2014 Fall YA Book Preview:: via Bookish

August 29, 2014
Article
Between school, extracurriculars, and having a social life, teen readers are stretched thin when it comes to finding time to settle down with a book. Plus, with so many books piled on as required reading, the precious free time given to reading for pleasure makes the books selected by choice even more important. Thankfully, this fall has no shortage of thrilling and addictive reads. Whether you’re looking for diary entries on blooming sexuality and Latina identity, or if you prefer star-crossed lovers of the dragon/dragon slayer variety, we have your reading tastes covered!

Hands off

Caddie’s struggled with anxiety since her parents divorced, convinced that if she doesn’t touch another person’s skin her dad may come back. Harmless at first, the obsession becomes a problem when her crush Peter is cast opposite her Ophelia in her high school production of Hamlet. With her dreams of becoming an actress and her growing feelings for Peter on the line, Caddie must find a way to battle her fears and take back control. Rachel M. Wilson’s debut sheds light on how the stigma of mental illness can hurt teens seeking help, and readers who struggle with anxiety of their own are sure to find understanding and solace in Caddie’s story.

On shelves: September 2

Living outside the box

Comic artist Liz Prince grew up feeling as though she just didn’t fit in. She didn’t like anything she perceived as being girly, but the coach of her Little League team also proved she couldn’t seamlessly fit in with the boys either. Tomboy is Prince’s graphic memoir of her years of challenging the stereotypes others attempted to put on her, while attempting to pin down her own identity within the confines of a society that prefers for boys and girls to be neatly defined. Relatable, hilarious, and insightful, Tomboy is a must-read for anyone who feels like a square peg in a round hole.

On shelves: September 2

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27 Books Parents Should Read to Their Kids Before They Grow Up :: via BuzzFeed Books

27 books to read to kids27 Books Parents Should Read to Their Kids Before They Grow Up

Awesome list from BuzzFeed… I’ve read the majority of books on this list, and they’re all fantastic, but my favorites are The Giving Tree, the Miss Nelson books, and the Louis Sachar books!  And read them now, even if you’re a grown-up without kids.  – sld

 

Review :: Divided Within by John Guillen

Divided Within by John Guillen.  Available on Amazon.

Divided Within by John Guillen. Available on Amazon.

Life is good for Private Investigator Andrew Banks.  He has a supportive and feisty girlfriend, his P.I. practice just opened doors, and he just took on his first case, hired by a 16-year-old girl.  The case takes Banks on a dangerous ride with the Mexican cartel to save the girl’s family.  Lives are at stake, and Banks must decide who to protect –   his clients or those closest to him.  Is it possible to protect them all?  There is no question that Banks will always do what’s right.

Divided Within is the first in the Andrew Banks series, according to author John Guillen, and I’m excited to see where Banks will go next.  I enjoyed the author’s voice for this particular work.  My inner voice was prompted by his modern noir flavor, and it made for an entertaining read.  The story is full of details that some readers may find annoying, but I enjoyed them, chalking them up as illustrations of Bank’s observant and meticulous nature.  The storyline is solid, and all loose ends are tied up neatly.

I am also anxious to watch Guillen’s growth as a writer.  His debut novel is not without flaws.    First, I was unable to emotionally connect to the characters.  I found it amusing that the book’s title was a bit of a stretch;  the situation in which Banks should have actually been “divided within” only caused him to consider his options momentarily, and then he went on to do the right thing.  That leads to my biggest issue with the story:  no real growth of the main character.   There really wasn’t growth from anyone.  The author admits to basing most of his characters on real people, names and all, yet they are so lacking in dimension.  Second, the antagonist is an interesting character, but to be a drug lord, he was awfully easy to beat.  Don’t get me wrong; blood is shed, people are hurt.  He is a mean man, and a mildly sneaky one at that, but he’s just too predictable.

Flaws aside, Guillen’s work shows real promise.  The 22-year-old author has a nice handle on storytelling, and he has nowhere to go, but up.   A writer of his talent will iron out the characterization issues with practice, and I’m confident I will see his name on the bestseller lists one day.

 

Buy Divided Within on Amazon!

– sld

Recommend :: Bullies, Bastards & Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction

::A Writer’s Reference by Jessica Page Morrell::

bullies bastards bitches

Crafting a memorable and truly sinister villain can be tricky.  After all, don’t writers tend to “write what they know?”  And I believe most people carry out their lives with good intentions.  So how does a clean-cut writer channel those complex, less-than-perfect motives and evil plots without sounding like a corny, cookie-cutter movie of the week?

As a writer, I cannot deny that my normalcy meter rests just a hair’s width above “Bat-Shit-Crazy,” thus making interesting characters and situations relatively easy for me, but coming up with a believable antagonist has been challenging.  I was on a pretty good path for my antagonist, but I struggled with back story and motivations.  I googled articles about sociopaths, looked at psychology websites about power-loving individuals, histories of abusive or absent parents… yeah, it was a lot to take in.  Not sorry I did it, but still – I was slightly overwhelmed with information.

And then I found this awesome book.  Bullies, Bastards & Bad Guys is 290 pages of villainous gold.  The author guides you through the many types of characters, explaining the nuances between them and giving in-depth analyses of weaknesses and psyche.  The first few chapters tackle the category of protagonists (because good guys can be bad), like the “reluctant hero” and “dark hero” and many more.  This unexpected look into the factors that make up a tarnished hero was invaluable.  Morrell uses examples from literature and short exercises to illustrate the character-types and help you determine the appropriate traits for her story.

Next are the antagonists.  Now, I was expecting a discussion on shady, dark-suited kingpins and dirty, gun-toting convicts, but there is more to consider than my narrow view.  Morrell explains that an antagonist is more than bad.  After all, your good guy can be bad.  The antagonist is a person (or a thing) behaving in opposition to your protagonist.  That’s a textbook answer, for sure, but I was not thinking about the second suitor in a love triangle, or the office gossip, or a narcissist – y’know, not the devil.  I was pleasantly intrigued by the discussion, however, I was thrilled with the in-depth content about sociopaths and the like.  This was, of course, why I consulted the book in the first place.  Morrell offers several examples of haunted and troubled characters and a reading list for more exploration.

Following a couple of quick chapters on how to pit your good and bad guys against each other and making the story believable, Morrell delves into a fun topic:  the Bitches.  Bitches can play either antagonist or protagonist, but they are always beguiling rule-breakers.  The trouble with writing Bitches is they can’t always follow the same rules that the Bullies and Bastards do.  Women tend to be more complex than any male sociopath (I’m a woman, I can say it), and special care should be taken to write them with all their insecurities and inconsistencies.

The book ends with a fun chapter on monsters, another on keeping your villains age-appropriate, and finally, a list of questions to ask your bad guy.  All good stuff.  No doubt, this is a writing tool I will keep on my shelf and refer to again and again.

For more information on this title, check out:

Writer’s DigestGoodreads

::OR::

Buy Bullies, Bastards & Bitches on Amazon!

– sld