Neil Gaiman is gripping both of my hands in his, squeezing them. "We're at No. 5!" he exclaims. I don't correct him, but I already know by this time that he's advanced to No. 4, behind Dan Brown's The Inferno, Stephen King's Joyland and the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. For now--in the fevered rush of his repeatedly scrawling his name and doodling a character that seems to fall somewhere between a Pac-Man ghost and what looks disturbingly like a Klan member--No. 5 will do.
Much like the seven-year-old narrator of his new novel might be at the prospect of a new comic book, Gaiman's giddy about his Amazon Best Sellers ranking for said new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. His reaction to metrics is more related to abating nervousness than feeding ego.
It's release day, both here and in the U.K., and he's just spent the last couple of hours onstage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), reading from a chapter or two and answering questions from those in attendance. "This book is so me, it feels like I'm walking naked down the street," he said. To like this book is, in essence, to accept the man himself. The positive reaction, for the first time in a very long time, is extremely personal.
That sentiment has permeated every aspect of the event--culminating with an autographing session, and beginning when the lights went down two hours ago, he took the stage, and started using heartfelt phrases like "ridiculously grateful." The whole thing went a little something like this...
He briefly explains the book's origin: a short story for his wife, singer Amanda Palmer, which soon grew to a novelette, then a novella, and ultimately--upon finally transferring his handwritten story to typewritten pages, revealed itself to be a full-fledged novel. Then he cracks open the book and reads, in that soft, precise, utterly British voice of his, Chapter 2--a primarily innocent part of the story in which only the repeated pulsing of the italicized word "anatomy" warrants a menacing, almost Snape-like delivery.
Closing the book to (of course) enthusiastic applause, he visibly exhales, runs a hand through his mop top, and waits for the clapping to die down. While Palmer performs an interlude--a new song sung nearly a cappella with only her ukulele to keep her company--Gaiman collects himself, and the stack of index cards with audience questions, offstage. The stack he hands to Palmer; he returns to his podium.
Was the book inspired by his own childhood memories? "Yes." He stops there; question answered. Palmer ostentatiously flings the card behind her. The crowd laughs and Gaiman chooses to elaborate, emphasizing that it's not autobiographical, that it's "filled with lies," though he concedes that the "landscape is completely true."
author Vince Flynn, known for his page-turning tales of assassins and terrorists, CIA agents and crooked politicians, died early this morning. Flynn had been diagnosed in 2011 with late-stage prostate cancer. His death was announced by his publisher, Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon &
“As good as Vince was on the page--and he gave millions of
readers countless hours of pleasure--he was even more engaging in person,” Reidy
said in a statement. “He had a truly unique ability to make everyone … feel as
if we were on his team and sharing in his life and his success.
"Yes, we will
miss the Mitch Rapp stories that are classic modern thrillers, but we will miss
Vince even more.”
A constant presence on bestseller lists, Flynn was best known for
his steely counter-terrorism operative, Mitch Rapp. Flynn’s devout fans rarely had to wait more than a year for a new Mitch Rapp political thriller. His most recent book, 2012's The Last Man, received more than two-thousand
customer reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Flynn took a unique path to bestseller status. After graduating from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul he worked for Kraft General Foods. He attempted to join the Marine Corps, with hopes of becoming an aviator, but was medically disqualified from the Marine
Aviation Program. He then returned to a 9-to-5 job, but quit and began bartending at night so could write full time. He self published his first book, the 1997 techno-thriler Term Limits, which became a bestseller and led to a publishing deal with Simon & Schuster.
Though popular across a wide swath of readers, Flynn's books were especially embraced by well-known political conservatives. (Flynn was friends with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.) Flynn attributed this to his books' patriotic and pro-military themes, and he once said that he felt his books were "entertainment, educational and serve as cautionary tales."
Flynn wrote many of his novels at his cabin on Deer Lake, in
Wisconsin. He told USA Today in 2012 that he'd often grab a yelow legal
pad and float on the lake in his pontoon boat, glass of red wine at
hand, scribbling Mitch Rapp's latest adventure "like a maniac."
Flynn is survived by his wife
Lysa and three children.
I always want to know what books my favorite authors are reading and recommending, so we asked John Green, Cassandra Clare, and Markus Zusak to tell us what four books they recommend this summer. Check out their great lists below (and why they chose the books they did) and look for summer reading picks from Lauren Oliver, Christopher Paolini, and James Dashner in the coming weeks.
The End Games by T. Michael Martin: I feel like calling The End Games
a zombie apocalypse novel will deter many of the readers who will love
it most. It's brilliant, fun, and blisteringly intelligent fiction that
happens to feature a zombie apocalypse. I can't recommend this one
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen: Dessen's newest book is maybe my favorite of hers, and that's really
saying something. The Moon and More is a true coming of age story with a
hint of romance. There is something in here for everyone.
Every Day by David Levithan:
This book has a brilliant premise: The narrator wakes up every day
inside the body of a different teenager. But it's the rare high-concept
novel that proves better than its premise.
Cassandra Clare: The City of Bones movie opens August 21st and looks amazing...(you can watch the trailer here) Summer is for vacation, and what better, cheaper way to vacation than
with your own imagination? Four books that take you on adventures in
distinctly different places.
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan: Kami
Glass has always had an imaginary friend, a boy she talked to in her
head. But what happens when he turns out to be real, and not just real
but one of the mysterious Lynburns family who may or may not be dark
magicians, is a sparkling, clever modern update on the gothic horror,
lashed through with rip-your-heart-out romance.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: A
story set in a magical Russia-that-never-was called Ravka, a country
divided by the Shadow Fold, a dark rent in the world caused by the magic
of an overly powerful Grisha, or magic user. Alina Starkov is a Sun
Summoner, one of the few of the Grishas who can call forth light and
potentially destroy the Shadow Fold, but can she harness her power?
Lushly written, with sympathetic and complex characters, this is what
you'd get if you managed to cross Harry Potter and Anna Karenina.
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga: Dexter,
The Early Years. Jazz is the son of one of the nation's most brutal
serial killers. He lives in a tiny town where everyone knows who he is,
and knows his past. His only parental figure is the police officer who
took down his father so many years ago. When the killings start up
again, Jazz is determined to stop them, to redeem his past, so that he
doesn't repeat his father's. A gritty, bloody, noir murder mystery with a
protagonist so charming he's deadly.
