s novel. . .

EVE #1: So you’re reading other books? That’s great. They say reading lots of novels makes you a better—

 EVE #2: Better writer, blah-blah. Listen. . . today I may have made my first book purchase based purely on the gorgeousness of the author.

EVE #1: You bought a book because the guy in the picture was cute?

 EVE#2: Sort of, well. . . definitely. He had great hair and looked really clean. He was wearing a sexy winter coat, and his face had this perfect expression between serious and smiling. And he was on the chubby side —you know how I love those teddy bear guys.

EVE #1: Care to tell us who it was?

EVE #2: No way!

EVE #1: So you bought this guy’s book? You just went and bought it based purely on his looks?

EVE #2: Well, I read the excerpt first.

EVE #1: And you’re probably HOPING his writing is as “cute” as his looks.

EVE #2: I cannot disagree with that statement.

 

–Eve Messenger

An Update on My Latest Reads. . .

You know those times when you read a book and you’re upset because it’s not very good but maybe not quite terrible enough to stop reading and you think, “Life is short. I really wish I’d read one of those hundred other promising books on my TBR”? Well, I’m happy to report that NONE of the books I’ve read recently has made me feel that way–thanks to A) all the great books being published and B) excellent recommendations from fellow book lovers.

Recently Read

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

What everyone says is true. Throne of Glass is a great read, and Sarah J. Maas is a brilliant fantasy writer. Calaena the assassin is unforgettable. World-building, yes. Intriguing history and ancestral secrets, yes. I’m especially enamored with the character, Princess Nehemiah of Ellwye, and her friendship with Calaena. (Want to know how to pronounce ‘Ellwye?’ So did I. Note: there’s a pronunciation guide at the back of the book, but I didn’t know about until someone told me after I returned the library book. *sigh*)

Throne of Glass copy

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

As much as I adore young adult fiction, sometimes a non-YA book comes along with a concept too intriguing to ignore.  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, for example–I mean, a story set in an old bookstore with a mysterious owner, Mr. Penumbra, watching over ancient texts? Yes! The protagonist is an affable, loyal guy. The story is pleasant and smart, especially with its eye-opening insights into the brain trust that is Google. Worth reading for the unforgettable scene inside a vast, high-tech subterranean vault of lost historical items called “Con-U.”

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Melanie Noell Bernard’s YA dystopian work-in-progress

I won’t reveal much about Melanie’s story because she’s still working on it, but this talented lady is going to be published someday—just watch.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Thank you to Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories for recommending The Diviners. Entertaining, scary, and very well-written, the rich 1920s setting took this paranormal YA to a whole other level. Memphis and Theta were, by far, my favorite characters—I hope they have bigger roles in the second book, The Lair of Dreams, which I definitely plan to read. I’m a bit whiny about super long books, so of course I wondered why The Diviners had to be 578 pages long, but the good news is the story never dragged.

the diviners

Currently reading

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Magonia has been on my TBR a while, but Beth @ Betwixt These Pages encouraged me to read it  sooner rather than later.  As I move into the last 2/3 of the book and mind-blowing plot twists are revealed, I totally get why. Kudos to writer Maria Dahvana Headley for her Wild Imagination–yes, those words are capitalized because, well, you have to read the book to find out. I’ll just say that the beginning does not prepare you for what comes.

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–Eve Messenger

The Random Tag

Thank you to Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets for tagging me with The Random Tag and thus giving me an excuse to reveal more random facts about myself. 🙂  If you’re looking for great recommendations on books AND music, please check out Lila’s blog.

1.What is your favorite food?
Indian! Serve up the palak paneer, please. 🙂 Oh, and Korean barbecue–I can’t choose. I love all the Korean side dishes.

             

2.What are you having for dinner tonight?
My husband is a great cook (thank goodness, or we’d starve), and he made pulled pork.

3.Who was the last person you emailed? 

Kristy Acevedo.

 

 

 

4.What sports do you do?
I’m a huge fan of women’s volleyball.

volleyball

 

5.Do you have any pet hates?
When people make other people feel small.

6.Do you play any instruments?
I love playing music!! Piano, guitar, and djembe, in that order. And I love singing harmony.

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I NOW TAG . . .

Melanie Noell Bernard

Amy @ Every Book You Need to Read and More

Shatona @ The Positive Black Woman

Why Do People Always Think I’m a Store Employee? and the Dragon’s Loyalty Blog Award

Emma @ Book Crunch  was so nice to nominate me for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award (thanks for all the great YA book recommendations, Emma!), so I will do my best to come up with seven facts about myself.

First, the Rules. . . 
Display the award on your blog.
Announce your win with a post.
Link the blogger who awarded you.
Present 6 deserving blogs with the award.
Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded.
Write seven interesting things about you.

Seven Facts About Me

  1. More times than I can count, when I’m out shopping in department stores, strangers approach me for assistance because they think I’m a store employee.woman-and-clerk-comparing-items
  2. Singing and dancing to impromptu made-up songs with my children is one of my favorite things in life.
  3. I’ve always secretly wanted to be a radio DJ. Last year I got to fulfill this wish with a guest-DJ stint on a major Los Angeles radio station.
  4. Unless I really respect the person in charge, I’m a bit of a rebel against authority.
  5. I’m definitely an introvert, but if you met me you’d probably think I was an extrovert, albeit an occasionally awkward one.
  6. This probably comes as no surprise, but reading, writing, and blogging about YA novels brings me immense joy.
  7. I am beyond excited to feature on my blog in February interviews with authors of (what I consider to be) the five must-read YA debut novels of 2016.

The six deserving blogs I’d now like to nominate for a Dragon’s Loyalty Blog Award are. . .hmmm, wait… it’s too hard to limit the list to six because I adore all seven of these fun, smart, loyal bloggers so much!

Beth @ betwixt-these-pages 
Millie @ millieschmidt 
Hannah @ hsduerloo and questtype 
Joan @ fiddlerblue 
Stefanie @ yourdaughtersbookshelf 
Kelly Miles @ authorkellymiles 
Jon Stephens @ Start Your Fiction 

— Eve Messenger