Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ah summer. School is out, the sun is bright, and everyone is hanging poolside. Can't you just smell those hot dogs and burgers on the grill? And feel the sunscreen sticky on your skin?

Okay, summertime can be wonderful and idyllic, but if you're like us, then there's probably a healthy dose of chaos mixed in there too. Road trips, friends and family in town for a visit, selling your house and moving to a new country...

(Oh, maybe that last one only applies to Sarah. :P)

Since things are a bit hectic here at We Heart YA headquarters, we're going to skip the discussion post this week and have a little fun. A little book party, to be specific, and you guys are all invited!

To win one of these great prize packs, just leave a comment and let us know how your summer is going. (Also let us know if you are interested in winning A, B, or either one.) It's that simple! Winner will be announced at the beginning of August.

Prize Pack A:

Mila 2.0 (MILA 2.0, #1) Severed Heads, Broken Hearts The Kissing Booth

MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
SEVERED HEADS, BROKEN HEARTS by Robyn Schneider
THE KISSING BOOTH by Beth Reekles

Prize Pack B:

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1) The Beginning of Everything Never Let You Go

THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken
THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING by Robyn Schneider
NEVER LET YOU GO by Emma Carlson Berne

(The only catch is that you must have a US mailing address. Sorry to all our lovely international friends!)

All right, now let's all get back to driving packing reading on the beach. ;D
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

Joss Whedon (y'all know who that is, right? Buffy, Firefly, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Avengers?) recently gave a brilliant commencement speech at Wesleyan, and in it he talked about embracing the contradictions within ourselves.

(Bold emphasis added by me.)
You have, which is a rare thing, the ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself. To at least give it the floor. Because it is the key, not only to consciousness, but to real growth.

To accept duality is to earn identity, and identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just “who you are,” it is a process that you must be active in.

And it’s not parroting your parents or even the thoughts of your learned teachers, it is, now more than ever, about understanding yourself so you can become yourself.

To me, that is so much of what Young Adult literature is about. The protagonists are not just learning who they are, but deciding it. Making their own identity. Shaping themselves out of the clay that they've been given.

I think that's why people of all ages like to read YA lit. Because we're all doing that too. Every day, we're figuring out who we are, and how to become who we want to be.

So here's my/Joss Whedon's advice: Make your shape complex. Don't be a cube, don't be a sphere, don't be a pyramid. Give yourself curves and angles, nooks and crannies, breadth and depth. Don't worry about whether it's good or bad, pretty or ugly, normal or weird. Just embrace the unique combinations that you come up with.

Writers, this goes for your characters, too!

Good, or bad. Black, or white. Blue, or red.

We’re not that. We’re more interesting than that. The way that we go into the world understanding is to have these contradictions in ourselves and to see them in other people and not judge them for it. To know that—in a world where debate has kind of fallen away and given away to shouting and bullying—the best thing is not just the idea of honest debate, the best thing is losing a debate. Because it means you’ve learned something and you’ve changed your position.

That's what story and plot are all about. You put a character into a situation, and in order to get through that situation, they have to face themselves, question themselves, accept themselves. They have to stand strong when they're right, and back down when they're wrong. They have to grow and change.

A few examples of YA protagonists who cannot be easily categorized as "good" or "bad":

Mackenzie in THE ARCHIVED - She became a Keeper at a very young age, "shelving" dead spirits for the greater good. She considers her responsibility noble and important, and she prides herself in doing her job well. But she also breaks rules, and keeps secrets, and betrays people who she loves.

Quintana in the Lumatere Chronicles - She is frigid and unmannered. She is vicious and wild. She is sensitive and afraid. Due to the traumatic nature of her childhood, Quintana fractured into several distinct personalities, and over the course of FROI OF THE EXILES and QUINTANA OF CHARYN, she has to learn to accept them all. (More importantly, so do the people around her.)

Alina in SHADOW AND BONE - Initially a plain and unskilled orphan, Alina discovers that she has incredible supernatural abilities, which could help save her country. And yet, becoming powerful doesn't erase her past. Nor does it necessarily determine her future. How Alina chooses to wield her new powers will be influenced by the person she was, and will have a huge impact on the person she turns into.

The Archived (The Archived, #1) Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles, #3) Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

The complexity of these heroines is what makes them interesting. It's what makes us eager to read 300+ pages about them. It's what makes fiction seem real.

