Tag Archives: young adult fiction

There Was a Knock on the Door

Image From Dot Myl- Google Plus

Image by Dot Myl – Google Plus

Hello dear friends and imaginative travelers!

We regret to have left you at the Tree alone for such an extended period of time. We thought of you often, and despite our best efforts to return, the Door to the Tree eluded us, busy as we were fighting monsters in our path.

But if you’re here, if you’re listening… we’re knocking.

We’re writing.

Where will 2018 lead us?

Come along. Let’s find out.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Conveniently Absent Parents

You know what I’m talking about.  The main character’s parents just happen to be dead or workaholics or obsequiously neglectful or something like that.  I can never decide if I like this trend or not.  On the one hand, it can instantly up the angst factor up the wazoo, and besides, the YA is all about characters coming into their own, which may be harder to believe if they have perfect, supportive parents behind their every move.

On the other hand, though… most kids do have parents.  And really, most parents don’t suck.  The believability of the absent parents goes down a pinch when it happens in every single novel.  I’ve been reading a lot of books where parents just died in car wrecks a few weeks before the narration starts, and it’s starting to feel a little overwhelming.  Are there that many parental car crashes, really?

Then again, I’ve enjoyed some absent parents a lot.  In Jaclyn Moriarty’s Feeling Sorry for Celia (which is an epistolary novel, where everything is told in the form of letters or notes), the main character’s mother is insanely busy, and their entire form of communication is through post-it notes left on the front of the refrigerator.  That I found entirely clever.  Then again, I find just about everything about Jaclyn Moriarty’s books clever.  If you ever want to surprise yourself by how a story can be told, take a look at her books.

On the other other hand… parents really are difficult to involve sometimes.  In darker YA Fantasy, it can be difficult to believe that a good parent can’t sense a little bit of the danger surrounding their teen without trying to intervene in some way.  Even Charlie tries to protect Bella a bit in Twilight, and let’s face it—Charlie’s clueless.  He doesn’t come close to the kind of protective stance a normal dad with a teenage daughter being courted by a questionable someone might be, though.  At least, in my opinion.

So what is it that keeps parents out of YA?  Is it because authors decide their teenage characters are mature enough to take care of themselves?  Because they decide their characters don’t think about or interact with their parents much?   Because they feel like parents just slow things down?  Or is it because authors just don’t know how to handle writing believable parents?  I know that I’ve had difficulty with it myself, but at the same time, I really enjoy the challenge of making believable family units, and making my characters that much more believable.

What do you think?

Sorry for the late-night posts of late, folks!

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: How Many is Too Many?

If you head over to my goodreads profile, you’ll see that I’m in the middle of reading TWELVE books.  This is partially because a lot of them are library loans that I ran out of time on reading, but a many of them are books I own and just haven’t sat and gone straight through yet.  This happens to me for a lot of reasons, some of them more or less insane.  Here’s a little look at the books I’m reading and why it is that they’re taking so long to get off my currently-reading list.

Little Women by Lousia May Alcott

Every other Christmas or so I start this book.  Last Christmas I did this again.  But I’ve read it half a dozen times, and my copy isn’t exactly carrier-friendly.  I get distracted by newer stuff.

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde

Now, if you’ve been around here for a while, you may have noticed that I’m a bit of a Fforde fanatic.  Sadly this book is not mine yet.  I’ve been checking it out from the library, and if any of you have read Jasper Fforde’s work, you know it’s a dense forest of brilliant nonsense.  It takes me some time, and I just haven’t had enough of it yet!

The Land of Elyon: The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman

This book has a lot of potential.  In fact, I’ve already bought the next three books in the series.  It’s just a little young and a little slow for me.  But I can’t give it up either!

The Poetical Works of Longfellow by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

He had a lot of them. I’m not even a third of the way through.

East by Edith Pattou

I love the concept of this book, and really love the fairy tale behind it, so I won’t give up on it.  But again, this book is impossibly slow.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Another library book.  I really loved the first half of it, but then I read The Dark Divine which is a vaguely similar story, but much more my style, so it’s been hard to get re-enthused about Hush, Hush.  Still, I want to finish and see if it’s worth the hype.

