Category Archives: YA & Children's

Everything dealing with teen readers

Stuck In A Historical Fiction (And All Its Sub-Genres) Rut

So I was perfectly happy reading my Young Reader adventure fiction and YA dystopian melodramas. Then I was sucked into the Steampunk world, and later into the historical romance and medieval fiction realms. For 3 months, that’s where I lived. Every morning commute. Every before bed, I-should-be-sleeping-so-I’m-coherent-for-work-tomorrow hour. I was in the world of proper English, chivalrous men, dignified women, and more than a few dragons/airships/hackneys.

I am thrilled to announce, however, that I have now returned to the slightly 21st century. And while I definitely enjoyed some of the virtually unknown titles—
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Steam & Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape

Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey

I missed some of the simple things. Non-horse-drawn or steam-powered cars. The Internet. References to reality television. The use of popular slang like “fo shizzle” and “WTF”. A girl can only go so long without these basic necessities to modern-day life.

So What has brought me back? Why, Simon Pegg’s Nerd Do Well (Apple iBookstore), or course! I’ll let you know how it turns out, but to tell the truth, I think I’m already hooked. I mean really? Who doesn’t love that cover???

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Filed under Bio & Memoir, Digital & Mobile, Ebook, Fiction, Historical Romance, Humor, Non-Fiction, NYCBookGirl @ Work, Picks by nycbookgirl, Pop Culture, Recommendations, YA & Children's, Young Reader

Divergent, A Book I’m Using As A Diversion From Everyday Stresses

First, it must be credited that my good friend (from Kristinaradke) mentioned this book to me many months back. While I put it on a “To-Be-Read” list in my head, that, like most things in my life, became cluttered with other nonsensical mismash. So, while I “discovered” the title for myself by browsing the iBookstore, it did technically come highly recommended by a person of substantial reading reliability 🙂

The first book in the Divergent series.

So, I shall refrain from going into the ENTIRE soliloquey that is my grown-up-life stress. For those of you who are young, living with roommates, paying bills in a big city, and owing a great deal of money to the Student-Loan Sharks, I’m sure you understand that life has been daunting (*pun unintended but amusing)/tiresome/frustrating/emotionally draining. Therefore, last Fall, The Hunger Games became my escape from reality, and a temporary reprieve from responsibility (ironic). When that ended, I roamed aimlessly in the land of historical romance (no judging you book snobs :P), humor audiobooks, and a little manga. Nothing, however, could fully relieve me from my everyday worries and anxiety.

Then comes Divergent. Now, I will in no way claim this to be as-good-as OR better than The Hunger Games. As it is the first book in a trilogy, and I still have 1/4 of the ebook to read, I cannot justify such a monumental statement.

However, consider these factors:

  • This is a debut novel. I generally find debut novels to be lacking, mostly because the author is trying so hard to say so much, their work often times comes across as exhaustingly complex.
  • This is a rapidly growing sub-genre. YA Dystopian novels are explosive right now. This is not in any way a NEW sub-genre, but thanks to some of the titles that have come out these last couple of years, it is gaining speed and attention for many readers, especially adults. In my experience, 80% of the titles that come out in a “new” or “popular” sub-genre are COMPLETE crap. This, in my opinion, isn’t one of them.
  • The author is 22. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have to momentarily put aside both your astonishment that anyone at that age has the skills to NOT bore you with mellow drama, as well as your not-so-subtle loathing for someone else accomplishing something so monumental as being published at such a young age. This is an impressive piece of work for someone so young and so new to the game. Color me envious.

The characters are relatable, the storyline is interesting and exciting, and the social structure created w/in this futuristic world is rather engaging. I have to say, I’m seeing a lot of promise for both the series and the young author. So if you want to escape for a bit, try Divergent by Veronica Roth.

BTW: This was the first ebook read on my new toy, the iPad. Gotta say, love the experience, but STUNK to try and read outdoors. Will still be keeping/using/loving my Kindle…they’re like my two children: I love them equally, just in varying ways.

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Filed under Digital & Mobile, Ebook, Fiction, Picks by nycbookgirl, Recommendations, Reviews, YA & Children's, Young Reader

A Discovery of Good Fiction

Yes, my post’s title is a play on a new release’s title. Yes, I am feeling THAT little creativity today…(usually “bite me” would be inserted here, but w/ the Bronx Zoo Cobra thing, probably not a safe expression at the moment).

As per usual, I finished one of my genre binges this past month (I was on a big historical kick, focusing first on Edwardian, then Victorian, then going back to Medieval). Having done so, I went to my ever-reliable managing editor at work, requesting a new suggestion. Her response, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.
A Discovery of Witches (Kindle Edition)
Now, when she recommended this title she described in the following way: “It’s like The Historian meets the Twilight series.”

If you’re response to that sentence was discomfort and silence, don’t worry. So was mine.

But, seeing as she’d yet to lead me astray, and she’d been the miracle worker to introduce me to The Hunger Games, I figured I’d give her the benefit of the doubt. Have to say, second greatest choice I’ve made (first being to borrow her Kindle one weekend last Fall, leading to my love of ereaders and utter consumption of all things ebook).

