YA is not a trend, it’s a lifestyle *throws up gang sign*

Young Adult definitely seems to be ‘trendy’ at the moment. Katie Crouch explained why she wanted to write YA (basically cause its not that hard *eyeroll*), there is a brand new movie titled Young Adult coming from the makers of Juno that stars Charlize Theron (the basic plot is YA authors are rich and immature), and a sickening number of celebrity books for the YA crowd (Hillary Duff, Tyra Banks, 50 Cent). What all of these people (and those who publish them) need to understand is that YA isn’t a place where you can make a quick buck. Teens are not as impressionable as you may think, and they see through you completely when you are trying be cool for the sake of cool (trust me I said waddup at teen book club and it wasn’t pretty).

Sure there are tons of adults reading YA now much to the disdain of literary snobs everywhere but there are good reasons to why adults turn to these types of stories. We all lived through a childhood, we all came of age and revisiting those moments in our lives through literature is a fabulous form of escapism and entertainment. Combine all that with the fact that a lot of today’s YA has smart plot, great writing and is character focused you have your reasons to why adults are reading Young Adult.

I like a good litfic, chicklit, romance book now and then, but if I was faced with having to read the over indulgent prose over and over again I wouldn’t be a very good reader or blogger. With YA you are seeing genre after subgenre explored with the same coming of age plot in a myriad of different ways. In the space of a year I can read dystopia, science fiction, chicklit, literary, horror, thriller, and historical books that are all plot driven. Sure YA has a lot of books that are written full of trope like all literary genres do.

So I get that it is profitable and totally trendy right now, but if you aren’t in it with blood, sweat, and tears, if it isn’t your passion, you probably aren’t going to be as profitable as those who are doing it for the love of teen writing. So stop sipping on that ‘wow those are great numbers’ kool-aid, or snobbing those of us who read below our grade level.

Finally, to those authors who are doing it right, you have my upmost adoration and I will champion your books as much as humanly possible.

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Review: Anastasia’s Secret by Susanne Dunlap

“Will I never see you again either?” I asked, feeling as though I was about to jump off a high mountain peak and hope to land without hurting myself. That’s how impossible everything seemed at that moment, no matter what I did.
“Perhaps we will meet again,” Sasha said, softening his voice. “But you must see that it does not matter. You have so much ahead of you. It’s your choice now. Choose the future! Choose life!”

For Anastasia Romanov, life as the privileged daughter of Russia’s last tsar is about to be torn apart by the bloodshed of revolution. Ousted from the imperial palace when the Bolsheviks seize control of the government, Anastasia and her family are exiled to Siberia. But even while the rebels debate the family’s future with agonizing slowness and the threat to their lives grows more menacing, romance quietly blooms between Anastasia and Sasha, a sympathetic young guard she has known since childhood. But will the strength of their love be enough to save Anastasia from a violent death?

Inspired by the mysteries that have long surrounded the last days of the Romanov family, Susanne Dunlap’s new novel is a haunting vision of the life—and love story—of Russia’s last princess.

I started this book after reading first of Anastasia Romanov last year in Joy Preble’s Dreaming Anastasia. While Joy added a new element using the history but in a modern setting, Dunlap takes you back in a historical fiction novel. I was able to love Anastasia and all of her family immediately. I wanted to breeze through the pages, I had to physically pull myself out of the story and remind myself to slow down.

I am enamored and humbled by the story of this family and I felt like Dunlap has given me a secret knowledge of the family and their last days before the Bolshevik revolution. I have the same feeling at the end of this book as I did when I read Anne Frank’s Diary in the sixth grade. I felt that the 1900′s were a more modern time, Russia however despite the technologies available kept the ways of the 1800′s.

It had been said the princesses were spoiled but in fact they were raised not in decadence and richness. The girls had many duties and even had cold showers. The revolution in Russia is very comparable to the French revolution. Rumors and hunger seemed to be the start of the troubles.

The way the family was murdered was quite barbaric. I will not ruin that for you in case like me you are a bit fuzzy on the details of the Russian revolution.

This book is packaged as Young Adult but I didn’t feel as if I were reading YA. I think the hardest reviews to write are those of books you have dearly loved. This book will take a prized place in my favorite books list, I will be recommending it to teachers who are going over the Russian revolution. I cannot say enough that everyone should read this. I loved the writing style and the book was paced exactly right. The epilogue at the back explaining some more of the cruelties this family endured is also not to be missed.