The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Library book!  And again, sadly slow. Zink isn’t writing in her own vernacular, and it’s so painfully clear.

Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

I’m trying to read through all of the Anne books, but again, it gets sidetracked for the hotter YA books sometimes!

Ӓlvor by Laura Bingham

This book is a lot of fun, but not really impressing me much. I’d like to finish it to review it, though, because I won it, so it’s the least I can do.

Sabriel: The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

Okay, this one is my bathroom book.  I’ve been wanting to read Nix’s books for a long time, because they’re sort of fantasy classics, but this is again, dense stuff.  Fascinating, super well-realized world, but it is something easiest to take in five or ten pages at a time!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

The third Percy Jackson book… I had to stop reading this one for a bit because I sent my copy to my mother… don’t ask.  But I’ve picked it up again and Riordan continues to be a lot of fun.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

So, this is one of my favorite YA fantasy series.  Well, possibly children’s fantasy is a more fitting description, but I love it anyhow.  The last book came out earlier this year, and I haven’t read it yet, because I am in resolute denial. I’m going to re-read the first four books first.  Well, once I find this one again, because I’ve misplaced it…

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Love Triangles – So Last Season?

This is a debate I’ve had many a time.  I’ve heard a lot of people—a LOT of people—say that they hate love triangles.  To the point of vehement declarations of hate towards one or more of the parties online.  Complete strangers get into heated angry debate, and feelings get hurt—which really, is kind of silly, considering that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

But people walk away from all of this saying that they hate love triangles.  I’ve heard some say that it’s the oldest trick in the book (which it is, look at some Greek myths!) and that it’s been done to death.  Well the fact is, love is the most common story ever told, and since love tends to happen between us messy, complicated humans, love triangles happen.  Beyond that, a story needs drama to be a story, and love triangles are nothing but drama.

Personally, I love the triangles.  My favorite thing about fiction, crazy as it may sound, is when it rips my heart out of my chest and shreds it into little bitty pieces.  This is probably why I always fall for the underdog.   For the one who doesn’t even have a chance.  For that fatal, unrequited love.  Does it hurt?  Heck yeah.  Is it fair?  Not really.  But then, neither is life.  And that kind of hurt comes off a lot better when it’s in the form of a book you can close at the end, right?

Anyhow, that’s my opinion.  What do you think about love triangles?  What are some of your favorites?

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The cover on my copy of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan has a quote at the bottom calling it “riotously paced,” and boy, is that ever accurate.  The Lightning Thief is almost as ADHD as its hero, Percy Jackson, but when it comes to quick and light reading, it definitely hits the mark.  Riordan flips through mythological characters and storylines like a fly jumping from one piece of fruit to another, and each little morsel of mythology is presented in a way that’s both fun and educational—no worries that you’re missing out on a good joke or something just because you’re not a scholar on Greek myths.

But let me back up a little bit.  Percy Jackson is kind of the Harry Potter of the Greek mythology world.  He’s not an orphan, but he is a misfit who’s been kicked out of a lot of schools for learning and behavioral problems.  And then one day his math teacher tries to kill him—literally.  He then learns that not only is his best friend actually a satyr, but his Latin teacher isn’t exactly as meets the eye, either.  Soon he’s headed to Half Blood Camp, and claimed as Poseidon’s son.  Not long after that, though, it’s learned that Zeus’ object of power—his master lightning bolt, has been stolen, and someone has framed Percy as the thief.  With a couple of friends along for the ride, Percy has to recover the stolen item and return it to Mt. Olympus before the Summer Solstice.  A big enough task as is—considering who everyone thinks the real thief probably was—but things are made that much worse by the fact that monsters are chasing them down at every turn.

