Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

On the Fourth Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me . . .

On the Fourth Day of Blogmas, my TLT gave to me, a teen boy (and his friend Jami) blogging . . .

I first met Bryson McCrone because he was the winner of our Google Hangout with A. S. King.  So Bryson and I got to hang out with A. S. King, by video chat but it was still incredibly awesome.  Bryson is an inspiring writer, a reader, and a teen boy.  I am a huge believer that in order to serve teens we need to spend time talking to them, and reading teen blogs is a definite no brainer.  Today to tell you more about their blog, here is Bryson and his blogging partner, Jami.

Why did you decide to start a blog?

Bryson: I brought the idea up to Jami a few weeks ago because we both are reading ALL THE TIME! And half the time, we’re reading the same things. So I figured I’d ask her if she wanted to start a blog because it seemed fun, plus, it gave me a chance to promote reading and my favorite books.

Jami: Bryson and I have been trying to find projects to collaborate on for about a year now. We’ve tried writing a couple of different books together and we wrote a song together. I guess starting a review blog was just the next thing we had to try, and so far it’s gone great. We both love to read and I think we have a really unique idea of what we’re trying to accomplish.

What are your blog goals?

Bryson: To get people excited about reading. Even boys. No matter what book it is.

Jami: So many people are turning to movies and music for entertainment instead of books. Especially young people in my and Bryson’s age groups. But books will always hold a special place in our hearts, and we really just want to share that love and that experience.

What should readers expect from your blog and why should they read it?

Bryson: Jami made up our selling point of having the blog appeal to both genders because the reviews gave my thoughts, and hers. So we could get girls and boy excited about reading, no matter what the book.

We also have giveaways, our most recent and still running is a signed personalized copy of Caitlin Elyse’s Heaven Bound, Hell Hunted.

There are author interviews too. We just posted our first one, which was with Caitlin Elyse, and we have a few others going up within the next few weeks.

Jami: Readers should expect funny reviews from us. There will be books that Bryson loves that I can’t finish and vice versa. I will fall hopelessly in love with characters that Bryson can’t stand, and Bryson will think some girl that I hate is cool. I think we offer a unique perspective because you are getting the thoughts a girl has on a certain book and then turn around and get a boy’s opinion on the same book.

Tell us 5 of your favorite recent reads and what you loved about them.

Bryson: At the moment, only three really stick out to me.

Recently, I read The Evolution of Mara Dyer, which is the sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin. Both of these books were amazing and their plots are soooo thick. I met Michelle a few weeks ago, and the way that she would talk about the book gave me so much more appreciation for it.

A.S. King’s Ask the Passengers was fantastic. I love Amy’s writing so much, every time I crack open on of her books I feel like I’m learning how to make my writing better in some way. The other thing that I loved about Ask the Passengers, and all of Amy’s writing is the connection with the characters. She has a character that everyone can relate to. Somehow, she knows people. I think she’s a spy, quite honestly because she knows people so well. It’s scary.

Identicalby Ellen Hopkins was another book I really enjoyed. I’ve never read anything by her before, but man is her writing hardcore. I think her books are great, they help people deal with addiction, sexual and physical abuse, and self-harm and that is amazing.

Jami: First up would probably be The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I bought The Unbecoming at the beginning of the year, finished it in two days, and then waited an eternity for the second. It’s a really great storyline with intriguing characters, mystery, hysteria.. basically it’s just an amazing read.

Next would have to be Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. It’s a little slow starting out, but I love that it’s a book dominated by real emotions instead of being driven by action. The characters were refreshing and the idea was beyond intriguing. I’m waiting rather impatiently for the sequel.

Third is Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I have a grand total of six sci-fi books that I’ve actually enjoyed, and two of them were by Ms. Revis. It’s another book that is just slow, lots of talk with little action. But it was so political and the world she created was marvelous. I can’t wait for the third.

Fourth will be Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts. It has all the action an apocalyptic novel needs with just the right amount of “down time” for those of us who are susceptible to heart attacks when our favorite characters get in a bind. I’m waiting to get my hands on Rage Within.

Lastly, Paper Towns by John Green. Mr. Green is a master storyteller. His characters are witty in a subtle way and he shows reader the world through fresh eyes. His writing really just makes you realize all that you have and all that you are missing out on. Definitely one of my favorite authors.

How do you feel the YA market meets the needs of teen guy readers, and how are they failing?

Bryson: I feel like, for guy readers, there should be a list of what we want. But there isn’t. For me, I don’t have any sort of requirements. The books just have to be appealing, and I’m pretty much open to everything. I’ve seen romance in practically everything. And I feel like people get bored with the same romantic cliches. I know I do. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and its sequel was one of the books with romance that I didn’t mind. At first, I was like ‘NO! This book is too good to have romance,” but in the end, it all plays out. The boyfriend doesn’t annoy me, and I think that that is one way to not fail at appealing to male readers.

