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Friday, November 30, 2012

Losing It by Cora Carmack

Release Date: Oct. 15, 2012
Publisher: Cora Carmack
Age Group: New Adult
(Mature Content Warning)
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased
Pages: 204
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Description: Goodreads

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible-- a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if if that weren't embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She'd left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

Continuing on my New Adult/Older YA kick, I recently picked up Losing It by Cora Carmack, another independent author who has decided to go down the self publishing route and has promptly landed herself on the New York Times Bestsellers list for two weeks in a row! You GO GIRL!

I was going to have sex. 
With a boy. 
A hot boy
A hot BRITISH boy. 
Or maybe I was going to throw up. 
What if I threw up on the hot British boy? 
What if I threw up on the hot British boy DURING SEX?

Losing It stars 22 year old Bliss Edwards who is in her last year of college and....wait for it...is still a virgin.  Whilst I don’t see anything wrong with this, I totally understand that this is a major deal for her and practically unheard of in her peer group. One night, with the massive encouragement of the obligatorily loud best friend, they go to a bar to find a guy for Bliss to sleep with and get it over with (obviously after a MASSIVE amount of alcohol). What she finds on the way to the loo is a hot British guy reading Shakespeare. Oh, did I mention that she’s also a theatre major?

There’s an instant attraction and neither of them wants to leave each other’s company. Garrick (how many British guys do YOU know called Garrick?! A big fat ZERO but whatevs) gives her a ride on his motorbike back to his place and coincidentally, he just so happens to live in the building next door to hers. They attempt to do the deed but Bliss chickens out at the very last moment with the lamest excuse known to man and she hides her embarrassment by thinking she can avoid him. WRONG. He turns out to be her new professor.  Oh snap! Can you say awkward?!

Losing It was a very entertaining, very funny book that I had a very hard time putting down (I may have sneaked a couple of chapters in at work during my break). Bliss is a normal girl with just a hint of awkwardness about her but it makes her most endearing and Garrick turns out to be a pretty decent guy who probably doesn’t do it as much for me because I’m British and so the accent means less to me than the hoards of American female readers perhaps but he’s still a nice guy that I wouldn’t say no to ;)

I really enjoyed the book and it took me back to a time when I could relate to Bliss (although nothing as exciting as almost having sex with my new professor ever happened to me!).  This was a fun read and one that I’d recommend to other fans of New Adult/Older YA fiction.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Author Insight: The Non-negotiables

Is there one thing in your writing/novels you aren't willing to bend on? Have you had to defend an instance of it in the past? If so, at what cost?

"I’ve never been asked to change anything I didn’t agree with, but there are things I wouldn’t bend on, like changing the race or sexual orientation of a character to fit a mold." - Sara Walsh, author of The Dark Light.

"Nothing huge. My editor is very wise, so I almost always agree with her. I used to use 'passage' all the time, instead of hallway, which may have annoyed her; she definitely crossed it out a lot. There are still a lot of “passages” in the book, though." - Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar.

"I haven’t encountered this yet, for which I’m grateful. I’m not sure what my threshold would be." - Robin Bridges, author of The Unfailing Light.

"The thing I never want to bend on is my character’s voice. The voice comes early and evolves as the story is written, and during revisions, I find myself not making changes that I feel would change the voice of the character. I don’t mind working through editorial changes, but if they strongly go against what I think the character would do, I don’t make them." - P.J. Hoover, author of Solstice.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (36)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives. 

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

Why can't I wait? 
Fantasy is not my genre, but this one has a fair bit of mystery to the plot so I'm curious. It also seems to be the book everyone is buzzing about, and, while crazy buzz normally turns me off of a book, I'm feeding on the excitement. Will this be the fantasy novel that makes me a convert? Maaaaybe. 

