Thursday, May 23, 2013

YAA Soundtrack: Chaos Walking

By Noelle

If you scroll through my favorite books on Goodreads, chances are I have a soundtrack for them on my iPod.  For any other playlist aficionados out there who enjoy making and listening to book-themed soundtracks, you've come to the right place!  We will occasionally be posting links to playlists from my personal soundtrack collection. 

This week I'm posting my soundtrack for the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness...or as I affectionately call it, Chaos Crying.  I went full-on twangy with lots of duets for the dual protagonists and (I'm helpless to resist!) several Noise nods.  There will be a lot of no comments in the liner notes in an effort to not spoil anything but if you think I'm referring to something I probably am. (Nice blanket statement to make me sound like a genius too, so win/win really.)

You can listen to the playlist on Grooveshark or read the tracklisting with liner notes below:

1. Goin' Against Your Mind - Built to Spill: Starting my playlist with an 8 minute song--bold choice or most skipped song on the playlist? Time will tell!
2. Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes 
3.  Rattlin' Bones - Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicolson
4. Orphan Girl (cover) - Crooked Still
5. Coal War - Joshua James: If we don't walk free with hand in heart, it's time. / If we cannot see all we destroy, we're blind. / It's not the hand that cuts, it's the heart we left behind / It's not the hand that cuts, it's the hatred deep inside.
6. Blackbird (cover) - Evan Rachel Wood
7. Walking - The Dodos
8. Bartholomew - The Silent Comedy: Saw the darkest hearts of men / And I saw myself staring back again
9. David - Noah Gunderson: This one is for you, Davy.
10. Oh, Death! - Pearl and the Beard
11. Nothing Else Matters (cover) - Lissie
12. Come Away to the Water - Glen Hansard
13. Voice in My Throat - Pearl and the Beard: My Todd and Viola song. Don't ask me how many times I played this in a row after finishing Monsters of Men.  No matter what you guess you'll guess low.
14. The Lost Boy - Greg Holden: I'm sort of convinced this song is about this series.
15. Early One Morning -  Nana Mouskouri: Because I'm eviiiiiil.

As always, thanks for listening!

Series Review: Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness

The Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness 
The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men
Reviewed by Noelle: May 23, 2013
Published by Walker Books, Ltd
Goodreads • Buy at Amazon KindleBook Depository

 I won't go into specific detail in this review as I want it to be safe as possible to read at any point in this series, but just know this: the less you know beforehand, the better. I urge you just to try it out and experience the crazy beautifulness of the series for yourself. 

 To put it in the most mundane way possible, I prepare for Patrick Ness books by making sure I'm stocked up on anguish and crying GIFS for my Goodreads status updates. Pick a page and any of these could be an accurate representation of my emotional state:


Bask in the pain.

Let it all out.

It might seem over the top but it is true.  Reading Chaos Walking is a catharsis, and will leave you feeling raw, but OH is it so worth it. To try and put it more seriously---

Chaos Walking is set on a planet other than Earth and Ness describes the indigenous species' method of communicating like this: 

“I find I am swimming in a river of voices reaching out and touching mine"

“And I realize he ain’t telling me with words. [...] he’s surrounding me with it, letting me sit in the middle of it, knowing it to be true.”
And honestly, that is what reading this series was like for me, complete emotional immersion. Ness continually challenges the reader with his exploration of the moral ambiguity and hypocrisy of human nature. He has readers questioning the characters, their motives, their decisions, and examining their own belief system. He asks the hard questions and demands truthful answers (whether you agree with him or not). It results in a level of emotional investment that in my personal experience, is just about unparalleled.

Each book in the series multiplies in complexity. The first is action-packed, the second is a grind of mind games and moral quandaries and the final is a combination of both---cranked to a million. Each book also adds an additional point of view that fills out the world wonderfully. In Chaos Walking, high-stake dilemmas aren't merely used for suspense value. When Ness puts his characters (and by proxy the readers) in horrific situations and forces them to make impossible choices, those decisions have real consequences and cause actual, sometimes irreparable damage. The repercussions don't just disappear, they alter the world of the characters.

Nearly every character is a complex, three-dimensional person. Both heroes and villains are shown to be capable of good and evil.  Not only did I come up with a curse word in honor of the protagonist (TODDAMMIT), I count the antagonist as one of my favorite characters of all time.  

The themes of the series are explored in devastatingly beautiful and honest ways. Vengeance vs. forgiveness. The power of love to save and destroy. Trust, truth and openness vs. suppression, misdirection and lies. Questioning yourself vs. blind certainty. The meaning of redemption.

It’s not how we fall. It’s how we get back up again.  

I'm so glad I stumbled across Patrick Ness and Chaos WalkingI cannot recommend this series enough. The beauty and emotions Ness can convey in a phrase, scene and story is breath-taking. I know it will stay with me for a long time.

