Where Are The Non-Celebrity Authors?

Something’s been bothering me and I feel the need to write about it. Since Jack was born (and I’ve been waking up MUCH earlier) I’ve started watching TV morning shows like Good Morning America and Live! With Kelly and Michael. They interview authors often, but lately they’ve interviewed some YA authors. I’m happy to see YA novels receive more coverage, but what bothers me is that celebrity authors are being interviewed.

If you’re like me then you view YA authors as celebrities, so you might wonder why I’m bothered by these authors being interviewed. Over the summer Kelly and Michael featured After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, and Rob DeFranco. When I saw this book in the line-up I was geeked because I thought maybe Barry Lyga would be on the show. Nope, they interviewed Peter Facinelli. Just this month Shay Mitchell was on Live! With Kelly and Michael talking about her YA/NA novel Bliss: A Novel. It seems like Good Morning America is more apt to interview authors who write novels for adults, like today they interviewed Michael Strahan about his new book.

I have nothing against Peter Facinelli or Shay Mitchell. I’m happy to see authors and their novels receiving national coverage. I’m especially happy to see YA novels earning such wide attention; hopefully those books will land in more teen’s hands now. But why can’t non-celebrity authors be interviewed on morning shows or national TV in general? Aren’t their books worthy of more attention? Don’t viewers read books other than those written by actors? How do we make this happen?

If any television producers happen to be reading my little blog (ha!), here are some YA authors my students love who write books that you should consider featuring on your shows:

Jason Reynolds–His newest book, All American Boyswhich he co-wrote with Brendan Kiely–is timely, important and powerful.

David Levithan–Besides the fact that I could listen to him talk for hours, he’s so smart and deeply insightful. His books make my teens think in ways they may not otherwise.

Gae Polisner–What I love about Gae is that she truly loves teens. She bends over backwards to connect with them, especially teens who are aspiring authors. Her most recent release, The Summer of Letting Go, has been so popular I haven’t seen my copies since the school year began.

Courtney Summers–Courtney understands how complex teen girls are. Her novels are loved by my students because they’re raw and real and deep. Her newest novel, All the Rage, zooms in on rape culture in ways that many books do not but should.

Julie Murphy–I haven’t told anyone this, but I had a dream a few weeks ago that Julie Murphy was being interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel. How cool would that be?! Dumplin’ is a book that should be featured on TV because of its focus on being body positive and being so appealing to teens in general.

Kwame Alexander–Um, he wrote a Newbery award-winning novel, so why HASN’T he been on national television?!

Cinda Williams Chima–Fantasy is always a popular genre and Cinda Williams Chima writes FANTASTIC fantasy series! Why not feature an author who writes fantasy that Lord of the Rings fans will love?

Sherman Alexie–He’s a well-known author in the publishing world. His YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has been banned or censored multiple times despite its need to be in the hands of teens. Sherman Alexie would be great to interview because of his insight on censorship and the need for diversity in the publishing world.

Rae Carson–Rae is another fabulous fantasy author. Her newest release, Walk on Earth a Stranger, is a stunning piece of fantasy historical fiction that’s on the Young People’s Literature National Book Award longlist.

Libba Bray–She’s too smart and her writing too brilliant NOT to be featured on television.

I could go on and on with this list, but I’m going to stop here. Let me know in the comments which authors you’d love to see on national TV!

Books That Are a Breath of Fresh Air

I’m 33 weeks into my pregnancy, so I’m entering the lovely stage where I’m uncomfortable all the time and am finding it difficult to breathe. I was sitting on the couch reading my book, taking yet another deep breath, and thought, “I should write a post about books that are a breath of fresh air.” Since I’m often winded, I think it’s fitting 😉

I’ve included these books for a variety of reasons. I considered the way topics were approached, the way characters are written, the way authors deviated from the norm, etc. Which books would you add to this list?

