Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: Feudal Japan, Scottish Myths, And Forbidden Kissing

Confession: this is my first ever Waiting On Wednesday post! I know, I know. How can that POSSIBLY be with all the books I'm dying to read, right? Well, I'm here today to fix that. 

So. Here are 3 books on my OMG I NEED THIS NOW list:

STORMDANCER by Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger—a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Comes out September 18th!!!

THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

 Comes out September 18th, too!!!

STEALING PARKER by Miranda Kenneally

Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother’s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.

Now Parker wants a new life.

So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three? Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?

But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?

 Comes out October 1st!!!

Now tell me: are you waiting for these books as well? Any other books you can't wait to snatch up from bookshelves?? 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Book Of My Dreams: On Finishing The First Draft I Didn't Think I Could Write

The amazeballs Beth Revis once wrote about the Book Of Her Heart. This is the kind of book that speaks to your true self the loudest. It's the one who embodies you the person as well as you the writer. As Beth says:

All books are works of art and take some of ourselves to write, but a "book of your heart" is one that is ripped from your very soul. It's the important one, your baby, the one that you wrote with blood, sweat, and tears; the one that means more to you than any other.

I have a Book Of My Heart. I finished the first draft about a year ago, and I even started revising it, but I stopped. Why? The story's a bit long, but to sum it up: I quit running away from the Book Of My Dreams. 

In 2009, long before the seed for the Book Of My Heart came around, another seed planted itself in my brain. The problem? I didn't think I was good enough to write a novel based on that seed. But it was through and through the Book Of My Dreams--what I was DYING for someone else to write so I could gobble it up in one sitting. This seed had GIRL POWER and BAD PEOPLE and GOOD PEOPLE WITH A LOT OF HEART and MAGIC and PRETTY DUDES WHO AREN'T DOUCHEBAGS. 

So I figured someone else would write it eventually.

Three years later, no one had written the Book Of My Dreams. Of course, a ton of books had similar elements, but exactly the Book Of My Dreams? Nope. I was proud of myself for slicing my soul in half and tackling the Book Of My Heart, though. Really proud. Even better, I felt free enough to think I could write anything. Amazeballs Beth is right: 

If you're a writer who is unpublished, then I hope and pray you will eventually write the book of your heart. It's a wonderful thing, and the closest I've come to touching magic. But I also want you to know something very, very important: the book of your heart is not the apex of your writing. It is not necessarily the best thing you've written, and it's not necessarily your only shot at getting published.

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of the Book Of My Dreams. As I wrote the last scene, I teared up. No, it wasn't a particularly sad scene, but it meant so, so much to me. The whole novel means a lot. Not just because of its content, but also because of its existence. It's a real draft. Horrible and cliched and illogical, but it's real.

I have no idea if the Book Of My Dreams will get published. I do know I'm going to revise it a billion times and query it. I also know it's the best book I've ever written. Is it the most personal? No. Is it the most me? No. But it's close enough, and it's everything I never thought I could do.

I think you owe it to yourself to try it, too.

Now tell me: are you working on the Book Of Your Dreams, or the Book Of Your Heart? If neither, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?????

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Guest Post: Amy Lukavics + Why THIRTEEN Should Be A Novel

*originally posted on October 6, 2011 @ Reel YA*

For today's guest post, the wonderful Amy Lukavics is stopping by! She's a YA author with a super awesome blog, and she's also a member of YA Highway. Amy's here to talk about her pick for a movie that should be a YA novel. And let me say, I echo her sentiments 100%. 

Without further ado, I give you Amy!

When Amparo asked me to write about what movie I think should have been a YA novel, the answer came to me instantly:

Thirteen starring Evan Rachel Wood.
This movie came out right when I was the perfect age for it (fifteen). It quickly became one of my personal classics, the kind that you re-watch with your best friend from kindergarten hundreds of times over popcorn and candy and pizza rolls. 

We were fascinated by Evan's character, Tracy Louise Freeland--she was a straight-cut good girl that dealt with the pain of her parent's divorce and the rekindling of her mother's relationship with a drug abuser by cutting and finding a new friendship with a notorious “bad girl” from school, Evie. The transformation and development in Tracy is breathtaking and heartbreaking, and nothing is held back in this super gritty drama, which is what would have made it perfect for a dark, contemporary YA.

There have been speculations and even complaints that parents and family in general remain eerily absent from YA. This movie not only explores Tracy's relationship with her parents but rips it open, forcing the audience to experience the intensity of the frustrations and loss of control that Tracy feels throughout the movie. Her mother is played by Holly Hunter, and while her character tries to make the best out of a bad situation, it's undeniable that the rocky mother-daughter relationship has a direct impact on every decision Tracy makes throughout the movie.

The movie was co-written by Nikki Reed, the girl who plays bad-girl Evie in the film, and she based Tracy's experience on her own at the ages of twelve and thirteen. To this day, it's still one of my favorites, a painful reminder that the agony of a teenage girl can burn with enough intensity to bleed into the lives around her and cause complete chaos within multiple families.

HUGE thanks to Amy for sharing her pick! 

