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review 2016-10-21 14:44
Lies and Truths..
We Were Liars - E. Lockhart
❝It still seemed so magical that I could do that, and that he would kiss me back. So magical that we showed our weaknesses to one another, our fears and our fragility. ❞
This is a romance book mixed with drama and suspense. "We Were Liars" had a gorgeous prose and I loved the way it was presented.

Actually, the less you know about the story the better (that was emphasized enough in a couple of reviews I read of the book, making me want to read it more). So: read it.

The bottomline truth? you will not regret it.

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review 2016-06-16 17:04
We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

After reading reviews about this book by other bloggers, I went into this book expecting one thing: a plot twist.

This book is told in flashbacks and the present. In the Summer fifteen something happened to Cady. Now, in summer seventeen Cady is trying to figure out exactly what happened by going back to the house that her accident took place. The private island that Cady goes to has been in her family for years. She spent every summer there with her cousins and a boy named Gat. These four are called the Liars. I absolutely loved these characters and the poetic method in which they were written about.

 

The writing in this book was phenomenal! The prose and scattered pieces of writing made reading this book imagery heaven. I knew I was in for a great read when on page 5 this happened:

 

“Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open would, then from my eyes, my ears, my mouth. It tasted like salt and failure.”

This is a book about a family. It is a book about love. It is a book of lies and friendship. It was a book that I am incredibly happy I read. I thought this book was genius and it left me speechless at the end. I did NOT see the ending coming, not even close, which made it very satisfying.

I would recommend this book to every single person I know. It was that good. Please, if you decide to read it, don’t read a ton of reviews on it and for the love of God, don’t read any spoilers. Just hold your breath and dive right in.

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url 2016-03-31 13:16
Young Adult Adaptations That Will Become Successful

As the release dates for the adaptations of the final books in The Maze Runner series and the Divergent trilogy approach, people are hungry for the successor to the young adult franchise throne. After The 5th Wave movie adaptation yielded less than expected in the box office, some film analysts have written that no YA adaptation could truly follow in the footsteps of The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter and that the young adult adaptation market was dead.

It's not.

(Will future films ever reach the level of success that those "Big 3" did? I don't know that anyone can make a prediction of that magnitude, but films like Divergent, Maze Runner, The Fault in Our Stars, If I Stay, Paper Towns, etc. were still considered successful even without becoming a "Big 3." And I do think that future films have, at least, the potential to reach that level of success.)

Most of the aforementioned articles, though intended to analyze the future success of the YA adaptation market, fail to take into account the perspective of its target audience, avid fans of young adult books. While they may not live up to the massive success of Harry Potter, these adaptations have the potential to do well and have even caught the attention of Hollywood studios.

Here's to hoping that they're greenlit soon.

 

 

1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Every November on the fictional island of Thisby, its inhabitants compete in a dangerous race riding legendary, deadly water horses.

Movies like War Horse (also an adaptation) and Seabiscuit prove that there are plenty of filmgoers who find stories focusing on horses compelling. Like Stiefvater's writing, the story premise has a cinematic quality, and may appeal to fans of The Hunger Games who don't necessarily want another dystopian tale but appreciate the danger inherent to The Scorpio Races. Stiefvater would appeal to Hollywood backers looking for an already established fandom; she has sold millions of copies of her books and maintains an active online presence. As for merchandise, which has typically been associated with several YA films, I can picture water horse stuffed animals and the ribbons that riders wear sold alongside the t-shirts and artwork that would accompany any film. Stiefvater has also posted a recipe for November cakes, a treat written into the culture of Thisby.

Status: In September 2015, Focus Features announced that Matt Sobel would direct The Scorpio Races based off the screenplay written by Jack Thorne.

2. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani: Two best friends are kidnapped to attend the legendary School for Good and Evil, which trains its ordinary students to become fairy tale heroes and villains.

Technically, The School for Good and Evil is middle grade, not young adult, but it should still appeal to YA fans, especially given its premise. The success of series like Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles and Sarah Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses prove that the young adult market remains interested in fresh spins on fairy tales while popular TV shows like ABC's Once Upon a Time (now in its sixth season) highlight the interest of a mainstream adult audience. The School for Good and Evil also has its own legion of fans: in a promotional article for the trilogy's conclusion, which was published in July 2015, Publisher's Weekly reported that over 500,000 copies had been sold worldwide. Soman Chainani hosts an online Youtube show, Ever Never TV, to promote the books and interact with his fans.

Status: Universal Studios optioned The School for Good and Evil, but as Chainani wrote on his website this past January, the script is currently being rewritten.

3. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson: A girl follows travel instructions written in envelopes from her dead aunt, which she must open one by one, and backpacks through Europe without a cell phone or guidebook.

