24 September 2012

Fierce Reads Event Recap!

When I first started blogging and really taking a renewed interest in the book community, I was often disheartened at the number of book/author events that happened elsewhere (especially when they were in Chicago and therefore closer to where I grew up than where I currently live). It seemed like St. Louis and Kansas City, both of which at about 2 hours from where I live, nevertheless seemed to draw YA authors. Then, magically, Ally Condie came to St. Louis courtesy of the plibrary and Puddnhead Books. That event was almost a year ago now and since then I've had the pleasure of attended three more events, including Lauren Oliver, HarperCollins' Dark Days of Summear, and now the fabulous FIERCE READS tour. Despite the stress and business of a new job and my final semester of my MA program, I knew that with such a fabulous 5 author line-up I couldn't miss this event and I'm so glad that I made the trip! The evening's line-up features Ann Aguirre, Jessica Brody, Elizabeth Fama, Lish McBride, and Marissa Meyer. How could you NOT want to attend that event?! I had the chance to chat with the ladies a little before the event and I have to say that they were fabulous. They make me want a third job with a publisher just touring with authors. (And can you identify the author who "doesn't belong" in the picture?)

Moving on to the actual event, the Audience asked some great questions and I will try to distill for you some of my favorite answers, tidbits, and random facts. (And I apologize for the poor quality pictures as my camera died right before the event and without spare batteries in tow--silly me--I had to resort to the iPad camera).

You really do learn the most interesting things at these author events.  For example, Ann started off the discussion talking about why she loves writing YA so much now that she's moved to writing for the age group.  She said the cross-genre possibilities are awesome but the best part is really the uncensored, enthusiastic fan-mail that comes from young readers. She says, "I really want to be an annoying 12 year old forever." Marissa Meyer talked a little about her fan-fic and short story background and it was really interesting to find out that the initial idea for the Lunar chronicles was inspired by a short story that she wrote at a young age about a futuristic, science fiction version of "Puss in Boots." Jessica Brody got the initial idea for 52 Reasons when watching a meter reader write a ticket and thinking "Wouldn't it be cool to be a meter reader for, like, a day?" Beyond that, she thought carefully about how to turn this idea into a "fish out of water story" with a character who would change the most throughout the course of the story and present the most comedy. Elizabeth Fama wrote Monstrous Beauty as a dare from her YA-age kids and they worked the outline out together on morning runs! (How fun!)  Lish set out to write a story about the nice guy because while badasses are awesome, that's not really the kind of guy that most of us spend out high school lives with.

I could spend a long time telling you about all of their awesome answers to the audience questions that spanned everything from the hardest part of writing to marketing a current projects.  I will leave you with this: none of them think that "writer's block" is a real thing!  Their advice to all of those aspiring writers out there is that you have to push through it!  If you feel like you're stuck, then there's something that needs changed or cut.  Step back (or away), think about it, and then come back and keep going.  Writing is a job if you want to make money at it. My favorite quote (as an educator) was probably this: "Teacher's aren't allowed to get teaching block, and then sit at their desks all day because they just don't feel inspired today."  So writer friends, go forth and write!

Thanks to the absolutely fabulous people being the Fierce Reads tour I have an AMAZING giveaway for you today!  Take a look at the awesomeness that's up for grabs...

Prize Package:

  • Signed copies of: Enclave, Outpost, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, Necromancing the Stone, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, Cinder, Monstrous Beauty
  • Swag: "Spoiled Heiress" t-shirt and sunglasses, 52 Reasons bookmark, Unremembered sneak peak, Monstrous Beauty buttons, Cinder/Scarlet bookmark and stickers

So, here's the details: To win, you must be in the US and over the age of 13.  Other than that, it's easy! Just enter away using the Rafflecopter form below!

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21 September 2012

YA Book Review: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Release Date: 4 September 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Get a copy! B&NAmazon

Goodreads description:
Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.
My Thoughts...
So much more than a "mermaid book," Monstrous Beauty captured my heart with all of the wonderful elements that Ms. Fama threw in. This was honestly a beautifully dark, wonderfully crafted ghost story with terrifying magical sea creatures woven in. To top it off the story offers history, genealogy, and cemeteries--all things that captured my heart in a personal way.

The story is told in alternating viewpoints from Syrenka, the mermaid living in 1872-3, and Hester, a modern young woman determined to avoid love and all that it entails for her family. Reading from the point of views of both women gives the reader a unique advantage over the modern main character as the mystery increases on both sides. Watching the stories converge in the ways that they eventually do is engaging and really drew me in as a reader.

Both Syrenka and Hester are interesting characters, but I connected a lot with Hester.  Her emotional reactions to the things going on around (and within) her as well as the way she delved into the mysteries she was exploring really resonated with me as a person.  We are a lot alike in ways and I found that she was simply a fun character for me to get to know.  Combined with fantastic writing and richly atmospheric storytelling, this is a story that I can see myself reading and enjoying again in the future.

You don't have to like mermaid books to enjoy Monstrous Beauty.  It's dark tale combines new romance, local history, intriguing mystery...ghosts, sea monsters (mermaids), and cemeteries.  it may sound like a lot of elements to throw into a single story (which is wonderfully a standalone) but it definitely works.  Fans of darker fairy tale-esque stories will thoroughly enjoy this story.

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20 September 2012

Cover Reveal: Abandon by Elana Johnson

After I finished Possession, there hadn't yet been news of a sequel and I was left devastated--crying and rocking back and forth in the corner.  THANKFULLY, there was a sequel and Surrender proved to me that I was truly in love with this series. But, when I finished Surrender, there was still no news about a continuation and I was devastated.  Sure, there's a lot to be said for ambiguous endings, but I WANTED MORE.  I NEEDED ANSWERS.  Thankfully, THANKFULLY, the third and final volume is indeed going to be published.  This was me when I saw that news:

So OF COURSE I wanted to participate in revealing her new cover courtesy of A Tale of Many Reviews affliate - AToMR Book Blog Tours!  Have I made you wait long enough yet? Maybe you want to see this beautiful gem now?  OKAY!

18 September 2012

YA Book Review: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

Release Date: 3 July 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Goodreads description:
Being America’s favorite heiress is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it.

Lexington Larrabee has never to work a day in her life. After all, she’s the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to work. But then again, they’re not supposed to crash brand new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Blvd either.

Which is why, on Lexi’s eighteen birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there’s anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it’s dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.
My Thoughts...


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