Undeadly Blog Tour: Guest Post & Giveaway

Five quotes from Undeadly
  • "Most normal people are weirded out by my necro powers. Necros are all over the place, you know? But there’s only a handful who attend my high school, and most of them are too dark and angsty for my taste. Plus, I don’t look good with Kohl on my eyes and my nose is too cute to be pierced."
  • "Not feeding a zombie isn’t like not feeding your cat. He. Will. Eat. You. And your cat. People who forget to pick a case of Ghoul-AID sometimes don’t live to regret it."
  • "You will be afraid. That fear will sit like a cold, dark lump in your stomach, and it will grow tentacles and clutch at your heart and your brain, and choke your thoughts and emotions until all that it exists is pain and exhaustion and terror. My advice? Embrace it."
  • "I looked him over, head to toe. His chocolate-brown locks brushed his shoulders. His face was angular, his lips a slash of angry red. His T-shirt, jeans and sneakers were all black. Usually, one-themed looks totally didn’t work, but for him … yeah. Black was the new hot."
  • "Something in Rath’s eyes had changed—going from glittering fury to … well, I wasn’t sure. It was still a dark emotion, tormented almost. The tension thrumming between us shifted. It was still physical, just more intense. And confusing. 'You really are beautiful,' he murmured. He leaned forward, his gaze on mine, his lips dipping close to my ear. 'But you’re still a brat.'"

Michele Vail writes young adult paranormal fiction about zombies and reapers.  She likes reading, dogs, cats, board games, ghost-hunting shows, and Halloween. She believes in magic, in the impossible, and in the restorative powers of chocolate.  Michele lives happily-ever-after with her Viking and their family.

Where to find her...

Undeadly by Michele Vail 

The day I turned 16,
my boyfriend-to-be died.

I brought him back to life.
Then things got a little weird...

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she's shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite boarding school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. 

Life at Nekyia has its plusses. Molly has her own personal ghoul, for one. Rick follows her there out of the blue, for another...except, there's something a little off about him. When students at the academy start to die and Rath disappears, Molly starts to wonder if anything is as it seems. Only one thing is certain—-Molly's got an undeadly knack for finding trouble....

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Undeadly by Michele Vail! (US/Canada only.) One reader from across the blog tour will also win a Kindle Paperwhite in an Undeadly skin. Remember to check out the links below and visit the other tour stops to gain extra entries! 

Follow the tour...
Monday, November 19th - Deea's Journal 
Tuesday, November 20th - Harlequin Paranormal Blog 
Wednesday, November 21th - Bewitched Bookworms 
Friday, November 23rd - Evie Bookish 
 Monday, November 26th - Bookish Brunette 
Tuesday, November 27th (Book Birthday) - Fiktshun 
Wednesday, November 28th - Wastepaper Prose 
Friday, November 30th - All Things Urban Fantasy 
 Monday, December 3rd- Tater's Tall Tails 
 Wednesday, December 5th- The Book Cellar
Friday, December 7th  - Refracted Light Reviews

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Author Insight: The Non-negotiables

Is there one thing in your writing/novels you aren't willing to bend on? Have you had to defend an instance of it in the past? If so, at what cost?

"I can become very attached to set pieces, these scenes that stick in my head and may not necessarily advance the story but add a texture that simply thrill me. Those stay in. Always. As does the word “waller.” It’s not even a real word, but it’s in every one of my published novels. ::shrug::" - Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen.

"In my reviews, I’ve always been kind of outspoken about hating cliffhangers, so when my editor suggested I end LEVEL 2 on a cliffhanger, I resisted. I worked hard to write an ending that felt like a real ending, but also held the promise of a new beginning in the next book, and fortunately, my editor was on board." - Lenore Appelhans, author of Level 2. 

"I can’t stand to be rewritten. If my editor is having a problem with a scene, feels like it isn’t working for some reason, or is falling flat, I’ll rewrite it and rewrite until we’re both satisfied. I won’t let the editor insert himself/herself into the actual prose. I feel that’s cheating, just totally dishonest. Plus, I will admit to control freak tendencies." - Lili Peloquin, author of The Innocents

"It is very painful for me to bend, but so far (I think I can honestly say) I always have. I've been lucky to receive advice from some very capable people, and I try to view suggestions as a creative challenge--my job is to figure out how to revise accordingly while remaining true to my original idea. There's almost always a way to do that, and hopefully the person making the suggestion is willing to bend a little, too." - Steven Arntson, author of The Wrap-Up List.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Release Date: Nov. 6, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: E-galley
Source: Netgalley
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2
Pages: 517
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?
Last year, I basically made an incoherent fool of myself in my review of Laini Taylor’s Daughter ofSmoke and Bone.  I closed that review with an open plea to all readers to pick this one up, as you wouldn’t find anything like it.  That statement has proven itself to be so true, at least until I picked up the sequel Days of Blood and Starlight.  Obviously, Laini Taylor’s never heard of Second Book Syndrome, and bless the godstars for that.  Days of Blood and Starlight is, in a word, phenomenal.

