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Book Review: The Collector by Victoria Scott

“As you know, it’ll be held in the gymnasium. We’ll be selling tickets during lunch all week. So don’t forget to buy yours or you’ll be left dateless like me.”

Charlie stops. Her smile falters, but she quickly recovers. “I would know…only ugly losers…” She stops reading the cue cards. Then she gazes right into the camera and freezes.
People in the classroom laugh nervously.

Taylor. She messed with the cue cards. I should have known. I should’ve known!

I bolt from my desk and run for the door.

Behind me, I hear the teacher yelling my name, but there’s no way I’m stopping this time. My sneakers thump against the floor as I run down the hallway, into the cafeteria, and down another longer corridor. I’m heading to the journalism room, but I stop suddenly when I hear the sound of quick footsteps coming from the closest bathroom. Somehow, I know it’s her.

The bathroom doesn’t have a door, just an entrance that turns sharply so you can’t see inside. I don’t even check to see if anyone’s watching. I just go halfway in, knock on the wall, and say, “Charlie? You in here?”

The footsteps stop briefly.

Yep. It’s gotta be her.

I go the rest of the way inside and find her pacing in front of the restroom stalls. Her back is to me as she says, “You can go, Dante. I’m fine.” But when she turns to pace in the opposite direction, I see the truth. Her face is pink and blotchy and her eyes hold so much pain, it rips something apart inside of my chest.

My hands curl and uncurl, and my breathing comes harder and faster. Who do these people think they’re messing with? This girl has been assigned to me. Boss Man wants her soul, which means anyone messing with her—is messing with me. And they’re about to find out exactly what that’s like.

I turn abruptly from Charlie and storm toward the hall.

“Dante,” she says. Her voice becomes urgent. “Dante, don’t.”

I head down the hallway, gaining speed, unstoppable.

As I round the corner, I see Taylor and one of her boy-toys laughing. They’re having a grand ol’ time mocking my girl. The guy sees me and his mouth turns up on one side. “Oh, here comes the boyfriend. Did you catch our show, boyfriend?”

I don’t stop. I keep moving. One second, Dick Head is standing upright and the next my fist slams into his jaw. He hits the floor with a hard thud. I jump on his chest and throw my fist over and over into his face. I’m a big guy, there’s no denying that, but what’s more—I’m a mother fucking demon. And now the guy below me knows what it’s like to piss one off. When the guy’s eyes roll back in his head, I stand up and wipe blood from my knuckles.

Then I look at Taylor.

Fear screams in her eyes. I approach her slowly. She backs up until her shoulder blades hit the lockers behind her. “Dante, I—”

I cover her mouth with my hand. “Shut up.”

I step so close I can practically feel her heart beating. The hand not covering her mouth flicks, and her soul light flips on. Just as I expected, she’s coated in sin seals.

What I don’t expect are the two sparkly, pink seals. What the hell? Did Charlie do this?
Right now, I don’t care. All I care about is delivering what this girl deserves. Usually, the size seal I can assign is based on the sin. But this time—just this once—I’m going to take a little liberty.

I close my eyes and pull as much as I can out of my core, then I let go. A seal the size of Canada attaches to her soul light. And oh, sweet mercy, I can tell Taylor feels it. Actually feels that I just took something sacred from her.

My mouth curls into a smile.

“Pow, bitch.”

Dante Walker is the personification of bad.  A collector of souls for the Bad Guy himself, set free to walk upon the Earth, Dante’s good looks, killer charm, and stellar confidence have made him one of Hell’s best, and he knows it. Sealing souls isn’t personal- it’s just the job. Until Charlie, that is, because the Boss wants Charlie bad, and is willing to promote Dante if he can seal her soul in 10 days. Dante doesn’t know why the Boss Man wants her so bad. and doesn’t care; it’s a permanent ticket out of hell for him. However, Charlie becomes more than an assignment- and Dante discovers that he’s not as distant as he seems.

As the TOP collector of souls for the Devil, Dante has been working on passing judgement for the Boss Man since he died at the age of 17. Released on Earth only for short sprints to seal souls of sinners, Dante leaps at the chance to be promoted to head reaper, and the assignment seems simple- deliver the soul of Charlie Cooper in 10 days. Yet, Charlie is as innocent as they come, and her soul shines. She ends up making Dante believe in himself in ways he never believed he could, and as his heart changes, the stakes only rise. Can he save himself and Charlie before she’s cursed to Hell? 

