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  • Corrina Lawson 4:00 pm on 2018/02/15 Permalink
    Tags: anne rivers siddons, , cheryl zach, emily mckay, fifteen, heartbreak hotel, jean and johnny, , , , king of ithaka, lurlene mcdaniel, , now i lay me down to sleep, , sister of the bride, the dark between, the farm, the fault in our stars, , the iron king, the problem with forever, , the witch of blackbird pond, tracy barrett, waiting for amanda   

    The Great RITA Read: Young Adult Romace 

    Young Adult Romance is a unique category in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award.

    All the other categories are defined by their genre or length, but the YA category is defined by its intended audience. That means stories set in any genre can—and have—won the Young Adult Romance RITA Award. Those genres include contemporary, historicals, suspense, urban fantasy, and dystopian fantasy.

    It also means that interest in young adult romance has waxed and waned since the YA award was created in 1983. Cheryl Zach, who won the award three times, was the most prominent early YA author in the 1980s and 1990s, winning in 1985, 1986 and 1996.

    But then there was a long gap. RWA officials said that the YA Romance RITA award was always available for entry, but lack of entries lead to no awards being given between 1997-2007.

    This revitalization is likely due to a book that never won the award at all: Adios To My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer. This novel, about a teenage girl who enters a reality show music competition, won the Contemporary Single Title Romance RITA in 2007. Ferrer had originally entered her book in YA but that category didn’t have enough entries, so it was moved to contemporary romance, where it unexpectedly was the victor. In her emotional acceptance speech, Ferrer urged other YA writers to write their stories and enter their books.

    And since 2008, YA Romance RITA Award winners have included dystopian and urban fantasy coming-of-age stories, such as the The Iron King by Julie Kagawa, and The Farm by Emily McKay, along with the contemporary tales, such as the latest winner, 2017’s The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

    But whatever the genre or the year of publication, there have been two constants for the RITA Award winner in YA romance:

    First, they’re the heroine’s story. Not one of the young adult romances I found still available featured the hero’s story first. They all begin with the heroine. The recent YA RITA Award winners feature first-person narration from the heroine’s point of view. Among the earlier winners, it’s generally a third-person narration that always includes the heroine’s point of view.

    Second, the young adult romances are intensely emotional tales.

    I discovered some delightful stories but also some shockers. We modern readers sometimes believe we’ve invented something new, but it might surprise you to learn that the winner in 1992 was Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep by Lurlene McDaniel, and it featured two young cancer patients falling in love. (Yes, many years before John Green delved into similar territory with The Fault In Our Stars.)

    And reading Cheryl Zach’s books showed me that these early stories set the standard for quality and emotional involvement. Zach’s award winners—The Frog Princess (1985), Waiting for Amanda (1986), and Runaway (1996)—put her in the RWA Hall of Fame in 1996. She’s one of the few (if not the only) romance writer to receive the three different versions of the Award now known as the RITA: a plaque (1985), a large wooden “book” with a round medallion in its center (1986), and the now-traditional RITA statue in 1996.

    Zach was the third member of that Hall of Fame, preceded only by Nora Roberts and LaVryle Spencer. It’s a shame that these three of Zach’s books are out of print, because while some details of the world might seem dated, their quality is unmistakable. But Zach also writes historical novels under her own name and as Nicole Byrd, and many of those later Zach and Byrd books are available for sale.

    Waiting for Amanda, my favorite of Zach’s three winners, is the story of a teenage girl who is left bereft by the death of her mother, and shipped off with her younger sister to a distant relative in a small town. It’s clear the heroine is traumatized and has what we’d now call PTSD due to grief and past abuse from the father who abandoned them. She buries her grief by keeping busy, and there’s much that needs doing, including cleaning up the hoarding mess created by her new guardian, her great-aunt, and watching over her sister, who’s expressing her own grief by acting out in various ways. Amanda’s story would resonate today, even with the few anachronisms–no cell phones, and the inability to, well, locate people who have left town.

    I asked Zach what led her to writing young adult stories.

    “I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil, wrote for the school paper in high school and college, in was published book reviews in the local city paper. After college, I started trying to publish books, slowed by having children—would still have the children!—finally succeeded. I got the idea for Frog Princess from an incident that happened while I was still teaching at high school—what would happen if someone was elected class president as a prank? The plot for Waiting for Amanda came to me as I was finishing the first book.

    Runaway, the last award winner, came straight out of a newspaper story in back pages…I wasn’t sure I wanted to write it as it seemed pretty sad, but it wouldn’t leave me. I happened to speak to an editor shortly afterward, mentioned the story idea, and she immediately wanted the book. Something happened then that I had heard about but not experienced before: the characters took over and would not do what I had planned…I had to call my editor and tell her the book was going to end differently than I had expected. But it turned out to be one of my strongest books, I think, and certainly one of my favorites.”