I won’t go into the plot details in this review (I’d rather not ruin the surprises for you!), but at its core, Days of Blood and Starlight is all about war, every aspect of it.  It does not shy away from the pain, the dirtiness, the ugliness than comes during wartime.  Laini Taylor takes the reader on a journey deep into the heart of Eretz, both with seraphim and chimaera, and we experience all sides of the story.   I had originally said you get to see both sides, but honestly, there are way more than two sides to this battle.  And don’t expect to have anything figured out before it’s revealed to you, because that’s when you’ll discover you have no idea what lies ahead.  There are twists and turns and dips and dives and when you think things might be okay, oh, you just wait. 

The cast of multidimensional characters is largely familiar, with a few new and welcome faces.  Karou is much altered from the girl we originally met on the streets of Prague.  She’s carrying more secrets than ever before, and she tries so hard to shoulder a burden that isn’t necessarily hers.  Akiva is as dark and twisty as ever, bringing his siblings Liraz and Hazael along for the ride.  My favorites Zuzana and Mik also return, and they provide almost all of the lighter, happier moments through the novel.  My two favorite new additions are Ziri, a “lucky” Kirin warrior, and Sveva, a young Dama girl on the run from seraphim slavers.  For Daughter, I stated that every character was awesome, that even the characters that sucked were awesome.  This still holds true for Days, though it’s more that they are all so authentic, even the most minor of beings.  Certain members of this story are decidedly NOT awesome.

Laini Taylor!  Your words!  I truly believe this is the most perfect writing I have ever read.  Ever.  Every word is essential.  That’s a brave thing to say about a 500+ page book, but it’s the truth.  I am a very quick reader, but I could not breeze through this one, not did I even want to try.  You can only immerse yourself into the vivid, sweeping landscape and hope to emerge on the other side unscathed.  The hardest thing for me was stepping out of the story to once again exist in real life, which becomes even more boring than usual.  There are no portal rips in the sky, no monstrous beasts, no wicked angels.  It’s kind of jarring.  (Via Twitter, Laini tells me that this has a name: “Reader’s Dissatisfaction with Reality Syndrome.”)

You might see all of this gushing and become suspicious.  Don’t.  Days of Blood and Starlight is the real deal.  This series deserves every bit of gush it’s received.  Do yourself the biggest favor and read this series now.  If you have, find someone who hasn’t and recommend it.  I am desperate to know what happens next, but I don’t know if my poor heart can take it.  (Yes it totally can.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Darkest Minds Giveaway

The Darkest Minds 
by Alexandra Bracken

Release Date: Dec. 18, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, something about her has changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her--East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

A Trip to YALLFest

Earlier this month, I had the extreme pleasure of attending YALLFest 2012 in Charleston, SC. I’ve been looking forward to this for months and months, and it was honestly one of the best book events I’ve attended. Everyone was so incredibly nice and friendly and awesome, from the staff of Blue Bicycle Books and the YALLFest volunteers to the incredibly gracious authors to each and every fellow attendee. Must have been that Southern hospitality and beautiful weather!

Ladies and gentlemen, MARGIE STOHL!
My long-time friend and fellow blogger Elizabeth from Nightmare on Book Street joined me for the festivities and though this was her first big event, she handled everything like a pro. I mean, she brought fruit snacks and everything. She and I arrived bright and early on Saturday to wait outside the Charleston Music Hall in order to see the opening keynote with Cassandra Clare and Holly Black. We were ENTHUSIASTICALLY welcomed by Margaret Stohl. Margie’s arm-waving joy was a fixture for the rest of the day, and she kept us all smiling.