I was in eighth grade when the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants adaptation was released, and I can still remember my excitement. Capturing a similar adventurous summer feel, 13 Little Blue Envelopes is in the unique position as a YA contemporary novel of appealing to fans who don't want another teary If I Stay or The Fault in Our Stars but who liked the recent journey-focused story in Paper Towns. Fans of 13 Little Blue Envelopes will love watching the characters come to life onscreen while a wider audience, unfamiliar with the novel's contents, will be caught in the suspense of not knowing what instructions the next envelope would contain. All moviegoers can imagine what adventure they would plan or take with their own set of envelopes. As one of the early YA writers and a close friend of YA author celebrity John Green, Maureen Johnson has a significant fanbase that should also draw Hollywood's attention.

Status: In conjunction with New Line Cinema, Alloy Entertainment purchased the rights to develop 13 Little Blue Envelopes as a feature film in April 2015.

4. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: A girl no longer remembers the tragedy that happened at her family's summer home but seeks to discover the truth behind all the lies.

The rich setting -- a private island off the coast of Massachusetts -- calls to mind the previously successful adaptation of Gossip Girl and the notoriety of the Hamptons and Martha's Vineyard. Slipping into the lives of the wealthy Sinclairs enables a kind of escapist fantasy even as the truth and the main character's confusion lend a heartbreaking edge to the suspense of what happened two summers ago. Random House came up with a catchy slogan to encompass the fanbase: if anyone asks you how the book ends, just LIE. Like Maureen Johnson, E. Lockhart is a well-established YA author and friends with John Green, whose blurb on the first edition proclaims that We Were Liars is "utterly unforgettable."

Status: Imperative Entertainment hired Stephanie Shannon to write the screenplay in April 2015.

Bonus: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, The Fever by Megan Abbott, This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, The Young Elites by Marie Lu, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle, and Just One Day/Year by Gayle Forman are also movie and tv adaptations widely held as promising.

(Ask me more about these, and I'll tell you why ;)).

Bonus (X2): Set for 2016 releases, the tearjerker A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, fan-favorite Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, and star-studded Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs look like promising adaptations as well. And this year we can prove to all the naysayers of YA and YA films that no, they are not dead even if they don't reach the "Big 3" level of success.

Ah, but now you're asking, "So, Christina, what are you trying to do? Is this a call to action? Is this a letter to studios? Are you updating all of us on the status of these films?"

It sort of is a call to action. I wish studios were listening. Sometimes I think that what gets made into a film, or what's optioned, are things that I can't ever actually imagine playing out on the big screen - like whoever optioned the book wasn't actually envisioning the movie but just keeps hoping for the success of the Big 3.

But I'd like to hope that's not what all the options mean; I'd like to hope that the YA market stays alive and well. I'd like to hope that the movies above will eventually get greenlit, as I think that they particularly would be successful. And I am updating y'all on the status of those adaptations, so that we can all discuss the awesome potential of those adaptations and maybe our collective enthusiasm will push for those books to be made into their respective adaptations. Maybe a studio representative will see this post (ha ha ha), and push for those adaptations as well. Who knows? But above all, I do love to discuss YA books, so let's chat!

Do you think that those adaptations will be successful? What books would you add to the list?

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review 2016-03-30 13:44
Review: Wink, Poppy, Midnight - April Genevieve Tucholke

Release Date: March 22nd, 2016
Source: ARC via publisher
Published by: Dial

Wink Poppy Midnight - April Genevieve Tucholke | Goodreads

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.


Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke is unlike anything I've read in YA, yet I'm not surprised that Tucholke is its author. What I remember most from Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is Tucholke's atmospheric writing and her ability to create dynamic characters who were shaped by their environment and multi-faceted, both of which are preserved in Wink Poppy Midnight. The three main characters, Wink, Poppy, and Midnight respectively, have voices that are unique, easily distinguishable (even without the headers), and charismatic. Wink Poppy Midnight is the kind of book that once you start, you won't want to stop: the voices demand to be noticed, the writing is snappy and the plot fast-paced, a small book that is altogether easy to read quickly so that you can discover the truth once and for all. If there's a YA queen of creating unreliable yet (mostly) sympathetic narrators, it's April Genevieve Tucholke.

I'm struggling to write this review mostly because I think that you ought to read Wink Poppy Midnight with as little information as possible. Let the voices guide you. That's one of its similarities to We Were Liars: both emphasize knowing little, because for Wink Poppy Midnight, wondering about the identities of the liar, the villain, and the hero drives the plot, characterization, and reader intrigue. Knowing too much might simply ruin part of your reading experience. Wink Poppy Midnight is a twisty, fast-paced mystery, slick with atmospheric writing and unique characters who capture your attention and are much more than they appear. (Side note: I'm in awe of the cover designer. Wink Poppy Midnight has a beautiful cover that represents its contents quite well, including the many symbols, without actually revealing any crucial plot details. Hard to achieve and well done).