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Review: Blue Moon by Alyson Noel (The Immortals Series)

To me Noel’s second book was stronger than her first. In Evermore the main character Ever annoyed me a bit. She seemed so dependent and weak to me. A bit over annoying and self pitying. Her parents died yes, but the pity party was a bit much.
In Blue Moon Ever is secure in her own skin. Damen and Ever’s relationship is strong and will probably withstand the tests of eternity. Roman a new bad boy in town gives Ever the creeps. Damen, Miles, or Haven notice nothing and even accuse Ever of just not liking new people. Figuring they are right Ever tries to open up to Roman to devestating consequences. Ever begins a race against time to save her friends and her true love. Will the Summerland give her the answers she is looking for?
Ever made some really bad decisions in this book. I would normally slam the book for the turns this took. It gets a bit outlandish, but it all works together well to end the book and makes me anticipate the time when I pick up the third book in the series. I have to know how all of this Damen / Ever stuff works out. If Miles becomes a pop star, if Haven and Josh’s relationship survives.
However what I do not need to see is Ever’s Aunt bumbling through like an idiot. I love YA books where the adults actually have a clue and aren’t complete idiots. Not every teen, or every teen who reads hates their parents. Ever seems to feel gratitude to her Aunt but not much real love going on there.
I missed the presence of Riley but adding the creepy twins Romy and Rayne made me miss her a bit less.
Ever grew up a lot in this book. I was very happy with her development. I would however like to see some development in the other characters in the third book.
If you like Shiver, The Mortal Instruments Series, or The Dark Guardian Series you will like Evermore and Blue Moon.

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Interview: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl Authors of Beautiful Creatures

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Photo by: Alex Hoerner

A big thank you to Kami and Margie, co-authors of Beautiful Creatures for answering these interview questions for Bookalicio.us. You can read my review of Beautiful Creatures by clicking here.
  1. Bookalicio.us: I have to say you have Southern people described to the letter. Are either of you Southern or have family that lives in the South? As I was reading I was fascinated with how much your book took me home to my teen years in Saltville Virginia (The Salt Capitol of the Confederacy).

    Kami: My family is originally from a small town in North Carolina, so I grew up with three generations of women (two Southern) living under one roof. I have a deep affection for the eccentricities of the South, and still go to see my mom in North Carolina every summer. Margie’s family is originally from a tiny town, though not in the South, and I think our shared stories from casserole counties are what made us want to set our story in Gatlin, SC. Even if it isn’t the Salt Capitol of the Confederacy!

  2. Bookalicio.us: I often wondered through out the book why you chose Ethan as opposed to Lena as the main character. The more I read the more I was confused about that, but the more I read the more I loved the fact you did so. It was a breath of fresh air in the paranormal YA assortment.

    Margie: You have to remember, we originally wrote this story on a dare from seven teenagers, who read our pages nightly and weekly as we wrote them. So we weren’t really thinking about anything other than what they would want to read. They were powerful, strong, individualistic teenage girls – except for our one Caster Boy! – and we wanted to give them a story where the girl was the powerful, mysterious supernatural, and the boy had to unravel her mystery, find his way to her. Also, I think we also wanted to give them something they hadn’t read before.

  3. Bookalicio.us: The Character of Lena’s Uncle was an amazingly thought out addition to the story. I can’t go into too much detail of how you as the authors used his character for some plot twists without giving spoilers, I wanted to ask how you fleshed him out the way you did.

    Kami: Lena’s Uncle Macon is one of our favorite characters, and an important counterpoint to some of the smaller-minded folks in town. He’s brilliant and sophisticated and worldly and unique, and he’s been living in Gatlin as long as the town folks who loathe him. He’s also a wonderfully loyal father figure to Lena. We love how he loves her.

  4. Bookalicio.us:I like the different kinds of paranormal in the book and the way you handled the naming of things and persons with even a little Southern Voodoo thrown in for charm. How did you mesh so many different supernatural elements into one piece without making it over the top?

    Margie: We named our Casters from day one. It was important to us to create our own unique rule set for our own magical universe. We didn’t want to be generic, and we wanted to give our readers a kind of magic that was deeply regional, and tied to the Caster County our book lives in.