Winger by Andrew Smith–Ryan Dean’s story was the first book I thought of because of how Andrew Smith wrote him. I’ve taught quite a few fourteen-year-old boys over the past seven years. Ryan Dean is written exactly like a fourteen-year-old boy and I love that. Too often characters are written with adult voices and that’s not the case for Ryan. I think it’s one of the many reasons why Winger has been such a hit with both my underclassmen and upperclassmen.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White–Paranormal YA is nothing new and Kiersten White’s debut has been out since 2010, but I still think it’s a nice change from the typical paranormal fare. Evie, the main character, isn’t busy pining away over some guy in her biology class. She’s working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency and prides herself on doing her job well. She’s pretty and girly and there is a love angle to the story, but it’s also funny and witty and original.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray–I’m more than halfway through the audio and can’t begin to explain how much I love this book. I’m purposely taking my time listening to it because it’s that good. And honestly, I could go on and on about why this book is such a breath of fresh air. The satire is spot on. The list of big issues being tackled in a very smart way is impressive. It’s simply a great book.

Party by Tom Leveen–By no fault of their own, teenagers are very self-centered. Yes, they think about others and do amazing things for others, but much of being a teenager is about figuring out who you are and worrying about yourself. The reason I say this, and I don’t mean any of that in a negative way, is because I don’t think a teen will necessarily think about every single person at a party (or in a classroom) and what their individual story is. Or how stories and paths might cross. Tom Leveen addresses this in Party. We are taken to a party and see that party through the eyes of eleven characters. We see how their paths cross and what’s really going on with each individual. It’s eye-opening for many of my students and has made them think more about others and what other people are going through.

I Know It’s Over by C.K. Kelly Martin–There are plenty of YA books that deal with teen pregnancy, but not many that I  know of–other than Jumping Off Swings and Living With Jackie Chan–that are told from the father’s perspective. I had mixed feelings overall about this book, but it was still refreshing to read about how Nick deals with the unsettling news that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant and what she plans to do about it. This is also a book that I’ve had to replace every year since I originally bought it three years ago.

But I Love Him by Amanda Grace–Another common story told in YA is about abusive relationships. When my students read books about that they often tell me when they would leave and how they would never put up with a relationship like that. I’m always happy to hear that, but I also know from other students that it’s not always that simple. What I love about this book is that it isn’t told in chronological order. Because of this, there isn’t an easy spot for a reader to say, “I would have left him then.” It’s given a number of my students pause after reading it.

Every Day by David Levithan–I don’t know if I really need to explain why I’m including this book. I haven’t read anything else like it which makes it really difficult to help my students find a new book to read when they finish this and want something else like it.

My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi–Jessica Verdi’s debut made the list because of the topic she wrote about. For some this may be a spoiler, but like I stated in my review, I think it will draw in more readers if you know what the character’s dilemma is. Lucy, the main character, contracts HIV. I haven’t read or heard of any other YA novels that feature a character getting or living with HIV, so that’s why I included this title.

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon–Cancer books. There are SO MANY. And they often make a reader ugly cry which is one of the reasons I typically avoid them. This is not that book. Hollis Seamon’s debut made me snort with laughter and look at hospice and cancer in a very different way. One of my seniors read this and told me that he felt guilty for laughing so much. I laughed quite a few times, although a few scenes invoked tears. But would else is there to expect from a book about a teen who has terminal cancer?

My Favorite Audiobooks of 2013

I’m very much a visual learner, but when audiobooks are narrated well and are written well, I’m completely hooked. I love listening to them while I’m getting ready for work, cooking, cleaning, working out, and driving to/from work. Listening to an audiobook makes me feel like I’m being productive (taking time to read) while I’m busy doing things I *have* to do.

I’ve listened to 33 audiobooks this year and narrowed that list down to my top five favorites. Which audiobooks did you listen to and love this year? I’d love to get more recommendations!

1. The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg, narrated by Suzy Jackson (Goodreads):

  • What I enjoyed about the audio–First, Suzy Jackson sounds like a teenage girl. I don’t like it at all when an adult narrator won’t change his/her voice to sound like a teenage character. Second, she does a nice job switching back and forth between voices. She does a nice job bringing life to Patrick’s voice. I can’t imagine it’s easy to make herself sound like a guy, but she did a believable job.
  • What I enjoyed about the book–It’s a fantastic blend of Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and the movie Ghost. I also love that this book surprised me multiple times. It went in directions I never expected and it worked. I’m also a fan of how the story is broken up by the stages of grief. Jess Rothenberg has written a strong debut; I can’t wait to read what she writes next!

2. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, narrated by David Levithan (Goodreads):

  • What I enjoyed about the audio–David Levithan is so incredibly talented. His voice was perfect for this audiobook and I’m sure he read it just like it sounded in his head while he wrote this. I think my favorite part of his narration was the varying inflections of his voice. At the right time it was soothing and at the right time it was alarming. So. Good.
  • What I enjoyed about the book–I love how smart David Levithan is. The fact that he included a Greek-style Chorus in this book blew my mind. I’ll be honest, this story required a lot of attention as an audiobook, but it’s worth it. The Chorus added depth to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the different characters’ stories and discovering how they paralleled each other. I wanted more from a few of the characters, but I still appreciated their stories. Overall this is a stellar and important book.

3. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, narrated by Nick Podehl & Angela Dawe (Goodreads):

  • What I enjoyed about the audio–If Nick Podehl narrates an audiobook, I’m going to listen to it. Plain and simple. He’s my favorite male audiobook narrator and he only solidified that through his narration of this book. Angela Dawe was an enjoyable narrator for this book as well, but at times I wish her voice was a little louder. I love this series and will most likely finish the series by listening to the audio of Monsters of Men even though I miss seeing the “Noise” while I’m listening.
  • What I enjoyed about the book–Like I said, I love this series. It’s deep, intriguing, full of action, and completely absorbing. Patrick Ness is a master storyteller.

4. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, narrated by Ray Porter (Goodreads) (My review):

I’m not going to go into too much detail since I’ve already reviewed this. I will say that I was hesitant at first about Ray Porter’s narration, but I ended up loving it. He really brought this story to life and kept me hooked the entire time.

5. Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, narrated by Natalie Moore (Goodreads) (My review):

Since I’ve already reviewed this I’m not going to provide too much detail. When I started listening to audiobooks, I started with the first book in this series, Dairy Queen. Natalie Moore IS D.J. Schwenk. It’s been months since I’ve listened to this final installment in this series and I can still here D.J.’s voice perfectly. I can’t recommend these audiobooks enough.

I Wish These Books Had Sequels

toptentuesday-New

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post is all about books we wish have sequels.  I’m surprised this list was so hard to compile considering how often I finish a book and think, “What? It’s done? I need more!”  Thankfully I was able to come up with ten books that need sequels.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller–I simply want more from this book.  I’m happy with the ending, but I LOVE this story and am being selfish by wanting more.

Dead to You by Lisa McMann–What the heck happened with that ending?! There should be at least a few more pages, if not an entire sequel.

The List by Siobhan Vivian–Too much happened in a short book that took place in a short time span. Another book would be just fine.

Easy by Tammara Webber–Book. Hangover. I still want more of this story and the characters.

Every Day by David Levithan–The ending left me feeling cheated. There really should be a sequel.

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney–This is just me being selfish again.

 

Warped by Maurissa Guibord–It’s been a long time since I’ve read this so I can’t remember exactly why I think there should be a sequel. If I remember correctly, there’s an open ending that made it feel like a sequel is possible. Plus, I really love this book.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt–I just want to make sure Carley is doing okay.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell–If you’ve read this book, then you understand why this is on my list.

Kindness for Weakness by Shawn Goodman–I’m just a little confused about the ending.  It’s not exactly clear what happens to the main character.

Book Trailer Thursday (114)–Firecracker by David Iserson

I just watched this book trailer for Firecracker by David Iserson and discovered that it’s essentially the same book trailer as David Levithan’s trailer for Every Day.  The difference is that this trailer features actors instead of authors.  I’m not sure exactly how I feel about the mimicry, but I do like the trailer.  Just like I did with the Every Day trailer, I enjoyed hearing broken up parts of this book.  What do you think of the mimicry and the trailer?  It released on May 16th, so I might have to give it a try this summer.

FirecrackerSummary (From Goodreads):

Being Astrid Krieger is absolutely all it’s cracked up to be.

She lives in a rocket ship in the backyard of her parents’ estate.

She was kicked out of the elite Bristol Academy and she’s intent on her own special kind of revenge to whomever betrayed her.

She only loves her grandfather, an incredibly rich politician who makes his money building nuclear warheads.

It’s all good until…

“We think you should go to the public school,” Dad said.
This was just a horrible, mean thing to say. Just hearing the words “public school” out loud made my mouth taste like urine (which, not coincidentally, is exactly how the public school smells).

