genre

Happy & Confused April Reading #amreading

April 2016 Reads

This month I got to go all over the place in books. Just looking at the graphic of the ten books I read in April makes happy and maybe just a bit confused. While there was definitely a YA fantasy slant to my reading selections (no big surprise there), I think this month each book ended up being from a different genre.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo-I kicked off April with a bit of YA sci-fi. Intriguing concept, shocker ending.

What We Need to Survive by Elena Johansen – My writer-blogger friend Elena published an adult post-apocalyptic romance that I just had to read. Her writing is flawless.

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter – This YA contemporary blew me away with its beautiful writing and All. Of. The. Feels. I posted a review of it here.

Captain Marvel Further, Faster, More vol. 1-6 Higher by DeConnick & Lopez-Another recommendation from Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories that I adored, this (graphic novel? comic book?) series predominantly features females in the lead roles, including of course Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel. Excellent writing by DeConnick and beautiful artwork by David Lopez. Now I’m off to read Ms. Marvel. . .

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou-At last I sat down and read a collection of poetry by the modern goddess of poetry herself, Maya Angelou. She wrote deep, musical, personal poetry that does what poetry should–makes us see the world as very big and very small all at the same time and makes us think.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor-An outstanding YA urban fantasy. I liked the dark, imaginative story and the atmospheric Prague setting. From all the things I’d heard about it,  I expected the writing to be transcendent, which finally started happening on page 174. This story went to a place that, well–no spoilers–but what an ending.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – I finally got around to reading this hugely famous book and had a fun time. Mixing things up with a bit of  YA dystopia every once in a while is a good thing.

The Uninvited by Cat Winters – YA paranormal. I’m always up for a story about ghosts, and I liked the historical setting of WW-I , flu-epidemic era small-town America, but this turned into a romance right away, which is not my favorite genre.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – Adult urban fantasy. I read this as an audio book and, as someone who swore long ago never, ever to commute to work again, listening to it during my short ride to work and during errands took an excruciatingly long time. Five weeks, to be exact. I finally broke down, found a PDF of Neverwhere online, read the last 30 pages (with my eyes, not my ears), and enjoyed the book so much more. Also, an interesting thing happens when I read Neil Gaiman’s writing–it almost instantly makes me a better writer. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But it’s really true!

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi- Yay, this highly anticipated YA Indian fantasy finally arrived! Thanks to Amazon, I received it on the release date, April 26, and read it in two days.Gorgeous imagery, poetic prose.

Happy reading! Did you have a crazy, mixed-up genre of a reading month, too?

–Eve Messenger

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My First Time Couldn’t Have Been More Perfect @amreading @amwriting

VE Schwab trio of authors

Marie Lu, V.E. Schwab, Gretchen McNeil  – photo by Eve Messenger

Within a week of reading (and loving!) my first V.E./Victoria Schwab book, A Darker Shade of Magic, the author tweeted that she would be doing a book signing 15 miles from my home. My first book signing? With my new favorite author? Sign me up!

A Darker Shade of Magic

Though I was crazy nervous, I got myself to the event without hyperventilating. Alas, I had to go alone because I couldn’t find anyone else who was available.

My First Book-Signing Event was. . .

PERFECT

Perfect even though the meet-and-greet line was super long and slow-moving (over a hundred fans were there!) But here’s thing, the REASON the lined moved slowly was that fabulous Victoria Schwab spent lots of time talking with each and every fan. I LOVED watching fans step away from the authors’ table carrying freshly-signed books in their hands and HUGE GRINS on their faces.