Legend by Marie Lu:
My favorite of the current crop of dystopic fiction for teens, Legend
takes place in the Republic, a fascist regime that has replaced the
western United States. June is a privileged girl being groomed for
success among the elite; Day is a wanted criminal. Two people who have
no reason to meet — until their stories entwine when Day is suspected of
murdering June's brother. But all is not as it seems in the shadowy
future, and June and Day find themselves fighting for the most precious
commodity of all, the truth, in a heart-pounding chase to the finish
line. You'll be turning pages fast enough to not need a fan to get you
through the hot days!
Markus Zusak: More movie news--*finally* The Book
Thiefmovie is coming in January 2014! Here are the books Markus wants to read this summer...
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal:
Who wouldn't want to follow a guy like Jeremy Johnson Johnson, his
ghost, and the amber-haired Ginger Boultinghouse through a summer in a
place called Never Better?
The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt:
The great thing about all Dana Reinhardt novels is that you start to
feel like you'll wake up the next day and find the characters in your
kitchen. That's how well you get to know them.
Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton: I know other S.E Hinton books are more popular, but Rumble Fish
is always the one I come back to. Rusty James. The Motorcycle Boy. The
Siamese fighting fish. It's one of my favourite books. It's stood the
test of time.
Rebecca Lee's remarkable story collection, Bobcat, was selected as one of our Best Books of the Month for June. Her characters all wrestle with the emotional messiness of their complicated lives and imperfect relationships. Jealousy, infidelity, sacrifice, trust, and hope--it's all in there. Reviewer Kevin Nguyen called Bobcat "one of the strongest collections I've read in recent years." At Seattle's Bravehorse Tavern we spoke with Rebecca about old-timey word processors, about reading poetry to prime the pump, and about what she's working on next.
A new book by Pearl S. Buck, "The
Eternal Wonder," found 40 years after it was written, will be introduced to readers this coming October.
The recently discovered book, The Eternal Wonder, by Pulitzer Prize– and Nobel
Prize–winning author Pearl S. Buck is a rare and truly esteemed find in the book world.
wrote this moving and mesmerizing book shortly before she passed away in 1973. Forty
years later, in January 2013, the manuscript was found in storage and brought
to Open Road, Buck’s digital publisher. The
Eternal Wonder will be published by Open Road on October 22,
2013, both in digital format and in a beautifully packaged paperback
Friedman of Open Road, Michael Carlisle of InkWell, and Edgar S.
Walsh, Buck's son, said, “We are thrilled to discover and publish
a novel by one of only two American women to ever win both the Nobel
and Pulitzer prizes. The Eternal Wonder is as brilliant and
inspiring as Pearl Buck’s most famous works, and we look forward to
readers across the world getting to enjoy this long-lost masterpiece this fall
along with Buck’s other wonderful books.”
The Eternal Wonder is a personal and passionate fictional
exploration of the themes that meant so much to Buck in her life. It tells the
coming-of-age story of Randolph Colfax, an extraordinarily gifted young man
whose search for meaning and purpose leads him to New York, England, Paris, a
mission patrolling the demilitarized zone in Korea that will change his life
forever—and, ultimately, to love.
Road currently digitally publishes 28 other titles from Pearl
Buck, including The Big Wave, The Promise, A House Divided,
and Buck's Pulitzer Prize–winner, The Good Earth. Born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, Buck was the daughter
of missionaries and spent much of the first half of her life in China, where
many of her books are set. In 1934, civil unrest in China forced Buck back to
the United States. Throughout her life, she worked in support of civil and
women’s rights, and established Welcome House, the first international,
interracial adoption agency. For her body of work, Buck was awarded the Nobel
Prize for Literature in 1938, the first American woman to do so.
It was a frightfully fabulous weekend for the Horror Writers Association, which spent the last few days in New Orleans hosting the Bram Stoker Awards™ Weekend 2013, as well as the World Horror Convention. Amid the panels and art shows, readings, and signings, the gala presentation honored writers in 11 categories, including Novel, Graphic Novel, Nonfiction, Screenplay, and Poetry.
Caitlin R. Kiernan won best novel for The Drowning Girl, Joyce Carol Oates shared an award, and Mort Castle walked away with two haunted house trophies. Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Clive Barker and Robert R. McCammon.
The complete list of 2013 category nominees and winners were as follows:
The 2012 Bram Stoker Award® winners: Top row (left to right): Mort Castle, L.L. Soares, Jerad Walters, Rocky Wood, Jonathan Maberry. Lower row/middle: Sam Weller, James Chambers, Lucy Snyder, Marge Simon, Robert McCammon, Caitlin R. Kiernan (seated), Charles Day, Lisa Morton
(Not pictured: Gene O'Neill, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, Joyce Carol Oates, and Clive Barker)
What's the elevator pitch for your
book (which was selected as our Best Books of the Month Debut Spotlight)?
The Execution of
Noa P. Singletonis the narrative of a young woman on death row in
Pennsylvania and her relationship with her victim’s mother, an attorney, who
initiates a clemency petition on her behalf six months before her execution
date. It’s a character-driven story about guilt, punishment, remorse, and
gradations of the truth.
Describe your book in 10 words?
A woman on death row chats with her victim’s mother.
Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, One
Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Important book you never read?
War and Peace.
My husband has read it and I haven’t. It’s a point of contention.
Book that changed your life?
I’m going to try to narrow it down: Bird by Birdchanged my attitude and focus on writing, while Crime and Punishment taught me the
psychological and moral power of literature, and We Need To Talk About Kevin inspired me, in part, to write The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, so it
changed the last five years of my life.
Look, up on the screen! It’s a film. It’s a well-coifed hero. It’s Man of Steel! In his 75th anniversary (Great Scott!), Superman returns to the movies via producer Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy), director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, and more), writer David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight trilogy), and DC Comics. What follows below is a snapshot of contemporary Superman comics that capture the essence of the hero while also exploring fresh territory—perfect for before or after the new film that leaps into theaters today.
All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely: If you read one book off this list, please make it this one (UPDATE: the first digital issue is available for $.99). Morrison distills the Superman mythos while still playing with the goofier aspects, and Quitely beautifully renders the widescreen super-action and the humdrum Clark Kent lifestyle. The twelve chapter series is available in one paperback and in DC’s deluxe Absolute format (recommended).
Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu: Writer Waid updates the classic origin and characters for a Smallville-esque audience, and it works. Readers see more of Clark’s life as a reporter, his teenage encounters with Lex Luthor, and where the Superman suit fits into a modern world.
Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale: Told over four seasons, here are comic veterans Loeb and Sale as they capture the core of Superman in this coming-of-age story. Sale’s artwork is all broad shoulders and strong jaws while Loeb writes in the sweet spot of his career, focusing on familial relationships and responsibility.
“Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” and “For the Man Who Has Everything” by Alan Moore, Curt Swan, and Dave Gibbons: These two definitive stories capture the nostalgic essence of Superman—both the mortal and the hero, the alien and the man—as only master storyteller Alan Moore can write him. In the former, Superman bids farewell to his Silver Age roots, while the latter explores Superman’s greatest wish. These are both collected (along with other Moore stories) in a single paperback, or the first story can be purchased as its own book.
Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen: Set in the “real world,” a man in Kansas must live with the name Clark Kent and suffer all the “Hey, Superman!” jokes that come along with such a moniker. Kent examines what Superman means to a populace, and then…well, to say more would be to spoil it. Immonen turns in the dynamic but grounded artwork that would later lead him to be one of the top artists in mainstream comics.
Honorable mention: Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar and Dave Johnson: This is an alternate reality Superman story—what if Superman crash-landed in Russia instead of America? It’s an entertaining concept that lives up to its premise, with plenty of twists and surprises for longtime fans.
And if you’re looking for more on Superman and comics, please see the new and free Amazon Comics Newsletter, delivered to your inbox faster than a speeding bullet! Subscribers will receive a digital copy of the new Superman #1 (free until midnight Pacific Time on July 21, 2013), courtesy of DC Comics and George Perez.
You may have heard that Scottish novelist Iain M. Banks passed away on Sunday at age 59, having announced on his blog in April that he had terminal gall bladder cancer.
Upon learning of Banks's death, fellow author and convention buddy Neil Gaiman wrote on his own blog, "His work was mordant, surreal, and fiercely intelligent. In person, he was funny and cheerful and always easy to talk to."
Banks was known equally for his science fiction writing and his general literature, and he ammassed an oeuvre of 28 books in his career, beginning with his acclaimed debut The Wasp Factory. His 29th and last, which will be released on June 25, is The Quarry--the story of a teenage boy who longs to learn about his mother, but has limited time since his father is dying. What a poignant final work of humor from a man who brought so much joy to his readers over the last three decades.
"If you've never read any of his books, read one of his books," Gaiman advises. "Then read another. Even the bad ones were good, and the good ones were astonishing."
Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorite new teen authors and her Grisha Trilogy is not to be missed. The second book, Siege and
Storm, is one of our Best Teen Books of June and if you thought you were eager for book two after Shadow and Bone (and if you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for!?) just wait until you get to the end of this one!
Margaret: Let's talk about the Darkling. You've
written arguably the greatest villain-as-love-interest we've seen in YA. It's
as unlikely as if you'd written a version of Heart of Darkness where Kurtz is the hottie. Did you have an
inspiration for the Darkling in your own mind?
Leigh: First of all, thank you, and second, I
may require "Kurtz is the hottie" on a T-shirt. But I'm always wary
of the term "villain." The Darkling believes he's doing the right
thing for his people and his country, and I think you could make a case for
most of the choices he makes, even the despicable ones. He was inspired by
every really bad badboy I ever fell for in fiction. I'm not talking about the
wounded, pouty guy who's just looking for the right girl to give him an excuse
to be a hero, but the truly dangerous guys with an agenda—Flagg (who appears in various
guises in several Stephen King books), Raistlin (Dragonlance), the Hound
(George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire), and…okay, I'll admit it, Jareth
the Goblin King from Labyrinth. (I don't know what his agenda was but it
involved very tight pants.)
Margaret: Is it a risk, allowing a character so
dark and powerful to be desirable? Do you see any strange responses to the
Darkling from your readers?
Leigh: I'm sometimes surprised by how easily
my readers let him off the hook. They seem to hold Mal and Alina to a higher
moral standard. But honestly, I think the Darkling's appeal is realistic in its
own way. Charm is a powerful weapon, so is beauty. I think it's worth asking
why we respond so strongly to those lures.
Margaret: Is it a truth? Does it speak to another
darkly honest aspect of real relationships?
Leigh: Maybe. It's always easier, at least in
the short term, to give up authority to another person. We see this play out
between Alina and the Darkling, and in a bigger way across Ravka. We want
heroes, we want saviors, we want great leaders, but it's always dangerous to
put yourself or your future so fully in someone else's hands—whether it's a
love interest or a ruler.
Margaret: Is it a trend?
Leigh: Antagonists as love interests? I don't
know. Maybe it's that we're getting more characters who don't strictly adhere
to archetype. Personally, I like heroes who struggle and make mistakes, who
have to work at being good. And I like villains who don't just walk around
twirling their mustaches. That kind of makes it sound like all villains are
hipsters. Watch out, Portland.
Margaret: The other great love of Alina's life,
Mal, is the opposite, loyal and true and supportive. In real life, would you
fall for the bad or the good guy? Darkling or Mal?
Leigh: Girrrl, you know the falling is easy. It's
everything that comes after that's hard. And that's part of the struggle at the
heart of Siege and Storm. Mal is loyal and true and he would do
anything for Alina, but he has his own demons to fight and his own journey to make.
I'm not interested in characters who only exist for each other.
Margaret: Your books are so clearly about power—supernatural,
political and emotional. I find myself writing about these same issues
compulsively, both in the Beautiful Creatures novels and Icons. Are these core issues for you personally, or is this part of
a larger teen narrative for you?
Leigh: Both, I suppose. We point to coming of
age stories and say that they're about finding your place in the world,
discovering who you are and how you relate to authority, but it's not like
that's a finite process. We still have to question what kind of power we give
up and be sensitive to the kind of power we wield. We still keep learning and
trying to get more comfortable in our skin. Maybe there's some magic moment
when you wake up and say, "I have arrived. I am an adult and a badass and
I'm going to go brew some tea and dispense wisdom." But I haven't gotten
Margaret: Can you send your trusty Grisha wizard
beautician over to my house to live in my closet and fix me up every day?
Leigh: If only the Tailor made house calls.
Genya would be in high demand.
