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Posts Tagged ‘YA’

  1. Days of Blood & Starlight is just a “middle”

    December 24, 2012 by Kiersi

    Days of Blood & Starlight, by Laini Taylor

    This book gets: ♥♥♥ out of 5

    Days of Blood & Starlight, by Laini Taylor – I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it so, so much–mostly due to the love affair I had with its precursor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone (tapped by Universal Studios for a motion picture). And that is, perhaps, part of my problem with it. High expectations. Unrealistically high expectations.

    In a lot of ways, I did like Days of Blood & Starlight. As ever, Taylor’s writing is (at least in prose) totally flawless–gorgeous, in fact. Unfortunately, this book suffered from, well… middleness. The whole novel feels like the soggy middle section of a much larger book. It reminds me of The Two Towers in Lord of the Rings, doing a lot of the necessary world-building, lore-weaving, or whatever that is, at the expense of plot and character.

    The story follows many different story strands that, for the first half of the book, only run parallel to each other and rarely cross. Karou spends a lot of time locked in a room, building bodies for Thiago, and surmising and ruminating and generally mulling over her dreary situation. It makes you long for the ray of sunshine timelines–cough, Zuzana, cough–and even for the snippets of war and bloodshed that sneak in.


  2. Shadow and Bone: A Complex Fairytale

    September 28, 2012 by Kiersi

    Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

    Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo – Ravka is a country split in half by a dark slash called the Shadow Fold, where trespassers face total darkness and terrible, dangerous creatures. Alina Starkov is an orphan; after failing to display any mastery of magic during her Grisha exam, she is sent to serve in the Second Army and cross the Fold with her fellow orphan and best friend Mal. But when Alina displays an unusual power in the heat of the moment, the Darkling, the head of an order of magicians called Grisha, determines she is the fated Sun Summoner and whisks her away to Grisha headquarters to be trained (and pampered). The Sun Summoner is the only Grisha who can shed light on the Fold and save Ravka–but Alina cannot call upon or control her power. Without Mal, she feels alone and powerless, especially in the face of her growing attraction to the mysterious Darkling.

    There are so many things to like about Bardugo’s debut fantasy offering: the dark backdrop of the Shadow Fold, the strangely imperfect landscape, the Russian-themed people and place names (I have a super soft spot for fantasy books with unified linguistic conventions)–there’s so much depth to the world of Shadow and Bone that I wanted to slip into it like a second skin and live there for a while. (more…)

  3. Why I Love and Hate Writer’s Group

    September 5, 2012 by Kiersi

    Writer's Group on Facebook

    Facebook: Where the writer's group hangs out between meetings

    I have the best writer’s group ever. I mean, ever. Six women who all write YA. Six women who are monumentally talented,  and each in their own unique way. We have a fantasy writer (yours truly), one contemporary, two magical realism, one working on historical fiction, and even a graphic novelist (artist and writer, whoa). I believe something like four out of six of us have been published in the past. And, to the internet’s credit, we all met on Facebook. If you like, I can do a post at a later date about how I found and organized this group, and the critique method we’ve developed to make the most effective use of our limited meeting time.

    So. I love my writer’s group. But now you may ask, “Why does the headline also say you hate them?”

    Because they are always right. And that usually means I have to do a lot of work. (more…)

  4. Film Noir, Dying Genres, and Tic-Tacs

    August 31, 2012 by Kiersi

    A week’s worth of contracting work instead of finishing my query? SO WHAT. This thing is in the bag!


    And it’s Friday.

    I’ve posted about Veronica Mars before (and how it’s the best teen TV show pretty much ever–but I’m not really a Buffy person), but this girl really went the extra distance to talk about the film noir elements of Rob Thomas’s crowning achievement in her article, “VERONICA MARS (Is Smarter Than Everybody).” She also has gathered an impressive collection of snarky Veronica gifs (if you’re into that kind of thing–and you might just be after you see this.)

    GOD, I love smart, sassy girl heroes. And the noir-style detective tale? An untapped YA sub-genre that, to me, seems ripe for the pickin’s.

    And while we’re on the topic of trending (and dying) genres, I read an interesting post this week by literary agent Suzie Townsend called “The Truth About Dead Genres.” She makes a great point: Write the book you want to write, not what you think you should write to stay on top of the market. There’s no way to know what’ll hit and what won’t a few years down the line.

    One last thing: Just in case you weren’t already aware, this is how you eat a tic-tac like a boss. I mean, seriously, why is this not an NBC “The More You Know” ad?

  5. YA Authors and the Gender Gap

    August 9, 2012 by Kiersi

    This week, Meghan Lewit, a NY-based writer/editor, wrote an article for The Atlantic called “Why Do Female Authors Dominate Young Adult Fiction?

    It’s a great question–and one that she doesn’t even get close to answering.

    Lewit prattles on ad nauseum about why certain YA titles (same old, same old–The Hunger Games, TwilightHarry Potter) have obtained huge, almost cult followings in both youth and adult audiences. YA appeals to our desire for escapism, by specifically avoiding “being literary” and instead aiming for sheer enjoyment on the part of the reader; it harkens back to a time in our own youth; it gives us heroes and heroines with which we can easily identify. (more…)

  6. 6 Conflicts to Spice Up Your MS

    June 29, 2012 by Kiersi

    After last week’s Dick and Jane post about buffing up your story or manuscript with conflict, a commenter suggested I discuss and share some ways this can be accomplished. What kinds of conflicts do people have? What are some ways to integrate them into your manuscript?

