And Seraphina has made Amazon’s Top 20 YA Novels of 2012! It’s #13, no less, which I find highly amusing.
That particular article also lets you know which ones were John Green’s favourites, in case you were burning with curiosity about that (follow the link to Omnivoracious to learn what they all are).
I have to admit, I tend to read older books. I mean, I feel guilty reading newer stuff when I haven’t even finished my TBR list from the 80s yet. How can I have any pudding if I haven’t eaten my meat?
I will say, though, that the few 2012 books I read IN 2012 were some of the best books I read all year. Code Name Verity tops the list, along with The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Nielsen and Bitterblue. It’s wonderful that there are so many good books being published, particularly in YA. We’re having a little YA Golden Age, here, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
Updated to Add: And here’s another list, from Library Journal Reviews, Best Books 2012: YA Literature for Adults. I was about to claim Seraphina is #3 there, but it looks like it’s actually my surname that is #3 in alphabetical order. Still, another informative list, just in time for the holidays. I imagine that’s not a coincidence.
Goin’ to Alberta soon,
Gonna be a dental floss tycoon!
Ok, maybe not precisely that, but I will be attending Calgary WordFest, giving exciting talks on the 10th and 11th. If you’re in town, come see me!
If you’re nowhere near Calgary, never fear. I will leave you with interesting things to read and think about.
First, at Lady Business, an informative post on Gender Balance and YA Award Winners Since 2000. I notice they did not include the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award, so I include the stats here (with the caveat that some of the books may be middle grade and at least one looks like nonfiction) — 7 male, 5 female.
Zoe Marriot has some interesting things to say in response: Women Dominate? In What Universe?
Also buzzing through the YA blogosphere yesterday, an article from Read Now, Sleep Later about perceived stigma around the very label “Young Adult” – YA Shame and Stigma.
I come from comics and from SF/F, so I’m not entirely convinced YA has much of a stigma, or at least not universally. Sales don’t reflect that. Rapid expansion of the genre doesn’t reflect that. And honestly, are there books with NO stigma from anyone? Don’t we all turn up our noses at genres we dislike (or haven’t tried)? We are creatures of habit, and we prejudge things readily on little evidence. My personal stigmatized genres include “books where doggies die” and “adult literature that takes itself way too seriously”. I’m almost certainly missing a lot of great books because of these irrational biases, but what to do? I’m also missing a lot of great books by virtue of not having time to read them.
All right, darlings, take care. Be excellent to each other until I return.
Here it is! (I couldn’t get it to embed, sorry.)
I just want to say: thank you so much to Nancy Pearl, Paul, Deanna, the lovely folks at University Book Store, and everybody else who helped make this happen (Trinity, Robert, Konrad, Paige, Flann! You helped!). I had so much fun, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to keep chatting. Maybe we’ll chat again sometime!
If you know me at all, you know I love the band RUSH. I didn’t always; they put something in the water here to make you impress upon the first Canadian music you hear. Could’ve been worse. Could’ve been Bieber.
Anyway, I got their latest album, Clockwork Angels, for my birthday and have found it completely impenetrable. Now, I’m used to a certain amount of this from RUSH. All their songs sound like noise to me at first. This album, though, is requiring more stubbornness than usual.
So when I heard Clockwork Angels was also going to be a novel, I had mixed feelings. I couldn’t decide whether it sounded awesome or vaguely embarrassing. Or, y’know, utterly impenetrable.
Well, having read Anderson’s guest post over at Scalzi’s, I’m feeling somewhat reassured. The author really likes RUSH, anyway — in fact he seems to like a lot of the same prog rock as me. (Now I am vaguely embarrassed, because I actually had dinner with him in San Diego, and I didn’t talk to him at all. In my defense, I was at the other end of a long table, and I was exhausted, but still. I wish I’d made more effort). In fact, I only realized who he was (the writer of all those latter-day Dune novels) as I was leaving (before dessert, because I was exhausted). So: my apologies, Kevin Anderson. I hope we run into each other again sometime; I shall have more to say to you.
