Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Biggest news this week is that MG author Shannon Messenger got another book deal with Simon/Shuster. This time for YA. We can't wait to read her books, and we're really, really digging the cover of her debut KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES (out October 2nd, 2012).

Here's Shannon tweeting about an author event (see, she's just like us):

Perhaps it's old news, but around this time last week the Prez was addressing the state of our union. And here are our favorite reactions:

What do warlocks sucking on eyeballs, floating mountains, and radioactive spiders have in common? Only possible with the imagination:

Funny, funny:

For as many fluffy tweets, there are these thoughts that thankfully float our way:

REALLY excited about reading this book...

and so is YA Bookshelf. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012
John Green reading/signing in Indianapolis

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know who John Green is. (And if you don't, here's his Wikipedia page.) We here at We Heart YA have a LOT of respect for Mr. Green and all the things he does. Write books, vlog, raise money for charity, win awards, decrease world suck, put on concerts...

Wait a minute. Concerts?

Yes, concerts. Well, sort of concerts. Part concerts, part readings, part puppet shows... It's an odd but wonderful mix, and I had the privilege of watching it live on the internets.

John Green and brother Hank, livestreaming their show from Austin, TX

John and his brother/co-vlogger Hank are on tour, and they're streaming some of their events on YouTube. There are only 3 more events, so keep an eye on John's Twitter feed for details on how to attend/view.

Actually, most of their tour has sold out. Yes that's right, HUNDREDS (in some cases at least a THOUSAND) people paid to see John and Hank be goofy for a couple hours. Needless to say, this is not your average book tour.

I'll be honest, I was skeptical of John Green. In general, things that are hyped up that big pretty much never live up in my eyes. I usually have to wait for them to die down before I can check them out objectively. (Ex: Could not read/enjoy Harry Potter until all the books had come out. Ditto Twilight.)

The Fault in Our StarsBut after reading John's latest, The Fault in Our Stars, and then watching him and Hank live on YouTube, I started to get it. No wait, that's a lie. I FULL OUT get it. I am a NERDFIGHTER.

And here's why:

John is funny. John is smart. John is honest. AND SO IS HIS WRITING.

I don't mean to sound like a gushing fangirl, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for those 3 qualities. I aspire to them myself. And though I may never be a vlogger, or sell out 1000+ seats on my book tour, there's a lot I think I can learn from John Green, both as a writer and as a human being.

Here are a few notes I jotted down from the Austin livestream, mostly about TFIOS:

  • "Even the biggest lives are temporary."
  • John wanted to write a book about "the small heroism" that most of us will have to choose.
  • Being aware of our mortality "helps us use our time here wisely."
  • Re: his characters being so intelligent/eloquent -- (paraphrased) First of all, yes, he really does believe that there are some teenagers that smart and eloquent. Not many, but some. And second, fiction doesn't need to pretend not to be fiction. He doesn't consider it his job to present a technical reality or to stick to what's "common." Obviously. After all, he wrote a book about a guy who dated 19 girls all named katherine. "That is not common."
  • Re: Markus Zusak (author of The Book Thief) -- "He's like the nicest guy, and a genius, with big muscles... It's very frustrating."


PS: I don't mean to snub Hank. Hank is great too! He's sort of the concert-y part of the concerts. Which is obviously key.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Alright...big news around the literary world yesterday were the ALA Youth Media Awards:

Greedy much, John Corey Whaley?!? :) Seriously, how amazing to have your work honored in such a way. Lots of other great books and authors were nominated as well, including Maggie Stiefvater for THE SCORPIO RACES. So many more excellent reads to add to our pile!

When I saw this next tweet, my heart leaped out. Absolutely THE worst thing for a writer. So, I'm telling y'all now...external hard drive...back up your files now...warning, warning...

And, oh man, we feel for you, but it's all good because you have a better beginning:

Sometimes twitter rewards with wisdom:

But mostly it supplies the funny (and it wouldn't be a twitter round-up without the funny):

Definitely going to have to test out this theory:

And now a question for you: What was the last book you brought along with you everywhere?

Friday, January 20, 2012
Today at weheartya, we have a special treat -- our first-ever Teen Spotlight Interview!! Thank you to our insightful interviewee, Mara K., for responding to our questions about YA life and literature...