I have to admit, the writing in this book isn’t the highest-quality stuff that I’ve ever read.  Most of the side characters are little more than cardboard cut-outs that talk, and if there weren’t so much mythology to draw from, these might not be very good books.  But the fact is, there is a ton of mythology to draw from, and Riordan weaves it so entertainingly into Percy’s trials and troubles that these books are really out-and-out fun.  I’m already a quarter of the way through the second one, and the action and reading doesn’t slow down at all.

The Lightning Thief is kind of a formulaic book, but the formula works.  Well.  And I’m honestly flying through these book.  Well, as fast as a crazy, full-to-the-tilt schedule allows me to, at least.  A- for The Lightning Thief.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Want-to-Reads – 2010 Debut Authors

Like a lot of you, probably, I’m always on the lookout for new authors.  Sure there are a trillion books out there I haven’t read yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep my eye out for one more, right?  Or two, maybe?  Here are a couple of 2010 debut authors whose first novels are ones I’m really interested in.

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Sydelle Mirabil is living proof that, with a single drop of rain, a life can be changed forever. Tucked away in the farthest reaches of the kingdom, her dusty village has suffered under the weight of a strangely persistent drought. That is, of course, until a wizard wanders into town and brings the rain with him.

In return for this gift, Wayland North is offered any reward he desires—and no one is more surprised than Sydelle when, without any explanation, he chooses her. Taken from her home, Sydelle hardly needs encouragement to find reasons to dislike North. He drinks too much and bathes too little, and if that isn’t enough to drive her to madness, North rarely even uses the magic he takes such pride in possessing. Yet, it’s not long before she realizes there’s something strange about the wizard, who is as fiercely protective of her as he is secretive about a curse that turns his limbs a sinister shade of black and leaves him breathless with agony. Unfortunately, there is never a chance for her to seek answers.

I love the title and cover of this book… and I’m a sucker for mysterious strangers and unexplained preferences made by them… if that makes any sense.  I’m not always one for high fantasy, but I want to know this wizard’s secret and I’ve only read the back cover.

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

“A serial killer on the loose. A girl with a morbid ability. And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.

Violet Ambrose can find the dead. Or at least, those who have been murdered. She can sense the echoes they leave behind… and the imprints they leave on their killers. As if that weren’t enough to deal with during junior year, she also has a sudden, inexplicable, and consuming crush on her best friend since childhood, Jay Heaton.

Now a serial killer has begun terrorizing Violet’s small town… and she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.”

I love the twist to this story… Violet can sense echoes of violence… which leads her to be able to locate the bodies of murderers… and now a serial killer may be after her.  This is a high-stakes book, and I feel like my putting it off is like putting off Violet’s solving the case.  Weird?  Maybe.  But I want to read this.

Book Geek Wednesday: We Geek over Ballad

Okay, so yesterday we put up a review of Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater, who we’ll be interviewing on Friday.  A few days before, Isabelle and I geeked out about the book on instant messenger.  This is the result. 🙂  We didn’t get super in-depth about the book, I admit, but we did squee… a lot.  This might be the tiniest bit spoilery, so be warned!