I’ll take a look at the book, certainly, but I reckon I should come to better grips with the music first. Still, super fun to read about the role music plays in someone else’s process! And it will be interesting to look for the music in the book.
ETA: thanks to Paige for the link!
ETA2: As my friend Dave astutely points out in the comments, before this album or its novelization, there was a wonderful graphic novel called Clockwork Angels by Lea Hernandez.
I am so sad to hear that Maurice Sendak has died. His books were a huge part of my childhood, of course, but he was also someone who inspired me to write as an adult. I saw him give a talk when I was in college, and he was cranky, yes, but also so unabashedly, unapologetically himself. Seeing him helped give me the courage not to go to graduate school, but to pursue art and writing instead.
One particular quote stuck with me: “People ask why I write children’s books. I don’t write children’s books. It’s not my fault booksellers don’t shelve me next to Saul Bellow!”
I took that to heart. Write what you need to write. Let someone else decide how to categorize it.
Rest in peace, old man.
Edited to add: Holy crap my friend Phantom can write. Here’s her eulogy to Mr. Sendak.
Kat Kennedy’s Musing Muser’s post on Cuddlebuggery Book Blog: Women and Romance Novels
Is it any wonder women take refuge in a world that actually acknowledges their existence in a somewhat positive manner? And one that provides a fantasy in which they will be loved and treated as important?
I am not a romance reader, by any stretch, but her argument makes a lot of sense to me.
Edited to add: Here’s more on the same subject, from Maria Bustillos at The Awl. I have now officially thought more about romance novels in one morning than in all my years combined. Unless Longmire Does Romance Covers counts. Which I’m pretty sure it does not.
My husband and I have long been fans of Lindsey Davis’s Marcus Didius Falco mysteries. It was our friend Josh who got us addicted in the beginning. Even now, years later, we still fight over each new book as it comes out.
(Or not really: when you’re married long enough, you learn which of you is the faster reader and which is more likely to inadvertently give away spoilers. In our case, fortunately, those aren’t both the same person. Scott reads books first in a mad whirlwind dash, and I blurt out spoilers later, in my own time, when he no longer finds them spoiling.)
It was with manic glee, therefore, that I watched him reading Falco: the Official Companion these last few days. I hadn’t even realized this book was coming out, and a fan companion – though not as exciting as an actual novel – was surely something to relish.
Uncharacteristically, Scott kept reading bits of it out loud to me. They weren’t really spoilers, as such, but I couldn’t help feeling bemused by the whole thing. It seemed he was finding this book reminded him… of me.
I found this very encouraging, not just because Davis is hilarious, but because I think it underscored that I’m not the only crazy writer out there. Apparently we’re all just a little bit eccentric. That can only be good news, right?
So I finally started the book, and I already find myself grinning and needing desperately to quote it at you. She starts off with great advice, right in chapter one:
Never reveal that you write in a paint-stained velour leisure suit, with orthopaedic inserts in your thermal slippers.
I won’t, Lindsey. I won’t. But I may just giggle through this entire book.
With the release of Breaking Dawn (the film), strong feelings about the Twilight series have once again risen back to the fore on blogs and discussion forums. Now, though, there’s a backlash against the backlash. A metabacklash, if you will. The inimitable Holly Black has her finger on the pulse of an interesting argument, as always.
This got me thinking, as appears to be inevitable. I’ve had a Twilight post fermenting in my brain for some time, and while it’s only tangentially related to Black’s post, now seems as good a time as any to write about it.
For those with short attention spans, or who fake a migraine any time I talk about art, I’ll cut right to the thesis: I don’t like Twilight, but I still think Twilight is art, maybe even good art. Unfeminist or not, modelling bad relationships or not, it has its place and it isn’t going to ruin kids who read it.
All righty then! Those of you intrepid enough to follow me into my Labyrinth of Argument, I’ll meet you under the fold!
