Posts Tagged ‘books’
Super Pop Blog Tour: the Top Ten YA Must-Knows
- Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:30
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As inspired by Daniel Harmon’s book Super Pop! Pop Culture Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make It Through the Holidays, here is my Top Ten things you need to know if you’re interested in Young Adult Fiction:
10. Gossip Girl
Gossip Girl is an important landmark for YA: it was the first book series that ran simultaneously as a TV show. While the show has had a rocky life, and is heavily criticized by fans as not being true to the books, it is still very popular. The series also represents a niche market in YA: the “mean girl” social drama book. While Gossip Girl certainly wasn’t the first, it is one of the more successful series in the category.
Why pay attention?: Gossip Girl was a stepping stone for many other similar series, particularly the books/shows on ABC Family including The Lying Game and Pretty Little Liars.
9. The Vampire Diaries
Another book series turned TV show, The Vampire Diaries is intriguing because the books were originally published in the 1990s, well before the YA “Golden Age” began with Twilight, and were very popular at the time. However, they didn’t see blockbuster status and faded into relative obscurity until the 2005 publication of Twilight, when vampires came into the spotlight once again. The books were repackaged and published with Twilight-esque covers, gaining ground quickly in the vampire-happy teen market. When CW picked up the series for a TV show in 2009, the books became even more popular, and the combination of the two has created a very stable series.
Why pay attention?: The Vampire Diaries is another example of popular vampire fiction, but it differs from Twilight with the inclusion of magic, witches, and all other kinds of mystical paranormal. Also, the book series and TV show center heavily around high school drama and a changing array of relationships, offering a more diverse cast of characters and scenarios.
8. Ender’s Game
A YA hit from the 80s, Ender’s Game is one of the few popular YA titles that has made it’s way into school classrooms, which on its own makes this title worthy of note. Often included in curriculum because of its themes of identity, war, and coming of age, Ender’s Game is also a hallmark of science fiction for teens as well as adults. Though Orson Scott Card has gone a little Mormon-crazy with his more recent books, Ender’s Game is a well-written and inspiring tale of a young boy’s adventure through futuristic Battle School. It has enough action and adventure to please any reader, and enough philosophy and soul-searching to make it something more than the average space thriller.
Why pay attention?: Over the nearly thirty years since it’s publication Ender’s Game has remained a solid bestseller and popular YA title. With the new movie based on the book coming out this summer, this is definitely a title to know.
7. Kristin Cashore
Fantasy has always been a popular genre for children, but Kristin Cashore brought grown-up fantasy into the new YA market in 2008 with her first book Graceling. Presenting real characters dealing with the same internal conflicts as teens today, Cashore gave YA something it desperately needed: a genre book with a good heroine. Starkly different from Twilight’s Bella, Graceling’s Katsa is strong and confident, with an actual personality. Graceling gives it heroine a villain to fight, a journey to overcome, and a damn good love interest. Even the sex in Graceling is better than that in Twilight, simply because the characters are equals and one isn’t afraid of killing the other during the act.
Why pay attention?: Cashore’s books are the series to know when it comes to YA fantasy. She set the bar for the series to come after her, and her debut book, Graceling, is still incredibly popular.
6. Harry Potter
You might ask yourself why I don’t put Harry Potter higher up on this list, and the reason is because most kids read these books as elementary or middle schoolers. By the time they get to reading YA titles, Harry Potter is behind them. However, it is obviously still important as it is arguably the most popular children’s series ever, and it is the reason that so many teens are into reading.
Why pay attention?: Because it’s Harry Potter, duh.
5. Sarah Dessen
Sarah Dessen is the new YA Queen of Romance. Her 11 books (most recently The Moon and More) are wildly popular for their romance and their realism. Most teens who like reading romance are familiar with her, and often use her as a benchmark for other series. Her books are known for dealing with heavy, real-life issues, particularly death.
Why pay attention?: Dessen is one of the few YA authors writing romance that teens will know by name. If you know Dessen, then you will have their trust.
