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YA Wednesday How I Wrote It: Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak has become rite of passage reading for young women and I think her newest book, The Impossible Knife of Memory, is destined for the same. This time Anderson tackles the difficult subject of mental illness--in this case PTSD--in a modern family, and also the lighter (though sometimes difficult) experience of falling in love.  Though she is busy touring for The Impossible Knife of Memory,  Anderson took time out for some "how I wrote it" questions and I hope you enjoy reading about her life and work as much as I have.  I'm also insanely jealous of her book cottage.

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Who I wrote this book for: The early drafts of this book were written for me. They helped me worked through old feelings of confusion and sadness left over from when I was a teenager and my father was struggling with PTSD. When I started revising, I turned the focus away from me and started thinking about my readers, especially those whom love someone whom is struggling with mental illness.

How this book is different from my previous books: While it takes on a dark topic like my other books, this one is balanced by a love story and by friendship. I really enjoyed writing a story that had so much hope and laughter in it.

Space: I’ve written everywhere from a closet to the front seat of the car. Then I married a carpenter. He built me a writing cottage in the woods near our house. It has a ten-foot tall magic window that he found in a salvage yard and a wood stove that keeps me warm in the winter. I only do creative things in the cottage: writing, reading, drawing, etc. All business work, like email or paying bills, is done in the house. While I’m traveling this spring, rumor has it that he’s building me a wall of bookcases, too!

Here’s a video about the building of the cottage:

 

Tools: I love a thin-line gel pen (black ink) and heavy paper when I’m pondering a new book idea but, I’ll use anything when an idea hits, including an eyebrow pencil and grocery store receipts. Once I can hear the voice of my main character, I move to my laptop because I can type much faster than I can write. I try to spend a couple of hours a day working on the laptop while walking slowly on a treadmill. I recently started using dictation software because of carpal tunnel and tendinitis. I’m not sure if I like it yet, but it sure is easier on my arms.

Soundtrack: I like a huge range of music, from classic rock to country to alternative, some rap, and classical. Each book winds up with an eclectic playlist. Songs with lyrics can sometimes interfere with the flow of words in my head. When that happens, I put on ambient sounds, like recordings of waves or the music of Sigur Rós. Sometimes I play the music quietly, sometimes I crank it until the windows shake to bring up my energy level. It’s amazing how creative you can be after you dance until the sweat runs down your face.

Temptation: When I’m writing I avoid the Internet until the day’s work is done. If I’m feeling anxious about my Work In Progress, I avoid reading any and all reviews of my already-published books, even if they’re sent to me by kindly bloggers who liked them. I have an uncanny ability to distort positive reviews and make them into scathing denouncements of my writing and then I become a self-loathing wretch. It’s hard to write when I hate myself, so avoiding reviews is a healthy thing.

Surprises: I didn’t expect to enjoy writing the love story aspect of the book so much. Once Hayley and Finn started sparring, I had a blast figuring out how to move their relationship forward (and backward!).  I was surprised at how much sympathy I had for Hayley’s father, too. That’s why I put in the short chapters told from his point-of-view. Once you know what he survived, it’s impossible to hate him. ---Laurie Halse Anderson

YA Wednesday: Ransom Riggs and the Photos That Creeped Him Out

HollowCity_p323_500HHere are a few things I know about Ransom Riggs: he's tall (it's one of the first things you notice). He's very polite. He intended to have a career as a filmmaker. He became a bestselling author.  I met Riggs over lunch about a year ago, when I was still waiting for something--anything--to read from Hollow City.  We talked books, celebrated the great camaraderie of YA authors, and ate pasta. And, like a magician guarding his tricks, he told me nothing about the next novel...

Riggs' first book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is quirky, eerie, and enchanting. Vintage photographs wrap around the story of 16-year-old Jacob, who discovers he shares his grandfather's unusual talent and later--thanks to a trick of time--his grandfather's childhood friends.  Like so many other great young adult books, Miss Peregrine's draws in readers of all ages, and the sequel, Hollow City will do the same.  In fact, we put it on both our overall Top 10 Best Books of the Month AND made it our YA spotlight pick for January.

