Sunday, May 30, 2010

Show Some Gratitude

I’ve been reading quite a few debut authors lately and as a writer I always, always read the acknowledgements. I have since I can remember anyway. When I was much younger I would read through the sometimes little cryptic messages of “Thanks to my dearest John for pulling me through that night when things were so horrendous.” or the not so mystical “Thanks to my family for putting up with my writer’s insanity.”.  I loved reading them, still do, now I am sure to note said agents name. I view them more as a tool these days, but I still like to see the heartfelt thanks on the page. However, I’ve started to notice that some books lack acknowledgements. I wonder when is it that they stop being included.

I’ve been standing in the bookstore with two books in my hand, trying to make a decision. It’s seriously like Sophie’s Choice sometimes. I almost feel a part of me being torn away at having to put the book back onto the shelf. If there was ever an argument for me being born wealthy, this is it.  I carefully place it back on the shelf, promising to come back for it later, and usually do. Anyway, I digress. I was standing there holding two books in my hands trying to make that faithful decision. I turned to the acknowledgement area for one and briefly read through. I searched for that section in the other and found it to be absent. That made my decision for me.  I know it sounds trivial, maybe, but it wasn't to me in that moment.  I chose the one with acknowledgements for the time being. Yes, I will return for the other before too long, but felt it could wait.

My mind kept returning to the absent acknowledgements. When is it okay to stop thanking those who helped you through the publishing of a book? Yes, I know it’s redundant to thank you parents if it’s your eighteenth book, but isn’t there someone you can thank. For heaven’s sake, the editor at the very least, and I’m sure your agent would still appreciate a mention. There are people who helped you do research or your critters or betas. It just saddened me to see blank, empty pages in the back.

So what do you think? Is it okay not to acknowledge anyone? Is there a point it should stop? Am I just ridiculous? Tell me how you feel about it. Oh and if you do...thanks!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Here’s a brief snippet about Shade from Ms. Smith-Ready’s website: First in a young adult urban fantasy series about a world of ghosts only the young can see.

When Aura’s boyfriend meets a most untimely end, she is forced to reconsider her relationship with the living and the dead.

A sequel, Shift, will be released May 2011.

I loved this book. The characters felt so realistic and I liked them. While they didn’t always make the choices you wanted them to make, you still cared for them deeply. Ms. Smith-Ready’s dialogue feels natural, not at all forced. Her characters are frustrating, heart-warming, humorous, and loveable; all the things you expect teenagers to be. I enjoyed the references to various groups like The Pogues and Flogging Molly, great music that I love.  You could feel Aura’s struggle with releasing Logan and going on with her life. I’m sooo excited to see there’s a sequel due out in May of 2011. I wish I didn’t have to wait that long, but it will be worth the wait. I’m looking forward to seeing how Aura and Zachary’s relationship develops. I would highly recommend this book. It gets a four rose rating!
The cover is okay. I do wish a bit more of the girl’s body was visible on the cover. It cuts her off short in my opinion. I’ve noticed several covers that are similar to this as well.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Connecting with Books in your Teens

I just got word that Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day is going to be re-release in paperback November 15, 2010. I remember that I completely LOVED this book. The thought of not even having a name of your own, but merely a ‘nameber’ and a computer that tracks your every move, was thought provoking and a little freaky to my teenage mind. I remember really pulling for the main character Chip (a nickname his grandfather gave him), who’s trying to connect with a group of rebels he’s heard about. I’m excited to re-read it again and see how my adult mind interprets things.

Here’s a blurb: Considered one of the great dystopian novels-alongside Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange and Aldous Huxley's BraveNew World -Ira Levin's frightening glimpse into the future continues to fascinate readers even forty years after publication. The story is set in a seemingly perfect global society. Uniformity is the defining feature; there is only one language and all ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into one race called "TheFamily". The world is ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they can never realize their potential as human beings, but will remain satisfied and cooperative. They are told where to live, when to eat, whom to marry, when to reproduce. even the basic facts of nature are subject to the UniComp's will-men do not grow facial hair, women do not develop breasts, and it only rains at night. With a vision as frightening as any in the history of the science fiction genre, This Perfect Day is one of Ira Levin's most haunting novels.