Mara K.
Lives in: Ohio
Age: 16
Grade: 11

1. How much time do you spend reading for pleasure?
Since my junior year is much busier than my classes have been in the past, I don't get as much time to read for pleasure. I normally read two or three non-school books per week, and I try to read for leisure for at least a half an hour per day.

2. What genre(s) are you typically drawn to, and why?
Typically I'm interested in classics like Pride and Prejudice or The Great Gatsby, or fantasy like Harry Potter (but not paranormal romance like Twilight). I also like just fiction novels, sometimes teen and sometimes more adult. I also like mysteries.

3. Where do you find most of your books?
Mostly I find them at Barnes and Noble or Frogtown Books, and previously at Borders. I often hear about good books from my friends.

4. When you're deciding whether or not to buy/read a book, what are the things you consider most? (cover art, back cover blurb, genre, author, length, reviews...)
I know it's weird but I hate reading books in too large of a font, so often if I'm on the fence about a book I'll decide based on the font. The cover art definitely draws my attention to books initially, and if the back blurb doesn't draw me in then I probably won't read it. The reviews don't really do much for me because every book receives SOME good reviews and those are going to be chosen for advertisement. However, if a friend raves about a book to me, I'll most likely read it.

5. What is your all-time favorite book? Why?
I have a lot of favourite books, but my top one would probably be Gone with the Wind. It takes me to a completely different era and captivates me. It almost wraps me up and transports me so that I'm practically disoriented when I stop reading. One thing I love about it is that even though the main characters are sort of despicable, Margaret Mitchell writes so well that I root for them the whole time.

6. What are a few of your favorite Young Adult books? What makes them special?
I don't really read much typical young adult fiction, and the books of that genre I do read haven't really stuck out in my mind. I just read a book called Border Songs that could probably be classified as young adult, and I really enjoyed it because it followed a variety of interlocking stories and involved mental incapacities, drugs, politics, romance, and adventure without being dramatic or overdone at all.

7. What are your pet peeves (if any) about Young Adult books?
Sometimes I think there is wayyyy too much drama and annoying romance in teen novels. Especially if the book is focusing on a topic of family, health, or the future, I feel like young adult authors absolutely always include a love interest as a main point in the book, and often it detracts from the effectiveness of the book or its message.

8. Do you think books for young adults realistically reflect the issues/situations facing kids your age?
I do think that young adult novels portray stories accurately for kids in this day and age. I feel as if the genre is adjusting to the times at the same rate that teens are. For example, casual drug use and sex are appearing in novels since kids in our generation seem to be participating in them more and more. I think that a lot of young adult novels can teach and inform, as well as entertain, teenagers.

9. Are any issues/storylines overblown in YA literature? On the flip side, are there issues facing kids today that aren't depicted enough in contemporary literature?
As I said, romance or boyfriend issues are very overused, if not entirely overblown. Drugs and alcohol are used in a lot of books as well, but since it's such a relatable and prevalent topic in the world of teenagers, I think it's still an interesting topic. It hasn't been as overused as boyfriends. Also, I think that topics like eating disorders, psychological illnesses, and even things like the intricacies of a normal teenage friendship are overlooked.

10. What is the main reason you love to read?
I love to read because authors have the leniency to describe and emote things that are hard to portray through other mediums or professions. Writing can draw you in, and characters or stories can be created so well that it touches so many people in so many different ways. It is a way of communication through art and it's as if you can enter a different world and get pulled in. Also, I love to write, and I feel like the love of the two go hand in hand for me.

11. I know that you're also a talented writer. What do you like to write?
My favourite thing to write is poetry, because you don't have to develop a plot or likable characters, it is merely a release of emotion and words. It's kind of a train of thought sort of thing for me, and you have free reign to make as much or as little sense as you want and leave it open to interpretation. My second favourite thing to write is realistic fiction short stories.

12. What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I, of course, read and write, but I also spend a lot of time with my friends. I love playing lacrosse and I'm in the musicals at my school. I also love music and go to concerts as often as I can.

13. Do you ever read author blogs? What do you mostly use the Internet for?
I have never read an author blog. I mostly use the internet for facebook or for school research.

