Books, reading

Class of 2012 – YA Superlatives – Head of Class

Class of 2012 Banner

Katy UppermanJessica LoveTracey Neithercott and Alison Miller had the great idea to organize the  CLASS OF 2012: YA SUPERLATIVES BLOGFEST! Don´t hesitate to check their blogs for all the links…

The choices were tough (see all the wonderful books I´ve read this year?)…so yep…hmmm sometimes there may be more than one…Today I am proud to present HEAD OF CLASS.

YA books released and read in 2012
YA books released and read in 2012

Favorite Dystopian

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth – I had no issue getting back into that world. And cannot wait to see what happens next.

Favorite Science Fiction

A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis – I loved, loved, loved that one. The ship becomes another character for me, and the way the entire cast is developed is just brilliant in my view. I even found this one a tad better than the first book of this trilogy (and I already couldn´t put it down :P)

Favorite Contemporary

Okay I´m sorry but I´ve read way too many contemporaries to play favorite. Can I go with 3—in no particular order?

  • For the way the story  touched my heart, made me cry, made me hope: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green. I’ve read this book while spending a few days at my Mother-in-law’s. And I think she still wonders why I cried so much reading a novel. For my full review, and for all the reasons why I think this heartbreaking book is also a book full of love and hope, see here.
  • For the way the romance made my heart beat faster, and the secondary cast of characters: MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick. And to share the love, I had decided to hold a giveaway for that book back in July, I also thought I’d ask the author if maybe she would be interested in doing an interview. I was so happy when she said yes! And even included a signed copy of the book as giveaway! 😀 (Happy Friday – Interview and giveaway)

And many more…really…my list of YA contemporary was like WOW this year!

Favorite Historical Fiction

GILT by Katherine Longshore

Favorite Mystery

TEN by Gretchen McNeil

Favorite Romance

So, here again, I cannot keep it at only one, and I am restricting myself.

Favorite Paranormal/Favorite Fantasy/Favorite Genre Bender

THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater – Maggie has a magical way with words, and a magical way to pull the reader inside her story. Loved it.

Favorite Family Drama

THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers. As I wrote in my review of this book back in August, Sloane is  a tortured character and whose pain rages through the pages, gripping and sad. The drama with her family broke my heart. It´s definitely not the type of drama easy to resolve in normal circumstances, so if you throw zombies into the mix? You get an unforgettable story, exploring the weaknesses, strenghts of each character.

So, tell me who was Head of Class for you this year? 

Happy Friday, reading

Happy Friday #34 – My hubby, my writer friends, PitchWars and other stories…

Yay, it´s time for Happy Friday 😀 Looking forward to know what made you smile this week!

A lot of things to make me smile this week….So excuse this SUPER DUPER long post!

My husband is back!

Dear Hubby had to travel to Brazil (I know poor poor him) for 3 weeks for business. And he came back yesterday. Three weeks is long! I think I pretty much danced around for a few minutes and was totally like a kid on Christmas day…

My writer friends

 Really ❤ them! Several of them received an email full of confusing thoughts and questions from me on Wednesday, and as always, I´m amazed at their support, their encouragement and just the fact that they “get” me. I really wish we could all hang out one day.

PitchWars!…

Alternate - PitchWars

See? See? I know, right!!! Being chosen as an alternate is amazing, and I met a lot of wonderful people through this contest. Plus I received interesting feedback, which I now need to reflect on before deciding on my next move. On top of that…the alternates will also get some exposure. Our pitches will be online as well, and even though the agents don´t have to check them out, it´s still exciting. And? Have you seen who´s teamed up with the wonderful Dahlia? The lovely GHENET 😀 😀 😀 Again, congrats!!! So happy for you!

Reading

GILT

GILTKip reviewed that book not too long ago, and I´ve been wanting to read a historical YA for awhile now. I picked it up and WOW, I loved it! I might even do a proper review at some point soon.Really, I fell for the characters, the setting was vivid, and the story itself breathtaking!

Happy for Juliana: Have you seen that Juliana´s novella  Her Heart´s Secret Wish was released on Wednesday? No?  Do you want to read something cute and steamy and perfect for the holidays? You should check out Juliana´s post about her first book here.