Did you ever read this book?  What did you think?  What book did you really connect with as a young adult?  Have you gone back and re-read a book from those years and was your interpretation any different?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

Here’s a snippet off of Ms. Hubbard’s website: Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend. When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal Julia left behind. But Colt is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.

Colt struggles with how to cope with the loss of Julia and appear unaffected to the rest of the world. How do you grieve over someone you weren’t even supposed to know? He also has quite a bit of guilt, feeling that the argument he was in with Julia prior to the accident, contributed in some way to her death. He’s torn between the connection he feels to Julia through a journal of letters she wrote to him, and his desire to go on with life, to feel again. Julia and Colt come from different worlds. Her family is very affluent and his is poor. He starts to realize that those labels (the haves and the have-nots) fade quickly in the light of the real world. So to quote the great John Lennon, “And, in the end, the love you take - Is equal to the love you make.”

I liked the fact that the main character was male. It provided a great change of pace for me. The characters were great. I liked it a lot but didn’t fall in love with it. I’m not sure why, but it just didn’t really get to that point with me. I would recommend reading it for sure. There wasn’t much in the way of swearing but there was some sex. I would say 16 and up.

I’ll give it 3 roses.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Here’s a blurb from Ms. Noel’s site: Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, Ever can see auras, hear people's thoughts, and know a person's entire life story by touch. Going out of her way to avoid human contact and suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen.

Damen Auguste is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head—wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can see straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. She has no idea just who he really is—or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.

Okay, I have to admit, I’m a total sucker for books like this. Being taken on the whole story of girl meets hot boy, girl falls for said boy, wait…then there’s some issue, will it all work out in the end? The only thing that bummed me a bit was it took awhile for their relationship to get going.  I did really enjoy this book though. So much in fact, that now I’m hooked on the series and am going to read the rest. Ssshh, don’t tell anyone but one day I stopped in to have lunch and was reading during lunch, I just decided to play hooky and finish reading the book right there in Tokoyo Joe’s. I love Ever’s friends, especially Miles. He’s just so honest, blunt, and that’s a good quality in a friend. The cover (even my son remarked) looks like the same girl on North of Beautiful. A lovely cover all the same. I could totally see this being a movie. I got swept up in this and am going to give it 4 roses!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Okay for some reason I couldn’t get the excerpt part of Ms. Anderson’s gorgeous website to work correctly (the site is worth a look see to be sure. I’ve linked to it here.) Here’s a blurb about the book: Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss-her life-and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend's memory and racked with guilt for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all-hope.

Whew, deep breath…okay. Ms. Anderson has the most vivid images painted with words that I believe I’ve read in a long, long time. You can imagine with a mc locked in battle with an eating disorder and a cutting tendency, the images were not always pretty. They were kinda’ scary sometimes, as a matter of fact. I thought this book portrayed the issues surrounding teens fighting for acceptance and struggling with body issues in a brutally honest fashion. It’s at times heart breaking, frustrating and downright depressing, but you’re pulling for Lia to win the battle and triumph over anorexia. I would recommend this book for teens aged 15 and up. The cover is interesting and lovely. I give it 3 roses!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Awesome Sauce Award

I have been thinking about all the awards that we pass around and share with our fellow bloggers. I love them! They’re great and give me a little boost for the day. I thought of how inspiring many of my fellow bloggers are to me. I’ve learned so much from so many of you. We’ve shared laughs, frustrations, and deep ponderings. So, I created my own new, bright shiny award for you guys. I hope you like it.

For Cate Wood of Words from the Woods you always make me smile, generally even laugh out loud and oftentimes manage to inspire me.

For TK Richardson of My Writing Masquerade you touch my heart and are one of the most giving people I know, selfless and your writing is lovely. I can’t wait to read your book.

Jemi Fraser of Just Jemi you are so uplifting and so encouraging. I also think you’re a bit magic because I do not know how you manage to do all that you do in the 24 hours that we mere mortals are given.

Elana Johnson, well everyone knows Elana right. If you don’t, you should. I linked her name to her blog. I always learn something whenever I visit your blog, and you’re so encouraging. You inspired me to create the Awesome Sauce Award.