Margaret: Do you have one? Does that explain your
own radiant good looks?
Leigh: Ha! You should see me right now. I
haven't had a full night's sleep in a week and there may well be corn in my
Margaret: Will you sing a little something for
Leigh: Always. I'm like Jane Krakowski's
character on 30 Rock. "Who me?
Sing? I couldn't poss—GIVE ME THAT MIC." But seriously, if you'd like to,
listen to the Shadow and Bone-inspired
song, Winter Prayer. Also, I take requests.
Fuminori Nakamura tells me exactly how he would steal my wallet. In Japanese, he explains that the trick is to lift it out of my back pocket with his three middle fingers. By foregoing the thumb (the clumsiest finger), it makes the rest of his hand more difficult for the victim to detect. Nakamura also says that if he were a better pickpocket, he would be able to lift my watch. (I check my wrist, even though I don't wear a watch.)
Nakamura doesn't steal wallets for a living, but he learned a lot about it while doing hands-on research for his novel The Thief, which concerns itself very much with the life of a Tokyo pickpocket. After a botched robbery, the nameless protagonist finds himself at the mercy of the thugs who set up the job. There's a sense of dread that pervades each page, and a surprising Camus-like ennui that provokes existential and deterministic motifs. The Thief is a swift but gloomy literary thriller, light on its feet but sinister in its intentions (much like a good pickpocket).
But for how grim his books are, Nakamura is a surprisingly affable, almost giggly presence. I have a hard time imagining that such a pleasant person could spend so much of his time exploring the darkest recesses of humanity. We meet at Café Grumpy in New York. Nakamura is visiting the States for the first time, both to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, where The Thief is a Book Prize nominee, and to support his newly translated thriller, Evil and the Mask, out June 10.
Tonally, the books are similar. But where The Thief maintains an anonymous, distant narrator, Evil and the Mask is very much concerned with its anti-hero's name, or more specifically, escaping one's name. Fumihiro Kuki is born into a wealthy family set on being "a cancer on the world." The one bright spot in Fumihiro's life is an adopted sister of whom he feels protective (and with whom he has a disturbing relationship). To keep her safe, he is often forced to do terrible things. Evil and the Mask is concerned with a twisty sense of morality: is Fumihiro born evil, and can he escape the cruelty associated with his surname?
Whereas The Thief succeeds because of its simplicity, Evil and the Mask is a muddier affair. It's a longer, much more ambitious novel than The Thief, and perhaps a better one. And without giving away the ending, there's actually a bit of optimism in the closing pages of Evil and the Mask--not a lot, but when something is so bleak, even the slightest hints of hope are a welcome surprise.
When we arrived at Café Grumpy, it was sunny outside; by the time we leave, it's overcast and starting to rain. Even though I don't have a jacket or an umbrella, I don't mind. I'll look for cracks where the sun shines through.
As a long-time food
writer for the New York Times and the author of several best-selling
cookbooks--including the essential How to Cook Everything--Mark Bittman is all about food. So when mounting weight and health issues prompted doctor's
advice that should consider a vegan diet, he said (somewhat incredulously), "Come on. You know what
I do for a living."
But as he thought about it, he came to a career-friendly solution: If he was good most of the time, maybe he could be
a little less good part of the time and still reap the benefits of a healthful diet. He called his plan VB6, or Vegan Before Six.
In short: eat good foods from waking until 6:00 p.m. (or as good as you can get/abide), then do whatever
you want after. And through four years of living the "Flexitarian"
lifestyle--during which he lost 35 pounds and gained the attendant rewards of a plant-based diet--he realized he had a book on his
hands. The result was VB6: Eat Vegan
Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health ... for Good.
Bittman stopped by the Amazon offices for a chat with
Senior Editor Mari Malcolm and our guest
Makini Howell, a Seattle restaurateur and the author of Plum: Gratifying
Vegan Dishes from Seattle's Plum Bistro, her new book from Sasquatch Press.
Even though he was coming to the end of a long book tour, he thoughtfully
commented on the challenges of part-time veganism (and how it's changed his
non-vegan hours), the wider implications of industrialized farming, and the despair of engineering a no-regrets meal
at a typical airport restaurant.
this book different from your previous ones?
Bad Monkey is more of a true caper than most of the other
novels. I don’t usually write “who-done-its” – in my books, you usually know
who did it by page 52. But this time I was in the mood to do a funny mystery.
It’s also the first time I’ve used a monkey as a major character. Not exactly a
literary milestone, but I had a blast with that little guy.
the first line and what does it say about the book?The first line of the novel is: On the hottest day of
July, trolling in dead-calm waters near Key West, a tourist named James
Mayberry reeled up a human arm.
That sentence sets the scene pretty well – just another
sunny, summer day in paradise. The severed arm is the centerpiece of the plot,
and it does some traveling.
There are a couple of different places where I write, but
the desks are always arranged so that I’m facing a wall. I can’t write with a
view or I’ll get distracted. If it’s too nice a day, I’ll just bag the book and
go fishing, so I prefer a blank wall over a bay window.
I’ve been writing on computers for almost forty years. The
first newspaper I worked for was one of the first to install computer writing
stations in the newsroom. That was in 1974.
I learned to write on a typewriter when I was very young and I can still
do it, but a computer makes it a thousand times easier to self-edit and polish
your work. I have a PC with a basic Word program, nothing special.
I can’t listen to music and write at the same time. I do
wear headphones, but to block out all noise. One pair is made by Winchester and
another is made by Ruger. They are shooter’s ear muffs, designed to muffle the
sound of gunfire. It’s a handy piece of equipment if you live in Florida.
Unfortunately, I never learned to drink coffee. Caffeine
helps me get rolling in the morning so it’s usually a Snapple or a Coke when I
sit down to write. The sugar jolt doesn’t hurt, either. Coffee would be much healthier
but I can’t drink a hot steaming cup of anything when it’s 90 freaking degrees
Like many novelists, I don’t read much fiction while I’m
working on a book of my own. It would just confuse the inner narrative voice inside
my head. Reading another writer’s work, especially a good writer’s, can definitely
affect your style if you’re not careful. I love scoping out novels, especially
satirical ones, but I save them up and read them between my own projects.
Martin Amis’ latest, Lionel Asbo: State
of England, was terrific.