Have you seen Thirteen? If so, what do you like most about it? If not, which other movies do you think would make a great contemporary YA novel? 

Interview: Elana Johnson, Author Of POSSESSION And SURRENDER!

*originally posted on September 29, 2011 @ Reel YA*

I'd like to welcome YA author/blogger extraordinaire Elana Johnson to Reel YA! Elana's the author of the YA dystopian, POSSESSION, which is in stores now. The companion novel, SURRENDER, was released this past June by Simon and Schuster. 

Without further ado, here's Elana's quick interview:

Favorite movie genre
I can only have one?! I love movies. Probably romantic comedies the best.

Favorite teen movie
I'm not sure what a teen movie is... Movies with teenagers? How about 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU? I like that one. Oh, and A CINDERELLA STORY with Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray. Especially Chad Michael Murray... 
(Oh, Chad Michael Murray... *stares*)

If Violet Schoenfeld could direct her own movie, which genre would she choose and why?
Vi would want to go as radical as possible. Maybe like a steampunk/western/fantasy? Ha! She's all about doing whatever she wants, no matter what. 
(and that's why I love her!)

What's one thing you've learned as a writer from watching teen movies?
Relationships are messy. They're messy in movies, they're messy in real life, they should be messy in books, too. 

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even thinkabout kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself. 

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Huge thank you to Elana for taking time out of her schedule to answer some Qs! Make sure you pick up your copies of POSSESSION and SURRENDER, which are available now!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Books You Should Read: WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard

It all begins with a stupid question: 

Are you a Global Vagabond? 

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. 

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back. 

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.

Why You Should Read It:

With her debut novel, Like Mandarin, Kirsten Hubbard elbowed her way up on my list of Best YA Authors I've Ever Read. Wanderlove has assured me she's going to stay at the top of that list for a very long time. Not only are her characters achingly real and flawed, but her world-building is beyond detailed, and above all, tempting. Even when the going got tough for Bria, I wanted to be her. I wanted to go on the same exotic adventures, eat the same foods, drink in the same landscapes, and hang out with the same backpacker/prankster guy. 

Trust me. You'll love him, too.

Art plays a huge role in Hubbard's sophomore triumph, both for Bria's character development and for the book itself--it contains beautiful drawings straight from Hubbard's own hands. For Bria, art is a painful reminder of everything that went wrong in her life. She can't bear to pick up a pencil and just go for it. I think this will not only resonate with teens struggling with accepting themselves, but with authors as well. Art is a very personal endeavor. Letting others in is scary, but worthwhile in the end. I applaud Hubbard for including her artwork, which I hope YA readers will fawn over just as much as I did. But, of course, I hope they fall in love with Bria and her oh-so-funny-yet-heartbreaking voice. Along with the lush settings, it's what carries the story. 

Oh, and that backpacker/prankster guy? One of the most realistic depictions of a dude I've seen in YA. 

*bows down to Kirsten Hubbard*

Make sure you pick up your copy of Wanderlove, which is on sale now!

Guest Post: YA Characters And Movies With Josin McQuein

*originally posted on September 22, 2011 @ Reel YA*

Today Reel YA welcomes YA author Josin McQuein! Her debut novel, ARCLIGHT, comes out in 2012, but you can already add it on Goodreads. You can also check her out over at her blog, in which she shares snippets from her WIPs (trust me, they're awesome). Josin's here to answer the following question: which YA character would you love to see star in their own movie?

Take it away, Josin!

When I was asked to do this guest post, my first thought was to put the question in context of which book would I like to see onscreen. It was an easy choice, and a happy one, as The Hunger Games is already on its way to being a movie. I've been wanting to see Katniss (and Haymitch, who I love for his Jack Sparrow-esque "I'm neither as drunk or as stupid as you think I am" ways) on screen since I read the book. 

But I wouldn't be me if I only answered the question in the obvious, so I also started thinking of characters independent of the stories in which they starred. Thinking of those who weren't showcased in their own stories, but rather served in background roles. 

Put on their own, some of these characters could easily float their own movie--think of how much life and history is implied to Carlisle CullenHis voice, ancient as it is, is that of the everyman. 

Think of Severus Snape and the layered tragedies that made up his life. True, neither of these characters are young, but they were once, and therein lies the promise. I'd love a full story of the young life of either of those men.

There are those like Laurel, from Wings, who are described as so beautiful it would seem a shame not to showcase them on film if they actually lived and could aspire to a life onscreen. There are those like Kat, from The Heist Society, who are feisty and resourceful, and you'd know they be the chameleons who could be and do anything. I'd love to see how an actor with the abilities of those from Shade (where anyone under a certain age can see the dead who haven't crossed over) would use that to their advantage. After all, if dead men really could tell tales, there'd be some juicy gossip to be uncovered.   

The best writers make characters who aren't just real enough to appear in their own story, but ones who are as real as the actors who can shed their own skin and portray anyone they want. There are some characters out there with real charisma and star quality. While it's easy to look at a story as a whole and say "Wow, I'd love to see that!" It's much more difficult to pinpoint a character and think "Wow, I'd love to see him/her!"