Lisa and Laura Roecker of Lisa and Laura Write. You girls have made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. I learn from you and laugh alongside you.

I could probably go on and on giving out these awards to so many wonderful people I’ve met through my adventures in the world of a writer. But then, who would you have to pass the award on to. So, I will stop now and allow everyone to pass this around.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Here’s a bit about Elsewhere from the Macmillan site: Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?

This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

I really enjoyed this book. The fact that it is in third person, tends to leave the writing somewhat stilted sometimes. A lot of “Lizzie did this” and “Lizzie did that” which made for choppy reading. I did love thinking about the whole concept of aging in reverse and returning to live out subsequent lifetimes. I think there’s something to be said for fearlessly opening one’s heart and moving forward (or backward) through life, embracing whatever comes your way. Like Don Henley sings “There’s just so many summers babe, just so many springs.” Heavy stuff for a 15 year old to ponder. I find myself thinking over this book long after I’ve finished with it. The cover is pretty decent. I’ll give this one 3 ½ flowers but list it below as 4. After all, who wants to chop a flower in two.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

I would say this book is geared toward younger teens, 13 and up. Here’s a bit about Hush, Hush from Ms. Fitzpatrick’s site: Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen -- and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

I know that probably most of the free world has read this book already. I always tend to be lag a little on these things. I liked hush, hush, despite the fact that some of the characters grated on me a touch. I do realize that I’m an adult and am reading it from my adult perspective; in other words, teen girls can grate on my nerves at times.

I thought the storyline was interesting. And what girl (yes, even women) don’t like a guy with a bit of the bad boy in him. We can’t help it, we’re somehow drawn to this whole scenario. Vee drove me a touch crazy with all her funky antics, but we all know someone like this, don't we. I liked this book and actually read it in two days. I just couldn’t seem to put it down. The cover is lovely and I'm looking forward to Crescendo. I give it 3 1/2 roses.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fat Cat by Robin Brande

Here’s a brief snippet about the book Fat Cat that I shamelessly pulled from a Amazon page: Cat smart, sassy, and funny—but thin, she’s not. Until her class science project. That’s when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have their benefits.

As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren’t too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. . . .

This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves.

I liked this book a lot. Cat is smart and realizes by the end that the changes she has made were for herself. I think that’s a valuable lesson for teen girls. All too often this is where the framework is laid for women to become pleasers, side-lining our own desires and needs. She re-discovers some of her interests that she had given up long ago. Her parents were involved, present and had a healthy outlook. (It seems as soon I started to remark on the lack of presence of parents in YA books, I bombarded with books of parents very involved. Lol) She approaches her diet changes in a healthy manner also. She consults a dietician and monitors all aspects of her experiment. The only thing that frustrated me at times were Cat’s ability to hold a grudge. I’m not the grudge bearing type of person, so I was shocked by her tenacity in that manner. Her devotion to her family and friends was exemplary. The cover was unique and beautiful (you had to know I’d love that purple). I would say this is a read for 15 and up. I gave this a 3 out of 4 flower rating.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Impossible" by Nancy Werlin

I recently finished reading Impossible by Nancy Werlin.  It was my first faery story.  :)  Here's a bit about the book:
Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or to fall into madness upon their child's birth. But Lucy is the first girl who won't be alone as she tackles the list. She has her fiercely protective foster parents beside her. And she has Zach, whose strength amazes her more each day. Do they have enough love and resolve to overcome an age-old evil?

Inspired by the ballad "Scarborough Fair," Impossible combines suspense, fantasy, and romance.

I've always loved the song Scarborough Fair and thought it an interesting thing to base a curse around it.  I really enjoyed this book.  It was a great read that thankfully showed a healthy relationship between Lucy and the adults involved in her life.  Her adoptive parents were supportive, helpful, and very involved.  So often in YA novels the adults are either MIA or so deeply embroiled in their own problems they're non-existant.  It was nice to see a book that included adults in a healthy and perfectly acceptable way. The love story between Zach and Lucy moved at a great pace and sucked you in to their feelings for one another.  The characters were believeable and warm.  Oh and the cover is lovely.  I'll have to read more faery tales.

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