Chaos Walking: 

I've linked to my individual Goodreads reviews below.  Be forewarned, the reviews will contain small spoilers.

The Knife of Never Letting Go: 4.5/5 stars (review)
The Ask and the Answer: 5/5 stars (review)
Monsters of Men: 5/5 stars (review)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

YAA Confessions: Our Biggest I CAN'T EVENs

In life, there are just some things that make you say, I CAN'T EVEN. I can't even can be used for both good and evil. For example, Tom Hardy and a puppy? I CAN'T EVEN good. Joe Manganiello trying to emote? I CAN'T EVEN bad. Sometimes something is so I CAN'T EVEN bad it's good, and sometimes it can be a little bit of both.

Case in point: There are some books we love, but that doesn't mean they don't contain an element of I can't even. 

Maggie: There's a reason why I didn't read Harry Potter until two years ago. Cho Chang. I CAN'T EVEN. The first time I heard her name, I remember thinking, Was Ching Chong too obvious, JK?? I steadfastly refused to read the books and only went to the first movie because my friend paid for my ticket. And then I fell asleep in the theater. It wasn't until Noelle wore me down with her book pressure over months and months that I decided to give Sorcerer's Stone a try. Yeah, I ended up mainlining them in a row and talking like I lived at Hogwarts for a month. However, whenever I see that name... It's not even a valid name. They are two last names! Two Korean last names! Okay, Chang can be both Korean and Chinese but still. I can't with that name.

Noelle:  At this point I feel like I'm picking on a clearly repentant Gayle Forman, but I CAN'T EVEN with Adam's band name in Where She Went.  Adam, charming, irresistible, pluck-you-like-the-stringed-instrument-of-your-choice Adam forms a band that is supposedly the game changing accolade acquiring Grammy winning heir to Nirvana and calls it....Shooting Star? Shooting Star?!!? Reader, there isn't a record scratch sound effect loud enough.


Maggie: I can't even with... sweatpants. Specifically, sweatpants no shirt. Before you judge, I would like to refer to Exhibit A: The Beast Lord of Atlanta. What can Curran be found in when not in his warrior form? ...Sweatpants. Exhibit B: Rites of Spring (Break), Chapter 14. "[Redacted] was dressed in a pair of sweatpants and nothing else." I'll let the turning point speak for itself. There is an art to wearing the sweatpant -- if you're hot, boom, art. And a million I can't evens. Followed by please and thank you.

Noelle: I thought long and hard about this one and thought of my well documented love for Buddy Cops of Convenience and basically the Ruby Oliver series as a whole but settled on a more broad choice.  You know when you're reading a book and then all of a sudden the author writes something that resonates so personally it sends you into a what-the-hell-were-you-there?! flashback? Yeah, I CAN'T EVEN.  Whether it is the thrill of a note in your locker, the gut punch of seeing your ex in a new relationship, seeing your parent from a new perspective, the power of a mixtape or you know, just about anything Melina Marchetta writes...the feeling is just THE best.   I think that kind of connection is what makes YA so powerful.  And so, well, I CAN'T EVEN.

What makes you say I CAN'T EVEN these days?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

YA in LA: Summer Lovin' Tour, Part Deux

Almost exactly a year ago, I went to my first author event, the Summer Lovin' Tour with Jenny Han, Jessi Kirby, and Morgan Matson. When I found out it was coming back again this year with even more authors, I knew I had to go. Of course, like last year, there was the little matter of the NBA PLAYOFFS delaying me, but I was only 15 minutes late!

The Summer Lovin' Tour 2013 is back and bigger than before. (Missed you, Jenny Han! I should have made a "For Jenny" shirt, a la Lori and Coral in the Real World/Road Rules Challenge.) This year, the authors were:

By the time I got there, the authors were each introducing their books. After that, Sarah Ockler read passages selected by each other and the audience guessed who had written it. The turnout was small this time, but really, there were two potential elimination games going on. I almost didn't make it. However, this didn't deter the authors and they gamely participated in discussions. One great thing about smaller crowds is that discussion is more relaxed, which leads to unexpected topics, like embarrassing moments. If you're going to any of the other dates on this tour, ask Jessi Kirby about the time she was in charge of the boys basketball team. Or Kimberly Derting about the email meant for her husband. Or Shannon Messenger about the time she met Arthur Levine.