    She said that YA books have seen an evolution over the years.

    “Early on, I well remember editors taking out lines or passages or nixing topics I was not allowed to write about. Runaway was a step forward in what I was free to cover. Now about anything goes. I do agree with the late great Madeleine L’Engle that young readers deserve some hope at the end of the book (as opposed to adult readers). She also said the best writing was being done for young readers!”

    Adios To My Old Life was somewhat of a departure for Caridad Ferrer, who has also written When The Stars Go Blue and Between Here and Gone as Barbara Ferrer.

    “Since YA had been such an unexpected detour in terms of my writing, it’s not a world I was ever very in touch with. What influences I did have, were more rooted in the books I’d read growing up. Judy Blume, for example, and oddly, some of the books that were quote/unquote “children’s” books when they were first published, but had a lot of YA influence to them, like Beverly Cleary’s Sister of the Bride and Jean and Johnnyand Fifteen—books that might seem dated because of when they were written, but the underlying story structure is sound and timeless.

    “I also referred to a lot of the coming of age stories I’d read as a kid and teenager, like Fox Running and Anne Rivers Siddons’ Heartbreak Hotel and The Witch of Blackbird Pond—all which fall in line with my preference for writing older teen characters (as all three of my YA novels and the two novellas showcased).”

    The last three winners of the YA RITA have all been contemporary stories, which made me wonder if that’s a new trend. I asked Ferrer about where they saw the Young Adult RITA category going in the future.

    “I honestly could not tell you,” Ferrer said. “What I can tell from looking at the winners in the ten years since I won my RITA (albeit in a different category), is that there’s been something of a shift from paranormal/dystopian skewed YA toward more realistic, contemporary YA. I can’t help but wonder if Adiós would have even won in 2007, had there been a YA category that year, and how my later YA novels, which were more of the realistic contemporary (and weren’t as well received) would do if they were published now. Beyond that, it’s going to be interesting to see which way the pendulum swings in the next decade.”

    Zach says she still reads young adult books and enjoys young adult books and stories.

    “Recent books I’ve enjoyed include Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys quartet, Sonia Gensler’s The Dark Between, and Tracy Barrett’s historical fiction such as King of Ithaka.”

    As for advice for anyone who wants to write young adult stories, romance or not, and perhaps become the future of young adult romance?

    “Anyone who wants to write should read lots of books and write, write, write and write some more,” Zach said.

    The post The Great RITA Read: Young Adult Romace appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Heidi Fiedler 3:00 pm on 2015/04/30 Permalink
    Tags: a penny saved, frugality, , , the fault in our stars, the frugal gentleman   

    10 Ways to Save More Money to Buy More Books 

    There are an alarming number of things that can stand between a reader and her books. Children, work, social decency…they’re all legitimate concerns. But if the biggest obstacle in your path to literary decadence is money, there’s no excuse. If you’ve already tried a Pay Me to Read Kickstarter campaign and failed, fear not! We’ve got you covered. Here are ten ways to pinch those pennies so you can treat yourself to more books!

    1. Craft yourself one of these ultra-visual piggybanks and label it Mo’ Bucks for Mo’ Books. At the end of every day, add your loose change.

    2. Skip the sky-high prices at the Whole Foods salad bar and start bringing your own yummy lunch to work. (Then sneak out to a park to eat it so you can read in peace).

    3. Set up an auto deposit to move $20 from your Boring But Necessary bank account into your Books and More Books fund each month.

    4. Give up that costly gym membership and get hardcore literary with your workouts. Use heavy books as weights (work up to the OED), and scatter piles for circuit training.

    5. Amortize the cost across your budget. You’re going to decorate with your books, carve them out to make top-secret (super sneaky and super cheap) hiding spots, and upcycle them into cute clutches. Plus, books are your friends, right? It would be expensive not to have books.

    6. Invest in book plates so you can keep track of your favorites and won’t accidentally buy duplicates. A personal library kit can help you record the ins and outs of loaning books to friends. (You’re on your own for thinking up a friendly way to say “due date.”)

    7. Skip the movie and read the book instead. It’s nearly always better—and often cheaper!

    8. Tally up all the healthy things you do every day, and calculate how much you’ll save in the years to come. Flossing, running, doing yoga, and sleeping eight hours a night? You just bought yourself a deluxe Harry Potter boxed set. Don’t smoke? That counts twice! You saved money by not buying cigarettes, and you saved money on doctor’s visits.

