Carrie Jones, will you be my best friend? Author of Need Series captivates with humor.

I’m a sucker for humor. But I’ll admit, I wasn’t prepared for the tongue-in-cheek writing that greeted me in Need, Carrie Jones first novel of the same-named series. By the second book, I was a total fan, and now on book three, I’m craving it. I need more Carrie Jones.

Before I continue with this author-on-author worship, let me explain that I’ve been reading my share of the lastest and greatest YA novels, and some are terrific, but generally, quite serious. For instance, Divergent, The Book Thief, Matched, Delirium, Before I Fall, Lament, and Starcrossed are just a few recent reads. This is good stuff, but sheesh, the drama is taking it’s toll.

And then I open Need and am treated to an exciting story, but one that has no problem making fun of itself. I thought I couldn’t handle any more vampire-type novels for a while, but Jone’s take on the whole pixie situation is hilarious. Oh, and werewolves. Where would we be without those? Not nearly as entertained, that’s for sure.

So Carrie Jones, you’ve won me over. I love the fact that I can read something exciting and romantic and still laugh every other page (or every page). Sometimes we just need to take things a little less seriously, you know?

Check out her website–it’s funny too!

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Falling for Oliver’s Before I Fall

Lauren Oliver is another YA author  to expound on the dystopian theme, with the popular Delirium and recently released Pandemonium. However, the first book I got my hands on was her debut novel, Before I Fall, a present day, stand-alone book.

At first I hated the characters. I’ve been racing through so many novels on my Kindle that I hadn’t exactly read the synopsis for this one. I thought it was some kind of ghost story, and in the first few pages, I felt frustrated. I wasn’t one of those girls in school. I was never an outcast, but I was nice, and most of my friends were of the nice variety as well. I wasn’t sure I could relate to Oliver’s Samantha Kingston.

But before throwing in the towel, I went back to read the book blurb. Ahhh–I didn’t realize this girl was going to get the chance to live her last day seven times. After that, I was hooked. Don’t ask me what flipped the switch in my brain–it just flipped.

I will tell you that I felt this story very powerfully. I don’t usually cry for books and movies, but this one definitely contributed to some waterworks. This author writes very artisitically for sure, but it was the journey for this bitchy high-schooler that really had me believing that Oliver has “the stuff.”

Utopia gone bad – The Matched Trilogy is a gentler but more subversive take on the popular dystopian theme

Thank goodness there’s one more book in the Matched Trilogy by Allie Condie. Matched and Crossed will go down as two of my favorite YA novels thus far. The ideas behind this series about a dystopian society reminds me of the concepts put forward in Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day, with the-world-is-hunky-dory concept getting blown to bits in the first book. Of course, the ever popular Hunger Games makes no bones about its dystopian world, but I like Condie’s gradual revelations even better.

The question I pose is, how important is the disscussion of dystopian themes in todays’ society? It’s not a new idea by any means (see list here), but conspiracy theorists and doomsday preppers aside, how complacent are we, and can dystopian fiction make us any more aware of giving up the freedoms we cherish?

Oh–and I love Condie’s use of the Dylan Thomas poem “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.” I think it’s a good reminder.

Shelter – Harlan Coben’s first Mickey Bolitar Novel thrills, captivates, and charms

Okay, so I have a soft spot for the paranormal, but because I enjoyed writing a series based on reality (check out www.teenmobster.com), I knew I had to expand my reading to include books that go beyond vampires, ghosts, and time travel. I can only tell you that reading Shelter by Harlan Coben was definitely a step in the right direction.  I’m happy that it sounds as though he’ll be using the same cast of characters he developed in this book for an entire series. In fact, I’m so impressed with Coben’s ability to create a suspenseful page-turner that I may even check out his mainstream novels. That is, if I ever get through the pile of YA still sitting on my Kindle!!!

If others have read this book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the the characters. Another thing I liked is the trailer for this book (check it out on http://www.harlancoben.com/). As a former recording arts major, this nailed it for me.

Okay, so it’s a bit of a lovefest for this book, but I’m a novelist, not a critic. Happy reading!

Revenant – A new, old ghost story by Sonia Gensler woven with history, romance

Okay, here’s a shout out to a fellow OKC YA novelist. Sonia Gensler’s Revenant is definitely worth a read! I’d say adolescent and teen girls (or any history buff) will get the most out of this book. The story has a nice mix of supernatural elements, American history, and romance. It’s not the scariest ghost story I’ve ever read, but it will definitely have the reader on edge. The romance is woven throughout the story, and it’s not as racy or vulgar as some of the stuff you’ll read in YA novels these days. I wasn’t quite sure what “Revenant” meant without looking it up, and I’m a little concerned some teens won’t be sucked in by the title or the cover (which doesn’t quite do the book justice), but this novel is certainly worth recommending. My husband is Cherokee Indian (which means my kids are too), so this book also held some interest for me in that department.

I think the book’s promotional trailer is catchy too. You can check the video, the book, and the author out on http://soniagensler.com/ and let me know what you think!

Industry news – The YA genre flourishes!

Check out this article on Publisher’s Weekly and tell me why you think teen fiction is doing so well these days! My theory? It appeals to more than just the adolescent crowd! There’s something about coming of age and being young and reckless that appeals to us all…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Unusual Children invites you on a journey that stretches the imagination – and oh the pictures!

I was a little worried at the beginning of this book–scary images is one of the reasons I enjoy reading scary books over watching scary movies. Pictures stick with me. But some disturbing (or maybe not so disturbing if you’re not as easily frightened as I am) images aside, this story does fascinate, even as it asks you to expand your scope of the fantastical several times throughout the narrative. One of my pet peeves are novels that have to explain too much to make their plots work out, but I think this book manages this aspect just fine. The details are woven in incrementally. I know this doesn’t really explain to you what the story is about, so here’s a few words to wet your appetite–paranormal children, time travel, WWII, murder, romance, and spectacular imagery. To learn more, check out http://www.ransomriggs.com/, and once you’ve given this book a read, let me know your thoughts!

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