Today @KirkusReviews...

...I wrote about Arwen Elys Dayton's Seeker:

Positives first. The action sequences are really cinematic: the characters use “whipswords,” which are basically the T-1000 in non-sentient, weapon form; there is a scene that involves base jumping off a skyscraper onto an airship while shooting fireworks at said airship as a distraction. And…that’s all I’ve really got.

This book... I had so many issues.

So many that I didn't even get to all of them in my column. So, please. Feel free to recommend some new, STRONG epic fantasies. Ones that you think I'd enjoy.

New YA: January 25-31.

New hardbacks:

A Cold Legacy (Madman's Daughter), by Megan Shepherd:

Last book in the Madman's Daughter trilogy, and for the most part, it does a nice job of bringing Juliet's story to a satisfying conclusion. Like the first two books, it's got some fantastically gruesome bits, loads of atmosphere, and plenty of romance and soul-searching and discussions about morality and whether or not the ends justify the means. 

Love, Lucy, by April Lindner:

Details of plot and era aside—and setting aside the fact that Lindner’s book hardly deals with social class at all, which is a huge divergence—the change in storyline that makes the two books feel so very different is the second romance. In A Room with a View, it is the behavior of Lucy’s fiance, Cecil, that finally helps her find a way to put her discontent into words; in Love, Lucy, Lucy’s college boyfriend, Shane, is inoffensive and passionless, a 2015 version of Royal Gardner.

Woven, by Michael Jensen and David Powers King

Tear You Apart, by Sarah Cross

Geek Girl, by Holly Smale

I'm Glad I Did, by Cynthia Weil

Heartbeat (Harlequin Teen), by Elizabeth Scott

Cut Me Free, by J. R. Johansson

Chaos, by Lanie Bross

The Empty Throne (Heirs of Chrior), by Cayla Kluver

We Can Work It Out (The Lonely Hearts Club), by Elizabeth Eulberg

Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana's Story, by Marissa Meyer

I Was Here, by Gayle Forman

Divided We Fall Book 2: Burning Nation, by Trent Reedy

Playlist for the Dead, by Michelle Falkoff

New paperbacks:

Kindness for Weakness, by Shawn Goodman:

It's a visceral read, full of details about life inside—antagonists abound, among the other inmates, the staff, as well as within James' own head and heart—as well as a close look at the idea of kindness for weakness, the belief that to be kind is to be weak. 

If you are looking for hopeful, LOOK ELSEWHERE. *stabs self in heart*

Fates, by Lanie Bross:

Minus the romance/possible murder element, it’s a straightforward quest story set in a number of sometimes-nightmarish fantasy worlds. The dialogue, prose and plotting are all competent, so whether or not it’s a good fit will come down entirely to personal preference.


January 18-24.

January 11-17.

January 1-10.

December 14-31.

Current bestsellers: January 27.

Amazon (Teen):

1. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

2. The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner

3. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth

4. Allegiant, by Veronica Roth

5. Divergent, by Veronica Roth

American Booksellers Association, National (Children's Interest):

1. Looking for Alaska (Special 10th Anniversary Edition), by John Green

2. The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

3. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green 

4. Paper Towns, by John Green

5. Wonder, by R. J. Palacio

New York Times (YA):

1. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green 

2. If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

3. Looking for Alaska, by John Green

4. Paper Towns, by John Green

5. Where She Went, by Gayle Forman

Publishers Weekly (Children's Frontlist):

1. The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney

2. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green 

3. Four: A Divergent Collection, by Veronica Roth

4. The Giver, by Lois Lowry

5. The Kill Order, by James Dashner

USAToday (Youth):

1. The Maze Runner, by James Dashner (#14 overall)

2. The Long Haul, by Jeff Kinney (#17 overall)

3. The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner (#21 overall)

4. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth (#35 overall)

5. The Death Cure, by James Dashner (#37 overall)


January 17.

January 10.

Possible future venues for Kidlitcon?

Photo via San José Library Digital Collections, found at io9.

Photo via San José Library Digital Collections, found at io9.

