Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pardon us for getting a bit shallow today. Normally we're not ones to judge a book by its cover, but... we blame the heat for frying our brains! We also blame the pretty for blinding us to reason. Because these covers? Are so, SO pretty.

Alternate title for this post: "Trend-spotting: Typographic Beauties."

The Chaos of Stars White Space (Dark Passages, #1) How to Love House of Ivy & Sorrow

All of these books have permission to join our bookshelf. Or heck, our walls! They're practically art.

We also love when series have covers that tie together. Such as these lovelies...

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2) The Archived (The Archived, #1) The Unbound (The Archived, #2)
Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1) Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2) Cress (Lunar Chronicles, #3)

And even though it's a standalone, we like how the style of FANGIRL's cover fits in with Rainbow Rowell's other books, all quirky and hand-drawn:

Eleanor & Park Attachments Fangirl

Please note: No girls in pretty dresses! It's not that we're anti-girls in pretty dresses. It's just that they so rarely have anything to do with the story contained within.

What about you guys? Do you like the typographic trend? Do you miss the girls in dresses? What other covers have caught your eye lately?
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dear Sarah,

Three years ago, you invited me to join your critique group, making me the fourth and final member of We Heart YA. I had no idea then how close we would become or how important our friendship would be for my writing, my happiness, and my sanity.

It’s crazy to think about how much I’ve changed since that first meeting. I was painfully shy and insecure, my freak flag carefully folded and discretely tucked away. But I’ve come into my own in the past couple years. In large part, because of you. You have a wonderful way of pushing people out of their comfort zones and then making them laugh about it. With you, awkward moments become merely food for good stories. I feel so differently about myself now. I can look at my flaws and my weirdnesses and accept them with a chuckle.

I’ve dealt with irrational shame since I was a little girl. But Sarah, nothing shocks you. Our meetings have always been a judgment-free zone. They are a place to work through stubbornness, climb out of ruts, and celebrate even the smallest triumphs. They make me better. YOU make me better.

Now you’re an ocean away from us, but our friendship isn’t over. I’m so grateful for computers and internet and Google hangouts, because they mean we get to keep you even when you pack up and move country.

So here’s to three more years of storytelling, hour-long tangents, impromptu therapy sessions, and lots of laughter!

Love from,
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

We read a lot of contemporary fiction here at We Heart YA, and we've noticed a surprising trend: musical geniuses. First there was Mia in IF I STAY. (Raise your hand if you are totally stoked for that movie, btw!) Then Lyla in GUITAR NOTES. And most recently, Kiri in WILD AWAKE and Lucy in THE LUCY VARIATIONS.

If I Stay (If I Stay #1) Guitar Notes Wild Awake The Lucy Variations

Things we like about this trend:
-- Girls who are interested in something besides romance.
-- Girls who are extremely talented.
-- Positive depiction of classical music (which is truly lovely to listen to, you guys).

There isn't anything we dislike about this trend. However, we do find it a bit ... funny. Like, sure, most of us play an instrument or took lessons at some point in our lives. But how many musical prodigies do you actually know?

So, if these people are not particularly plentiful in real life, why are they getting so much representation in YA literature?

We don't know for sure, but we have a couple theories:

-- Giving protagonists a very special skill automatically makes them "special." Also, people tend to like/admire talented individuals (like athletes, actors, musicians, etc.), so of course we would want to read about them.

-- Authors identify with creative personalities and their unique struggles, but might not want their protagonists to be writers.

-- Authors are often inspired by music, and may want to share some of their favorite pieces with their audiences. (This can also happen with non-prodigy characters, through a character's road trip playlist, for example.)

-- Counterintuitively, being specific allows a broader audience to connect. So even if we readers aren't passionate about piano or violin, we can identify with these heroines because we are just as passionate about something else. Maybe we understand why they practice for hours on end, because we spend that kind of time and energy on ______ (fill in the blank -- video games, knitting, soccer, etc.).

Whatever the reasons, this trend stands out, but not in a way that makes us worry about it becoming a tired clich√©. Because each of the 4 examples deals with the trend quite differently. For example, IF I STAY isn't really about Mia's talent; that's just part of who she is. In GUITAR NOTES and THE LUCY VARIATIONS, Lyla and Lucy are both struggling to find joy in music again, because their talent has turned into pressure instead of pleasure. And in WILD AWAKE, Kiri uses music to keep hold of herself in the midst of immense personal crisis and confusion.