One audience member asked which character the authors would be in each other's books. Sarah Ockler immediately answered that she would be Honor from Jessi Kirby's In Honor. If you've read In Honor and/or watched Friday Night Lights, you know why: Rusty/Tim Riggins. There was also a fun discussion about who the authors stalk/fangirl over. Sarah said she couldn't breathe when she met Sarah Dessen. Jessi mentioned how, when she was writing Moonglass (her debut novel) before she had a publishing deal, she saw Sarah's Twenty Boy Summer in the library and stopped dead because her story featured a beach and red sandglass. She immediately got the book and started reading it. Even more of a coincidence, her character was named Anna Ryan and the main character in Twenty Boy Summer is Anna Reiley. After she finished reading the book, Jessi emailed Sarah with the subject heading, "We are literary soulmates." Sarah remembered the email and they met for the first time at a writers retreat last year.

Sarah also got a great email from another fan of Twenty Boy Summer who actually wrote a song about the book. Her name was Jude Hernandez and she mentioned how people had trouble pronouncing her name so she went by Jude Henderson at times. That stuck with Sarah and the name of the main character in The Book of Broken Hearts is... Jude Hernandez. How cool is that? BRB. (Dear Melina...)
Another question was what the authors are working on now.
  • Sarah Ockler: Sarah is working on a book that was called Love and Other Internet Disasters. The name is going to changed. It's a contemporary story about a girl named Lucy who is in love with her best friend's boyfriend. Her best friend ends up getting sick and asks Lucy to take her boyfriend to the prom. Even worse, the boyfriend kisses Lucy at the after party. Even worse than that, someone takes a picture and uses Lucy's phone to post the picture onto Lucy's Facebook page. The pictures go viral and Lucy is branded a slut.
  • Suzanne Young: Suzanne is working on copy edits of The Treatment, which comes out next year. She's also working with Cat Patrick on a contemporary book, Just Like Fate, which comes out in August.
  • Shannon Messenger: Shannon is working on the Let the Sky Fall series, as well as her Keeper of the Lost Cities series. The Keeper is much longer with at least 60 characters, so it takes up much more of her time.
  • Jessi Kirby: Jessi's next book doesn't have a title yet but it's a contemporary. The main character is a girl whose boyfriend tragically died. His family donates all his organs. She starts to write letters to all the recipients and they all write her back except one -- the person who received his heart. She goes outside all the regulations because she becomes obsessed with who got the heart since that's the most important one to her. She just wants to see him but they end up meeting and he falls for her and she wonders if it's him or the heart. She also has to deal with whether to tell him the truth about how she found it. This will be released in 2015.
  • Morgan Matson: Morgan just turned in her book. It's about a girl named Emily and her best friend, Sloan. Sloan moves away and doesn't tell her. Two weeks later, she gets a list of 13 things that relate to things that are in their history. She starts going through the list and doing the things listed, like stealing something, because she thinks it will bring her back to Sloan. Morgan also has another series coming out in 2016 about four friends who spend every summer together on an island. Everything changes when they turn 16. Right now there are 3 books planned in the series, but it may turn into 4.
  • Kimberly Derting: Kimberly finished revisions on the third Pledge book, which will come out in January. It's her fave. She couldn't reveal the title yet but she said that somebody dies. She also sold a new trilogy to Harper Collins -- a contemporary sci-fi. It's about a girl who vanishes when she's 16 and is gone for 5 years. She has no memory of where she's been but when she comes back 5 years later, her life is completely different but she is still 16. She's trying to fit into her new world. Her dad saw her disappear but people didn't believe him so he's an alcoholic now and her parents are divorced. The title of this series is The Taking.
That's it for me. I'm passing the recap baton to Flannery from The Readventurer because I know she's going to the Seattle event. The other dates for the tour are: 

Review: Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks
Reviewed by Maggie: May 15, 2013
Published May 7, 2013 by First Second
Goodreads • Buy at AmazonKindle • Shop Indie

Nerds. Jocks. Cheerleaders. Epic battle. Sounds like your typical high school story, right? Enter the killer robots!*

I knew there was a high propinquity** that I would like this because I loved Faith Erin Hicks' Friends with Boys (my review / Noelle's review) and Prudence Shen's /report podcast is a must listen in my book club.*** After flying through the first 50 or so pages on the official website, I ended up breaking my months-long NetGalley ban to request it. And it was totally worth it.

Charlie is the popular captain of the basketball team. Nate is the much less popular president of the robotics team. They're neighbors and best friends though they are on opposite sides of the social spectrum. Nate is usually worked up about something while Charlie is laid back. The latest outrage in Nate's life: the school has decided to let the student council determine which extracurricular club gets money. The science club was going to get it so they could enter the national robotics competition, but then the cheerleaders said they needed new uniforms. Enter Holly, head cheerleader and Charlie's ex-girlfriend. Nate's solution is simple: run for student body president and make sure the science club gets the money. Yeah, that idea doesn't fly with the other members of the club either. As Ben disbelievingly tells Nate, "You're literally trying to win a popularity contest!" Holly counteracts Nate's move by entering Charlie into the race. Even though Charlie is an unwitting challenger, it's game on for Nate. Friendships, loyalties, and robots are tested.

