Musing Monday – Reading Preferences

This week’s Musing Monday asks:

Which do you prefer: Adult -or- Young Adult books? Or, both? Why?

I have a strong preference for YA and MG books.  This is a change in my reading tastes, because until a little over a year ago, I read very few novels that weren’t marketed for adults.  What changed?  Lots!

First, I changed.  I wanted to read something new, and there are so many compelling YA titles on the market right now that I can’t keep up with them.  They have eye-candy covers, intriguing plot twists, and they push the envelope when it comes to treading on new ground.  The Forest of Hands and Teeth and Bleeding Violet stood out from the crowd and kept me focused on the books to the point at I didn’t want to put them down.  Am I saying that every release is unique or that they are all exploring new territory?  No, and there are a few plot devices that I now try to steer clear of.  Boarding schools have to offer up something new or I lose interest.  That is the most overused setting in YA titles, and I hope that trend starts changing, and soon.

There is a contagious level of excitement in the YA market that I don’t see in the Adult book market.  Cover reveals for YA books call for Twitter parties and new sequel announcements for popular series generate a frenzied buzz that just doesn’t exist in the Adult market. I am drawn to the unfettered love of books that seems to only exist in the YA market.  It doesn’t matter if you are 16 or 60 – it’s impossible to not get caught up in all of the fun.

Lastly, I read for escapism.  I want to forget about all of the pressures in my life.  I don’t want to think about work, or bills, or cleaning the house.  I want to chill and spend a couple of hours not thinking about all of the stressful stuff going on in my life.  What better way than to spend time with a bunch of angsty YA protagonists?  They make my life seem calm and uneventful!

How about you? Which do you prefer, and why?

March Madness Writing, Reading, & Blogging Challenge

Denise Jaden is hosting the March Madness Writing, Reading, & Blogging Challenge at her blog.  This year she opened the goal setting challenge up to anyone who has a bookish goal.  I have several, so I thought it would be fun to join in and see if putting my goals down in writing will help me to achieve them. To join in, hop over to her blog and read the rules.

Lately I have been much more scattered than usual, which I attribute to all of the stress over the last month.  I am just now starting to get my blogger mojo back, but I haven’t been able to handle life’s little bumps in the road as well as I have in the past.  I haven’t been posting as much, and my attention span wanders more frequently than normal.  So my goals are to get back on track, and to not get upset when things in my blog life, and more importantly, real life, don’t always go as expected.

My other goals are to:

Set up an area dedicated to blogging. I have been using the kitchen table, and that is just not working out for me.

Catch up on my favorite manga series.  I am far behind on even my “must read” titles, and I don’t like that.

Catch up on my digital galleys.  It seems that once they get downloaded to a reading device, I forget about them.  I am just not as entrenched in the digital reading world as I am in the physical reading world.

Reach out to more authors for interviews and guest posts.  I love doing these, but haven’t been making many connections for new author interactions.

Organize my TBR piles.  OMG! This is out of control, but it goes hand in hand with my recent lack of organization.

Donate books I have already read to the library.  They love to get them, especially the manga, but I haven’t sorted out the books I want to donate out of the books I want to keep in a long time.

That will keep me busy the entire month, and I think it’s a good start for getting more accomplished with the blog.

Are you joining in on the challenge?  What are your goals?

Review: Orchards by Holly Thompson

 

Title: Orchards

Author:  Holly Thompson

Publisher:  Delacorte Press

ISBN: 978-0385739771

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

After a classmate commits suicide, Kana Goldberg—a half-Japanese, half-Jewish American—wonders who is responsible. She and her cliquey friends said some thoughtless things to the girl. Hoping that Kana will reflect on her behavior, her parents pack her off to her mother’s ancestral home in Japan for the summer. There Kana spends hours under the hot sun tending to her family’s mikan orange groves.
Kana’s mixed heritage makes it hard to fit in at first, especially under the critical eye of her traditional grandmother, who has never accepted Kana’s father. But as the summer unfolds, Kana gets to know her relatives, Japan, and village culture, and she begins to process the pain and guilt she feels about the tragedy back home. Then news about a friend sends her world spinning out of orbit all over again.