Isabelle: I loved Ballad
Isabelle: the idea that the muse killed the men she inspired
Isabelle: So awesome.
Isabelle: So brilliant.
Lisa: hahaha
Lisa: I loved James.  Oh man.
Isabelle: I figured you would
Isabelle: LOL
Lisa: ROFL
Isabelle: He was sooo… you.
Lisa: hahahaha
Lisa: YES.  He was.
Isabelle: I did have a soft spot for him though.
Isabelle: I’ll admit.
Isabelle: And I was VERY angry when Dee kissed him.
Lisa: Yeah.
Isabelle: I mean, how cruel
Isabelle: that whole pull and tug relationship was just brutal to watch
Isabelle: /read
Lisa: I mean… I almost wanted her to give in and be with him.  But when she started crying, I was just like… hell no.
Lisa: I loved it. hahaha
Isabelle: I know, me too.
Isabelle: We’re such sadists.
Isabelle: ha ha
Lisa: True.
Lisa: Because really, I didn’t like Nuala a ton… I just wanted James happy.
Isabelle: Nuala struck me as very unfae
Isabelle: She was so typical teenage girl it was kind of weird
Isabelle: I know that was the point… lure prey and all that… but it seemed so odd…
Isabelle: I LOVED the teacher.
Isabelle: He just fascinated me.
Isabelle: There was so much about him in general that worked for me… and then when he talked about his old experiences I kind of got shivers and was like, poor dude.
Isabelle: He’s wayyy too familiar with the folk
Lisa: I was picturing him as Ed Quinn…. I’m a sucker for Ed Quinn.
Lisa: Side note—he’s who I wanted for The Time Traveler’s Wife, too… but he’s a bit too old to play the younger years.
Isabelle: I loved that James played bagpipes. I don’t know why but that made him like really cool in my book
Isabelle: lol
Isabelle: Oh… and weird creepy roommate hearing the names and the song.
Isabelle: That whole plot line. FASCINATED me
Lisa: Yeah, I ended up really liking the roommate.
Lisa: Yeah.
Lisa: I LOVED the Ophelia conversation.  Oh my goodness that was my favorite thing in the book.
Isabelle: OH i know!
Isabelle: SO fitting!
Isabelle: That was a really great scene.
Lisa: That where he realizes that she DOES love him, just not the way he wanted… killed me.
Isabelle: I know. The poor kid. He was really so hung up on her.
Isabelle: I mean, even in Lament, where he sends her that last text.
Isabelle: Guh.
Isabelle: Too much.
Lisa: Yeah.
Isabelle: It makes my heart hurt for him.
Isabelle: And I don’t even really fully feel Nuala was right for him.
Isabelle: Though I was glad he was no longer caught up on Dee.
Isabelle: I think Nuala was just… there at the right time and could share something he was really passionate about…

So… maybe not the most professional review we’ve done, and I have to say, I do like Nuala… especially what she turns into and how she develops, she just takes some getting used to.  Anyhow, be sure to come back for our interview with Maggie on Friday!

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Dead Trend?

Okay, we’ve had a lot of undead in the YA market lately, but looking at a lot of the recent and upcoming novels, many of them seem to be featuring characters that are just plain old deceased.  Dead siblings, dead best friends, dead significant others—usually leaving some mystery behind in which they (the departed) are the one single person who can lead the remaining characters to uncover what truly happened.  Interestingly, this is showing itself both in paranormal novels and general fiction.

I… can’t decide if I like this trend or not.  Of course, I was never really big on the undeads, either.  But I have to admit, while there do seem to be a lot of these books coming out, authors are dealing with this in different and interesting ways… some haunted dreams, some unread letters, some secret journals… I find myself intrigued, despite myself.  Here’s a couple of books that I’m looking forward to the most, with descriptions from goodreads.

Wish by Alexandra Bullen

For broken-hearted Olivia Larsen, nothing can change the fact that her twin sister, Violet, is gone… until a mysterious, beautiful gown arrives on her doorstep. The dress doesn’t just look magical; it is magical. It has the power to grant her one wish, and the only thing Olivia wants is her sister back.
With Violet again by her side, both girls get a second chance at life. And as the sisters soon discover, they have two more dresses-and two more wishes left. But magic can’t solve everything, and Olivia is forced to confront her ghosts to learn how to laugh, love, and live again.

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend.When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal she left behind. But he is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.

Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupola

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

So yes… I’m curious.  What can I say, these sound like good books… I’m especially interested in The Secret Year.  I’ve seen it at the bookstore and been sorely tempted.  I’m still holding out reservations as to whether I like this trend or not, but it’s definitely on the rise, and I’m interested to see where it leads.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

I can’t say enough good things about this book.

Incarceron is a prison the size of a world, complete with mountains and chasms, and living metal forests and townships and secret compacts.  Most of the inmates don’t even believe there’s an Outside—and even if there were, Incarceron is a closed system—nothing enters, and nothing leaves.  The prison itself makes sure of that.  How, you may ask?  Simple—it’s alive.