  5. Bookalicio.us: What is your favorite place to write?

    Kami: In my comfy chair, in complete silence, with a Diet Coke. Extra ice.

    Margie: In the library or in my own comfy chair, also with a Diet Coke and my earphones blasting my mix of the day!

  6. Bookalicio.us: Pen and paper? Mac or PC? Why?

    Kami: We’re both Mac girls, though we use more white boards with more complex color-coding that you could possibly imagine.

  7. Bookalicio.us: Beautiful Creatures is a book that made it on my short list of favorites for 2009, it almost didn’t make it on there because I hadn’t heard about the book. Usually I get recommendations from literary blogs, and Amazon is always throwing stuff to me I devour. It is kind of hard for me to miss a young adult novel, and I am so glad I didn’t miss this one. How hard has it been marketing a YA book in a sea of others? Teens are statistically
    reading more now and there is so much to choose from. Publishers expect you to be able to market yourself effectively from the beginning now as well.

    Margie: Little, Brown has been incredibly supportive of our book from day one. Our editors, Jen Hunt and Julie Scheina, have always made us feel like a priority, and our publicist Jessica Kaufman is amazing. And the day Amazon picked us for their Top Ten of 2009 and their number one Teen Pick, we were thrown into a bit more of the spotlight than we had ever anticipated. The Warner Brothers movie announcement hitting the day before our book came out was another spotlight, and things just sort of kept rolling from there.

  8. Bookalicio.us: How do you feel about book trailers? Have you ever watched one that made you want to buy a book?

    Kami: We love good book trailers. Vania Stoyanova, the photographer who made one of our BC trailers, is so talented that she makes you want to buy any title she makes a trailer for. That’s why we were so happy she made one for us! You can watch her trailer on the homepage of our site, under the reviews. www.BeautifulCreaturestheBook.com

  9. Bookalicio.us: What has been the best part of reader reaction for you?

    Margie: It’s amazing to hear people talking about the characters, the town, the story – all of these things that only existed in our heads for so long. We also love love love our librarian readers, so the Morris Debut Award nomination from the YALSA was a special kind of “reader reaction” that we will never forget!

  10. Bookalicio.us: Are you going to be a book tour? Release dates in other countries or movie deals (really it should be a movie)?

    Kami: Beautiful Creatures is being published in 25 countries, which is really wonderful. We are going to be on our Southern US book tour from January 18th until the 29th, and then on a more limited northern states book tour from February 20th until the 27th. The movie is going forward in development at Warner Brothers, and we couldn’t be happier about that. For more information on all of the above, be sure to check back at www.BeautifulCreaturestheBook.com – we will be updating the site the whole time we are touring, so you can see the latest BC happenings!

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Review: Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia

The towns are so boring and you can only dream of getting out. Ethan marked his days down until she showed up in town. Long black hair, weird slightly gothic style. She completely knocked the wind out of our Ethan and in a good way. Over time we learn more about the girl. Her name is Lena, she lives with Macon Ravenwood the town shut in. Was Lena crazy too?
Seriously strange things start to happen to Ethan, he is dreaming about Lena in a way that seems so real he even awakes with dirt and grime in his bed. Songs start showing up on his iPod with varying lyrics and messages. When he learns the truth about Lena and her family he realizes he has to race against time and break every southern social rule in order to save Lena from her fate.
The character development in this book is amazing. From Ethan, to Lena, Macon to Amma, Link to Ridley. I was laughing out loud, visibly annoyed with some, and smirking at the sarcasm. This book was short listed here on Bookalicio.us as one of my favorite reads in 2009 and short listed way more important places like you know Amazon! Absolutely this volume deserves its best selling status!
A movie is in development, I cannot wait to hear more news on that.
If you haven’t read Beautiful Creatures you need to. If you have let me know what you thought or share your star rating below. If you are like me in mentality and think it has been hyped too much to possibly be good. Then you are wrong. Pick it up, read it, and if I am wrong I will give you a cookie. Not any generic cookie, the good ones. Milano’s from Pepperidge Farm.
I was also lucky enough to conduct an interview with our lovely authors. Check it out: Interview with Beautiful Creatures Authors.

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