If you’re like me, you enjoy a little of everything in your “Contemporary Fiction”: mystery and intrigue, romance (but not bodice ripping), adventure and excitement, and as nerdy as it sounds, something new to learn. I’m a major history fan—though I have absolutely NO brain capacity to remember anything I learn. This explains my love of biographies, sports books, and certain Dan Brown novels (no judging).

So if you are in fact like me, I absolutely recommend this one. I don’t like giving too much away, but here are some fun facts to look forward to:

  • References to the Salem Witch trails, the Crusades, the Templars, and MANY more historical conflicts
  • Travel: US (New England and New Orleans), UK (mostly Oxford w/ a little Scotland), France
  • Witches, Vampires, and Demons (oh my!)
  • Yoga, Rowing (think Crew), and a little Chess (no, its not a sport)
  • A surprisingly more comprehensive translation of Darwin’s On the Origins of Species
  • Alchemy and geneology
  • And of course—here’s where the Twilight reference comes in—forbidden love

Check it out, but be forewarned (I discovered this too late), this WILL be a series, and this first book was released in Hardcover last month. For those of you not sure what that means, it’s going to be a long wait for book two (well, long if you read more than one book a year).

Enjoy!

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Filed under Contemporary, Paranormal, Picks by nycbookgirl, Recommendations, Twilight

Return of the Prodigal Daughter

Holy Crow it’s been a long time!

In my defense (though, really, there shouldn’t be any excuses), since I’ve been gone—morphed Kelly Clarkson lyrics—I’ve completed my Capstone for grad school (like a thesis for normal master’s students); I’ve GRADUATED from grad school w/ my MS in Publishing (*grins*); I’ve started working full-time for an ebook publisher; and I’ve moved from very South Brooklyn to more Midway Brooklyn. So there is SOME reason behind my slacking off…

Quick update on recommended books/series I’ve been reading in the meantime:

*The Hunger Games: Yes, I, like so many others, have fallen victim to this FANTASTIC series. And really, why wouldn’t you? It’s only 3 books long, so it’s not like the Harry Potter epic all over again. It’s fantastically fascinating in a “this-should-NOT-be-labelled-YA”. And it is definitely NOT another Twilight thing: 1) it does not distort the myth of a well-loved society of otherworldly creatures; 2) none (well, some but very little) of that obnoxious teen-angsty drama; and 3) at the end of book three, you actually feel complete. Besides, they’re doing a movie now, w/ the author co-writing the script, so GET TO IT!

*Solo: Okay, go ahead and blame me for promoting my own works’ ebooks, but I have to admit: I went into this one fully expecting to want to shoot myself in the face 10 pages in. Didn’t happen! I think it probably helps that I’m a closet Classical music fanatic, and this title happens to have a lot of references for some great pieces, but it was also pretty thrilling. (Go figure, since it IS a “thriller”.) If you haven’t checked out Jack Higgins before, like most of my generation/friends, try this one on for size. It might just be one-size-fits-all (though that is debatable).

*Girl in Translation: A Falling-to-be-a-Successful-Book-Club Book Club pick. A great read, especially for those of you who enjoyed Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club. Compelling store; great mother-daughter dynamic; wonderful first-account view of an immigrant in modern America; and amazing written!

*Midnight’s Master: Well, really, ANYTHING by Cynthia Eden is fantastic, but I thought I’d stick to a single title, though I LOVED the entire Midnight Sins series. She’s yet another author who has taken the vampire/shifter (werewolves and such for you non-paranormal readers)/demon/etc. world. But she does it in a way that doesn’t make me cringe w/ embarrassment for the publisher (*cough* Twilight*cough*) or shudder w/ disgust at the OBVIOUS stench of OVERDOING IT (*cough*Twilight*cough). Fun, humorous, and an overall feel-good-at-the-end read!

That’s all for now. Hopefully you’ll be hearing more VERY soon. (fingers crossed!)

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Life After Twilight…What To Read When You Finish Meyer’s Saga

There have been some obvious suggestions, focusing mostly on more vampire titles: L.J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries, which has already begun to gather a Buffy-deprived generation of follows through the CW series; Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series; the Mother-Daughter Cast pairing with the House of Night books; Blood Coven, by Mari Mancusi; or the Melissa de la Cruz collection, Blue Bloods.

Many think the that the undead obsession will shift to werewolves and zombies next. While these creatures have grown in popularity amongst the adult and humor genres, it’s not a likely contender for this younger crowd. Because really, what’s sexy about kissing a hairy dog, or a walking carcass with a fetish for brains? Granted, I could be proven wrong with the fascinating Shiver title from Maggie Steifvater.

And still others believe the undead fixation will dwindle, and allow other fantasy worlds to emerge: angels (Fallen by Lauren Kate), steampunk (Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld), faeries (Wings by Aprilynne Pike), and the return of magic (Patterson’s latest YA, Witch & Wizard).