    9. Recycle your cans and bottles. Every coin you hear clinking through the slots is another book on your shelf!

    10. Be frugal and romantic by skipping dinner at the new gastropub and staying home for date night. Light the candles, make a pizza from scratch, share a bottle of wine, and read poetry to each other in the backyard. You won’t regret it.

    What’s your favorite way to scrimp in the name of book love?

  • Melissa Albert 3:43 pm on 2015/04/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , teen fiction, the fault in our stars,   

    Before Seeing Paper Towns, Catch Up on Your John Green 

    Last summer, the adaptation of John Green’s tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars became a historic hit. This July, a second John Green book will make the jump to the big screen. Paper Towns is a love story, a road trip movie, and a cautionary tale. Like all of Green’s books, it’s the perfect blend of funny and sad, specific and universal, with characters that are relatable, articulate, and weird in all the right ways. After obsessing over the killer trailer, we’re more excited than ever to see this adaptation on July 24. Before you join us, catch up on the John Green canon.

    Paper Towns
    When dreamy girl-next-door Margo Roth Spiegelman shows up at his bedroom window late one night, Quentin’s sure everything’s about to change. The two embark on a moonlit revenge mission on Margo’s enemies before sneaking back into their bedrooms after dawn. Quentin’s ecstatic…until Margo doesn’t show up for school. After her parents report her missing, he becomes convinced she’s left a trail of clues leading to her whereabouts, and that she might be in danger. Armed only with a hunch, he and his friends race across the country to find Margo, never considering the fact that she may not want to be found. This is a must-read (or a must-reread) before the book hits the big screen this June.

    Looking for Alaska (B&N Exclusive Collector’s Edition)
    When Miles Halter leaves his “minor life” behind to attend boarding school in Alabama, it’s with the intention of seeking, in the famous last words of poet François Rabelais, “the Great Perhaps.” What he finds is Alaska Young. She’s funny, beautiful, smart. She’s also damaged, elusive, and prone to self-destruction. On his way to falling in love with Alaska, Miles comes under the benign sway of his hardheaded roommate, the Colonel; takes part in a prank war between the Colonel’s gang and the school’s arrogant rich kid faction; and collects more famous last words to live by. The book is told as a countdown to an unknown event, ratcheting up the tension from page one (“one hundred thirty-six days before”), then counting back upward on the other side of an occurrence that will rock Miles’ world. This exclusive edition includes a letter from and a Q&A with Green, plus new endpaper art.

    An Abundance of Katherines
    Former child prodigy Colin Singleton is always the one getting dumped—and each and every time, it’s by a girl named Katherine. His Katherine obsession (or is it fate?) started at a tender age, but it’s only Katherine #19 who really manages to break his heart. He hits the road with his best friend, Hassan, in an effort to leave all his Katherine troubles behind, and ends up waylaid by a curious tourist trap in the tiny town of Gutshot, Tennessee: the alleged resting place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Colin and Hassan get jobs in Gutshot as collectors of residents’ oral history, and Colin’s Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability is tested by a Gutshot girl named Lindsey, who just might break the Katherine curse.

    The Fault in Our Stars (B&N Exclusive Edition)
    This is the YA juggernaut that launched a thousand public ugly cries, as well as a hit movie. But behind the celebrity casting and best-seller status is the story, a clear-eyed, brimming-hearted romance between two teenagers who’ve been dealt a bad hand by fate. Sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster’s terminal cancer has metastasized to her lungs, leaving her largely homebound between hospital visits and support group meetings. It’s at her support group that she meets charming, hyper-articulate Augustus Waters, whose cancer is in remission after the amputation of his leg below the knee. The two fall for each other the old-fashioned way: by swapping their favorite books. This beginning leads first to love, then to Amsterdam, where they track down the reclusive author of Hazel’s favorite novel, determined to find out what happens after its abrupt final page. Every twist in their love story is colored by illness and the fact that they can’t have forever—but what Green does with the book’s “little infinity” will astound you. This edition features exclusive endpaper art and redesigned jacket, plus a Q&A with the author.

    John Green Boxed Set
    For the John Green completist, this boxed set combines his four solo titles, from debut Looking for Alaska to most recent bestseller The Fault in Our Stars. We recommend pairing this gift with a box of Kleenex, a pillow to hug, and a journal, because reading all Green’s books in one go might cause an excess of feels.