Perfect because Marie Lu and YA horror writer Gretchen McNeil were there, too! Marie Lu signed my copy of Legend. 🙂 All three super-talented authors were friendly, enthusiastic, smart, and super fun. They were obviously good friends, and their banter created a positive vibe for the entire event. (Note to self: Someday, when I have my own book signings, I will ask author friends to join me.)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/27/Legend_Marie_Lu_Book_cover.jpg

Perfect because, even though I THOUGHT I didn’t know anyone there, I ended up running into and chatting with a writer I’d met through NaNoWriMo. Unbeknownst to me at the time, writer/reader/blogger, Jennifer F. Santucci, was also there. And SHE noticed that Nicola Yoon (Everything Everything) was there as a fan, too!

VE Schwab picture cicled

Author/fan Nicola Yoon is on the left. The top of a blonde head in the back is me. 🙂 Photo by V.E. Schwab.

Meeting Victoria Schwab

Okay, so I mustered up the courage to ask Victoria Schwab if–since I am an aspiring writer–she might write something inspirational in my copy of the first book of hers I’d read. She wrote something nice in all three books. 🙂 Thank you, Victoria Schwab!

Interesting Things the Authors Said

Victoria, Marie, and Gretchen have known one another since before they were published, as members of a writers’ group called “YA Rebels.” They initially “bonded over all things evil.”

Victoria Schwab calls herself a “chipmunk author,” or a “connect the dots writer,”gathering little pieces for a year and a half until she has enough for a story. Darker Shade of Magic started with an image of a boy walking through a door covered with blood and then running into a girl dressed as a boy. Once she has images for her story, she asks herself questions about them to fill out the plot. Before she starts writing, she needs to have five to ten moments, one of which must be the ending.

Gretchen McNeil’s microphone kept cutting out, so she said, “No problem. I can project because I used to be an opera singer.”

Marie Lu said that when she was a little girl there were two things she wanted to be, a writer and a fighter pilot.

Marie Lu said that her agent, Kristin Nelson, is so blunt that when Marie sent Kristin the first 100 pages of her early draft of Young Elites, Kristin asked,“Marie, when you sent this to me, did you think it was good?” Ouch. Marie ended up completely rewriting Young Elites from the villain’s point of view.

All three authors agreed that every single book is, in its way, painful to write.

Victoria said she bought an audio version of her own book, A Gathering of Shadows, so she could repeatedly listen to pp. 307 to 308– a super hot scene between Prince Ry and his ex-boyfriend. 😉

One of My Favorite Author Questions: Do You Listen to Music While Writing?

Victoria said she listens to a lot of music–but never while writing. Because she started out as a poet, listening to music messes with the rhythm of her words. Instead, she listens to white noise and uses a site called noisli to build her own white noise with sounds of rain, static, coffee shop sounds, etc.

Marie Lu said she has to listen to music while writing because the “silence gets too loud.” She splits up her playlists by mood, e.g., exciting, evil, happy (which she says she never uses, haha).

Writers are fangirls, too.

YA fangirl

All three authors talked about writers they get totally starstruck around. Victoria is a huge Neil Gaiman fan and wears her WWNGD (“What Would Neil Gaiman Do?”) bracelet every day. Why? Because Neil Gaiman was the first writer to teach her that she didn’t just have to write one thing, that no matter what genre she writes, her voice will still come through.

I am now seriously toying with the idea of getting my own “What Would V.E. Schwab Do?” bracelet. I am so glad I overcame my introverted nature and got up the nerve to attend my first book signing. I honestly don´t think it could have gone any better. I´d love to attend another one, and the only thing I´d change is to find other people to go with next time– there was just too much excitement to keep all to myself!

–Eve Messenger

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

 

 

 

YA Reader, I Could Really Use Your Suggestions

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I’m planning a YA book that I’m REALLY looking forward to writing, but I’m having a hard time classifying the genre. It’s about a modern girl fantasizing her way through major life changes and social awkwardness. There’s an integral paranormal aspect, but it’s subtle – no werewolves, witches, vampires — and a sprinkling of chapters set in an earlier period of history.  There’s a little romance, but I’d say it’s more about family and relationships.

What would you call that genre?

Josie’s Book Corner, I’m looking at you.