14. Do you and your friends ever talk about/share books?
Yes, my best friend and I constantly share books that we enjoy, and talk about books that we've read. Almost all my friends love to read, so I often talk about books with those around me.

Thank you so much, Mara, for sharing your thoughts with us! Isn't she great, folks?
Happy Reading,
Monday, January 16, 2012
Hands up who read John Green's THE FAULT IN OUR STARS last week? On twitter, it seems, it was a lot of the people (we were among them):

For writers, Twitter is still the number one distraction:

And the best place to goof off:

But then there's the tweets that make us smile or think:

Until you make us laugh again (keeping warm is getting desperate):

Also, came across this Taylor Swift/Civil Wars song on Youtube...can't wait for the Hunger Games movie!!

Friday, January 13, 2012
Ever since the Harry Potter books were published, there has been an explosion of YA Fantasy. But people seem to forget that fantasy has been around a long time.

This week I thought I’d recommend some nearly forgotten fantasy novels that have been collecting dust on your library shelves. These have been around long before Harry went to Hogwarts, some even before Bilbo left the Shire.

The Princess and The Goblin by George MacDonald

"The story of young Princess Irene and her friend Curdie, who must outwit the threatening goblins who live in caves beneath her mountain home." — I read this when I was a little girl, and I was enchanted by its magic. Just a fun note: MacDonald's goblins were part of the inspiration for Tolkien's orcs.

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

"When orphan Maria arrives at Moonacre Manor, she feels as if she's come home. Her new guardian is kind and funny, and everyone there is like an old friend. But beneath the beauty and comfort lies a tragedy. I thought this book was all about me when I read it (mostly because my last name is Mooney, so of course I am a moon princess).

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

"The adventures of Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper and his quest to become a hero in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain."  I was actually really late learning about these books, and I regret that. I could see my twelve-year-old self devouring them.

The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany

"The heartbreaking story of a marriage between a mortal man and an elf princess is a masterful tapestry of the fairy tale following the 'happily ever after.'"  I found this book in high school and fell in love with it. I felt like I was dreaming while I read it. It was written when Tolkien was just a young man and influenced his creation of the elves of Middle Earth.

The Once and Future King Series by T. H. White

"A masterful retelling of the saga of King Arthur is a fantasy classic as legendary as Excalibur and Camelot, and a poignant story of adventure, romance, and magic that has enchanted readers for generations."  I love the world the T. H. White created, so strange and beautiful and authentic.

Quest for a Maid by Frances Mary Hendry

"Meg Wright is nine when she hides under a table and hears her sister Inge kill the King of Scotland by witchcraft, setting in motion a treacherous power struggle."  This one had me from the first line. The story is set in a magical world, but its heroine has no magical abilities. She has to rely on courage and cleverness, and I loved that.

The Song of the Lioness Series by Tamora Pierce

"Alanna of Trebond disguises herself as a boy and makes her way to the castle of King Roald to begin training as a page. As she masters the skills necessary for battle, Alanna must also learn to control her heart." — This is another series I started reading in high school, and I've reread it many times since. It's a must read for any fantasy lover.

Some of these books are out of print, but you can still find them at your local library, or you can buy them used on Amazon. 

Are there any forgotten books that you think people should start reading again?


Sunday, January 8, 2012
So, I opened my twitter file this morning and only had these two tweets from author Libba Bray:

Where are the rest of the best, you ask? Well, I admit I just didn't keep up this week. And every time I popped over to twitter, not much was happening. January's like that I think.

But then I realized that there was a hashtag the previous week that I wanted to discuss #askYAed. I noticed some of you were about, and there was one topic that arose that I have been thinking about ever since: Do Advanced Reader Copies sent to book bloggers lead to book sales?

One editor in particular raised the topic because she herself was unsure, and she stated ARC's are pricey to the publisher. So, one agent asked:

An interesting question.

Some teachers piped up and said they often share galleys with students, and before long the benefits of ARC's heading to teachers took over. When it comes down to it, teachers are the most likely to get books in the hands of teenagers, right?

Hmmm. So wouldn't that be book bloggers with lots of subscribers? Some book bloggers stated that they get sent books that they don't always get to or that they get books they didn't want to review in the first place.