The same goes for antagonists too! (And all characters, really.) Snape in HARRY POTTER, the Darkling in SHADOW AND BONE, the White Wolf in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE  -- these guys are not the evil cackling villains of our childhood cartoons, with no redeeming qualities, no reason to root for them. They are just as deep and multi-faceted as our heroes, and that's what makes them so fantastic to read about.

So in closing, I say again, embrace your contradictions, allow for your complexities.

Don’t just be yourself, be all of your selves. 

 What other characters (heroes, villains, or sidekicks!) do you think embody this idea? Who have you found yourself loving, then hating, then loving, then hating, then...?
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013


From Amazon: Seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd has big plans for her summer without parents. She intends to devote herself to her music and win the Battle of the Bands with her bandmate and best friend, Lukas. But a phone call from a stranger shatters Kiri’s plans. He says he has her sister Suki’s stuff—her sister Suki, who died five years ago. This call throws Kiri into a spiral of chaos that opens old wounds and new mysteries...


As one might guess, the weheartya gals tend to share books. So we often end up reading the same titles and, of course, discussing them. While we sometimes ooh and ahh over the same novels and authors (hello, Laini Taylor and Melina Marchetta), there are still plenty of times that we disagree.

So it makes us wonder… what is that magic ingredient that compels a reader to curl up on her bed hugging a book and smiling to the moon because she loved it that much? 

I believe the magic is different for each person. For me, it’s based on voice and emotion. Give me a protagonist I can root for and put her in situations that make me cry or laugh, and I’m a happy camper. Pepper in some lyrical writing, and that's a masterpiece.  

On a camping trip a couple of weeks ago, I read a book just like that. It was the arc of WILD AWAKE by Hilary T. Smith. I cracked the spine without knowing much about the book at all. But it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Kiri Byrd and her whimsy, and get completely sucked into her summer of freedom, mystery, and self-discovery. 

Kiri is an endearing, funny, and relatable main character who is determined to uncover the truth about her beloved sister's death. Her adventures consist of meetings with dubious characters in rickety buildings, late-night bicycle rides, an unconventional boy whom she refers to as her "love-bison," and manic piano sessions that left me feeling dizzy. And when Kiri's quest led her into dark, dangerous and unhealthy situations, I felt nervous and worried for her just as if she were a close friend. 

For me, this novel provided the perfect blend of internal growth, impulsive action, and gorgeous writing. The final scenes were completely satisfying, and when I finished reading, I was giddy with book-love for WILD AWAKE. And yeah, that was me, hugging it :) 

Has anyone read WILD AWAKE yet? What books have you hugged lately?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day to our fellow yanks, and happy Thursday to everyone else in the world.

The winner of our Sarah Dessen giveaway is Morgan from deservedly.wordpress.com. Please email us at weheartya (at) gmail (dot) com with your postal address. We'll send you a signed copy of The Moon and More.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sneaking this one in under the wire... It's still Tuesday, but you've got a new DJ on the 1's and 2's. Sarah's busy moving to England (maybe) so I'm filling in with the tweet-ness this week. Hope you don't mind! I'll try to keep things fun on this warm summer night.

Quick reminder: You've got one more day to enter our giveaway for Sarah Dessen's THE MOON AND MORE. Just click over to our interview post with her and leave a comment. We'll announce the winner later this week!

First and foremost, if you haven't seen the #YABooksWithALetterMissing tweets, YOU MUST. Epic Reads posted a great roundup, and we've got a few more funnies to share.


Btw, if you missed ALA or Leaky Con this week, you weren't the only one...


US TOO!


If you're looking for a good read, well look no further!


And here's some spare change for your writing-tip jar.


Oh hey, we found a few cents under the couch for your life-tip jar too!


Last but not least, we're always glad to see a sense of wonder.

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Stephanie, Ingrid, Sarah & Kristan — we read, write, discuss and celebrate Young Adult lit.


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on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
Transparent
Froi of the Exiles
Days of Blood & Starlight
Every Day
Jellicoe Road
Finnikin of the Rock
Guitar Notes
The Dead-Tossed Waves
The Crown of Embers
New House 5: How A Dorm Becomes A Home
Bitterblue
The Fault in Our Stars
Pretties


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