So, tell me, what made YOU smile this week?

Happy Friday, reading

Happy Friday #33 – I love other people’s good news :D

Yay, it´s time for Happy Friday 😀 Looking forward to know what made you smile this week!

Another Friday, another super duper busy week…Can’t wait to go home today and to curl up with a good story. Here are a few things that made me smile this week….

Katy’s awesome news: Katy is wonderful. She’s a wonderful person, and a wonderful writer. If you love contemporary YA, or just lovely writing, you should check out the snippets she has on her blog. Her book recommendations are also very thoughtful and her taste is impeccable. Oh and Katy is also a great mom, great cook (you can salivate just looking at her food pictures), great runner,  a great friend.

And Katy just landed an agent. Her story is also so inspiring because she has just recently parted ways amicably with her former agent. She had to start querying again (while doing NaNo). She’s an example that talent, heart and dedication pay off. We all know it also takes a bit of luck. But without talent (and talent is a very complicated word but for me it’s the spark that one has and works on…with every book we write we get better), love for what you’re doing, and dedication, it’s much harder to get there!

If you haven’t done so yet, go congratulate her 🙂 (and I promise I’m not sounding bossy when I write this, I’m smiling :D)

Christa revealed the cover for Fault Line:  You know the type of woman Christa is? She’s super woman and she doesn’t know it. She’s simply kind, generous, funny, endearing, smart, witty. She sometimes says that what she does is nothing compared to what others do. But you know what Christa? As I already told you, you’re still a hero for all of those you touch!

And look at the cover of her book? Don’t you get the chills looking at it? That logline? Every single time I look at it, I have ALL THE FEELINGS! Can’t wait for it to come out, and trust me I’ll be buying a few copies to hand out to the teenagers in my life.

FAULTLINE

The blurb: Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want. But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone. Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame? Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

You can add the book to your TBR on Goodreads here…and you can also go tell Christa how amazing she is or just laugh out loud at her blog posts here.

Reading: I beta read a wonderful manuscript – again, I feel so lucky that others entrust me with their manuscripts (plus the talent in all the novels I read amazes me). I also just finished FLAT-OUT LOVE and started LOSING IT…And I stayed up way too late to read last night…which made me happy cause getting lost in a book is an amazing feeling.

And….I decorated my Christmas Tree….:D

Christmas Tree

So, tell me, what made you smile this week?

Books, reading, Top Ten Tuesday, writing

Top Ten Bookish People I’d Love To Meet

This Top Ten Tuesday feature is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and I first came across it on Jaime´s blog. It´s a lot of fun and they post the topics way in advance!

Top Ten Bookish People I’d love to Meet

1. Writer friends:

  • My CP extraordinaire Jaime: someone I’m so happy and grateful to call a friend, way beyond our writing and reading  experience
  • my wonderful and lovely beta readers: Jessica, Sara, Kip and Heather– I am so THANKFUL for them and their kindness!
  • Katy: our hubbies could totally hit it off too I think – and we could talk about YA contemporary, Disney movies, The Walking Dead…while playing scrabble or having a drink 😛
  • Christa: we need to have a drink –or several – and discuss tears, Center Stage, life and just goof off
  • Jessica L.: we’d talk about our high school experience that sound really similar, Jennifer Echols, Paris, plus I’d get to meet her dog 😀
  • And so many others like…Alison, Rebecca(we’ve already met but it was way too short!), Tracey, Colin, Robin, Juliana, Meredith, Ghenet, Peggy

The list is way too long…and incomplete. Sorry! 😀

But as I was typing this – again incomplete – list, I couldn’t help but grin widely. I’m so happy for all the connections I’ve made!

Some French authors I’d love to chat with!

2. Voltaire: I want to discuss with him philosophy, the way he lived, his aspirations…What he would think about our time.

3. Albert Camus: There are several books of his I wish I could discuss, including the Letters to a German Friend.

4. Victor Hugo: Les Misérables, The Last Day of a Condemned Man, Notre Dame de Paris…I read some of his works before I could totally understand them. No, really, as a child, Notre Dame de Paris is a bit complicated…But as a teenager some of his work has made me think. So. Much.