I can see why this would be inhibitive to sales, and might not be a good investment on the part of a publisher. Something to think about.

Others passionately defended the fact that most of their book recommendations (and therefore purchases) come from book bloggers.

Seriously, ARC's are not often wasted. But one person pointed out that it's very hard to come up with data that directly links a book blogger to a book sale.

All you have to go on is the feedback from readers. How do you figure out where sales are generated? So, dear readers, while we might not all be interested in the "business" of books, we'd still like to know: What makes you buy a book?

For us, it's starred reviews, word of mouth from trusted reader friends, sequels from authors we already know we like, twitter buzz, goodreads, amazon, and, yeah, book bloggers!

We Heart YA does not review books for our site. We don't get ARC's from publishers, but sometimes we win them or sign up to get one if we are particularly excited about it. And we always pass these on (unless they're difficult to part with). This is because sharing books we love is our own personal way of recommending them. In fact, any book we talk about is a book we think you'd like to read. It's as simple and genuine as that.

Do ARC's sent to book bloggers lead to book sales? Of course. Why wouldn't they?

But the best way for a publisher to guarantee a sale is to invest in a story by an author who has perfected their craft. To get these stories into the hands of YA readers through strong word of mouth. To take risks on well-written YA, even if it's not the "trend" or "what sells."

That's your only guarantee that the girls at We Heart YA are going to be buying. ;)

Thursday, January 5, 2012
Last night Sarah and Kristan were very excited to attend the first stop on Marissa Meyer's book tour! Cincinnati, Ohio...who would have thought?!? But Joseph Beth has consistently brought in some fantastic YA authors for readings/signings. (And adult authors too, like Erin Morgenstern at the end of the month!) For those of us not in NY or other highly-concentrated literary areas, it is MUCH appreciated.

(Sarah, Marissa Meyer, Kristan)

If you haven't heard of CINDER, where have you been?!? This book (and series) has gotten a lot of attention for not only securing a four-book deal, but because it's a Sci-Fi take on Cinderella (and subsequently other fairytales), which is, in a word, brilliant! As Marissa said herself, she was really surprised (and perhaps relieved?) no one had thought of it before. We're so glad she did!

One of the people in attendance asked about the setting for CINDER, which is a futuristic Eastern nation that encompasses what we know in the real world as Japan, Korea, China, India, and parts of Russia. In fact, the character names reflect a fusion of these cultures. Meyer explained that she partly chose this setting because she started her career writing Sailor Moon fanfiction (how cool is that?) In fact, a lot of her inspiration comes from this and from wondering "What is Disney not telling us?" in regards to fairytales.

When asked about books she read as a child, she mentioned getting a copy of Hans Christian Anderson fairytales and her excitement upon seeing the first story--"The Little Mermaid." She had just seen this at the movies, but quickly found out that the real tale ends quite differently. CINDER, of course is not a Disney version of the tale either. As a heroine, Cinder is part human, part machine and faces a lot of slack for it. Here's hoping she gets the Prince (but you just know she's not leaving a glass slipper behind...)

Marissa did a reading from page 42 (randomly picked by the audience), which is always great to hear from the voice of the author. The way she read it gave just a hint of the fun and uniqueness of the story.

I can't wait for Kristan to read this book so I can get my hands on it...of course, there's now a stack of autographed copies in stock at Joseph Beth. I might have to run back down there and get my own!

Speaking of books...congrats to our winners of our Holly Jolly Giveaway: Roro won SHATTER ME, Ashley won DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES, and Jackie won THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. Thanks for entering and you should be receiving them soon!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Well, Happy New Year!

We like beginnings and change, the ticking clock that keeps us busting through the scenes of a life. Although, not sure we like resolutions, which seem so resolved. Much prefer "flexolutions." :)

What about you? Have you created goals for yourself with your precious time in the universe?

While you're thinking, have a read of some freshly fresh 2012 tweets:

Cheers for spot-on advice:

And cheers to remembering to enjoy life...

...craziness and all:

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about us

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



on the shelf

The Bitter Kingdom
Wild Awake
The Raven Boys
Mind Games
Eleanor and Park
The Shattered Mountain
The Shadow Cats
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
The Fault in Our Stars

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