You know what successful writers do? They get up, park their
butts in a chair and write. Some days you feel like it, some days you don’t. Novelists
who spend too much time searching for inspiration generally end up broke, and
broken. For a satirist, the writing energy flows from outrage or disgust, a
grand sense of folly. Heck, all you’ve got do is read the newspaper every
It's hard to believe it's already been a week since BookExpo America 2013 came to an end. For four days, the Javits Center in New York City was packed with book writers, book publishers, and book lovers...not to mention thousands upon thousands of books. And while we're delighted that our sleep deprivation is starting to wane, our withdrawal from all the excitement is starting to set in.
Walking the floor in the exhibition hall checking out the upcoming books that publishers are most excited about, miking up an author for an exclusive one-on-one chat (stay tuned!), bouncing from party to party--the Amazon Books Editorial Team kept mighty busy and walked away with a massive "To Read" list, as well as some amazing memories. Here are just a few of the standout moments each of us had:
Jon Foro's Highlights Sitting down with Richard Dawkins to talk some nature vs. nurture, chatting with Malcolm Gladwell with an unannounced 60 Minutes crew hanging a boom mic over my shoulder, shaking hands with outdoorsman Steven Rinella, and hanging out with all-around badass author Philipp Meyer as he received a fully deserved line of congratulations on his new novel, The Son. And unrelated to all this, the annual Keens Steakhouse debauch.
Mari Malcolm's Highlights
Chatting with Amy Tan--exquisitely dressed in a black dress that looked like cut paper—about discovering a scandalous secret about her grandmother and turning the story into The Valley of Amazement, her first novel in 8 years. Our magical party at the Hudson Library Bar, where I introduced Elizabeth Gilbert to Amy Stewart and got to listen to them geek out about weird botany (including Stewart's explanation of why Gilbert's strong poison oak reaction may have triggered her allergy to mango skins—and why she should never risk sitting on a "true lacquered toilet seat").
Neal Thompson's Highlights
Unable to find a proper drink at the Javits Center, Colum McCann and I sat drinking fruit smoothies, discussing the trans-American bike trip he took at age 21, an epic adventure that formed his sense of storytelling. Fittingly (for a book called TransAtlantic), McCann had just flown back from Ireland the previous night. Jet-lagged and bleary, he realized the smoothie was better fuel than a whiskey at noon on a Saturday.
We believe that books can take you places. And in that spirit, we've picked our favorite transportive classic and contemporary novels, memoirs, biographies, and travel books to prove it. Our selections for Around the World in 80 Books represent all seven continents (even Antarctica!), so whether you're jet-setting this summer or traveling from the comfort of your armchair, these books will be the perfect company for your journey.
Editors Note: As you'll see from the first line of his introduction through to his last fantastic question, horror author Joe Hill has tremendous respect for Neil Gaiman's work. In this exclusive discussion of Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane--one of our own top picks for June's Best Books of the Month--Hill explores both the real and the imaginary inspirations behind some of the novel's most compelling details.
by Joe Hill
You know the facts already, and if you don't, man, have you missed out:
If Neil Gaiman wrote nothing but Sandman, his award-winning comic series, he would still have the stature of a Bradbury or a Tolkien. Sandman was not just the best, most daring, and most moving comic of its time; it was and is probably the best, daringest, movingest comic of any time.
Gaiman followed with an epic, American Gods, which--along with Michael Chabon's The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and Jonathan Letham's Fortress of Solitude--shattered the artificial barrier between genre and literature, inspiring the best writers of my own generation to slip the shackles of realism and take a chance on fantasy. Godswas a kind of uncorking and a flood of fever-dreams poured forth afterward. Coraline was only the scariest book for children ever written, and it led to a phantasmagoric movie that soars like a modern Wizard of Oz. The Graveyard Book reads like if Charles Addams wrote The Jungle Book, and deservedly was awarded the Newbery Medal. And Gaiman's episodes of Doctor Who stand among the most keenly felt and inventive chapters in that show's storied 50-year history.
So now here is The Ocean at the End of the Lane--an overpowering work of the imagination, a quietly devastating masterpiece, and Gaiman's most personal novel to date. I had a chance to talk to him about it. Here are some things we said:
Joe Hill: Not long after a grotesque and tragic shock, the young boy at the heart of the novel meets Lettie Hempstock, her mother, and her grandmother. We soon discover that Old Mrs. Hempstock can snip bits out of time; Lettie's mother can see things happening elsewhere; and at one point, Lettie herself can be found hauling around an ocean in a bucket. These aren't the first women to wander through your stories, deforming reality as they go. Would the story have been different if it was a house of three guys? Could that even have worked?
Neil Gaiman: It would have worked, yes, although it would have been a very different sort of book. The farm men I knew as a boy were a taciturn lot, and they weren't much for talking. I like that the Hempstock women are chatty, and welcoming.
I think I got to take all the things I loved about my grandmothers' kitchens when I was a boy, the feeling that food was always there and that always somehow meant family and meant love, and transmute that into something rather stranger. And less Jewish.
I went for the women partly because I liked the idea of grandmotherly energy, and because the original inspiration for the Hempstock family, when I was about 8 years old, was having read a story of Henry Kuttner's called “Pile of Trouble” about the Hogben family, an Appalachian family of mutants--and all the Hogbens were men. (There is a Ma Hogben, but she never says or does much.) I thought about the farm down our lane that was mentioned in the Domesday Book, and wondered what would happen if the people who lived there had been there for the last thousand years. So the Hempstocks had been composting in my head since I was a small boy, waiting for their story to be told. Sometimes other Hempstocks would show up in other books, but they weren't the real Hempstocks, the ones in the farm at the end of the lane.
JH: Have there been women in your life who seemed especially prone to warping reality?
NG: My wife, Amanda, is terribly good at warping reality. She is like a bowling ball on a rubber sheet, and you find yourself living in her universe, doing things that are completely unexpected or unimaginable for you, but you blink and you're up on a stage singing, or wearing a peculiar wig, or writing a book filled with feelings and emotion, or doing something equally as unlikely.
My daughters, Holly and Maddy, are each good at warping reality in their own unique ways. Maddy's world is prettier and simpler than mine, Holly's has more hats in it.
JH: There's another woman in this story who goes nibbling holes out of our world: Ursula Monkton, who comes to work as a nanny--a kind of anti-Mary Poppins--for our hero's parents. But really, why is Ursula Monkton so bad? She only wants to help people!