Deep in its recesses, though, is a boy named Finn, a “son” of Incarceron, a cell-born who is believed to have been created by the organic matter in the prison itself… except he’s sure he’s from the Outside.  Finn is a starseer, called by some a visionary or a prophet—but are these “visions” of the world Outside really his own memories?  When he comes by a crystal key that matches a blue insignia on his wrist, Finn’s already eager desire to Escape is escalated by something completely unexpected—communication with a girl named Claudia, from the Outside, who claims to be the Warden’s daughter.

With their separate allies and enemies, Claudia and Finn work together to try and solve the mysteries of Incarceron—including its hidden location, and of course, the gateway out.

The thing I love about Incarceron by Catherine Fisher is that there are no easy answers.  The riddles the characters have to solve aren’t simple wordplays, but really the characters around them—and all of them are intriguing shades of grey—even Incarceron itself.  There are the wise Sapients, but with wisdom comes obsession.  There is the cold and distant Warden, who is so skilled at hiding his own feelings that the reader can never be quite sure what he’s thinking.  There’s Claudia, who wants to help Finn escape, but is ultimately doing it to thwart her father and avoid an impossible betrothal.  And more than that, there’s the questions that Claudia and Finn are trying their hardest to answer—where is Incarceron?  And how does one escape from it?  And the worst question of all—is the Outside, where Time and Progress have been halted, and Protocol dictates the limits of a “perfect” age—is that any less of a prison?

The answers were breathtaking, and nothing I would have expected.   The construct of this book as a whole is beautiful, from cover to content.  I loved every minute reading it, and was thrilled to find a book that felt fresh and new, in a barricade of recycled ideas.  Fisher doesn’t limit what she’s allowed to do in this book, and the result of that is awesome.  Magic?  Impossible science?  Hocus pocus?  Sword-play?  Yes, it’s all there, with no apologies whatsoever.  It doesn’t even feel quite like a suspension of disbelief—she pulls the wool over your eyes so successfully.  This is a fantastic stand-alone book, but I’m beyond excited that there are plans for continuation here, because Incarceron’s secrets have only started to be revealed, and the world Outside is on the verge of a revolution.  I can’t wait to see it.

This has an unreserved A+.  I gave it five stars on Goodreads, but I would have given it seventeen, if I could.

Obtained: Via the friendly Public Library system.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Fingerprints: Haunted by Melinda Metz

The second Fingerprints book crosses into the creepy category.  We already know someone is out to kill Rae, but in this edition her friend Jesse goes missing, and the more information Rae gathers with her gift, the scarier the situation gets—because whoever has Jesse, it’s all Rae’s fault.

Meanwhile we keep getting little anonymous insights from the bad guy… and they are all kinds of disturbing.  We don’t really know who it is… all we know is that they really and truly hate Rae and the “perfect” life that she has.

What I love about this series is that, while Rae is dealing with some life-threatening issues, it’s also very high school.  On the one hand she’s dealing with trying to track down Jesse’s abusive father and trying to track down the story of how he really disappeared, and on the other she’s trying to figure out how to take it when she finds out her ex-boyfriend—who dumped her without telling her—said her name while kissing his new girlfriend, and is suddenly seems to be trying to mend bridges with her…

Meanwhile, there is a lot of fantastic misdirection and red herrings going on here.  Who are all these creepy insights coming from?  Who is it taking pictures of her outside her room and all over town?  Is it her group therapy leader?  Her overly-concerned (to the point of icky) new English teacher?  Someone closer than that?  Or someone she doesn’t even know?  Is it even only one person?

Rae’s having trouble making sense of any of it,  and meanwhile she’s trying to help Anthony in a way that he may or may not be open to accepting… all while trying to keep her friend Yana from finding out her secret, so that she can have one “normal” friend.”

These books have a lot of layers to them for their deceptive shortness.  Haunted gets an affectionate A- from me.  (Very affectionate, mind… it’s not my favorite in the series, and you may rate it a bit lower.)

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