Finding footing, hitting stride

bookheels

Does the world really need another blog full of book reviews? It actually might, but does the world really need a blog where every time I read a book I come here and diligently post what the book was about and what I liked and disliked about it?

I think that answer is a definitive “no.” Especially because my writing here seems to come out all strange and stilted. I love my tone when I write about food – it sounds like me at my best and most fluid. But for some reason I come over here and get all stiff. Perhaps it has something to do with food being a communal thing for me and reading being a very solitary pursuit. I’ve never been in book club, and it’s been ages since I even discussed a book in a classroom. Anyways, let’s pass on the awkward stream-of-consciousness book review for now. Maybe when I loosen up a bit I’ll have some fun perspective to share.

The purpose of this blog is to talk to about young adult books that “old adults” will enjoy. Most of the stuff I’m reading isn’t hot off the presses, so I have the opportunity to introduce people to older stuff they might not have heard about, and ideally what I write about each book will help them decide if it’s the type of book they might enjoy.

I’ve been meeting more and more people these days who are around my age (early 30s) and prefer to read YA books. Books written for a younger audience definitely share certain commonalities – it’s why some of us gravitate to them over other types – but they vary in genre and style almost as much as kids and teens vary themselves. One of my friends loves apocalypse books, manga, and fantasy, but just wouldn’t be interested in all the myriad Gossip Girl-type series being written these days. Another friend wants well-written, genuinely insightful books set in the real world and might enjoy Janes in Love or Breathe My Name, but I wouldn’t expect her to go for the Mortal Instruments series. And another friend likes to relax with books that are more directed at kids or middle-graders, like Tamora Pierce or Gail Carson Levine.

So here in the blog I’m going to try out a review system that focuses on helping you figure out if a book will be a good match – for your tastes or for your mood. And then there are the books that I feel are so great they deserve a try no matter what genre or age-range you usually stick to, and I’ll be sure to point those out as well.

(photo found through flickr creative commons)

2009 Young Adult Book Challenge

J. Kaye’s wonderful Book Blog is home to all sorts of tantalizing reading challenges. I’m intrigued by so many of them, but I thought I would start off easy with her 2009 Young Adult Book Challenge. Participants are challenged to read 12 YA books during the year and post a list of them on our blogs. Since I’ve already read 52 (you can see them all listed in the sidebar), it’s just a question of which 12 to post!

I don’t want to post my 12 favorites, because later this month I’ll be posting a “best of 2009” with my best-loved YA books from the ones I’ve read this year. Instead I’ll just put the twelve most recent. I’ve been using the Children’s Choice Awards teen selections to make my library request list lately, so a bunch of these were CCA winners/shortlisteds from previous years.

1. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
2. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
3. Epic by Conor Kostick
4. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
5. The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
6. Being Nikki by Meg Cabot
7. Small Steps by Louis Sachar
8. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
10. Tehanu by Ursula K. LeGuin
11. Kitty Kitty by Michelle Jaffe
12. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

There are so many J.Kaye Book Blog challenges that I hope to participate in in 2010. Suspense & Thriller (read 12 different sub-genres – how exciting!); Support Your Local Library (read 12, 25, or 50 books from the library – I’ve obviously more than met this one this year, but I don’t have reviews of any of them, so hopefully next year I will be able to list each one with a review!); 1st in Series (read 12 books that are the first in a series – tantalizing but might be tough since a lot of the YA I read is stand-alone); Seconds (read 12 books by authors that you have only read once – might be impossible as I usually devour everything when I find an author I enjoy); Audiobooks (listen to 12 audiobooks – considering I am on disc 6 of 28 discs for Game of Thrones I think there may only be one audiobook in 2010!); Erotica (read 10 erotica – wow, I have no idea even where to find this – does the library carry it? – but it will be fun to check out other people’s lists for ideas); 100 + (read 100 books – I’m not sure I’m going to quite make it this year, rather unusual for me).

Coming soon to an imaginary bookseller near you…

The great children’s literature blog 100 Scope Notes posted a game a few months ago that leads you on a scavenger hunt through the internet to create your own fantasy and YA book covers. I’m a little late to the party, but I had such a great time making them (and they came out so awesome) that I’m posting them here!

I cheated a little, unintentionally. I gathered the info for both covers before I started photoshopping, and then accidentally put the name of my “fantasy author” on my YA cover. I decided the names worked much better reversed, so I switched them.

My YA novel is apparently some kind of dark dystopian or disaster tale. But aren’t they all these days?

YA_Order

I don’t have as much of a feel for my fantasy novel. It is definitely a book written for adults, rather than kids or teens, and I sense it has a feminist or at least woman-centric bent. It’s probably not high fantasy, but rather the type of fantasy that takes place within a slightly altered version of our own world.

FAN_Mistress

UPDATE: To celebrate “Covers Week,” 100 Scope Notes has put up a new game, this one to create a children’s picture book cover. While my previous two covers came together with ease, I had much tougher time with this one. An author name that just doesn’t seem appropriate for a children’s book, a truly saccharine book title, and very, very slim pickings for cover art.

My debut picture book is definitely to be found on the shelf with other radical children’s literature from the 70s, tucked in with an old copy of the UnGame and a well-worn cassette tape of Free to Be, You and Me. It also reminds me somehow of some amazing, dreamily illustrated stories I used to adore when I was a kid, written by Monty Python-er Terry Jones. Those were really good. I should go find them at my mom’s and reread them!

KID_rainbow

I hope you enjoy your imaginary reading of my three debuts!

Wanna make your own picture book cover? Come play along!

CREATE YOUR DEBUT PICTURE BOOK COVER

1 – Go to “The Name Generator” or click http://www.thenamegenerator.com/

Click GENERATE NEW NAME. The name that appears is your author name.

2 – Go to “Picture Book Title Generator” or click http://www.generatorland.com/usergenerator.aspx?id=243

Click CREATE TITLE! This is the title of your picture book.

3 – Go to “FlickrCC” or click http://flickrcc.bluemountains.net/index.php

Type the last word from your title into the search box followed by the word “drawing”. Click FIND. The first suitable image is your cover.

4 – Use Photoshop, Picnik, or similar to put it all together. Gettin’ creative is encouraged.

5 – Post it to your site along with this text.

6 – Leave a link in the comments over at 100 Scope Notes to be added to the cover gallery!.