Hollow City picks up where the first book left off, and the peculiar inhabitants of Miss Peregrine's leave the island in Wales, eventually finding themselves in war-torn 1940's London.  The characters' bonds are strengthened, and Jacob, in particular, grows more complex as he learns to trust himself, takes comfort in belonging to this unusual group of people, and falls in love--something Riggs does with a light touch.  One of the most fascinating things about Hollow City, for me, is Riggs' ability to pull off the dynamic between a new series of vintage photos and the storyline when so much about the characters and plot direction was already set.  The evolution of the sequel is what I most wanted to know about--which came first, the photos or the story, or something in between.  So I asked the question. And here's what he said:

WRITING WITH PICTURES

My “peculiar children” novels are illustrated with vintage found photography, which I find in flea markets and antiques shops and in the collections of photo-hound friends of mine, many of whom have spent years nosing around for old pictures and turning up astounding finds. I originally started collecting photos just for the fun of it. I brought a handful of my favorites to Jason Rekulak, an editor at Quirk Books, and together we hatched the idea for a novel illustrated with old imagery. It then fell to me to develop the characters and plot, to actually write the thing, but all I had were a stack of brittle, yellow snapshots that creeped me out so much I kept them in a drawer most of the time, so they couldn’t stare at me. 

The books came together slowly and messily. People often ask me whether, when I’m writing, the photos I have dictate the story I tell, or vice versa, but it’s not that simple. The answer is, both. The photos will often push me in certain directions, plot-wise--I might think, hey, I have a lot of great shots of kids in a forest; I should write some scenes in a forest so I can use these. So the story will take a certain turn, nudged along by my collection. But then I’ll come up with some bizarre idea about what should happen to my characters while they’re in the forest --they meet a witch wearing a fur coat made of living, talking minks!--but I don’t have any images to support it, so I have to go out hunting for a new photo of a woman in a fur coat. But the picture I find is of a woman who doesn’t look particularly witchy, so the character becomes benevolent rather than a villain. In that way, there’s a constant, organic push and pull between the photos and the story while I’m writing. It’s a peculiar process, but hey, they’re peculiar books. --Ransom Riggs

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YA Wednesday: January Favorites

Ah, a fresh new year and a Best of the Month shelf clear of books.  Certainly the only shelf clear of books in my life, but let's not go there.  What are the first books that will begin to clutter that pristine space, you ask?  Why, it's these--my favorite January YA books.

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  •  Hollow City by Ransom Riggs: So loved this!  It's always hard with a sequel, and this one was two years in the making, but totally worth the wait.  Returning to Jacob and the other peculiar students, we find them trying to save themselves and their beloved Miss Peregrine in World War II-era London. Riggs writes fabulous descriptive sentences so it's like watching a movie in words, and, as in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, there are incredible vintage photos deftly woven into the story.  Check back next Wednesday for a Ransom Riggs exclusive.
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson: Wow. Timely, fearless, and solid gold Laurie Halse Anderson.  Hayley is a teenager living alone with a father torn up by serious PTSD.  As a result, Hayley has to take on the role of watchful parent, face a myriad of scary uncertainties on a daily basis, and deal with her own painful memories. But Hayley also meets someone who cracks her shell, and falling in love can make everything a little less ugly...
  • No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale: Quirky and fun with a nice streak of dark and twisted.  The story starts out with the gruesome murder of a teenage girl living in a small town.  Our narrator is the murdered girl's best friend, socially awkward and kind of weird Kippy, who takes it upon herself to find the killer after it becomes clear that the local police are idiots.  Many of the folks in Friendship, WI demonstrate some bizarre--and funny--behavior, and hardly anyone is who they seem, making this a perfect blend of dark humor and good whodunit.
  • The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely: Kiely tackles a big subject: abuse in the Catholic church.  His protagonist, 16-year-old Aiden, lives in an affluent community where things look perfect on the outside, but the truth is not so pretty.  When his already absent father leaves for good, things fall apart and the local priest is there to pick up the pieces.  The Gospel of Winter raises questions of love, betrayal, and what it takes to shut out the things we don't want to acknowledge or risk it all and tell the truth. Kiely does a great job creating complex characters and a story that kept me on edge, wondering how it was all going to end.

YA Wednesday: Books to Read in 2014

2014 is shaping up to be a year of big YA books and I'm getting excited about some of the reading ahead.  A new book from one of my favorite authors, the second book in a hot series, and the final book in three much-loved trilogies--it's all coming in the first half of the new year. Here are some of the books I can't wait to start--what are you looking forward to reading next year?

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Hollow City by Ransom Riggs - January 14,2014
I'm a huge fan of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and I've been bugging Riggs' publisher about this book ever since.  My patience (well, sort of...) has paid off and I'm reading this now--it's got the same wonderful old-fashioned creepy feeling and promises to have unusual black and white photographs, just like the first book. Looking forward to seeing where it all goes...