The schedule claimed Cassie and Holly would talk about literary friendships. While they did just that, they also talked the beauty of sharing shoes on tour, their own mutual stalking/admiration society, and the break-up of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Also, the name of elves may have been sullied. Basically, they were delightful.

We followed this with one of my only panels of the day (to clarify: YALLFest has so much to offer in the way of panels and signings that I had to make a hard decision weeks ago: signings or panels. I had so many authors I wanted to meet, so signings won). The YA GIRL BAND featured Elizabeth Eulberg, Stephanie Perkins, Simone Elkeles, Allyson Noel, Jenny Han, and Kathryn Williams. I’m glad this was the panel I got to see in its entirety, because it was just perfect. The authors had a great rapport, playing off one another like (gasp) the YA Girl Band for which their panel was named. The highlight for me was Elizabeth’s story of meeting the New Kids on the Block (she’s a Joey girl, and I’m for Jordan, so we would get along just fine!). Also, I finally got to meet fellow YALLFest attendee and author Lauren Morrill in the crowd. She was straight up awesome, and so’s her new book Meant To Be which released last week!!

After a substantial but constantly moving line, I found myself face to face with two of my favorites: Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han. I tend to make an idiot of myself in front of authors (see also the John Green Star Penis story), but I think I managed to stay on the good side of fangirl. Well, except that I recognized Stephanie’s wrocker husband Jarrod and had to tell Jenny who the mystery man was who brought her a cupcake. Jenny and I gabbed about Richmond (yay RVA girls!), and Stephanie is exactly as adorably sweet, friendly, and awesome as you would imagine. We’re totally BFFs now… in my own mind.

Stephanie Perkins (Lola & the Boy Next Door),
Jessica, and Jenny Han (The Summer series and Burn for Burn). 
After that, our numbers were up… to meet Cassandra Clare. This is my third time seeing Cassie, and she couldn’t believe I’m not sick of her yet. We talked Jem vs. Will, where it was concluded Will is precious in print but he’s too much work IRL. From there, we made it to David Levithan’s table, where he giggled at my elation over seeing his signature next to John Green’s in my copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. One PBJ smoothie later, and it was time to grin at Gayle Forman, whose signing took place in an urban Narnia. One more line in the sunshine, plus a rousing rally call from Margie, and Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl were in the house! Beautiful Creatures was one of the books that got me back into YA, so seeing the two of them (in South Carolina!) was an all-around treat.

The incomparable David Levithan. 
My last panel was In Production 2013, where Cassie, Kami, and Margie gave us a little bit of inside scoop about their movie adaptations. The preview of Beautiful Creatures gave me chills! And if there were any Jamie Campbell Bower doubters in that audience, they certainly didn’t leave that way after Cassie spilled that JCB learned all of the runes and corrected a make-up artist who gave him the wrong one! He even learned the Bach piece that Jace plays on the piano. Robert Sheehan received the biggest applause during the City of Bones segment because Robbie is the actual best.

Finally, the event closed with the YA Smackdown. Teams Romance, Contemporary, Mystery, Dystopian, and Supernatural competed in a three round battle emceed by Rose Brock and “judged” by Sarah Rees Brennan (plus a proverbial peanut gallery). It was by far one of the silliest things I have ever seen in my entire life, so naturally, I loved it. I cannot recap it in a fitting manner so I’ll say this: Beth Revis and Diana Peterfreund should take their two-woman show on the road (Flippers of Doom!), YA authors are hilariously inappropriate, and Team Mystery was ROBBED.

In conclusion, YALLFest rocked. Thank you Blue Bicycle Books! All book events can be this much fun! Also, BIG HUGE HEAPING thanks Elizabeth for being my event buddy! You should check out her round-up for more stories and fun times.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

More Author Insight: Iconic Tales

What makes a book iconic and elevates it to be more than just a story? Can you think of a book that accomplishes this?

"For me, iconic books always contain outstanding characters that burst off the page. Characters like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings." - Sara Walsh, author of The Dark Light.