Dante can be hit or miss with some readers, and his attitude can miss the mark at times and make a reader want to cringe. However, his change throughout the book is dramatic, as well as Charlie’s transformation, and through that he is redeemed (in more ways than one). The world Scott builds is very detailed (how they seal the souls, why they’re doing it, etc.) and the ideas build upon the next so that the reader is left waiting for the second in the series, The Liberator to know what happens in the struggle that is coming.  Very good paranormal romance, and alluring to readers that it’s in a guy’s voice.  I’m not sure that male readers will pick it up as much as female ones (with the *ewwww kissing* factor) but that remains to be seen.  3.5 stars.  Would pair it with books like Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Obsidian or Wendy Higgins Sweet Evil for the romance, or Kim Harrison’s Madison Avery series for the paranormal aspect.  Goodreads lists The Collector at 3.82 stars as of April 23, 2013.

Karen’s 2 Cents: I also read The Collector and seriously ended up enjoying it.  Dante is a bad boy, kind of a version of Spike-lite, and I loved his snark and wit and confidence.  I also loved the effect that Charlie had on all of the above (Yay for Charlie by the way!).  I was curious as to how it would work to write such a smug character and still get the reader to like him, but Scott epically pulls it off.  I also love the discussion of inner versus outer beauty.  In fact, although this could appear to be a fun, surface type of read, there is some real substance here and I really appreciated that.  Yes, it was a seriously fun read, but I think it also drives home some of my favorite life lessons in completely non-obvious, non-teachy ways: people are more than what they look like on the outside and people can be redeemed.  I really liked the characters and the dialogue, they are pitch perfect, and would give it 4 stars (maybe even 4.5).  This one could be (and should be) huge and popular. (edited 4/30/2013 so Karen could add her 2 cents)

Book Review: Prophecy Girl

“Oh, you think this is fun, Prophecy Boy?” I yelled, furious. “You think it’s cool that we’re swimming in other people’s feces?”
Brown water dripped down his smiling face as his gaze danced over me. I couldn’t put my finger on his expression. Bemusement. Possibly insanity.

“What are you grinning at?” I splashed a floating chunk of molded apple core at his head.

He dodged the chunk but kept smiling. “Nothing. It’s just… no girl has ever offered to feed my enemies’ fingernails to her cat before.”
“Lisa’s cat. And don’t flatter yourself. At the moment, I’m tempted to feed him your fingernails.”

I glanced at the high, circular opening we’d passed through. For some reason, it left me with the uncomfortable sensation that I’d been digested by the city. Directly above us, a series of large rectangular grates ran along the length of the drainage ditch where we’d landed. Moonlight flooded through them into the small enclosure, making Jack’s eyes glow silver. I held my breath as he waded toward me and lifted a hand to my cheek.

“You’ve got spaghetti on your face,” he said. “At least, I hope it’s spaghetti.”

I frowned, desperate not to think about it. “Yeah, well, you’ve got toilet paper on your chin. And you’re doomed. Pot.” I pointed at him, then back at myself. “Kettle. Can we move it along, please? I think I’m contracting hepatitis.”

He gave me that look again, the cocky half-smile. “Sure. We’re almost there.”

I followed him through the tunnel obediently, ducking my head every few seconds to avoid the concrete arches that supported the drainage structure. I didn’t bother asking where “there” was. Jack was about as forthcoming as a park bench and, frankly, I didn’t feel like wasting my breath. True to his word, it only took another few minutes before we came to a metal ladder with rungs embedded in the concrete. When Jack finally helped me out of the sewer, I almost cried with relief. Never had the beer/fish/vomit scents of the French Quarter smelled so fragrantly sweet. Somewhere in the distance, the sound of rushing water and steamboat horns rang out. 
Yup. Not Hell. Definitely still home.

My knees ground against the hard cobbles as I crawled to the side of the road, fully prepared to kiss the ground. The concrete was still warm from the heat of the day, so I flopped onto my back and gave a long sigh. Through my eyelids, I could see the full moon above.

“Jack, seriously,” I muttered. “No more surprises. No more prophetic caves, or haunted Graymason nests, or body-surfing sewage. If you want to commit suicide, let’s just go hunt some werewolves and be done with it, okay?”

I lay still as a dark silhouette came to hover over me, blocking out the brightness of the moon.
“Well, love, if you’re set on suicide, I daresay there’s something more dangerous than a werewolf.”
Every inch of me tensed. Not only was that not Jack’s voice, I could tell by the flawless musical quality and perfect British accent it wasn’t human, either. My eyes scanned over him, taking in the cliché. Tall, dark, and psychotically beautiful, with elegant cheekbones and the most arresting violet eyes I’d ever seen on a man. The perfect echo of every romantic hero I’d conjured in my head.
“Oh, hell,” I mumbled. “Who ordered a vampire?”

Amelie Bennett is a Guardian, born to slay Crossworld demons. From a legacy of angel bloodlines, during her senior year she needs to ace her combat finals and get a great testing score in order to get good matches for her Watcher options- for every Guardian must be bonded to a Watcher in order to stay sane while channeling the energies of the crossworld in order to defeat the demons. Yet Amelie hasn’t found anyone she could possibly stand, let alone be even attracted to…until Jackson Smith-Hailey shows up. A replacement for the former teacher, he’s young, unspeakably hot, and dangerous. And his fate is tied to Amelie’s in a way that neither one could expect, and both want to prevent.