NG: I agree with you. And Ursula Monkton, wherever she is, agrees with you a lot. It's just that people are fragile, and the ways Ursula wants to help them are ways that break them, or drive them to madness, or worse. It's one thing to want money, but if you find yourself choking on a coin as you wake, the money is slightly less desirable.
Ursula Monkton (or, as I tend to think of her, the thing that calls herself Ursula Monkton) was a glorious and scary thing to write, and she took me by surprise. The Ocean at the End of the Lane was going to be a short story until Ursula Monkton decided to follow our hero home...
NG: Imagine a mosaic picture of a house in the country: lots of red and blue and yellow and black and brown and white and a dozen different shades of green tiles which make a beautiful picture if you stand back far enough.
All the little red squares are true--true things, true places, true feelings. But the red squares aren't the picture. All the rest of it is lies and stories, often within the same sentence.
I hoped that I was able to write an emotional truth, but even though the landscape of the story is the landscape of my childhood, the family isn't really my family, and none of the things that happened to our hero happened to me. Well, none of the big things, anyway. I didn't even know why our white Mini went away until over thirty years after it happened.
JH: Our hero has only a single weapon to hold back the darkness--his books. What were your weapons as a child?
NG: Books. They were more of an armour and an escape route than they ever were a weapon, really, though. Books are defensive, not offensive (unless you're the puzzled adult trying to make the kid with the book interact). I loved all books that I could read, and I never knew if I was ready for it until I tried to read it, so I tried to read everything. My mother had lots of her childhood books on our bookshelves, so I read those and had great fun putting imaginary versions of them into Ocean.
There were other weapons. I was bright, and I could use that as a weapon: words can wound, whatever those sticks and stones sayings claim about them never hurting, and I could use them if I had to.
I really wanted a catapult, because kids in books had catapults, but they were regarded as things you could put people's eyes out with, and I do not believe I ever had a catapult.
JH: It was only after I finished the novel that I realized--with quite a bit of shock--that the narrator doesn't have a name. He remains, throughout, an indefinite ‘I.' And we are told early in the story that names have power and special significance; they can be used against you. Who is this guy? Does he even know himself?
NG: I'm sure he knows his name. In the first draft, in the handwritten manuscript, Ursula Monkton calls him by his name, but I took that out in the second draft. It seemed right that he's--not nameless, but has no reason to tell us his name.
Names do have power in this book, and naming things and people was something that fascinated me. None of his family have names, after all. They just have roles.
JH: There's a lot of wonderful food writing in this book. I had to put the thing down several times to rummage desperately through my fridge. Can you give us the recipe for the Hempstocks' lemon pancakes? Please don't let that part be make-believe.
NG: There is no make-believe in cooking. There were few things I took as much fun in cooking, when I was a boy, as pancakes. (I liked making toffee, too, because it was a little like a science experiment.)
Right. The night before you are going to make them, you mix:
1 cup of ordinary white flour
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups of milk and water (a cup and a half of milk and a cup of water mixed)
1 tablespoon of either vegetable oil or melted butter
(You'll also need some granulated sugar, and a couple of lemons to put on the pancakes, along with other things like jams and possibly even maple syrup because you're American.)
Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Crack the eggs in and whisk/fork the egg into the flour. Slowly add the milk/water mixture, stirring as you go, until there are no lumps and you have a liquid the consistency of a not too thick cream.
Then put the mixture in the fridge overnight.
Grease or butter or oil a non-stick frying pan. Heat it until it's really hot (377 degrees according to one website, but basically, it has to be hot for the pancake to become a pancake. And these are crepes, French style, not thick American round pancakes).
Stir the mixture you just took from the fridge thoroughly because the flour will all be at the bottom. Get an even, consistency.
Then ladle some mixture into the pan, thinly covering the whole of the base of the pan. When the base is golden, flip it (or, if you are brave, toss it). Cook another 30 seconds on the other side.
For reasons I do not quite understand (although pan heat is probably the reason), the first one is always a bit disappointing. Often it's a burnt, sludgy, weird thing, (always, in my family, eaten by the cook) (which was me). Just keep going, and the rest will be fine.
Sprinkle sugar in the middle. And then squeeze some lemon juice in, preferably from a lemon. Then wrap it like a cigar and feed it to a child.
(You can experiment with other things in the middle, like Nutella, or jam, or even maple syrup--but remember that these pancakes are not syrup-absorbent like American style pancakes.)
This is a very peculiar interview, Joe. Let me know how the pancakes come out.
In Kevin Barry's violent and bizarro city of the future, tribes have staked out their mucky turf, girding for the gangwar that seems imminent. Brutal and spooky, Bohane is about to spectacularly implode. But the real beauty of City of Bohane, besides its grimy, mouthy characters and their wholly original dialogue, is the language of their creator.
This is a book that, admittedly, slipped past us here at Amazon. I recently read it it, and was awed by Barry's dark, twisted, musical voice. (Said The Montreal Gazette: "If Roddy Doyle and Nick Cave could procreate, the result would be something like Kevin Barry.") Now, City of Bohane is receiving a well-deserved second life. The paperback was just released in the US, and yesterday Barry was awarded the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (worth €100,000), becoming the third Irish writer to win the award.
We spoke with him (via email) about creating his fictional city, about his fancy new headphones and his "demented
long-hand scrawl," about biking in the rain and 1970s gangster films.
So I was lying in the bath one day at home in County Sligo
in Ireland, and I was in a sort of thoughtful and optimistic mood. I remember
saying to myself, okay, so I could just go and write a novel now, which would
be difficult and fun, or I could go and build a little city, which would be
really difficult but possibly much more fun. So the plan-megalomaniacal as it
sounds--was to build a little city. Out of words. And nerves. And sweat. I had
a very serious problem, however--I didn’t know what the city was called. But
then one night I sat bolt upright in bed, suddenly shot from sleep--I remember
it as a thundery, humid night, in the dog days of summer, ’08--and I said
aloud the single word “Bohane!” At which point my girlfriend turned and kicked
me viciously and told me to go the hell back to sleep. But once I knew what the
place was called, I could begin. I wrote the first draft very quickly in a kind
of three-month fever dream. I don’t think I ever actually slept during that
three months though I did sometimes faint.
Who did you write this book for?