"I'm guessing a book has to resonate on a deeper level than just entertainment to be iconic, and at the same time it has to be super entertaining. Which is really hard to do. Also, wish-fulfillment books seem to get icon-status all the time. It's the secret to success, I've heard." - Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar.

"Characters that linger long after you’ve finished reading their story. Characters that find their way into our cultural subconscious, like Harry Potter." - Robin Bridges, author of The Unfailing Light.

"Great characters that readers truly connect with is, to me, the main thing that elevates a book and turns it into more than just a story. That combined with a Hollywood movie really turns it iconic. Sure, lots of books get turned into movies, but it is the ones with the characters worth cheering for that have the staying power. The Hunger Games is a great example of a fabulous book turned movie that got the recognition it deserved." - P.J. Hoover, author of Solstice.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (35)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Release Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Author Website: http://www.kasiewest.com/
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

Addison Coleman's life is one big "What if?" As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It's the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie's parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with–her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the "Norms," or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it's not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school–but she never wanted to be a quarterback's girlfriend. When Addie's father is asked to consult on a murder in the compound, she's unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she's willing to live through...and who she can't live without.

Why can't I wait?
Sliding Doors for the YA crowd.  I'm always interested in the way one decision can change the course of things, and this is such an original take on that concept.  Which path will Addie choose? I can't wait to find out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Author Insight: Iconic Tales

What makes a book iconic and elevates it to be more than just a story? Can you think of a book that accomplishes this?

"Timing. Which is most oftentimes a fluke. I’m thinking of Twilight, of course. It hit a very specific demographic at exactly the right time." - Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen.

"A book becomes iconic when it speaks to our universal experience as humans on many levels (emotional, intellectual, etc), and does it in a fresh way.  A good example is Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief. World War II stories are nothing new, but by having Death narrate, Zusak brought a different perspective and made the story seem insightfully innovative." - Lenore Appelhans, author of Level 2. 

"I suppose a book becomes iconic when it catches on with the public at large. But my taste often isn’t aligned with the taste of the public at large. For example, I didn’t much care for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books. But they were huge! I think the character of Lisbeth Salander represented something to people, meant something. I just didn’t happen to go for her. I don’t know. It’s a personal thing." - Lili Peloquin, author of The Innocents

"In terms of books that are true giants of literature, 'major works' as they say, I think such stories have to delve into core themes of the existential dilemma. A book like Crime and Punishment, for instance, seems to me a perfect synthesis of many major issues--empathy, cruelty, redemption, desperation, solipsism... there's so much to think about in it, my head spins. I guess if a book makes my head spin, I'd call it iconic." - Steven Arntson, author of The Wrap-Up List.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Release Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased
Pages: 444
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom's drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone's been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he's offered the incredible--a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom's instincts for combat will be put to the test and if he passes, he'll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War III. Finally, he'll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom's always wanted--friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters--but what will it cost him?

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the very first installment of What Should Wes Read.  You all (fine, y’all) decided that I should read Insignia by S.J. Kincaid. I’m assuming you chose it because I’m a sci-fi nerd and a combination of Ender’s Game and The Matrix should be a wet dream come true. Despite a plot that comes together better than expected and some quite enjoyable characters, Insignia didn’t quite reach that level for me due to its inability to get me to buy into its premise.

Probably the biggest challenge when writing sci-fi is getting the audience to accept the outlandish premise. Sadly, I had a hard time accepting the premise of the novel. I think the issue was twofold. First, I know too much about technology for some of her ideas to play. For instance, one of the plot points deals with some IP addresses, but the whole conflict would have been avoided if the military just used DHCP instead of static assignment, not to mention the stupidity of the military using publicly accessible IP addresses for classified assets. Also, the idea of coding up viruses in minutes and flinging them around like spells in a Harry Potter novel just seems silly to me, especially the weird insistence that people be physically near each other when sending viruses over a network. The second reason I couldn’t get behind the technology is that it’s over explained, which is just begging the computer nerd in me to poke holes in it. A favorite example is the suggestion that there’s a storage medium of some sort that comes with the neural processor, which makes me wonder what happens when those NAND cells reach their write limit. On the plus side, the author seems to actually know what the uses and the limits of a firewall are, which is frustratingly rare.