Cress (Lunar Chronicles trilogy) by Marissa Meyer - February 4, 2014
Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood have never looked so bad ass as they do in Cinder and Scarlet. Now Meyer adds a Rapunzel character to the mix in Cress and this should be a Blade Runner-style fairytale to savor.  Queen Levana is still set on making Emperor Kai her own, and the three ladies (and their male counterparts) are just as determined to stop her...

Panic by Lauren Oliver - March 4, 2014
Her first stand alone YA novel since Before I Fall, a small town hosts a dangerous high school rite of passage where one player can win big if they handle the fear and make it through the game.  Panic looks like it's going to to be a page-turner of suspense, fear, friendship, and self-discovery--plus I kind of love that this isn't the start of a series or trilogy but instead a book I am just meant to enjoy until The End. 

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy) by Laini Taylor - April 4, 2014
Ack. I really don't want this trilogy to end.  I was hoping this would be a case where a planned trilogy turns into a six-book story arc, but no such luck... That said, I am dying to know what happens between Karou and Akiva, and the collision of the angel world and the human one, so as soon as I can get this in my hot little hands I plan to go MIA until I finish it.

Ruin and Rising - Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo - June 3, 2014
Things were looking pretty bleak at the end of Siege and Storm so I'm expecting that in the final book of the Grisha trilogy some major transformations are going to take place and startling secrets revealed between Alina and The Darkling.  The first book, Shadow and Bone, got me hooked so I'm really hoping the last book will end it all on an equally high note.

See Sara's All I Want for New Year's is...
See Robin's Geeking Out: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror in 2014

YA Wednesday: Favorite Books from John Green, Veronica Roth, and Markus Zusak

Earlier this month we announced our picks for the best books of the year, but we also wanted to know what books (not all published this year) a few of our favorite YA authors read and loved in 2013.  Below are the top three titles chosen by John Green, Veronica Roth, and Markus Zusak.

John Green: He's been on location in Amsterdam for the filming of our number one pick of 2012, The Fault in Our Stars but Green is not a man to be without a good book, as evidenced by his top reads of 2013:  

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid


An old professor of mine told me to drop everything and read this book, and I'm so glad I did. A rags-to-riches story set in a nameless Asian nation, I find myself thinking of Hamid's novel almost daily even though it's been months since I finished it.
Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


Rainbow Rowell's novel was one of the first I read in 2013, and it remains one of the best. It's a beautiful and often funny love story that also explores the reality of poverty and emotional abuse.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Terry Hayes


Where'd You Go Bernadette is the funniest novel I've read in years. Everyone I've recommended this book to has thanked me.

 

Veronica Roth: She was busy wrapping up her Divergent trilogy this year but still found time to
read some fabulous YA, including these favorites:

Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo


One of the best "second book in a series" I've ever read, it carries the larger story forward without feeling like just a bridge between two other books, and the characters and the mythology of the world keep getting more complex and interesting with each page.
Starglass

Starglass by Phoebe North


Starglass combined a lot of my favorite things: beautiful writing, a complicated girl who makes morally questionable (but still real and believable) choices, and SPACE!
The Bitter Kingdom

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson


The world of this series has always felt huge, strange, and dark, and it contains one of my favorite love stories. I was eager to see how this story would end. I was

 

 Markus Zusak: The beloved author of The Book Thief shared the three books he couldn't live without in a recent post--now he answers the question, "what did you love this year?":

I've always believed that a loved book is a loved book; once that happens it transcends the category it came from, and I guess the same goes for the year of its publication. That said, one of these books came out this year. One came out in 2009. And one is a book for the ages.

The Signature of all Things

The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert


I bought a signed copy of this for a friend, but as happens every now and again, when I read a few pages out of interest, I thought, 'I think I’ll keep this for myself!' I'm loving its characters, and admiring its seemingly effortless scope. My friend will probably still receive it, but only after I'm finished…
Library Lion

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes


Published in 2009, I only came across this picture book earlier this year when some friends bought it as a present for my kids. I've read it to them dozens of times now, and it never fails to hit me. I can’t help but get a bit teary as we go through the trials and triumphs of a lion showing up in the local library -- and staying.
The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank


As relevant as ever, reading this book again on a trip through America, I was amazed (as we all are) by the life force of a girl, her pages and a pen. As you read a passage like this one – When I write, I shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirit revives. But...will I ever be able to write something great? – you can’t help but wish you could tell her that she most definitely did, and that it’s still alive today, and as important and brilliant as it always has been.