4. David Levithan
David Levithan represents a very important niche in the YA market: LGBTQ fiction. While Levithan certainly isn’t the only author writing about LGBTQ characters, he is one of the better known, especially because of his cooperative titles with other popular YA authors (e.g., Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist with Rachel Cohn). His philosophy of writing “gay-topias” and presenting gay teens with books that give a glimpse into a world where things are better has made him influential and popular. Levithan is also an editor director for Scholastic.
Why pay attention?: Levithan’s books are extremely popular and have helped move LGBTQ fiction into the spotlight for teens.
3. The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is Twilight’s twin sister. Trade in the sparkly vampires for teen on teen killing; trade in overwhelming romance for gritty identity searching. Where Twilight taps into the want for romance and the exotic, The Hunger Games taps into our fears for our future. With climate change, economic depression, and war, the future isn’t a happy certain place for teens, and dystopian books like The Hunger Games are the answer to coping with that uncertainty. Also, The Hunger Games offers a radically different kind of hero than Twilight. Some would call Katniss almost sociopathic, but she is very engaging. Whiel there is enough romance in the series to keep the die hard sweethearts interested, Katniss’ story is about self discovery and survival in a hostile world.
Why pay attention?: The Hunger Games popularized the dystopia once again, and it is a blockbuster series. While there are arguably better written dystopian series out now, The Hunger Games is the measuring stick that they are all held up to.
While sales of Twilight are nothing like they once were, this book still sells way more than you would think. It also did something for YA that the genre desperately needed: it gave it readers. Calling upon the ever popular figure of the vampire (most notably made “teen” by Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Stephenie Meyer offered teen girls a heart-stopping romance with a more-than-beautiful heartthrob and plenty of steamy swooning and thrilling danger to make any girl weak at the knees. Then she followed it up with three more books, all just as steamy and thrilling (plus, they even have sex in the last book, lots and lots of sex). Then the movie rights were purchased and what was already a teen institution exploded once again. And don’t think you can breathe now that Breaking Dawn: Part 2 is out on DVD: Summit is talking about producing more movies set in the world.
Why pay attention?: Twilight represents two extremely popular markets in books: YA and Paranormal Romance. Though we are seeing a drop in “vampire stories”, the demand for paranormal romance is unlikely to go away. If you can understand why a teenage girl liked Twilight you are well on your way to understanding what else she might want to read. This goes for boys too.
1. John Green
Right now, this one man is arguably the King of Young Adult. His books are bestselling and actually well-written. While all deal with romance, Green’s books aren’t “girly”, and present real, smart, and emotionally complicated characters that teens (and really people of all ages) can identify with. On top of his reputation as a fantastic writer, Green is also part of the Vlog Brothers (a duo with his brother Hank Green) who post funny and informative videos about, well, everything. Their most notable achievement is their “Nerd Fighters” movement, which encourages teens to “remember to be awesome.” This is tied into their annual charity event, “Project for Awesome”, which they host on their YouTube channel.
Why pay attention?: John Green’s books are some of the best you will find in YA fiction, and they are a sure fire way to connect with both avid and reluctant readers. Despite the fact that he’s a middle-aged dad with funky hair, Green knows the teenage heart and soul.
Wednesday Review: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood
- Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:30
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Star Cursed brings us back to the New England world of witches, opression, and prophesy with a grand new tale of the Cahill sisters. Full of romance, intrigue, and betrayal, Star Cursed was a thrilling sequel that ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you screaming for more.
Cate has given up all her hopes in order to save her sisters and the man she loves. Now a member of the Sisterhood–a secret group of witches masquerading as an order of nuns–she faces the immense burden of being “the prophesied one,” because an oracle years before foresaw that one of three sisters, one gifted with mind-magic, would lead the realm out of the tyranny of the Brotherhood and into a new golden era of magic. But when a new prophesy is made by the current oracle–Brenna–that one of the sisters will also be gifted with the Sight, Cate comes to question her role in everything. With her sisters arriving at the convent as well, and Finn’s arrival in New London, Cate is surrounded by choices, by friends and enemies, and must choose whether to lead or follow.