5. Molière: His life, his relationships with other writers, his work…Can you imagine everything I could learn from him?

Because their stories are always told and retold

6. Charles Perrault and the Brother Grimms: I want to know all about how they gathered their stories, about some of the background…about their life…

One author I studied. A. Lot

7. Christa Wolf: She passed away recently. But I want to ask her ALL the questions. About her work. Her life. Her take on new historicism and the feminism theories. And then I’d send her my Master Thesis and ask her what she thought about it. (I wrote it on her interpretation of Medea)

And some of my favourite YA authors (This list would be WAY longer than 10 in its own right, but I kept it to 3…)

8. Stephanie Perkins: I’d love to discuss how to write the best kisses, and romantic tension. Plus she sounds very nice on Twitter!

9. Judy Blume: I’d love to have dinner with her. And thank her.  A wonderful author, and she sounds like a lovely and strong woman.

10. Melina Marchetta: To tell her how much her book JELLICOE ROAD is still on my mind. Months after reading it. And that she created in Jonah one of the best Love Interest. Ever.

Again, this list was TOUGH!!! 😀

After we’re done chatting about books and life, we could go for a walk 😀

So, tell me,  which Bookish people would you like to meet?

Books, reading, writing

Happy Friday #23 – The End, Zombies and other stories…

Yay, it´s time for Happy Friday 😀 Looking forward to know what made you smile this week!

Don´t forget you can enter my giveaway for a SIGNED copy of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick (see interview with Huntley and details here)

Writing: So. Something insane happened. I wrote “THE END” to my second WiP. It still seems so unreal to know that I actually managed to write 2 books! Okay I still have a lot to do for both of them but right now I am just relishing the moment 😀

Reading: I loved PUSHING THE LIMITS by (and reviewed it here…) I started SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY by Susan Dennard and wow! No really, WOW! Oh and I am participating in the Something Strange and Deadly Outbreak Contest (Erin has the details 😀) and sent this picture to the lovely ladies who are organizing it. Disclaimer: I was just coming back to work after a long day at work and the train was late but you can see the Rhine in the background…

Query: I received GREAT feedback from the folks over at YALITCHAT.org on my query and then decided to enter Taryn´s contest especially after reading all of her helpful #querycrits tweets. Ladies and gentlemen, Taryn´s suggestions and comments were spot on. She helped my query to become ready to be sent. I know. I can barely think about breathing. Now I just have to polish my manuscript.

I am so thankful for Jaime for all her ideas/comments/suggestions on my chapters because I also have the feeling that thanks to her, my WiP will be much much much stronger/better!!!!  (full post on how Jaime has helped me later, promise!) Oh and I am thinking of using Taryn as a beat-reader as part of her Teen Eyes Editorial services…

So, tell me, what made you smile this week?

 

Books, reading, Road Trip Wednesday

My Life as a Fictional Character…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

Before I get started, don´t forget you can enter my giveaway for a SIGNED copy of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick (see interview with Huntley and details here)

This week’s topic: : If you could be reincarnated as any fictional character, which would it be?

So, for some reason, the first things that came to my mind were:

  1. All the books I wouldn´t want to be in even though how I loved them very very much. No, really, I don´t see myself listening to “And may the odds be ever in your favor” as I walk into The Hunger Games. Even though, I´d love to meet Katniss and all.
  2. All the boys which should have attended my high school with the specific purpose of sweeping me off my feet (until I met my wonderful hubby of course :P).
  3. Some of said-boys are actually in the first category aka places I´d be afraid to put my feet into or just part of very very sad stories or sad families. Oh Jonah Griggs, how I wish you´d have been in my Sociology or Math class but nope.

So, hmm, what to do? what to do? Yep, I´ll totally be Anna from Anna and the French Kiss.

Paris – Source: me 😀
Tour Eiffel. Picture taken in 2009 😀

Why? Well, there are plenty of reasons but here a few…

  1. She lives in Paris
  2. Etienne St-Clair – do I need to say more?
  3. She has goals and friends and hobbies and dreams. And Etienne. And Paris 😀
  4. Her family has positive sides. Love her little brother.