"The Book Thief": Amazon Asks Markus Zusak

BookThief200 MarkusZusak350The Book Thief is still one of my favorite books even though it's been years since I read it (and frankly, it's time for a re-read).  Last week the movie adaptation opened in a limited release and starting today it will be in theaters around the country.

We were able to get our hands on an exclusive trailer for the film that you can see below, and I also had the chance to ask author Markus Zusak a few questions about the movie and what he's reading these days:

Seira Wilson: It took a long time for The Book Thief to make it to the big screen--when you found out it was really happening were you excited? Nervous?

Markus Zusak: I’m often too wrapped up in the book I’m working on to be too excited or nervous about a lot of things. People sometimes think I’m being casual when often I feel like I’m actually showing at least a half-decent level of excitement or dread or anything in between…In this case, I think I’m more excited for the producers and the director. For me, it’s sort of nice, in that I’ve lived with this book for a decade now, in both the writing of it and everything that’s happened since. Maybe I’m a bit relieved that it’s someone else’s turn now, and I get to call out from the sidelines a little, to wish them luck and no regrets.

SW: Do you have a particular genre you like to read?   What 3 books could you not live without and why?

MZ: I tend to take Fiction as a category, even if it has a multitude of categories within it. I’ve always just loved the idea that you’re turning pages, believing something that isn’t real--but you believe it when you’re in it.

Three books I couldn’t live without are:

1. The Half-Brother by Lars Saabye Christensen - for its ambition and memorable characters.

2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – because there’s a gem on every page.

3. The Outsiders by S.E Hinton – because it made me want to be a writer.

SW: What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

MZ: I like to reread books, especially when I’m writing. I brought my old beat-up copy of The Old Man and the Sea on this trip through America, knowing I’ll pick up other books along the way. Waiting for me (and roasting in my car back home in Sydney) is the audio version of David Sedaris’s Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

SW: What was the best piece of advice you ever got?  From whom?

MZ: It’s from my dad, when I was very young, and I complained that I was placed sixth after a race I thought I’d won at Little Athletics one Saturday. He said, ‘I thought you won, too, but you made one big mistake – you didn’t win by enough. You have to win by so much that no-one can take it off you.’ It resonates now not in terms of winning or losing anything, but in the sense that I want to write so much like myself that no-one else could have possible written it. (I hope I’m making sense.)

SW: If you had to choose an alternate dream career (I’m making an assumption here, of course) what would it be?

MZ: I’d love to work in a secondhand bookstore, without any shadow of a doubt. Maybe I will one day…

SW: I’ve heard you are working on a new book--can you share anything about it?

MZ: It’s taking a very long time!  As for the story, it’s about a bridge builder named Clay, and I’m interested in what it takes to make one perfect thing.

Markus Zusak "The Book Thief" Movie Trailer from Amazon Books on Vimeo.

YA Wednesday: The Best YA Books of 2013

How did it get to be almost Thanksgiving already?  Seems like just weeks ago I was writing the Best Books of the Year So Far post and talking about curbing the Halloween candy this year.  Yeah, that happened...

Time has flown by, but there have been a LOT of great books since the middle of the year, some of which made our list of the best teen and YA books of 2013.  One thing I really like about this list is the mix of titles from both halves of the year.  The early 2013 books that made the top 20 are the ones I'm still thinking about months and stacks of books later. Serious keepers. It's been a great year for reading and there were some hard choices to make, but here is the top 10. You can check out the rest of the list here.   What's the best book you've read this year?

  Eleanor200#1 - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell:  Months later this is still our overall favorite of 2013.  Eleanor & Park brings back the magic of finding first love with someone who really "gets" you, but it's no sugary romance--these are teenagers dealing with real issues and finding their way through them, together.  It's a great read for someone in their teens or their forties, and every age in between.

#2 - Allegiant by Veronica Roth:  I unapologetically loved it.  Roth wrote her own book and it's unexpected, moving in all the right ways, and I still just want to talk about it. A book this polarizing means it's bringing out passionate feelings in the reader and I think that's a good thing.

#3 - Winger by Andrew Smith:  This one kind of snuck up the list since it released in May because it took up residence in my brain and stayed there for months.   One of the best funny, honest, and satisfying coming-of-age novels I've read in a while and Ryan Dean West is a character to love.