Via io9: Haunted Winchester Mystery House to Allow Overnight Stays (and Booze)!

The Winchester Mystery House is the creepiest house in Silicon Valley, and was built by Winchester Gun heiress Sarah Winchester – widow of William Wirt Winchester, son of the first president of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company – over a period of almost forty years. A veritable hive of 160 rooms, the mega mansion is a 6-acre labyrinth of false doors and stairs that lead absolutely nowhere – ad-hoc additions reportedly made by Winchester to confuse the evil spirits of people shot and killed by the firearms of her dead husband's namesake.

Or via C|Net: 'The Shining' hotel wants you to design a hedge maze for it.

There is one thing the hotel is lacking: the hedge maze made famous in the 1980 film adaptation. Fans who want to come reenact (minus the ax and Nicholson-popsicle) the harrowing outdoor scenes are out of luck at the moment, but it won't be for long. The Stanley has put out a public call for hedge maze designs in the form of a contest.

Eh? Eh?

Afternoon links.

Still working through my backlog, ag:

  • Via that conversation, at GoodReads: Edginess in YA Novels by Pete Hautman. "Because I viewed my life as mundane, I read books that let me experience things outside my personal history—war, sex, death, agony, ecstasy, horror, etc. I wanted to know about life on the edge. I wanted to experience the whole human package, from birth to death, and I wanted it NOW."
  • At BookRiot: 2015 Is the Year of the Feminist YA Novel. "That’s not an indictment against any other YA years nor any of the amazing feminist novels that came before. Rather, 2015 is the year when keeping track of feminist novels becomes hard because they are abundant. Because they’re going to change the course of conversation."
  • At the Guardian: A dyslexic author's writing tips for dyslexic kids. "I’m going to say something that’s going to shock you now. You might want to sit down, no, go on, really sit down. Spelling isn’t important. It really isn’t, people get hung up on it. Being able to spell has nothing to do with being a good writer. Being able to know how a car engine works, doesn’t make you a racing driver. It’s about having something to say. It’s about feeling the wind in your hair."
  • Also at the Guardian: Authors and teenagers share the books that saved their life. "My first loyalty will always be to Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas – I read it some years ago now, but it’s only since I’ve bought it in paperback that it has become my talisman. It’s been through the hands of others, the suitcases of others; it came back and forth with me all the way through play rehearsals, and all the way through exams. I’ve read it so many times that I know it inside and out. Opening its pages is like sitting down to a cup of tea and a chat with Celaena. It’s my home away from home where I know I’ll not be judged, and even when I don’t have it with me I can whisper the words that saved its protagonist: I will not be afraid. And throughout all of this, I can see that there’s an author behind this book who first wrote it when she was just a teenager like me, and it gives me hope that maybe I can inspire people just as she has inspired me." CUE UP EVERYONE'S FAVORITE PSA: BOOKS DON'T HAVE TO BE CAPITAL-L LITERARY TO RESONATE WITH READERS, TO CAPTURE HEARTS, TO BE WORTHY OF CLOSE READING, TO BE IMPORTANT.
  • At Flavorwire: 15 YA Writers on Their Favorite Book for Adults. "E. Lockhart: Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins. I mainly read YA because I have a PhD in literature and I need the complexity and emotion to remain intellectually engaged, but sometimes I do like to relax with an adult book. It’s nice to rest my mind with long descriptions and philosophical digressions and to read about feelings like ambivalence and activities like elder care. I really enjoy Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume because he writes so well about vegetables before he gets to the sexy bits." Snerk.
  • At the NCAC: No Ugly Talk: Why One Alabama Superintendent Barred High Schoolers from Watching Selma. "Throughout history, citing a piece’s “dirty words” has been a cornerstone of censorship. Words may offend our delicate sensibilities, particularly when those words are decontextualized from the artistic work at hand. Profanity has increasingly, however, become a convenient veil for masking more damning, openly discriminatory ideas of what should be censored."
  • At the HuffPo: 20 New Classics Every Child Should Own.
  • At Open Culture: Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts Writes a Children’s Book Celebrating Charlie Parker (1964)