    Shop all teen books >
  • Kathryn Williams 4:30 pm on 2014/12/29 Permalink
    Tags: candide, , , , , the fault in our stars, the luminaries, ,   

    Literary Astrology: Sagittarius 

    SagitarriusWe come full circle on the Literary Zodiac this month with Sagittarius. Represented by the archer, more specifically a mythical half-horse humanoid archer, Sagittarians (November 22–December 21) are generally good-natured, optimistic, and generous, despite the fact that they’re always given birthday-slash-holiday gifts. They’re known to be philosophical and honest to the point of bluntness. Loving freedom and prone to restlessness, they are travelers who can be both careless and irresponsible and, sometimes, superficial. Sounds a little to a lot like these five literary characters.

    Leopold Bloom (Ulysses, by James Joyce)
    Like his Homeric inspiration, Leopold Bloom, Joyce’s everyman Odysseus, is a wanderer. Ulysses follows Bloom’s movements around the city of Dublin one June Day in 1904. Bloom has a robust appetite and curiosity about the world, even if his philosophizing is a bit bougie. A lover, not a fighter, he is an exceedingly good-natured man, allowing not even a cheating wife or an anti-Semitic slur to get him down—although we have to wonder if this has more to do with a tendency toward the superficial than some inborn equanimity. In his extreme Sagittarian, shall we say, openness, he tends to reveal a little too much about (and of) himself.

    Pangloss (Candide, by Voltaire)
    Voltaire’s naive protagonist could be Sagittarian, but it’s his mentor, Pangloss, who delivers the very definition of optimistic philosophy: the belief that ours is “the best of all possible worlds.” Pangloss clings to this positivity through syphilis, a shipwreck, an earthquake, his own hanging, and a chain gang. And nothing is quite as irresponsible as watching your friend drown because that’s what the bay was made for.

    Tom Sawyer (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain)
    Unlike his lower-class friend, Tom Sawyer has been raised in a comfortable, middle-class home, where all he wants for is adventure, which he will get by hook or by crook. What else could he know but optimism? On the negative side, Tom takes his privilege for granted, resulting in pretty careless, if not downright cruel, treatment of those around him (Aunt Polly, Aunt Sally, Becky, and most notably Jim).

    Thomas Balfour (The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton)
    The Zodiac is a central motif of Catton’s Man Booker Prize–winning novel, where astrological signs characterize twelve principal characters. Thomas Balfour’s sign is Sagittarius, and Catton does a faithful job in sketching him as an Archer. Once a “restless boy,” Balfour is now a shipping agent and has come to this corner of New Zealand as part of an 1860s gold rush. He has a “relaxed sense of entitlement that comes when a lifelong optimism has been ratified by success” and a “generosity of spirit,” though in comparison to a more cultivated associate, he’s described as “blunt as a doorstop.” Ptolemy would approve.

    Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green)
    Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Unflagging optimism in the face of terminal cancer is sexy, which is why YA readers can’t get enough of Augustus Waters, honorary Sagittarius. While Isaac and Hazel might bitch and moan (for good reason and mostly with a sense of humor), Gus remains unwaveringly upbeat, resolute that he and Hazel will travel to Amsterdam to meet her favorite author. This blind optimism does not produce results as expected, but in the end, Gus’s is a harsh but lovely emotional honesty. At times irresponsible, he does nothing, however, without care.

    Who are your bets for literary Sagittarians?

  • Rebecca Jane Stokes 5:30 pm on 2014/06/27 Permalink
    Tags: book titles, , , , , , , , , , , , , the fault in our stars, ,   

    Honest Book Titles 


    Someone excellent at penning clichés once wrote this: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” I would argue that this person had only a limited understanding of books and the saucy trappings that hold them together; in my opinion, very often all you need to judge a book is its cover. After all, everything you need to know is there! The art tends to hint at the story inside, and the title, well, the title is the key to unlocking the story you’re holding in your hands. At least, it should be. Except that unfortunately, sometimes a title can be vague—or, worse still, just plain deceptive. Think about how much easier it would be if some of the more confusing titles just spelled it all out for us. For your edification, here are 8 books and their “honest” titles:

    1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

    Honest Title: British People Who Confuse Sexual Attraction With Rudeness

    2. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

    Honest Title: Cancer Is The Worst

    3. It, by Stephen King

    Honest Title: The Only Thing Scarier Than a Clown Is a Demon Clown

    4. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

    Honest Title: Trains Are Not Playing Around, You Guys

    5. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

    Honest Title: Women Be Straight Trippin’

    6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson

    Honest Title: Sexual Violence, Snow &  Some Ads For Pricey Electronics

    7. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis

    Honest Title: Four Children and their Imaginations Partake In a Massive Religious Allegory

    8. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

    Honest Title: Bigamy & Time Travel in Scotland

    What other honest book titles should there be?

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