There are also a lot of girl-power books out there, which is great. But I think that to some guys, that’s sort of a letdown because so many books feature strong female characters. But, fellow boys, don’t let this discourage you, many of these books are amazing. Give them a try.

I don’t think I could say how the YA market succeeds at meeting teen guy’s needs. I know male readers who love sappy stuff, and male readers that can’t get enough blood and gore and violence. For YA, they have such a wide variety of books that there’s something for everyone.

Jami: I think teen boys just need to be open to the fact that life isn’t always a battlefield. There are quiet, sweet moments everywhere. I think there could be more mystery YA out there, and maybe a bit less romance in some of the thicker plot lines. But there are plenty of dystopian and zombie novels out there to give the guys a bit of gore. Dark Inside is great for guys or girls. The romance is minimal, the action is heavy, and the perspectives are just fantastic.

What would you like to see more of in YA lit? And less of?

Bryson: I would loveto see some more mystery! When I say mystery, I mean the mystery is the main plot. We keep reading to find out who-done-it. Obviously, there is a lot of mystery subgenre, but I’d like to see it come back as the genre.

Less of? I’d like to see less ‘hype’ in vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Their time will come once again, but I think it’s over for now.

Jami: I’d love to see some more really elaborate plot lines that are fresh, like Incarnate and the Hush, Hush saga. I’d love to see more historical fantasy that plays on a very real feeling fantasy world. Less? Vampires and werewolves. I think their time has come and gone. It’s a new age of steampunk, post-apocalyptic stories, and zombies.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting you via an online chat as you were the winner of our Google Hangout with A.S. King. What were some of your favorite moments of that chat?

Bryson: Can I say every moment? Haha. You have no idea how excited I was for that chat, no idea. I think that my favorite moment was when that little girl came on singing California Girls, and then just randomly disappeared. That was hilarious!   (Karen’s note: That was HILARIOUS!!)

I also absolutely loved getting to talk with Amy about my work. She was helpful beyond belief.

You talked a lot to A.S. King about being a writer and shared your writing aspirations, what were some of the best tips A.S. King shared with you?

Bryson: I actually have these two tips hanging on my desk above my computer so I don’t forget them. Amy said “Never publish in a hurry, and always be writing the next book.”

Both of these are extremely important the more I think about them. I’ve always sort of thought that I need to publish something while I’m young, but I don’t. It’s okay to try your hardest and not meet goals, especially if those goals are something like getting published before you’re 17.

I never am just working on one sole project. I have about six others I’m working on at any given time. But Amy made a good point. You’ve spent the past two years on the same project, and that project alone. What are you going to do once you sell that first book? Assuming your publisher and readers are going to want more, you’d better have something in progress.

Where would you like to see yourself one year from now?

Bryson: With an agent. I know that is probably unlikely, but I’m hopeful. I’d like to have some short stories published, finish up edits and rewrites on my second book, and hopefully rewrite my first novel. I’d also love to see Dual Perspectives become successful, that would be amazing.

Jami: A year from now I would love to have our blog known, our giveaways international and our friendship strengthened. For myself, I really want to have the second novel in my Knight Trilogy out there in the world, and possibly have another book far into the stages of publication. Of course I’d love to have an agent working with me toward actually publishing the traditional way, but I really enjoy doing everything on my own, too. Mainly I’d like to see myself with a real marketing team and just getting my name out there.

Share one book that forever changed your life and why.

Bryson: This is easy. Harry Potter. I love those books so much, and I think that they are a great example of a writer’s power with words. J.K. Rowling was in such a hard place when she wrote the first book; she was a single mother, practically homeless, dealing with depression. Her story is a great example of how writing helps people, how writing stays with people. Harry Potter helped her in so many ways, and in ways it’s helped those who’ve read it too.

Harry Potter will always be one of my most cherished childhood memories, from reading the books, to buying the Halloween costumes, and going to see the movies. They will always hold a special place in my heart. And none of that would have been without those wonderful books.

Jami: I read Tamara Pierce’s Alanna: The First Adventure every year. It was the first book I ever read about female empowerment and young girls going after their dreams, and it has really just stuck with me. The writing was fresh, and it was in my all-time favorite genre of historical fantasy. I wish there were more books like it out there. But Alanna taught me that I could do whatever I wanted, no matter what the rules or limitations were. She wanted to be a knight, so she cut off her hair, switched places with her twin, and she did it. She worked hard and she achieved her dreams. I think it’s a story that would resonate through any young girls.
Karen’s Note: Dual Perspectives is such a great concept and tool.  Here you have two teens giving you their male and female perspectives on ya lit. Please be sure to check them out.

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