In terms of its audience, I would recommend Wink Poppy Midnight to fans of We Were Liars and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. While Wink Poppy Midnight is unlike anything I've read in YA, I think that it shares some of that suspenseful "what-is-going-on," "what's-the-truth" element driving both Mara Dyer and WWL. We Were Liars is driven a little more by tragedy and grief than Wink Poppy Midnight, but like We Were Liars, Wink Poppy Midnight explores that psychological edge between fairy tale and reality; to what extent do all the stories you read and hear shape your perception of the world around you? Do fairy tales actually reflect the truth of our realities, or do the way in which we tell our tales reflect the truth of our own identities? And do our self-identities match with how others perceive us? Meanwhile, in relation to Mara Dyer, I think that Wink Poppy Midnight similarly asks: are these characters insane? Is there something supernatural happening? Is what's happening really happening, or is everything a matter of perspective? How much of what happens feeds into the atmosphere of the novel, and are these actual events?

Having read both Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Wink Poppy Midnight, I am in awe of April Genevieve Tucholke's versatility as a writer. You might call them both psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators, but they're written in such different ways that I'm hard-pressed to actually compare the two and instead only see Tucholke's growth and talent. I am reminded yet again that April Genevieve Tucholke has so much potential as a writer and that I can't wait to see what she will come up with next.

(If you're interested in Wink Poppy Midnight, I'd suggest reading the excerpt that was released with the cover. I read and loved the excerpt, and I think that it was a good predictor of my reading experience.)

Some other people are participating in a themed promotion and giveaway for Wink Poppy Midnight, and I thought that I'd at least answer part of the theme in my review.

In Wink Poppy Midnight, there are three different narrators who are not all they appear to be. Midnight, the quiet, sensitive hero, is drawn to both Wink, the mysterious and wild girl next door, and Poppy, the sharp manipulative villain of the story. Or so they seem. Who is the real hero? Who is the villain? Someone is lying.

If I were to choose my favorite hero(ine), that would probably be Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. My favorite heroes are the ones who are so staunch in their determination that they make serious mistakes (but of course later grow from those mistakes). If we're being gender specific, my favorite hero would be Eugenides from The Queen's Thief series. Each book in that series builds on his character arc, even though he's not always the protagonist or the main PoV, and he becomes an even richer character for those perspective decisions. I refuse to say more, because I want y'all to experience him for yourselves. Also Harry Potter. As for favorite villain, I could go several ways. Grendel's an adorable monster. Laney from Black Iris has an interesting agenda. The Darkling from the Grisha trilogy also blurs the line between the potential to be better and the absolute fall from grace. The Regent from the Captive Prince trilogy is ridiculously manipulative. And the person who I'm not sure about... BELLAMY. What has he been doing lately?!?!

Who are your favorite heroes, villains, and people you're not sure about? Are you going to read Wink Poppy Midnight, or have you already?

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url 2016-03-30 13:41
Young Adult Magical Realism Recommendations

YA Magical Realism is still a fledging genre, I think. Compared to the YA fantasy and contemporary books that are published each year, it’s a much smaller part of the pie. But as I’ve said before, I’d love to see more YA magical realism. I basically love magical realism because I think in YA, in particular, these kinds of stories take really unexpected turns and can push the boundaries of what YA does. Some people think that magical realism stories are slow-paced and they can be, but for good reason. I’m not an expert, but the magical realism definition according to Wikipedia involves work that “share… an acceptance of magic in the rational world…. Magical realism… refers to literature in particular that portrays magical or unreal elements as a natural part in an otherwise realistic or mundane environment.” According to The Atlantic, when they wrote an obituary for Gabriel Garcia Marquez, they mentioned how his works were “quintessential examples of ‘magic realism’: fiction that integrates elements of fantasy into otherwise realistic settings.” (More magical realism definitions, re: YA magical realism & urban fantasy vs. magical realism).

This is where things get a little hazy for me – because Urban Fantasy often includes magic + contemporary settings, but the feeling of urban fantasy is much different from that of magical realism, though I think both could end up in an urban setting if you wanted. I think that UF is much more likely to include creatures of legends; both can have that dreamy feeling, too, but then I think magical realism focuses more on the individual, the main character and the MC’s unique experience. You can have character-driven urban fantasy, of course, but the actual experiences of the character PoV in magical realism tales are more deeply explored, I think. Hey, for all I know I could be talking out of my ass, but if you’re looking for more YA magical realism books to read, here are some of the ones that I’ve enjoyed reading!