For people who look around the bookstore sometimes and think--now how am I going to find a truly lurid good time in here? What I wanted to
make was a really serious piece of literature, and an extravagant language
experiment, but one that would also be a grand, high-octane, visceral
entertainment. So I wrote it in technicolour, essentially.
What’s the first line and what does it say about the book?
"Whatever’s wrong with us is coming in off that river." - And
I hope that we kind of get the entire book in that sentence. One of my more
esoteric beliefs, you see, is that all human feeling is bled out of the
landscape. I believe different places have different resonances and that all
places give off their own weird and distinct energies. The city of Bohane is
named for the Bohane river, which is malevolent, and contains violent energies,
and all that occurs in this wild, deranged, very tormented, very sexy west of
Ireland city--somewhere yonder in the non-techno future of 2053--all of it somehow begins with that roaring
black river. Or so I believe. I also believe, by the way, that cities are sexed
– every city is either male or female. And I would say that Bohane is a girl. A
nasty girl in steep-toecapped boots with a vicious mouth--a very interesting
What romance reader worth her
salt doesn’t swoon over one particular fairy tale? And what romance author
worth the name hasn’t written a take on her own favorites at least once (or
twenty times)? Fair few, my friend. Sometimes we honor these stories with respectful
retelling, sometimes with tongues firmly in cheek, and every now and then by
going completely off the grid. Fairy tales speak to those memes we carry in our
DNA: the beast tamed by love, the impoverished (in all ways) heroine raised to
a position of power and happiness, the hero faced with an impossible task but who
nonetheless pitches headlong into the fray to protect his beloved. We all want
the same thing: to be the sort of person who inspires loyalty, heroism and
love—and a few fairy tales.
Here’s this month’s list of romances
based on fairy tale tropes, plus an add-on I couldn't resist.
Teresa Medeiros wrote her
riff on Beauty and the Beast to hysterical effect in the wonderful The Bride and the Beast. As the last virgin
standing (so to speak) in Ballybliss, our plus-sized heroine, Gwendolyn, is the
logical choice for the superstitious townfolk to sacrifice to local monster, “The
Dragon.” When she’s delivered to his lair, the dragon (our hero, of course) is
flummoxed by the unwanted guest but helpless to release her if he wants to
pursue his dark plans for revenge. Bright, witty, sarcastic and fun, this is
Ms. Medeiros at her best—which is very good indeed.
Eloisa James’s tender,
sometimes bittersweet, love story Once upon a Tower is an homage to Rapunzel (with a bit of Romeo and Juliet thrown in.) When the very young,
self-controlled Duke of Kinross meets demure and silent Edie at a ball, he
thinks he’s met his soulmate.
Forthwith, he presents an offer for her hand to her father who accepts.
Unfortunately, what Gowan mistook for reticence was simply the flu, and the girl to
whom he is now wed is... unexpected. The marriage bed is not a friendly--let
alone fun--place in James’s sweet tale of challenged young love, which ultimately
leads to Edie fleeing to her tower. The slow unfurling of these two very young
hearts journeying toward maturity and understanding is filled with exquisite
insight and romantic moments that will have you sighing.
In her futuristic YA Cinderella
story, Cinder, Marissa Meyer offers us
a cyborg heroine in place of the standard Disney youngster. Instead of sweeping
houses, Cinder--who has amnesia regarding her childhood--works as an unpaid
mechanic in the markets for her evil stepmother. There she meets the handsome
prince and falls in lust, er, love. What follows is political intrigue,
plagues, lunar wars, a look-see into Cinder’s own mysterious past and, yup, a
ball. This is the first book in a series and a fabulous kick-off for the reader
who wants a touch of cyberpunk to their fairy tales.
And since we’re talking
romance writers, I have to direct your attention to An Invitation to Die by Helen Smith. This is not a romance novel
but, as almost its entire cast is composed of romance authors or those intimate
with romance authors (readers, agents, publishers, bloggers etc.), I’m
including it. Perennially unemployed Emily Castle, a gifted amateur sleuth,
signs on for a weekend helping out at the annual Romance Writers of Great
Britain conference where wannabe romance writer and much hated romance review
blogger Winnie ends up dead. Quirky, whimsical, smart, and engaging. Yes, it’s
way over the top and wincingly familiar in places. But, it’s always fun. I flat-out
loved it. A must-read for romance readers. But beware! You might learn too
much! --Connie Brockway
I am half Irish and a naturalized citizen of Ireland, and
I’ve often read the work of Irish writers, hoping they'll help explain to me my
grandmother (now deceased) and my ongoing curiosity about the wounded land of
her childhood. Like the core character in National Book Award winner Colum McCann’s brilliant new novel, TransAtlantic, my grandmother fled to America
to start anew. A true "Bridget," as Irish maids were called, she tended
to Upper East Side households as a young woman in the 1920s. She never returned
to Ireland. When I traveled there after college, hitchhiking around for a month
and visiting her hometown, my Bud-in-a-can-drinking grandmother was baffled
that I’d want to spend time in “that s**t-hole.”
What I love about TransAtlantic
(one of our Best Books of the Month), is that it’s McCann’s most Irish novel to
date, but also a story whose characters are primarily strong Irish
and Irish-American women. Yet, like most of his stories, it’s more about his
adopted home than his homeland. McCann is an Irish writer who writes more
authentically about America than most American writers.
I spoke with McCann at last week’s Book Expo America
in New York. Fittingly (for a book called TransAtlantic), he had just flown back from Ireland the previous
night. Unable to find a proper drink at the Javits Center, we sat drinking
fruit smoothies, discussing the trans-American bike trip he took at age 21, an epic adventure that formed his sense of storytelling. “That’s where I
learned the true value, the true meaning of what it meant to share and exchange
a story,” he said of his months on the road. “And even though I never wrote
about it directly, I’m still writing about it…”
Below is a Q&A I conducted with McCann via email, prior to our interview. Scroll down to watch the full video interview. (And here’s
the first interview I did with Colum, in 2009).
I write in the closet. Literally. I
redesigned my office so that it has a wraparound desk, so I pushed the desk
backwards into a cupboard. And then I decided that I liked sitting on the
desk, with my legs outstretched, in the … well …yes I admit it ... the closet.