Review:

When I ordered this book, I did not realize that it was written in verse, so when I received it from Amazon, I was more than  a little disappointed.  Then I told myself that I wasn’t being fair to myself; how could I possibly know if I would enjoy a book written in verse if I had never given one a chance?  Orchards was the perfect book for my first experiment into a story told in a writing style that I wasn’t certain of.  It takes place in Japan, and it is about a girl who must come to terms with choices that she made – and didn’t make – so I was very interested in the setting and the premise.  So I sat down, put my bias against verse aside, and started to read.  Guess what?  I loved this book!

Kana is sent to spend the summer helping her mother’s family tend their orange groves in a rural farming community in Japan.  Her mother and father send her there so she can reflect on her actions and come to terms with the suicide of her classmate.  Kana’s group of friends bullied the girl, and as the suicide is investigated, blame is cast on them.  All of her friends are split up for the summer, and they are expected to come to terms with their behavior, and the role they each played in the death of their classmate.

I loved the steady pacing of the story.  Kana starts out petulant and defensive, and she doesn’t accept that she had anything to do with Ruth’s death.  As one hot summer day in the orange groves revolves into another, she slowly begins to understand that she is not entirely guiltless.  Playing out alongside her changing opinions of Ruth, she must also make peace with her Japanese family.  Her grandmother still hasn’t forgiven her American father for taking Kana’s mother away from their village to live in the States.  Toss in some cultural conflicts to add depth to the story, and I literally could not put the book down.

Orchards is a beautiful book about a girl who learns to think about someone other than herself.  Every action has an reaction for the other people in her life, and she begins to realize that there are consequences for her words and deeds. Some of them are tragic, some of them bridge the gap between her and her family and friends.  I am so glad that I didn’t know this was a book written in verse, because I would have missed out on one of the best reads of the year. 

Grade: A

Review copy purchased from Amazon

In My Mailbox–February 27th Edition

If you haven’t already, please enter my current contest to win a copy of Mad Love and Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors.  Click here to enter.

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, and it is hosted by The Story SirenGo here for a full description of IMM.

In addition to getting slammed with over a foot of snow last week, I also had a mailbox full of win!  It made all of the mornings outside, shoveling the dreaded white stuff, a bit more tolerable, because I knew I had something awesome waiting for me later in the day!

For Review:

Chi’s Sweet Home Vol 5 by Konami Kanata

Cirque du Freak Vol 8 by Darren Shan & Takahiro Arai

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Vol 8 by Gaku Tsugano, Nagaru Tanigawa & Noizi Ito

Bamboo Blade Vol 8 by Masahiro Totsuka & Aguri Igarashi

Nabari No Ou Vol 6 by Yuhki Kamatani

Black God Vol 12 by Dall-Young Lim & Sung-Woo Park

KON! Vol 2 by Kakifly

My Girlfriend’s A Geek Vol 2.0 by Pentabu

Time and Again Vol 5 by JiUn Yun

Bunny Drop Vol 3 by Yumi Unita

The Grave Robber’s Secret by Annan Myers

Gossip Girl Vol 2 by KyeKyung Baek & Cecily von Ziegesar

Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Siren by Tricia Rayburn

A great big thank you to Vertical, Bloomsbury, Egmont, and Yen Press!

Bought:

The Floating Island by Elizabeth Haydon

Oresama Teacher Vol 1 by Izumi Tsubaki

Library Wars: Love & War Vol 4 by Kiiro Yumi

Itazaura na Kiss Vol 2 by Kaoru Tada

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder

The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier

The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee

Orchards by Holly Thompson

What did you get?  Leave links and share!

Cover Shot! The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Harlequin Teen is picking up some steam! There are so many HT books on the horizon that look so good!  With Julie Kagawa’s popular Iron Fey series, the publisher has had  impressive success in the YA market.  I am looking forward to their April release The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, and now it looks like there is a must have title for May.  Look at the cover for The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross.  Is that not one of the prettiest things you have ever seen?  I love the dark, dramatic colors, and that dress is to die for.  To make it even more appealing to me, it’s a steampunk novel, too!

Synopsis:

She thought there was something wrong with her. She was right.  Finley Jayne has known for quite some time that she isn’t ‘normal,’ but when she beats up the son of her employer and is forced to flee, she stumbles into a world where there are bigger freaks than her. They take her in, treat her like family and demand her trust. How can Finley trust them when she can’t trust herself? And why is she drawn to the powerful Griffin as well as the dangerous Jack? She has to get herself under control before she gets into trouble she can’t get out of.