My opinion is less concerned with WHAT to read next. Instead, look at what these titles represent to YA readers. Many of these vamp-filled titles leave much to be desired (though I could personally claim the same for Ms. Meyer’s books as well), and just don’t do justice to some of the more advanced adult fiction selections. And just because Steampunk and Zombies have been huge for the adult fiction doesn’t mean the younger readers will follow the trend. However, none of that matters. What matters is what doors this ridiculous Twilight craze has opened to a generation of potential readers. I predict that after the teens finish the Twilight saga, they’re NOT going to follow the flock anymore. S.M. did more than begin the biggest underage cult fandom since Harry Potter; she blew down the door for fantasy and make-believe to be “cool” again. The days of hiding your book cover inside your backpack and under the lunch table are over! Because if the cheerleaders and jocks give you grief for your love of extra-terrestrial romance or medieval history adventures, ask them just how many times they went to see Edward and Bella on the big screen.

So while I believe pirates, faeries, and vampires are the trends to watch, the real “win” for publishing is that kids are reading, and reading with a vengeance!

*read more on these titles at theDailyBeast

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Speaking of Harry Potter…

Please forgive me, but I am officially going off on a tangent.

This was just too great an opportunity to pass up-The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago has opened it’s (no joke) Harry Potter Exhibition.

Pretend your JK Rowling. You’ve just published one of the world’s most infamous (and controversially critiqued) series, that has dragged audiences of ALL ages to sleep for hours in whatever weather imaginable to view the billion-dollar film adaptations. This doesn’t even include the technically illegal reproductions of your work circling the world of fandom, the millions you’re making in clothing and accessories, or the clamoring any future works will bring about.

Now, someone in Chicago has gone ahead and decided to to dedicate a portion of their museum to your story….

Holy Monumental Marketing Batman!!!

This is the kind of promotional work for backlist books publisher’s can only DREAM about! It’s now gone from where can we apply HP references in the market (clothing, movies, music, food), to where haven’t we…I’m thinking vehicles, maybe an airline or two. Does Buckingham Palace have any renovation plans coming up? Cause I can suggest a GREAT theme that’s bound to be a huge success!

Move aside James Patterson, looks like the marketing world has met it’s greatest Book Behemoth.

Check out the Museum’s home and PW‘s review!

And in the words of the fictional character I want to grow-up to be: “I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed – or worse, expelled.”

(That’s right, its a Hermione Granger moment.)

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Yo Ho Yo Ho A Vampirate’s Life For Me (Or Life After Harry Potter)

There was never any intention to discuss this series straight out, but seeing as PW has featured it recently, and there is a growing demand in the States for the books, it’s only fair to explore the creativity and talent behind some of today’s newest Young Reader series.

Justin Somper, former children’s book publicist and publicity consultancy group owner, has made a huge slash (pun completely intended) with his debut series, Vampirates. These books bring about all the adventure and excitement imaginable with a daring combination of the world of fable and the realm of paranormal. While the YA and Romance world or following their regulated worlds of vampire folklore and Hollywood trends, children’s publishers have unleashed a hot ticket that blends Pirates of the Caribbean with the increasingly popular blood-sucking phenoms.

Enter the land of L.A.P.-Life After Potter. When Harry’s final adventure came out, the world was left with some great options (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Spiderwick Chronicles), but nothing seemed to fill that age-defying void.

(And yes, I am staunchly refusing to endorse, let alone mention the swill circling the book world that masquerades as a revolutionary vampire love story.)

So when the last book ended, and our days of roaming the halls of Hogwarts were final, many of us returned to the stuffy and structured world of adult fiction, with only an occasional glance back at the mystifying lands of magic and childhood mayhem.

But while we, the Lost Boys (and Girls, to be completely PC) grew up again, publishers didn’t let the Pans wander alone, with no stories to strike their fires of curiosity and creativity.

And while I enjoy my Three Cups of Tea and A Thousand Splendid Suns, there is something undeniably endearing and enjoyable about this realm of fantastical faith and magical imagination. Not to mention financially satisfying: while future sales are sure to drop or remain flat, PW acknowledges that, “children’s paperback is expected to be the strongest trade segment this year.”

So if you’ve an interest in returning to the unbound splendor of Neverland (no, not the Michael Jackson kind), then go back without shame. Because really, why should the little kids get all the fun?

If you had trouble understanding this post, perhaps it’s because “a child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.” (Groucho Marx)

**Some titles I’m looking forward to reading:

  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, in which four adventurous children respond to the mysterious Mr. Benedict’s ad (“Are you a gifted child looking for Special Opportunities?”) and in turn attempt to save the world from subliminal messages and the quintessential evil-mastermind. (Little, Brown-2007)
  • The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley-Archer, featuring 21st-century time-travel victims, Peter Schock and Kate Dyer, who find themselves trapped in 18th-century London. (S&S-2007)
  • The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley, which follows a series of magical mysteries, starring Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, descendants of the famous Brothers Grimm, and detectives in this excitingly magical land. (Amulet-2007)

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