Huge thanks to Josin for stopping by! And whoa, I would l-o-v-e to see movies with all these characters, especially Snape and Carlisle. Those would be incredible. 

How about you? Would you love to see these characters' YA stories on the big screen, too? Or do you have other favorites? 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Douchebags Are Not Sexy, Folks

Yesterday, the lovely Mindee Arnett asked a few questions on Twitter:

Anyone else there seen This Means War
If so, are we agreed it's an example of a love triangle that did not work?

**WARNING: spoilers ahead**

Since I've seen the movie, I figured I'd chime in with my views on it. Yes, I completely agree with Mindee's assessment of the love triangle--it didn't work. At all.

First of all, Reese Witherspoon's character is torn between these two men:

Tom Hardy on the left, Chris Pine on the right.

Yep, Reese has a REALLY HARD DECISION to make. Well, that's what it seems like on the surface. You see, Chris Pine's character is a douchebag. He knows it. He embraces it. He lives and breathes douchebaggery with no shame whatsoever. His days are spent scoping out women, using lame pick-up lines on women, flaunting his money in front of women, hooking up with women, and making fun of his best friend (Tom's character) for believing in true love.

In the end, Reese's character picks him.


Does he change throughout the movie? He falls in love with Reese's character, yes, and he forsakes his womanizing ways after he falls for her. But here's my biggest problem: I have no idea why she fell in love with him. Tom's character is a gentleman extraordinaire. He treats her with respect and kindness. He takes her on romantic yet fun dates. He loves his son and introduces Reese's character to him so they can bond. Also, HE'S TOM HARDY.

*face palm*

I understand some women dislike men who are too sweet, too mellow, or too "safe". I get it. But for the love of Batman, why pick the dude who objectifies you and womankind in general? The same thing is often seen in fiction, which is why I'm bringing it up. A bad boy, or a boy with an edge, isn't the same thing as a douchebag. The latter is a class all its own.

 Sorry, but to me, douchebags are not sexy. They are not rockin' ze boat. 

Give me sweet, mellow and safe Tom Hardy ANY DAY. *stares at Tom*

Now tell me: have you seen This Means War? If so, what do you think about the ending? Do you find douchebags appealing, or are you like me and think they're not appealing at all?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Breaking News: Sam Claflin Cast As Finnick in CATCHING FIRE

Per The Hollywood Reporter:

The Snow White and the Huntsman actor is the latest to join the follow-up, to be directed by Francis Lawrence. Described as "charismatic" and "clever," Finnick -- from District 4 -- won the Hunger Games when he was 14.
Claflin had been widely speculated to join the sequel, which is set to hit theaters Nov. 22, 2013. He joins new castmembers Jena Malone as Johanna Mason and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee.
Claflin starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and as Prince William in Huntsman. He recently finished The Quiet Ones opposite Mad Men alum Jared Harris and Mary & Martha with two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank.

Personally, Finnick is one of my favorite characters from Catching Fire, and the trilogy as a whole. While Sam isn't exactly the Finnick I had in mind, I know he's talented and was chosen for a super good reason. *crosses fingers*

How about you? Excited about Sam playing Finnick? Not so much? Sound off in the comments!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Guest Post: Movie Vamps and YA with Lisa Gail Green!

*originally posted on September 15, 2011 @ Reel YA*

For Reel YA's first guest post, I'd like to introduce you to the fabulous Lisa Gail Green! Not only does she have an awesome blog, she's also a HUGE fan of YA paranormal stories. And today, she's here to talk about one of her fave paranormal creatures: vampires

Take it away, Lisa!

Amparo asked me to write a guest blog in answer to the following questionWhich movie vampire should have their own YA novel?

It’s a fun question! So many possibilities, really. I mean, Lost Boys seems far too obvious. Blade is awesome, but he has his comics. And well, Edward is clearly taken. But in my opinion, there’s only one real answer here.

Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.

Before you cry foul, let me explain. See, I know Dracula is actually a book by Bram Stoker. I get it. And I know there have been countless movies made since the 1931 classic. But seriously – picture it – Dracula, the YA novel.

Brooding and mysterious, locked in his sixteen-year-old skin forever, Vladimir Dracula is cursed to feed on the life-blood of innocent humans. When he meets Mina, he falls fang over heels, but how can she ever love a monster?

It’s got the love triangle, the handsome immortal, the misunderstood monster, and the horror.

I can picture it now, a scene with Mina being lured outside to find Dracula, who fights against his instincts, knowing they will only lead to her death. Talk about teen themes to explore. Fighting against those intense emotions and urges isn’t always easy. Come to think of it, injecting raging hormones into any bloodsucker would be a fun ride. It almost writes itself…

Van Helsing would certainly be an interesting teenager, too. I could picture him being a modern day honors student with secret kick-butt abilities.

Mina would be the confused and smitten girl. Of course we’d make her a bit stronger and more independent than the typical female heroine. The same with her friend Lucy.

And of course we can’t forget Renfield. I’d make him a popular jock, who under the mind control of Dracula, becomes his unwilling servant and loses his grip on reality.

Forget the movie, now I really want to read this book.

Which movie vampire would you give his/her own YA book to?