To begin with, this book has my favorite depiction of cheerleaders ever. I mean, look at Holly's entrance in the book:
Image from the Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong website.
She enters the story like freaking Beyonce! And she has the attitude to back it up. These aren't your stereotypical cheerleaders. Nate calls them the "Pom Pom Gestapo" for a reason. They are fierce, ruthless, smart, and organized. Holly is a formidable opponent, but she is by no means a villain in the story, which I loved.

Charlie, oh Charlie. Do you remember Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles? Jake was one of the first boys my heart Teen Beated for, and he will always hold a special place there. Well, Charlie reminded me of him. When the basketball team finds out Charlie's dad is out of town and decide to invite half the school over to his place, Nate finds Charlie hiding under his bed reading a book. Nate tells him, "You really are the worst cool kid ever." Also, since this is a graphic novel, we don't just have to imagine Charlie shirtless. Ahem, shoulders.

Before you think this is just about the popular kids, remember that Prudence Shen wrote this book. In her /report bio, it says:
"She has written, much to her chagrin, hundreds of thousands of pages of bad-to-slightly-less-bad fanfic in everything from anime to Smallville to shows that lasted three episodes to children's books."
The nerd voice is well represented. And it's not just nerd boys. Joanna is a key member of the robotics team. I love that one added touch to the KILLER ROBOT is a little, stenciled bow.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong combines a fun story with clever illustrations, or maybe it's a clever story with fun illustrations. The result is a book that will appeal to even those who don't consider themselves graphic novel fans. I think this was even better than Friends with Boys, and I can't wait to see what Faith Erin Hicks and Prudence Shen come up with next.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

*Okay, so they're not technically killer robots in the Michael Bay sense. But really, do you want to live in a world where Michael Bay makes sense?
**Quinto/Pine Challenge: To use one of the words that made Chris Pine's head hurt.
***Confession: I've only listened to the episode about Korean dramas. But it was hilarious.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Jaclyn Moriarty Came to LA & I Almost Forgot to Breathe: My Recap of the LA Times Festival of Books

Remember when I found out Jaclyn Moriarty was coming to LA for the Festival of Books and I almost passed out? That about sums up what happened when I actually did meet her.

I ended up only going on Saturday (April 20) because the Spurs were starting their series against the Lakers on Sunday. (The Spurs won so it was worth it.) Saturday was the day I cared about anyway since Jaclyn Moriarty and Elizabeth Wein were both on panels that day. I had a bit of a Sophie's Choice moment because Jaclyn's appearance at the Once Upon a Time Bookstore booth was at the same time as Elizabeth's panel, Young Adult Fiction: Danger & Determination. My friend, Vickie, and I decided to stake out the booth early and then hightail it over to the panel afterward.

Let me tell you how excited I was that day: I got up at 6am. And I am NOT a morning person. I'm also perpetually late to everything. This time, though, Vickie and I met up for coffee at 9 and then carpooled over to USC. We got to the booth 30 minutes early and looked around. I wasn't sure which books they would have in stock, so I brought a stack with me. I know from Nomes (Inkcrush) that Jaclyn doesn't do many events even in Australia so while I had this opportunity, I wanted to get some books signed for other fans as well. I knew they would have Corner of White in stock, but I was pleasantly surprised that they had The Year of Secret Assignments. There was only one copy in all the LA area B&Ns -- and I bought that one to gift the day before.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Reveal Yo Self: Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield

If you've been on YAA for any length of time, you may have seen us mention Vikki Wakefield. All I Ever Wanted, her debut novel, was one of the first reviews we posted. (Third, to be exact.) In our second podcast, we talked about how in a literary landscape riddled with Lyla Garritys, Mim from All I Ever Wanted is the closest to Tyra Collette. Friday Brown, Vikki's second novel, was the first book we gave away -- not because we had an extra copy from the publisher, but because it was THAT good and we were willing to put our money where our mouths were and have it shipped from Australia. She was on both of our Favorite Books of 2012 lists.

We were so excited when it was announced that Friday Brown was going to be published in the US as Friday Never Leaving on September 10. We saw the UK cover a few weeks ago. And now, we have a US cover. Vikki revealed the cover on her Twitter account.
We love it. It's so eerie and perfect. For those of you who have read the book already, what do you think? For those of you who haven't, get your preorders in! Here are all the editions together. Which one is your favorite?
Editions from left to right: US, AUS, UK
Friday Brown (AUS) available now at FishpondText Publishing (free worldwide shipping)
Friday Brown (UK) available on July 4 at Fishpond • Book Depository
Friday Never Leaving available on September 10 at AmazonKindleBook Depository

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lunch Table Rankings: May 3

Everyone knows the biggest honor you can bestow on someone is an invite to your lunch table, but an invite doesn't get passed around to just ANYONE....