Now I am curious, if you could be into a book, which one would it be?

reading, revising, writing

Happy Friday #21 – A shirtless guy and other stories…

Yay, it´s time for Happy Friday 😀 Looking forward to know what made you smile this week!

Writing, critiquing and reading: This week can be pretty much summarized into those two tweets –

Randomness: We went to IKEA last weekend and I got a new bookshelf where new shiny books will be able to find a place to call home and I made a yummy dessert. It was my first try with this recipe (Strawberry Blueberry Mini Cheesecake Trifle from Glorious Treats) and YUM! I found it on Pinterest, by looking at some pictures on the board of Katy Upperman (she has a LOT of delicious-looking food!)

YUM! (made mine not so mini but still yummy :))

So, tell me what made you smile this week?

Blogging, Books, reading

Looking for Alaska – Book review

 I believe there is hope for us all, even amid the suffering-and maybe even inside the suffering. And that’s why I write fiction, probably. It’s my attempt to keep that fragile strand of radical hope, to build a fire in the darkness.

(John Green from his interview with Penguin Group)

LOOKING FOR ALASKA is the type of books which made me feel, think and laugh. Some of the characters reminded me of JELLICOE ROAD because of the way they were developed: fully layered, fully there in the story and fully jumping out of the pages.

Summary from Goodreads: Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

As I´ve mentioned before, I am not used to read from a guy´s perspective. Sometimes, I even wonder  before getting into a book with this type of POV if I will really enjoy it. Being in Miles´ (aka Pudge) head didn´t feel forced in any ways, shape or form. I had high expectations for this book which can translate in me waiting with my fluttering heart to be amazed, on the look for the sentences, for the special moments. This usually means that I enjoy the story but I can get too busy trying to find its greatness to really enjoy it. Does it make sense?

                                                                                                                                          Source: besttshirtparty.blogspot.ca via Elodie on Pinterest

With LOOKING FOR ALASKA, I had a bit of this modus operandi where I was in the story without being in, until I let myself just read…

I started to think about what one may go through when one is looking for The Great Perhaps or the questions we ask ourselves when faced with tragedy. The beauty of the book was that I didn´t feel forced or pushed one way or another. I appreciated this. John Green mentions in an interview with The School Library Journal: “It’s a funny book, but it’s also a book about the universality of suffering and grief and forgiveness and whether or not there’s a reason for radical hope”. 

The universality of emotions. So important. So true. No matter where people come from. Those were conversations I remember having in High school with my friends and it resonated.

And then there are the characters. As I mentioned, when reading, I was quickly falling in love with them: their quirks, their interaction, their passions, their humor…

My favorite one has to be The Colonel. John Green gives us the privilege to get to know a gentleman in the making. The Colonel doesn´t have it easy, he´s difficult, bossy and moody but he´s there for his friends (at least tries to be), he shows so much respect for his mother…He´s also funny. Alaska is interesting. So full of life. Bigger than life. Tortured. Unsure. Sure. Full of contradictions. They´re all growing up as the story goes…

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • (…) but if I hadn’t imagined it, I would never have gotten to the Creek at all (p. 54)
  • Now I understood why the Colonel was short – he couldn’t afford to be any taller (p. 91)
  • I’ll say “Thanks”. Man, she helped fill out my application to this place. And she let me come here, and that’s no easy thing when you come from where we do, to let your son go away to school (p. 116)
  • After so much kissing that it almost started to get boring (p. 123)
  • I could not go alone, and going with anyone other than the Colonel would amount to alone (p. 148)
  • It always shocked me when I realised that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things (p. 213)

So tell me, what book are you anxiously waiting to read?

Observations, personal, reading, revising, writing

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

                                                                                                  Source: guidetomenhattan.com via Rachel on Pinterest

When one thinks about artists in the spotlight, very rarely will the word “writer” come up. And sure, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and others do not grace the pages of US Weekly or People Magazine every week. TV channels may not discuss their latest book at length like they may do with the latest performance of whatever actor…but writers like any other artists put their souls out there.