Once again Cate was a strong and charismatic heroine to follow. Though at first bogged down by her bruised heart, she flourishes when put to the test. Finn’s return and his acceptance of her apology of course help buoy her spirits, but as before she finds her own strength in the course of her challenges. And as in Born Wicked, many of Cate’s decisions rest on who she will trust. Will it be Cora, the leader of the Sisterhood prone to waiting instead of action, or Inez, the second-in-command who would welcome war? Will it be little Tess almost a woman of her own now, or headstrong Maura with grand plans of her own? Will it be Finn the booklover who captured her heart, or steady and loyal Paul?
Though the events of Star Cursed take place over a much smaller timeline–only a month at most–they contain as much drama and action as Born Wicked. Meeting in secret during the night, Cate and Finn find their romance intensifying, fueled only by the fact that they cannot be together in the light of day. From stolen kisses in the moonlit greenhouse, to fevered embraces in dark corners, these two heat up the pages. Meanwhile, tensions between the Brotherhood and the people are growing to a breaking point. When the Brothers crack down harder on women’s rights, fueled by the fear of women’s growing rights in Europe, tensions break out into riots and violence. Cate and the other girls realize that if the Sisterhood doesn’t act soon, innocent lives will be lost. But what path will they choose to take, and will their own actions cause lives to be lost?
Filled with stunning revelations and heart-wrenching turns, Star Cursed was an excellent sequel. And with its cliffhanger ending it’s sure to grip you nice and tight before the plunge into book three.
Blog Tour Stop: Super Pop! by Daniel Harmon
- Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:15
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Super Pop! Pop Culture Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make It Through the Holidays
by Daniel Harmon
If you avoid the “nonfiction” section of the young adult books at your library, then you need to check out this reference guide to all things pop culture for the bored teen. Full of all sorts of odd, quirky, hilarious, and quite useful lists, Super Pop! is a fun read in the car or on a hot summer day. Here’s a bit more about the book:
As David Letterman demonstrates on the Late Show, top ten lists are really funny. And we know lists are a great way to get organized, get things done, and streamline life’s many tasks. But now, pop culture expert Daniel Harmon takes a totally new approach to list making in his new book Super Pop! and organizes 500 movies, songs, video games, and books into top ten lists that not only have the power to entertain, but also to help create a new and better you!
If you’re wondering who Daniel Harmon is and what right/known-how he has to make such a book, read on:
Pop Culture connoisseur Daniel Harmon is a longtime editor of pop culture projects for a variety of publishers. A former staff writer at Brokelyn.com, Daniel is currently the editorial director of Zest Books, as well as a provider of unsolicited feedback on a wide variety of topics. Also the author of “Oh, Hi Humanity”—an essay about Tommy Wiseau’s film The Room, published in the Cult Pop Culture anthology, Daniel loves free podcasts, midnight movies, and other things that are both cheap and fine.
My favorite list out of the book is: “Drink the Kool-Aid: Touchstones for Quirky, Like-Minded People”, which includes such awesome cult phenomes as:
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Star Trek
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The Sound of Music
- and Doctor Who
You’ll have to grab the book to find out why these made the top 10–and it’s definitely worth it. Super Pop! is hours of fun and a great reference to have on hand.
Check out my next post, featuring my very own top ten list: The Top Ten YA Must-Knows. And don’t forget to check in with today’s other blog tour stops: Book Nerds Across America and Royal Reviews; tomorrow Super Pop! will be visiting Masala Reader and Bella’s Bookshelf.
Book of the Day: Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
- Published on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:00
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When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .
Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.
He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.
He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.
Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.
Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.
Divergent Movie News: More Four! New e-shorts from Veronica Roth
- Published on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 22:17
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Guess what?! Veronica Roth has just announced the imminent arrival of four new stories about, well, Four. They’ll be rolling out as e-shorts this fall and winter, filling in crucial pieces of the story from Tobias “Four” Eaton’s perspective.
More Four! Fans of the Divergent series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by “The Transfer,” the first of four new short stories told from Four’s perspective. Each brief story explores the world of the Divergent series through the eyes of the mysterious but charismatic Tobias Eaton, revealing previously unknown facets of his personality, backstory, and relationships.
Here are the release dates:
- “The Transfer” – Sept. 24, 2013
- “The Initiate” – Dec. 17, 2013
- “The Son” – Jan. 21, 2014
- “The Traitor” – Feb. 14, 2014
They’ll also be released in a short story collection format on Feb. 11, 2014.