#4 - The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: Brutal decadence, immortality, desire, and revenge with a horror twist.  Put everything you thought about vampires being over aside and read this one. Bonus: this is not a new series, it's one book that rocks. Done.

 #5 - The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: Action, aliens, romance, and fantastic twists. This is a book you'll want to read in one sitting.  The ending answered questions and also left me wanting more--the sequel comes out in May 2014--can't wait!

#6 - Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson:  The first book in a new series, this is science fiction for people who think they don't like it.  Old school comic book style characters and a beautifully developed world, what's not to love?

#7 - Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein: I loved Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire also takes place during WWII but is by no means a re-hash.  Once again Wein writes historical fiction that takes you back in time to experience a totally different aspect of the war.

#8 - The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer: Ten years after her award winning novel The House of the Scorpion, Farmer masterfully picks up the thread and we dive back into the complex world of Opium's clones, cartels, beauty and brutality.

#9 - Champion by Marie Lu:  Lu wraps up her Legend trilogy with none of the controversy of Allegiant. A story fueled by romance, sacrifice and loyalty, the outcome is not a tidy bow but it doesn't shred the ribbon, either.

#10 - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:  Rowell takes some of the basic ingredients from Eleanor and Park and bakes a new cake, capturing the experience of leaving home, discovering your true voice and clumsy, vulnerable, remarkable, first love.

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See all 20 books on the Teen & Young Adult Best of the Year list

YA Wednesday: Cory Doctorow and Terry Pratchett: Authority and Underdogs

CarpetPeopleBest-selling author Terry Pratchett wrote The Carpet People at the tender age of 17.  Now, many years later, Pratchett has re-written the story and it's being published in its new version on November 5th.  In the author's note for The Carpet People, Pratchett refers to the novel as a joint effort between his 17-year-old self and his 43-year-old self. I couldn't help but picture a sci-fi moment after reading that...

When Pratchett sat down for a chat with one of our other favorite authors, Cory Doctorow, the result is as funny and interesting as you might expect from these two, as they discuss The Carpet People, authority, and the underdog:

CoryDoctorowCory Doctorow: The Carpet People was your first novel, and now the fortieth book in your Discworld series is about to be published. Do you think you could have kept us in the Carpet for anything like forty books?

PratchettTerry Pratchett: I was about to say, “No,” but right now I wonder. . . . If the idea had taken, I don’t know. I really don’t. But how would it be? People in the Carpet are more or less tribal. What would happen if I . . . You’ve got me thinking!

CD: You took a bunch of runs at building a world where a million stories could unfold—The Carpet People, Truckers, and, finally, Discworld. Is Discworld’s near-total untethering from our world the secret of its staying power?

TP: It isn’t our world, but on the other hand it is very much like our world. Discworld takes something from this world all the time, shows you bits of the familiar world in new light by putting them into Discworld.

CD: You write a lot of feudal scenarios, but you also seem like a fellow with a lot of sympathy for (and suspicion of!) majority rule. The Carpet People is shot through with themes of who should rule and why. Where does legitimate authority spring from?

TP: The people! The only trouble is the people can be a bit stupid--I know that; I’m one of the people, and I’m quite stupid.

CD: What should the writer’s relationship with authority be?

TP: My personal view is that you look askance at authority. Authority must be challenged at every step. You challenge authority to keep it on its toes.

CD: The Carpet People concerns itself with many questions of infrastructure and public works. Now that we’ve arrived at a time of deep austerity, what do you think the future of infrastructure is?

TP: To crack and fall away, I sometimes think. From what I see around me, it’s people doing it for themselves. We know the government is there, but we know they have no real power to do anything but mess things up, so you do workarounds.

CD: Ultimately, it comes down to the builders, the wreckers, and the free spirits.

TP: Sometimes things need tearing down—and that might be, as it were, the gates of the city. But if we talk without metaphors, I would say that building is best. Because it is inherently useful. My dad was a mechanic; maybe it starts there.

CD: One thing I’ve always enjoyed about your books with feudal settings is that it seems you get something like the correct ratio of vassals to lords. So much of fantasy seems very top-heavy. Do you consciously think about political and economic considerations when you’re devising a world?

TP: I’ve never been at home with lords and ladies, kings, and rubbish like that, because it’s not so much fun. Take a protagonist from the bottom of the heap and they’ve got it all to play for. Whereas people in high places, all they can do is, well . . . I don’t know, actually: I’ve never been that high. If you have the underdog in front of you, that means you’re going to have fun, because what the underdog is going to want to do is be the upper dog or be no dog at all.