    1. Characterization is key. I referred to this loosely in the comments as “just make everyone a big, fat jerk,” but that’s not really the whole story.

    Let’s start with this: people are twits. I mean, just look at these teenagers who mercilessly taunted a volunteer school bus monitor. A quick and easy way to create conflict in a story is to make one of your characters act like a total and complete asshat. If you’re like me and generally writing young adult fiction, that should be easy enough to do–a teenager can vacillate between being an angel and a demon faster than you can say “adolescence.” He inflames others around him. He starts arguments. He causes continental drift. (more…)

  7. Interview with Kelly Hashway

    June 4, 2012 by Kiersi

    Young adult novelist Kelly Hashway (author of the upcoming Touch of Death, SpencerHill Press January 2013) let me interview her last week about a number of important, burning topics. Most importantly, we talked about why she is so awesome.

    Here is the interview, so you readers and writers out there can glean some of her wisdom, and turn it into prolificness! And, of course, get a sneak peek into the inner workings of a talented wordsmith. I didn’t edit a thing, just for you.

    Me: So, Kelly. You have a YA novel coming out with SpencerHill Press in January of next year, a sequel already slated to released six months later, and a triquel in the works (later she corrected me that, in fact, she had finished a first draft of the final book in the series and was just waiting to be contracted for it).

    Now I know that your first YA book, Touch of Death, is about necromancers. Why did you pick necromancers?

    Kelly: I came up with the idea when I was writing another novel that had to do with the thirteenth sign of the zodiac. He didn’t play a major part in the novel, but when I looked into his story I learned a lesser-known myth about him. It had to do with Medusa. His name is Ophiuchus (K note: I had to look up how to spell this), and he has the ability to bring the dead back to life. I thought that was pretty cool, but necromancer books have been done before—so I wanted to do something a little different. (more…)

  8. Insurgent is a Sequel Steeped in Blood

    May 19, 2012 by Kiersi

    "Insurgent" by Veronica Roth

    Insurgent by Veronica Roth

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    Insurgent, by Veronica Roth – The latest installment in Roth’s wildly popular Divergent series lives up to its “sequel” title with vigor: it starts exactly where Divergent left off, with the faction of Erudite having effectively declared war, and only a few of the Dauntless to stand in their way.

    But Jeanine’s attack on the Dauntless compound may have more levels of complexity than either Tris or Tobias ever expected. The faction leaders of Abnegation and Amity are hiding important information, and Tris’s pursuit of the truth may cost her everything.

    Insurgent is a tale of details and mysteries, and unfolds more like an adult action-thriller than a dystopian YA. It treads steadily in the footsteps of Catching Fire and Mockingjay (the second and third books in the Hunger Games trilogy), where a sharp-minded teenage girl puts together the pieces of the puzzle long before any of the adults get around to it, and as a result, she subverts them at every turn. (more…)

  9. White Girls, Dead Girls, and Fancy Dresses

    May 17, 2012 by Kiersi

    Black models on 2011 YA covers

    Kate Hart: Uncovering YA Covers: 2011

    I wrote a controversial post some time ago regarding young adult book covers that have been announced for 2012 called All the White Girls, where I suggested YA authors need to get their shit together and start writing books about something other than white chicks in flowing dresses. I found it immensely disturbing that not a single book on the Top 25 YA Books of 2012 featured a cover photo of anyone besides a white girl.

    A bunch of commenters suggested the problem lies with publishers and not authors, as cover designers in YA are rarely faithful to the look, ethnicity, race, or whatever of the book’s protagonist for which they are designing.

    Today I discovered this post by YA author Kate Hart via my twitter peep E.C. Meyers. Kate breaks down over 600 YA covers from 2011, scientifically, in a number of fascinating and revealing ways, including how often you might find a headless, dead, or back-shot model on a YA cover. (more…)

  10. The Selection is Formulaic, Yet Entertaining

    May 17, 2012 by Kiersi

    "The Selection" by Kiera Cass

    The Selection by Kiera Cass

    This book gets: ♥♥♥ out of 5

    The Selection, Kiera Cass – With this tagline, it’s fairly straightforward to guess what Cass’s The Selection has in store for readers: “35 Girls. 1 Crown. The Competition of a Lifetime.”

    For every girl but America Singer, the Selection is an opportunity of a lifetime: an opportunity to compete with 35 other girls for Prince Maxon’s heart and become crowned princess of Illéa. But entering the Selection for America means leaving behind her love for a boy from her hometown, Aspen, who is a caste below her.

    When America is pressured to enter and manages to win a spot in the Selection, all her expectations of the castle, the king and queen, and Prince Maxon are shattered. Now America has to compete to stay in the race for the sake of her lower-caste family, but constant rebel attacks on the palace and America’s growing attraction to the prince may undo her plans. (more…)