Amelie’s biggest goals are to finish out school without failing her exams, and to try and get a decent Watcher- and so far, she’s definitely failing on the Watcher front. Still, she knows that she *has* to have a Watcher, it’s imperative in order for a Guardian to manipulate the crossworld energies. When Jackson shows up to replace one of the teachers who mysteriously died, Amelie knows that the power she feels from him is what she’s been waiting for- and can’t understand why Jackson keeps pushing her away when it’s obvious that they are meant to be bonded. Yet when the Council decides that Amelie is responsible for the rash of teacher deaths, and tries to execute her, Jackson and Amelie go on the run, to find the mysterious Graymason and to foil the prophecy of Amelie’s bloodlines and Jackson’s birth before it’s too late.

While the focus on bondmates and pairings, and the sudden twists at the end, can throw readers off, Amelie’s banter makes up for a lot of flaws, and Cecily White’s world of angelbloods is rich in detail and leaves readers wanting to know more. A very fun ride, however, and worth the read. I would pair it with books like Death and the Girl Next Door or Death, Doom and Detention by Darynda Jones (for the humor and kick-butt heroine), or those like the Fallen series (for immediate love attraction). 3.5 stars. Goodreads currently has Prophecy Girl at 3.84 stars as of April 28, 2013.

Book Review: Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones

I tapped the page with my fingertips. “And this is the page Mr. Davis was looking at. I remember. he’d circled a face with a -“

“Lorelei,” Brooklyn interrupted in a hushed whisper. Her finger slipped up to one of the photos bordering the main picture. In it, a crowd of students stood around the flagpole of the old high school. They were laughing  as though in disbelief, and I realized it was a shot of Mr. Davis’s brother. In what must have been some kind of prank, he and some friends had chained themselves to the pole and were holding a sign I couldn’t quite make out.

But they were laughing  too. Every student in the photo was laughing, except one. A boy. He was standing closer to the camera yet apart from the rest, his stance guarded, his expression void, and then I saw the unmistakable face of our newest student.

Jared Kovach.

I felt the world tip beneath me, my head spin as I stared unblinking.
“It can’t be him,” she said.

But there was no mistaking the wide shoulders, the solid build, the dark glint in Jared’s eyes.

“It can’t be him,” she repeated. 

He had the same mussed hair, the same T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, the same arms, long and sculpted like swimmer’s  The only difference I could see in this picture was the tattoo. Two, actually. Wide bands of what looked like a row of ancient symbols encircled each of his biceps.

“It just can’t be, right, Lorelei?”

He was just as breathtaking  just as surreal. And somehow, it made perfect sense. I swallowed hard and asked, “What if it is him?”

“Lor,” Glitch said, shaking his head, “that’s impossible.”

“Maybe it’s his father, or even his grandfather.” Brooklyn glanced up. “Lots of kids look like their grandparents.”

“Think about it,” I said. “Think about all the things he can do.” I studied the photo again. The caption below it read, Taken the day we lost our beloved brother and friend.

“Wheat if it is him and hew as there the day Mr. Davis’s brother died.” I thought back to what Cameron’s father had said. “Cameron called him the reaper. Maybe he really is.”

“Is what?” Brooklyn asked, pulling away from me.

In hesitation, I pursed my lips. Then I said it, what we were all thinking. “What if he really is the grim reaper?”

Ten years ago, Lorelei’s parents disappeared without a trace, and she can’t remember anything about that day. She’s got her grandparents, her friend Brooklyn and Glitch, and starting sophomore year of high school, so things should be OK, right? Not when the school’s loner, Cameron, decides to start stalking her, and the new boy in school, Jared, seems to be instantly attracted to her of all people. When Jared changes the course of Lorelei’s fate, and with it his own, things start spiraling out of control fast. Can Cameron and Jared keep from killing each other long enough to protect Lorelei from an even bigger threat? And why is Lorelei the focus of it all?

Darynda Jones, bestselling author of the Charley Davidson series (First Grave on the Right, etc.) keeps to her paranormal roots in Death and the Girl Next Door.  Sixteen year old Lorelei has visions that she can’t control and keeps hidden from everyone- they aren’t all hearts and puppies, and the less strange she seems the better life is.  After all, she already lost her parents when she was 6, and that’s enough for anyone. All she wants is for high school to be semi-normal, and things to be OK. However, when super-tall Cameron starts stalking her day and night, and the unbelievably gorgeous Jared shows up at school interested in her, things start loosing their normalcy   And when Jared saves Lorelei’s life, he changes not only her destiny but his. Can Lorelei and her friends (both old and new) figure out who’s trying to kill her before it comes to pass?  Definitely alive with humor and wit, and readers of Jones’ adult series will recognize Lorelei’s banter and outlook. Sets up nicely for the next book, and keeps readers interested, although the instant attraction of Lorelei and Jared can turn some readers off. I’d pair it with books like the Hush, Hush series or Kim Harrison’s Madison Avery series (Once Dead, Twice Shy). 3.25 out of 5 stars.  As of March 22, Goodreads has Death and the Girl Next Door rated as 3.64 stars.