CD: Damon Knight once told me that he thought that no matter how good a writer you are, you probably won’t have anything much to say until you’re about twenty-six (I was twenty at the time). You’ve written about collaborating with your younger self on the revised text of The Carpet People. Do you feel like seventeen-year-old Terry had much to say?

TP: That’s the best question you’ve asked all day! I think that he had a go at it, and it wasn’t bad, but that when I was younger I didn’t have the anger. It gives an outlook. And a place from which to stand. When you get out of the teens, well out of the teens, you begin to have some kind of understanding: you’ve met so many people, heard so many things, all the bits that growing up means. And out of that lot comes wisdom—it might not be very good wisdom to start with, but it will be a certain kind of wisdom. It leads to better books.

YA Wednesday: NBA Finalists in Young People's Literature

Of the 10 nominees for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature (now there's a mouthful...) the five finalists were announced this morning.  The shortlist includes a great mix of titles, including a couple of our recent YA favorites, Gene Luen Yang's graphic novel, Boxers & Saints and October Best of the Month pick, Meg Rosoff's Picture Me Gone.  Both of these authors won awards for their first books: Gene Luen Yang was a National Book Award finalist for American Born Chinese, which didn't take home the NBA, but did win the Printz Award; Rosoff's first novel, How I Live Now, won the Printz Award along with awards in the UK and Germany.  In fact, nearly all of the finalists on this year's list are already award-winning authors, though none of them have won the NBA before.  The winner of the 2013 National Book Award in Young People's Literature will be announced on November 20 in a gala ceremony in New York.  Which one of the finalists would you pick to win?

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Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata

If you want to see the NBA finalists in Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry you can see them here.

YA Wednesday: The Best Books of October

The giant stacks of books that are covering most of the flat surfaces in my house (I have a chair that I might as well just start calling a bookshelf) rose to towering heights for the months of September and October, with so many good books coming out.  So once again, the list for the Best Teen & YA Books of the Month got expanded to six titles.  Here are the ones we picked--do you have an October book you are looking forward to?

Allegiant160PictureMeGone160 WildCards160 Eyeof Minds160 REalityBoy160Unbreakable160Allegiant by Veronica Roth- OMG. It's as good as you think it will be and I can't wait until it releases (October 22) so I have someone to talk to about it.  I'm dying over here...

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff - Written as a mystery, Picture Me Gone is the story of Mila and her father trying to find his best friend, Matthew, who has suddenly disappeared without a trace. While Mila is using her considerable powers of perception to try to unravel Matthew's disappearance, what she ends up discovering is how complex adult relationships can be and even her parents are capable of deception. It's a defining moment done really well.

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles - A good hot cover, but I was afraid this would be a cheesy high school romance.  Instead, I was totally sucked in and invested in the main characters, Derek and Ashtyn. The two are thrown together when circumstance puts them in the same house and the attraction between them is immediate though they try to ignore it.  Told in alternating points of view, a story that could be clichéd (a lousy boyfriend, a star football player, a bad boy who is really good) was an addictive read with believable self-discovery and romance.

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner - I'm not a gamer but I totally got the world that Dashner created.  The uber high-tech Matrix-like quality of this story was as engrossing as the virtual reality (the VirtNet) that can literally kill the players.  There's a lot of heart-pounding action and surprises to keep the pages turning and I loved that you don't have to know gaming to enjoy the read. The new Mortality Doctrine series is off to a good start!

Reality Boy by A.S. King - I'm a big A.S. King fan (if you haven't read it, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is amazing) and in this book she shows us the dark side of our obsession with reality television.  Gerald, a child star (for dubious reasons) in his family's reality show can't seem to escape it years later. Gerald's life is a mess--he's full of anger and self-loathing, and dreams most of getting away from the family that has been a constant source of torment for him.  I felt like King really gets how potentially harmful editing and publicizing people's lives can be and I definitely see those shows, and the people who are in them, in a new light.

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia - I really liked this first book of a new series from the co-author of  Beautiful Creatures.  It's creepy paranormal--demons, dark spirits and curses--but with an added romantic twist, just to keep things extra interesting.  Garcia's settings are also of the haunted variety and I've gotta tell you, I finished this book late at night and then had to stay up and watch bad television for a while because I was kind of spooked!  But in a good way, of course...

Omnivoracious™ Contributors

April 2014

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