Griffin King is one of the most powerful men in Britain but he couldn’t save his best friend from almost dying. He is determined to save Finley and help her become the person he knows she can be, but there’s evil afoot in London. Machines have attacked humans under the orders of a nefarious criminal called The Machinist. He has sworn to protect his country against such a threat, but he’s never faced any foe like this. However, when he discovers The Machinist’s connection to his past, Griffin vows to end the villain once and for all — but he’ll need the help of all his friends, including the beautiful Finley Jayne – the girl in the steel corset.

In stores May 2011

Will They Ever Get A Clue?

I read a comment over at Dear Author (I love this website!) and I felt my blood pressure rise.  I don’t understand why publishers think so poorly of their customers.  It appears that publishers don’t look at library patrons as book buyers.  Wait – what?? 

Now, of course I can only speak for myself, but I use the snot out of the library.  In a good week, I read about ten books.  In  a bad week, I probably read 6.  That’s a lot, especially when they average ten bucks a pop.  Sorry, but I don’t make enough to support a book addiction of that magnitude, and keep a roof over my head.  So I find myself relying on the library to help supplement my book diet.  It helps me discover new authors to drop my money on later, and allows me to experiment with new genres or writing styles.  The library got me hooked on YA novels, and now I can’t get enough of them. 

There isn’t a bookstore near me, so I browse the library shelves, randomly checking out a title here and there.  This is how I discovered Kimberly Pauley, Kat Falls, and Binky the Space Cat.  This how I discovered steampunk, vampire teens, and faeries.  I also rediscovered picture books, which has blossomed into a guilty pleasure.  I like to raid the new picture book shelf, and I have spent an embarrassing amount of time in kids’ wing, perusing all of the picture book goodness.

When I was a kid, I loved the library, too.  I was too young for a job, and my parents couldn’t afford to keep me stocked with new books to read.  The library is directly responsible for my enjoyment of books.  If it wasn’t for the library, I would have turned to video games or TV for my entertainment, and I don’t know if I would have gone back to reading for pleasure as my main way to spend my leisure hours.

So, Publishers, please think before you stick your foot in your mouth.  If you truly believe that library patrons aren’t book buyers, you need to re-evaluate your market research.  I bought five books last week.  I also checked four books out of the library.  I purchase as many books as my budget will allow, and with the crappy economy, my discretionary dollars don’t stretch as far as they used to.  The price of books, and everything else, keeps going up, but my income hasn’t increased in years.  Books are a luxury, especially with the continuing turbulence in the job market.

So, Readers, what do you think?  Are library patrons a Publisher’s Worst Nightmare?  Do you use the library? Do you still buy books?

Here are links to two great posts, and you should hop over and read them, especially the thoughtful comments on each:

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Dear Author

What got this particular web-drama ball rolling?  HarperCollins has decided to put limits on digital lending.  Guess my library will never get into digital game, because they won’t be able to afford to play with the new restrictions introduced by the pubs.

Interview with Peter Moore, Author of Red Moon Rising

Peter Moore is the author of Red Moon Rising, a fun read about a boy who is forced to  deal with his inner wulf.  I loved this book, and I was overjoyed when Peter agreed to stop by the virtual offices for a visit.

Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[PM]Hm. That’s tricky. Let’s see: Holden Caulfield, Wile E. Coyote, Don Quixote, Benjamin Braddock . . . who else? Oh, wait. You meant characters like letters? Oh. Oops. Looks like I already used up all of my

Can you tell us about your book, Red Moon Rising?

[PM]Being only half-vamp in a high school like Carpathia Night makes you a whole loser. But Danny Gray manages to escape the worst of the specists at his school. Thanks to genetic treatments he had as an infant, most people assume Danny’s other half is human. Which is a good thing.   

Ever since the development of synthetic blood – SynHeme – vamps have become society’s elite, while wulves like his father work menial jobs and live in bad neighborhoods.  Wulves are less than second class citizens; once a month they become inmates, forced to undergo their Change in dangerous government compounds.

For Danny, living with his vamp mother and going to a school with a nearly all-vamp student body, it’s best to pretend his wulf half doesn’t even exist.  But lately Danny’s been having some weird symptoms — fantastic night vision; a keener-than-usual sense of smell; and headaches, right around the full moon.