Will Astrid finally meet her match in the form of public school? Will she find out who betrayed her and got her expelled from Bristol? Is Noah, the sweet and awkward boy she just met, hiding something?

Find out in this hilarious tragicomedy from New Girl and SNL writer David Iserson!

Audiobook Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Title: Every Day

Author: David Levithan

Narrator: Alex McKenna

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release Date: August 28th, 2012

Interest: Author / Concept

Source: Audio purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads): In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a “wise, wildly unique” love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

Audiobook Review:

The audio itself is enjoyable and easy to listen to.  Alex McKenna’s voice works as the narrator because her voice can sound both male and female which suits A’s character.  There were times when she had to use a female voice to portray a character other than Rhiannon, but it still sounded like Rhiannon’s voice.  Overall, however, her voices for A and Rhiannon worked well for the story; every time I heard Rhiannon or A’s voice I could picture them and their interactions very well.

Book Review:

I’m really not sure how I feel about Every Day.  I’m a big David Levithan fan, so I was really excited to read this, but I have a few big issues with it.

  • The insta-love.  A starts off the book in Justin’s body who happens to be dating Rhiannon.  A has never met Rhiannon before being in Justin’s body, but he (is it okay to refer to A as a male?) is instantly attracted to Rhiannon.  He notices things about Rhiannon that Justin apparently never notices or cares about.  From this day forward he’s head-over-heels in love with her.  Sometimes I’m okay with insta-love, but most times I’m not, and this is another example of when it didn’t work for me.  I understand crushes and lust, but his obsession with her bothered me.
  • Where did A come from?  He talks about being this way forever, but at one point in the novel he worries about someone finding out about him.  Why?  Does it really matter?  What will possibly happen to him?  How will someone know where to find him?  This whole sub-plot of the story, which includes another character who adds more conflict, really threw off the story.  It felt like adding conflict for the sake of adding conflict.  But maybe the story needed more conflict since the main conflict with Rhiannon is introduced at the very beginning of the book.  It simply didn’t make sense.
  • Why the twist at the end?  I’m not going to ruin the ending for anyone, but the twist at the end made me angry.  Really, it ruined the book for me.  I have a feeling that David Levithan is planning a sequel which would be good for the story, but upsets me at the same time.  The ending feels like a cheap way get me to read another book.  If there’s going to be a sequel then all of Every Day is like a prologue.  I was almost able to suspend my disbelief and ignore some of the points that bothered me until that ending.
  • I feel like the only person who doesn’t LOVE Every Day.  I’m not sure if that’s because I’m the only person who doesn’t “get” the story or appreciate it, or if maybe some readers love this book mostly because it’s written by David Levithan.  Sometimes I think the author’s name on the book impacts what people think of the book.  Or maybe I’m just not being fair right now.
  • I do like the focus on person over gender and appearance.  It adds a unique way of thinking about why we like/dislike people and how attraction plays a role in relationships. I wasn’t thrilled with some of the stereotypes Levithan wrote for A to take over (a drug addict, an obese guy, a “mean girl,” and so on).  These scenes often felt preachy.

Like I said, I’m having a hard time deciding how I feel about Every Day.  I’ve listed more negatives than positives, but I still enjoyed listening to the book and wanted to finish it.  I was holding out hope that some big revelation was going to take place and when I realized I had only 20 minutes left of the audio I started to get mad.  I felt let down and sort of cheated.

Book Trailer Thursday (82)–Tilt by Ellen Hopkins & Every Day by David Levithan

I love both of these authors big time.  Really, they’re two of my all-time favorite authors.  I love everything they write, and I’ve read positive review after positive review for both Tilt and Every Day, so I know I’ll love both books.  Have you read either of them?  What do you think of these two titles?

Summary of Tilt (From Goodreads): Love—good and bad—forces three teens’ worlds to tilt in a riveting novel from New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins.

Three teens, three stories—all interconnected through their parents’ family relationships. As the adults pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the lives of the teens begin to tilt….

Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year—and decides to keep the baby?

Shane turns sixteen that same summer and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister’s impending death. Can he accept Alex’s love, knowing that his life, too, will be shortened?

Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Love, in all its forms, has crucial consequences in this standalone novel.

Summary of Every Day (From Goodreads): In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a “wise, wildly unique” love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

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