So there's a wide range of possibilities, even within the trend. And perhaps these characters and stories are all just a testament to the power of music -- of art -- as a positive force in our lives.

Why do you think there are so many musical prodigies in YA? Do you identify with them, or is their talent (and the world it puts them into) too foreign for you? Have we left out any musically-gifted protagonists? What other character trends have you noticed?
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Memory is such an interesting aspect of the human mind and experience.  I'm intrigued how experiences are recorded in our minds.  What qualifies as a moment?  And what makes a good story?  

It's tricksy because memory is slippery and often edited.  Quite simply, when remembering, we tell ourselves our own narratives.  There's power in that--to process, to share, and to change.  And there's truth lying about in the posed and filtered moments we capture, the manner in which we position ourselves.  But perhaps what's most fascinating to me is how memory--linked with our senses--allows our minds to transport.

Somewhere in the first book that I ever wrote, the MC has a strange, ghostly experience during a thunderstorm.  She's trapped in her broken down car, watching the rainwater snake down the windows.  It triggers a latent memory, and the moment feels so real to her that she says to herself, "If time travel is possible, it's through the senses."  Maybe I wrote that entire book just to come to that conclusion.  

The most vivid memories that I have are linked to smells (mothballs=grandmother's attic), taste (grape soda=summer picnics), or sounds (R.E.M.=lying on my bed, trying to memorize the lyrics to "It's the End of the World As We Know It.")  And yet, I've found there is something even more powerful than the senses in transporting the mind...  

Books.  (Boom).

There are certain books that I have read at certain times that will forever bring me back to that moment. Know what I mean?  It's kind of magic.

The Trembling Hills...As a young kid, I snuck this book out of the built-in, Victorian corner cabinet in the dining room.  It was my mother's book, hidden behind stacks of National Geographic magazines (with naked tribal women inside!)  It was the naughty shelf and I knew this book was definitely out of my age range.  But I fell in love with Sara Jerome and her rags to riches story.  Her clothes, her crushes!

Each time I read this book, I can smell the dust of the corner cabinet.  I can hear the handle click and the panes of glass rattle.

gorgeous cover by Paul Chin

Jane Eyre...When I was seventeen, several major things happened:  I graduated high school, my braces finally came off, I cut my waist-length hair to pixie, and my big brother got married.  It was an outdoor wedding, and my sole job early in the day was to babysit a pile of folding chairs to make sure no one came to the park and swiped them.  While everyone else set up tents and decorated, I sat on the pallet of chairs and read Jane Eyre for the first time.

Moment and memory solidified.

Twilight...That's right, haters, it made my memory list.  Sheesh.  You know you remember where you were when you first heard about this book.  When you opened the first page.  When you whispered the word, Forks, out loud just to hear how it sounded.  At the time, I happened to have been invited to some hippie potluck gathering in an old pink house when a friend slipped me a black paperback and whispered, "Have you read this yet?"

Even the hippies were down with that shit.

Side Effects May Vary...This book isn't out yet (you'll have to wait until 2014), but I begged a certain wonderful someone for an ARC (thank you, sweet, epic lady!) and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time.  This book talks to me in ways that others don't.  You know how some books hit you at exactly the right time, and seem to speak your language?  That's this book for me.  In some ways, it saved me. 

Right now, I'm forming a memory, a narrative.  Change is happening.  You see, I had a bit of whimsy in thinking that I should move my family back to the land of castles and dragons.  In a few weeks, I'm heading over the pond where the grass is (literally) greener.  (I mean, it rains a lot in the UK).

This decision has been hard on my American family and I'm leaving behind some seriously good friends.  My favorite friends.  During this up-and-down time, I happened to receive Side Effects May Vary and it couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time.  Although Alice and Harvey aren't dealing with the same sort of situation, they certainly have the same range of emotions I'm feeling:  Grief.  Immediacy.  Unknown.

I know with certainty that every time I pick up this book in the future I'm going to be transported back to this time.  I will remember how difficult my fanciful ideas can be on myself and those that care about me.   And how much of a jerk I am for doing it anyway.

But I'm also going to remember the green of the forest in my back yard, the hammock and the swing.  The smell of nighttime hitting the back deck and mosquitos attacking my feet.  There are so many senses tied up with memories tied up with words.  It's fascinating.  And bittersweet.

Whew.  Done.

And you?  You've listened long enough.  Tell me what books take you to moments in your life.  I am your eager audience.  xx
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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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