The depiction of the war didn’t do much for me, either. The characters seem convinced that they have evolved beyond “conventional” war because wars are no longer fought on earth. That I was left a bit confused as to the nature of the conflict is probably not a good sign, but at best I could tell, one of two things is true. First, the countries could be warring over the actual location of resources on other planets. In this case, the conflict makes sense, but negates the idea that humans have moved beyond conventional war: It’s still a war fought over territory, just not Earth territory. The other possibility is that the countries are just fighting out in space until there’s a victor, which makes it a horribly pointless war with no cost and no incentive to ever end the war. Granted, there’s some interesting 1984-ish suggestion in that possibility, but I still don’t think I can get behind a war that doesn’t seem to have consequence. I believe the first is the intended interpretation and I have a sneaking suspicion that I missed something, but it’s a problem that I can finish the book and not have a decent understanding of the stakes of the overall story.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More Author Insight: An Expanding Audience

What's the biggest consistent obstacle in your writing process? How do you overcome it?

"I don’t think it has. I love that YA has a wide readership, but I write with teenagers in mind. It’s a welcome bonus if other age groups enjoy the stories." - Sara Walsh, author of The Dark Light.

"Technically I write middle grade, though various agents and editors have been like, “This is so not middle grade.” I'm not sure whether it is or not. I didn't write my first book for a specific audience. Once it sold it ended up being classified as middle grade, but I do hope adults will read it, too, and teenagers. I actually think they might enjoy it more than younger readers." - Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar.

"The weird thing for me about being published is knowing some of my coworkers and family members are reading my books, when before my imaginary audience was a nebulous group of teens. But I still write stories that I wanted to read as a teenager, stories that I still want to read now." - Robin Bridges, author of The Unfailing Light.

"In the business, since adults have always been the gatekeepers, having adults read my books hasn’t impacted the way I write at all. That said, the fact that adults are reading young adult fiction has changed the way I think about marketing. Teens are not the sole market anymore, so authors need to be creative and find ways to reach their adult audience as well." - P.J. Hoover, author of Solstice.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Falling Kingdoms Giveaway

Falling Kingdoms 
by Morgan Rhodes

Release Date: Dec. 11, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill 

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

Waiting on Wednesday (34)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away. 

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

Why can't I wait?
Is it just me or do Jennifer Lynn Barnes' concepts always make you go, "I need to read that!"Nobodysounds like it has incredible potential for action and romance. Consider it pre-ordered. 

Boundless by Cynthia Hand
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfil her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

Why can't I wait?
Tucker Avery.  I mean, I'm sure other things will probably happen, and angelic shenanigans will occur, and that's fine and I'm excited about it but... Tucker Avery.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Author Insight: An Expanding Audience

Teens are no longer the sole audience for Young Adult fiction. Has the fact that more adults are reading the genre impacted the way you write?

"It doesn’t, not in the slightest. When I write for an age group, I write the kind of book I would have liked to read. I don’t know how to do anything else." - Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen.

"Writing for teens is about exploring the adolescent experience – stuff like the search for identity – and such themes can resonate with adults too. I think that’s awesome, but I’m still very aware that I’m writing for a teen audience first and foremost." - Lenore Appelhans, author of Level 2. 

"It doesn’t impact it. Or it doesn’t impact it much. In my mind, the only difference between Young Adult fiction and fiction qua fiction is the age of the majority of the characters. In Young Adult fiction, you’re writing a book about people who happen to BE young adults, i.e. in their teens. And teens/pre-teens are smart. They’re aware. They know what’s going on. And they don’t like to be talked down to. (Who does?) So, I try to write as directly and honestly as possible. Same as I do with adult fiction." - Lili Peloquin, author of The Innocents

"It does make me think about style, and in a way that has been healthy for me as a writer, I think. I'm writing for a potential audience of “anybody,” so I've tried to develop a storytelling style sophisticated enough to appeal to adults but not so obtuse as to deter younger readers--like the Sesame Street shows I grew up with in the '70s, which I loved as a kid and still love now. Jim Henson was a master of multigenerational appeal." - Steven Arntson, author of The Wrap-Up List.