Reviews.

They´re everywhere.

You cannot entirely hide from them.

                                                                                                                                      Source: xkcd.com via Michael on Pinterest

They come from within, from our wonderful critique partners, our great beta-readers. Then, from agents, possible editors and then from the readers themselves.

After reading this post by Shannon (if you haven´t read it, you definitely take a look :D, I´ll wait) and a comment by Christa on my post from last week, it hit me both as a writer and as a reader: Not everyone will like my work. Not everyone likes the books I could not put down. Of course we know it but there is a moment where it seems to become more real.

And then, I remembered that old saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”…readers bring their own baggage, past and taste to the books they read just like writers laugh or cry words on paper.

Getting published is really putting yourself out there, in the big big, sometimes scary world. There is no “Dealing with reviews for dummies”.

I checked one of my favorite books on Goodreads.com, The Ripening Seed by Colette and it has quite a bit of bad reviews. At the beginning I got a bit distracted thinking how is it possible? Can´t people see the art? The beauty of her words? The cynical look at the bourgeoisie world while still going through the motions of growing up? There are also great reviews of this story but usually the eye has a tendency to focus on the negative. But all the negative reviews of the world will not take away the feeling of awe I had while reading my mother´s copy of this book as a teenager or the flutters in my heart as I reread it years later. What should matter to me the most is how I felt about something.

As writers, we owe it to ourselves to go the extra-step, the scary step in our writing (like I mentioned in my Monday post last week) but then we´re standing out there naked. And let´s face it, being naked in front of possibly millions of people reading your words is SCARY.
So, I think we also need to protect ourselves once our words are out there. We need to have a safe place we can go to and need to know that yes we may be awkward in dealing with all this but what is important is that at the end of the day, we remember that we had the courage to go in the big scary world, that some did love our words and that, sometimes as a reader and as a writer, it is ok to just do that:

….as long as we walk with our heads high the next day and continue to be happy with our tastes as readers and proud of our words as writers.

Oh and if I ever get published and start freaking out, can someone remind me of this post? 😀

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this!

Books, reading, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR List

This Top Ten Tuesday feature is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and I first came across it on Jaime´s blog. It´s a lot of fun and they post the topics way in advance!

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR List

All summaries kindly provided by Goodreads…

The following books were written by authors I was lucky enough to hear at the Teen Author Carnival and I suddenly have an urge to read some of their works. This is just a sample, after this event my TBR might have to go a tad crazy and might officially explode with new books 😀

1. The Near Witch by Victoria SchwabThe Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.If the wind calls at night, you must not listen.The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. And there are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. (…)

2. A Midsummer Nightmare´s by Kody Keplinger (I did love her first two books :D): Whitley Johnson’s dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She’s just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée’s son? Whitley’s one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin’ great. Worse, she totally doesn’t fit in with her dad’s perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn’t even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she’s ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn’t “do” friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn’t her stepbrother…at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

3. Belles by Jen Canolita: Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she’s ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn’t go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn’t thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates’ Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls’ lives forever.

The following books have been recommended by friends from the Blogosphere…and they´re always spot on 😀

                               

4. Audrey, wait! by Robin Benway: when two bloggers with whom you share similar taste rave about a book, you know you have to pick it sooner than later. This book was loved by both Tracey and Jaime. They both highlight the wonderful voice…

5. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, Katy gushed about this book some time ago and she mentioned the following: A scant pinch of historical + a few shakes of steam punk + a generous dollop of horror (spirits and zombies — oh my!) = Something Strange and Splendid. (her entire review can be found here). It comes out end of July 😀

6. The one that I want by Jennifer Echols, Jessica shared the love about this book in May and since then I have had it on my radar. It´s time to pick it up 😀

The following two books are new releases and I cannot wait to get my hands on them!

                             

 7. If I lie by Corrine Jackson: Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town. Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise

8. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick: A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another. “One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The last two books on my list are older releases (published before 2009)

9. Cracked up to be by Courtney Summers: When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace? Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all. Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth. Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

10. Looking for Alaska by John Green: Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the “Great Perhaps.” Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

So tell me which books do you want to get your hands on this summer?