Even though it’s easy to be in denial, it’s hard to ignore evidence.  There’s only a month until the next few moon, and Danny’s time is running out.

How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[PM]It came to me out of procrastination. I was working on another book – one for adults – and I was struggling with a difficult part of the story. As often happens when a story is being uncooperative, a writer is looking for just about anything else to do other than attacking the problem. I thought about maybe writing on another book for young adults. The problem was, I didn’t feel like going over the same material I had written about before. Suburban high school. Kid feeling left out. Trying to find himself. And so on. I wondered what would be a good setting to deal with the issues I liked, but in a different way.

What have you learned about yourself through your characters?

[PM]I would say that I’ve learned a bit about the need to be flexible. This comes from trying at times to get them to do what I wanted rather than what might have been more natural for them to do.

I love the world you crafted in Red Moon Rising – I found it interesting and unique.  How did you work out all of the background details?

[PM]Coming up with all the details of the world was probably the most fun I’ve had writing. It actually wasn’t hard for me at all. I just thought about what kinds of things would be needed, used, wanted, valuable, dangerous, unpleasant, etc. for the people who lived in the society I had described. All of it just made sense to me. In terms of vocabulary, that was also a lot of fun, but a bit of work. Just about all of the words I created were built from various roots, often in Latin or Greek. Given that I speak neither, it took a bit of research to pull it together.

Can you share a little about your next project?  Will we get to spend more time with Danny Gray??

[PM]I can’t say for certain what the next project will be. I’m on the verge of setting another book up with Hyperion. It’s not the same universe as Red Moon Rising, but it’s got a similar voice and feel to it. I would say that anyone who likes RMR will definitely like this new one.

As for more time with Danny and crew, I would love to continue the story. I do have clear ideas of what happens next. Whether I go ahead and write it will probably have a lot to do with how Red Moon Rising is received. If people like it and ask for more, and if Hyperion is game for another round or two, I’m most definitely up for it.

If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, what would it be?

[PM]In all honesty, I’ve been reading ever since I can remember. We can go back to Dr. Seuss, but I guess what got me into reading novels was probably my first experiences with science fiction, Tolkien, and that sort of thing. The Catcher in the Rye was, of course, a major influence.

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[PM]I like to spend time with my wife and kids. I teach, which is challenging and fun. I’m a long-time movie fanatic. And I love to read. But the (sad?) truth is, I often feel most fulfilled and alive when I’m writing.

Thanks!

—————–

Red Moon Rising is in stores now. You can purchase it at your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the handy widget below.


Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday – February 25th-27th

Check out my current contests while you’re visiting!  Click here for your chance to win awesome books!

It’s Friday! Time to discover new blogs to follow!   Blog Hop is a meme held every weekend and it is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books.  It’s a great way to find book blogs that you might now know about.

Question of the Week:

"Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?”

Yes, there are times, six years after I started it, that I wish I had named my blog something different.  When I first started blogging, my schedule was so hectic that I only had time to read graphic novels, and honestly, at that point in my life, I was happy with my comics.  The manga “revolution” was going strong, there were a ton of manga publishers, and even more new titles coming out.  Fast forward to now, and the economy has cut the number of manga publishers in half, and I have started reading prose novels again.  Now the blog name doesn’t quite gel, but I have been using it for so long that I am reluctant to change it!  Why is hindsight always 20/20?

 

Rachel from Parajunkee is hosting Follow Friday, which is another fun way to meet new bloggers.  Check out Parajunkee’s blog here.

Question of the week:

Share your current fav television show! Tell us a bit about it…

I have an embarrassing confession to make – I don’t watch TV.  It is a rare day indeed when I sit down to watch something.  While the BF spends a lot of his free time channel surfing, I would rather sit down with a book or peruse the internet.  Occasionally a show that he has on will attract my attention, but that doesn’t happen very often.  The last show that I was super excited about was Babylon 5, so that should give you an idea about how long it has been since I watched anything!  I would like to watch Vampire Diaries and True Blood, but I get bored with the TV so I haven’t made the effort to sit down and watch them.  What are your must see shows?

If you are visiting from the Blog Hop, please leave a comment so I can stop by your blog to say hi!