With a laptop on my knees. And there are loads of photographs about. Knick-knacks
on the shelves. A portrait of James Joyce. A photo of myself with
Peter Carey and Nathan Englander together. Old family portraits. When
friends come to my office they write on my wall. Intelligent
grafitti. I like the space because it’s so tight. It focuses my
vision. No windows. When I edit, or if I am working on a journalistic
project, I come out of the closet and work at the desk like a normal human
I wish I could say that I write with pens or
pencils on old foolscap paper, with inkpots and blotting paper and all that
fantastic paraphernalia, but I write directly on a computer. In fact I
find it difficult to write by hand. I am very disappointed by this. Perhaps
one day I will try to write by hand like I used to do when I was a child, but
I’ve been a journalist since I was 17 years old and therefore have been writing
directly on a keyboard for over thirty years. I have an old battered
laptop full of crumbs and bits of fallen (truth told, lots of fallen
hair). I don’t have any fancy computer programs or writing rituals except
of course tucking myself away in the closet.
I recently worked with this fabulous musician
from London, Moss Freed, who made an album called “What Do You See When You
Close Your Eyes.” He wrote music and linked it to literature. He uses
a series of short stories matched to his music which is a really finely-blended
jazz with folk themes and rough-edged classical arrangements. His point is
that both are inextricably linked, they are enhanced by one another. He
says it’s like listening in 3D.
And I listen to music as I write. Van
Morrison and Lisa Hannigan and Joe Henry and Brian Kennedy were all fundamental
to stretches of my most recent book, TransAtlantic. I put the music on my
Ipod dock and let it move through the room. But I’m an old fogie,
really. I wish I could still listen to 33 rpm records. And I have
hundreds of old cassettes that lie around, unused.
Music and rhythm, they’re fundamental to what I
do. I walk around my apartment reading things aloud. My kids think
Early morning it’s just a cup of coffee and a
slice of toast. The crumbs get in the keyboard. There’s my life in a
nutshell really. I just discovered my epitaph. “The crumbs got in his
I don’t like to drink and write. It tends
to force me into the ditch. Late at night, if I have a jar or two under my
belt, I will do a bit of editing, but it’s dangerous to be altered by
alcohol. Of course young writers seem to think that’s it’s the necessary
fuel, but it’s not.
But writing is writing. It has nothing to
do with food and drink for me, though of course they work as perfect metaphors
for the written word. In the end you have to stay healthy. I'm becoming
more and more interested in what fuels my body also by necessity fuels my
imagination. I haven’t taken any direct steps towards really healthy
eating. I'm not a vegetarian or anything, but my daughter Isabella is, and
I think she's influencing me to think about what sort of fuel goes into the
I like to read poetry to prime the pump. Anyone
at all really, but a lot of Jim Harrison, Wendell Berry, Seamus Heaney, Dylan
Thomas, Hopkins, that sort of deeply layered language poetry. I find them very
useful especially when I am lost. I try not to worry about influence, but
the thing is that we get our voice from the voices of others. So
inevitably there will be echoes there.
As for escape, I only escape into the best. Ondaatje. Doctorow. Carey. DeLillo. Morrison. Erdrich. Rushdie. O’Connor,
Hemon, Doyle, Bloom. But I hate this, talking about favourite books and
authors because I always leave somebody out. I read promiscuously but only
because there is so much beauty out there.
I run every day or every second day around
Central Park. It clears my mind. I go with a good friend of mine, Jim
Marion. He’s a doctor. We run and chat about theology or the latest
hangover, it doesn’t really matter. And I bounce ideas off him. He’s
a great listener. I also cycle with my son around the park. No
naps! No! A nap would kill me. I like to be tired at the end of the
day. Then a proper sleep comes.
I am the world’s worst when it comes to the
e-mail and the Internet. Especially when the writing is going badly, which
(in the middle of a novel in particular) is most of the time. I tend to
check Soccernet.com for my favourite team, Stoke City. What a waste of
time that is. I watch the most obscure football matches. It’s a
disease. The other vices are the ordinary ones ... but I live out most of my
demons in fiction. I like to become "other" in fiction. Then
I can be fairly normal in "real" life.
Last week was Book Expo America, the giant tradeshow and social event for publishers, booksellers, and authors, in NYC. There were a ton of books to see and authors to meet, a whirlwind of excitement and book love--here were some of the highlights:
Veronica Roth. She is, of course, even lovlier than her author photo, incredibly interesting and approachable. We chatted about the Divergent filming and in an interview that you'll see in coming weeks, a tiny taste of what to expect in Allegiant. At the party for Allegiant you had to choose a faction for yourself to go on your name tag. I'll admit, it gave me pause, having to choose... which would you pick?
Cassandra Clare. Okay, don't hate me, but at the event for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones we were treated to a super secret sneak peek of the movie! The clip was about 5 minutes long and I'm not even kidding when I say they had men in black walking around making sure no one was doing a little iPhone bootlegging. We saw an action sequence of Clary speeding home after a call from her mother and encountering the most insane looking demon creature when she gets there. That's all I'll say because I don't want to spoil even 5 minutes of the movie for you--it looks like it's going to be that good. And now I want to read City of Bones all over again.
Rainbow Rowell's (Eleanor & Park) new book, Fangirl. Read an advance on the plane ride home--totally amazing. I'm convinced she's going to become one of those YA author rockstars, like John Green but without the Nerd Fighters. Yet...
Young Adult Buzz Panel: Five top editors discussed their favorite teen books for the fall - the first one was Fangirl. See above. Here are all the picks:
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Cath and Wren are tight knit identical twins who write fan fiction about the world of Simon Snow (ala Harry Potter) but their bond changes when they go to college and each forges her individuality--one by choice and one by necessity.
Tandem by Anna Jarzab - As a fan of Matched, I think I'm going to love this. The first book in The Many-Worlds trilogy, 16-year-old Sasha Lawson finds herself cast as a princess in a parallel world and as the story progresses she is torn between two lives and two loves.
All Our Yesterdaysby Cristin Terrill - Really looking forward to this one. The premise of taking actions in present day to change things for your younger self reminds me of Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler's The Future of Us with some Terminator II scary scientific breakthroughs that could destroy the world thrown in.
Entangledby Amy Rose Capetta - Capetta's agent described it this way: “If the TV show Firefly were a YA novel, it would be Entangled.” Enough said.
If You Could Be Mineby Sara Farizan - Wow. Set in Iran, two young women, secretly in love, who can never be together because being gay is punishable by death. Unless one of them undergoes gender reassignment surgery, which is legal. A complex and original story of love and sacrifice. Sign me up.