(It’s been a while since I wrote an Origins post! If you’re interested in the previous instalments, here’s the first one, or you can check out the “Roots” category under the “Preoccupations” heading on the sidebar.)
I sometimes hesitate to bring up my influences because it can create inaccurate expectations. If I list Tolkien as an influence, you might assume I’ve written a sword and sorcery quest book. If I mention Neil Gaiman, suddenly my book (in your imagination) turns into a Goth girl with black nails and an ankh necklace. Which would be awesome, but nothing like my book.
I guess my caveat here is that influence isn’t the same as resemblance. If you want to know who I write like, I would protest loudly that I’m probably the least qualified person to answer that question. If you won’t accept that answer, I might say, “John Green?” in a squeaky little voice. Which is nuts, right? Except that it’s not: we’re both preoccupied with epistemology and our books are full of nerds. I’d call that a resemblance. (I fully expect this to come back and bite me someday, when somebody sends me an irate letter saying, “Hey! Your book is fantasy! I was expecting John Green!” Allow me to say preemptively: Oh, were you? Oops.)
I can’t call Green an influence, though, because I never read any of his books until Seraphina was pretty much done, and my husband has not yet invented that time machine I keep asking for. (Confidential to my husband: DUDE. TIME MACHINE. I need it like, yesterday.)
I consider influences to be writers (or others) who have taught me something new and expanded my understanding of what is possible in art, people I technically owe a thank-you note or maybe even a fruit basket. Seraphina and I owe this debt of gratitude to Terry Pratchett, Lois McMaster Bujold, and George Eliot (TIME MACHINE, NEUTRINO MAN).
(Reposted from Goodreads)
OK, I think I’m finally ready to review this properly. Deep breath…
I didn’t like this book.
I know, I know, it has four stars and may even deserve five, but I didn’t LIKE it. It hit too close to home, and I’m having trouble working out a way to discuss that without laying my own crap out all over the internet in gruesome and excessive detail.
I’m going to have to approach this obliquely, I fear.
Long ago, when I first became a parent, I read a lot of parenting books. One idea in particular hit me hard — so hard that I can’t even figure out where I first read about it, the source got knocked right out of my brain. That idea was “differentiation”.
Differentiation is the process by which children learn that they are different people from their parents. I realize that sounds both trivial and obvious, but it’s not. It usually happens in stages; a child begins to realize things like “Oh, I like olives and mom doesn’t, and that’s ok because we’re different people!” or “Sometimes Daddy is WRONG!” It’s basic boundaries-building. This is mine, THAT is yours, we are not identical and that is as must be.
For some people, believe it or not, this process doesn’t quite manage to happen. Sometimes a parent is so self-centered, needy, and/or charismatic that the children can’t (or won’t) pull away. that’s what I see, laid out starkly and grimly, in this novel. Ruby has been Chloe’s default parent. Chloe can’t tell where she ends and her sister begins. Ruby is such a narcissist she encourages this. They’re a cult of two, and Chloe never manages to break free.
The magic-realism, or surrealism, or however the nightmarish imagery should be categorized, serves to amplify this dynamic. It’s the psychological made literal, the mind turned inside-out. And it’s not like Chloe doesn’t see the discrepancies between Ruby’s domain and naked reality. She absolutely sees them, and they bother her a little bit.
But not enough to break free. Even with Ruby “dead” (and I mean, is she? Certainly if you gauge by Chloe’s psyche, the answer has to be no), there is no escape for poor Chloe.
And that, I think, is the crux of my dislike. The book was well-written and compelling and creepy, and you should absolutely read it, but the ending made me want to punch holes in the wall. I want to howl and burn things. And yes, there is personal history wrapped up in my reaction, and no, I’m not explaining it in any more detail than that.
It’s a hard book. A bullying book, compelling you to read even when you hate it. Worth the time, and worth the heartache, but I have to keep reminding myself that escape is possible, even if Chloe didn’t want it.