 

 

 

** Chime by Franny Billingsley.

Chime is the story of a girl whose life turns upside down once a new boy comes to her witch-intolerant village swamp, because his presence helps to reveal long-lost secrets. It’s cyclical and beautifully written, and the swamp – here’s another magical realism quality! The setting is almost ALWAYS its own character! Which should happen in most books anyways, but can be critical to magical realism – the swamp is its own character. You get fantastic new magical creatures in the swamp, and Briony’s coming-of-age and sexual awakening are twined together so beautifully in her quest for the truth. Highly recommended! The writing style might throw some people off, but stick with the book and you’ll be so rewarded!

** We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

We Were Liars is the story of a girl who no longer remembers the tragedy that happened at her family's summer home but seeks to discover the truth behind all the lies.. The details of her fifteenth summer at her family's private island elude her, and her family is reluctant to talk about what exactly happened. Her quest for the truth is interspersed with fairy tale like stories about her family and her memories of their summers at their island retreat. It’s a beautifully written suspense story on grief, privilege, family, duty, friendships, and much, much more.

 
(Is WWL technically Magical Realism? Or is it more speculative? It could just be considered contemporary, but given the above definition, I think it still fits into magical realism.)

** The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle.

First off: if you’re a fan of We Were Liars, definitely check out The Accident Season. Set in Ireland, The Accident Season is the story of a family plagued by “accident seasons” – they fall down; they bruise; their bones break. Is everything that happens in The Accident Season truly an accident, or is there something more sinister going on? Like We Were Liars, The Accident Season is beautifully written, full of atmosphere, and it centers on family, grief, truths and more as well.

** Bone Gap by Laura Ruby.

Bone Gap is the story of Rosa, a girl who suddenly appears in Finn’s life and then just as suddenly goes missing, and Finn, a boy who witnesses Rosa getting kidnapped but who isn’t believed in town because everyone thinks he’s weird and maybe a little unstable. The story takes place in a town where again! Setting is its own character. People can go missing in the “gaps” of the town, all the corn fields… What really happened the day that Rosa went missing is up for the both characters to discover. Laura Ruby really does a wonderful job developing the setting and making the people of Bone Gap feel unique to Bone Gap (but also familiar to us). The story does a great job examining the construct of beauty and perception, and is unlike anything I’ve read in YA (despite me lumping it in here with other magical realism books).

** The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma & Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.

The Walls around Us and Imaginary Girls are the two Nova Ren Suma novels that I’ve read, but they definitely won’t be the last. The Walls around Us was described as Orange is the New Black Swan, and I think that’s a perfect description—and yes, the book focuses on girls, jealousies, intimacies, and more. Imaginary Girls is the story of a girl sent away from her sister when she discovers a body in their town’s reservoir. When she returns to her sister, certain secrets will be revealed. Nova Ren Suma writes gorgeous, atmospheric stories that are about and told in the voices of girls, and both of these are no exception to her list of highly recommended reads.

** Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block.

Love in the Time of Global Warming is a YA magical realism post-apocalyptic retelling of The Odyssey told from Penelope’s point of view. Francesca Lia Block’s writing is as always incandescent, proving why she’s one of the founders of YA. Reading this made me want to go back and reread The Odyssey, which I think is always a sign of success for a retelling—rekindling or stirring new interest in the classic.

** The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater & The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater.

I don’t even know whether to consider either of these novels magical realism. Some part of me wants to classify The Scorpio Races as a high fantasy because it takes place on a fictional island, and so the society is also modeled after ours but is its own thing. But The Scorpio Races is also written in a way that reminds me of magical realism novels. The Raven Cycle could also be categorized as urban fantasy or just fantasy, but looking at the definition for magical realism, hey, the series could fit too. Plus part of that dreamy atmosphere, again, makes me think of magical realism novels. Oh, genre categories.

Every November on the fictional island of Thisby, its inhabitants compete in a dangerous race riding legendary, deadly water horses. The Scorpio Races is a standalone filled with magic, adventure, and romance—and is unlike anything I’ve read in YA. The Raven Cycle is a tad harder to describe. One of the main characters, Blue, has been told all her life that if she kisses her true love, he will die. It’s implied that Gansey is her true love, and she ends up getting caught in Gansey’s quest to find Glendower, a mythical sleeping Welsh King who’s supposed to grant a wish to whoever wakes him up. A very bare bones sort of intro summary—but anyway, the books have multi-layered, complex characters, unpredictable, complicated plots… magic, adventure, atmosphere, romance. I talk on and on about these books, so get to reading them if you haven’t already!

Those are my YA magical realism novel recommendations. One I’m looking forward to reading this year is A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry, which made my 2016 YA Debuts on my TBR list. Let me know if you’ve got any other recs! Have you read any of the books I recommended? Is magical realism your “thing”?
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