I really enjoyed this book, but I can see how some readers would be turned off within the first 50 pages (which is my threshold for staying with a book I’m not enjoying). Lorelei has definitely just turned sixteen, and her rambling viewpoint and conversations with Brooklyn fit right in with my sense of humor, but could be irritating to others (just as to me it’s irritating that the 9th Doctor gets no love what-so-ever, BTW). 

The instant attraction with Jared is something that is completely in character with a sixteen-year-old girl (hello, new hot boy in a small town), and unlike some other series that shall not be named *cough* sparkly vampires *cough* there is an actual relationship that seems to build. Jared learns that his actions have consequences that he didn’t think of, and learning to deal with the mortal realm takes time as well, while Lorelei is definitely standing up for herself, while trying to discover why she’s at the focal point of everything. Learning that Cameron is not entirely human only adds to the mix, and the surprises that her grandparents and others int he community have in store build up the importance of what Lorelei is, and the conflict that is coming. It sets up the next book and the series quite nicely.

I’m definitely interested to see where Jones is taking Lorelei and her crew.

Book Review: Death, Doom, and Detention by Darynda Jones

With new purpose, I worked the back of the frame off and took the picture into my hands. I was going to lean back against my headboard, take deep breaths, and concentrate. But the moment my fingers touched the picture, I tumbled inside. The sheer curtain drifted apart and I found myself standing in the hospital room while Mom and Dad studied the infant me.

I was sound asleep, probably due to lack of oxygen from being cocooned, as Dad wiggled my chin with a fingertip. “Just like my father’s,” he said, and I couldn’t have explained the pride that welled inside me if I tried a thousand years. My incorporeal chest welled in emotion.

My parents were right there. Right in front of me. So close, I could almost touch them. I wanted so much to run to them, to thanks them for everything. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, but could I breathe here at all? In this place of void?

I wanted to stand there forever and bask in their presence. It was like they were back. They were with me. But I had no way to pause the moment, and it slid forward despite my every desire to the contrary.

Mom stopped her cooing and looked over at Dad. “We should tell her when she’s older.”

I stepped closer. Tell me what?

Dad gave her a sad look. “It’s not our secret to tell,” he said, shaking his head. “Besides, what good would it do her to know the truth? To know that he’s alive?”

What? Who’s alive? What truth?

“I think I have this thing figured out,” a man said, and just as Mom and Dad looked up, the bright light flashed and I was back on my bed, the picture in my hands, Brooke mumbling something about duty and how spying was a noble tradition. Just look at James Bond.

In the second book in the Darklight series, Death, Doom, and Detention picks up where Death and the Girl Next Door picks up. Lorelei knows that she’s the Prophet and with her friend Brooklyn is trying to focus and harness her abilities in order to protect those that she loves and save the world. Meanwhile, Satan’s second in command took over her body when she was six, and living with that fact is a little daunting.  And she’s got a huge crush on the Angel of Death. But what is that when forces are still trying to kill her, and somehow they turn the most powerful being on earth against her?

Finally working on her abilities instead of ignoring them, Lorelei is working on expanding her abilities from passive visions to visions from photographs. With Brooklyn pushing her, she discovers that her parents were hiding secrets from the time she was born- but were they right to hide those secrets? And while Cameron and Jared seem to have solved their differences, the mysterious conflict between Cameron and Glitch continues to make things difficult. However, when Jared disappears then comes back turned, and their enemies draw closer and Lorelei’s visions grow darker, everyone must draw together in order to survive.  Definitely for those who have read Death and the Girl Next Door (you’ll be lost without it). 3.5 out of 5 starts. As of March 22, Goodreads rates Death, Doom, and Detention as 4.18 stars.

I had fun with Death, Doom, and Detention. Lorelei really grows within her character, and has struggles and hard choices that she must make: how far to take her powers, what to do with the visions she gets and how she can change them, and should she remove herself from Riley’s Switch to protect everyone? Extremely hard decisions for a sixteen year old to make, especially as she’s supposedly the only one who can save the world.

The fights between Cameron and Jared that punctured the Death and the Girl Next Door calm down to glares and verbal spats, but the tension between Cameron and Glitch kick up a notch, especially as there are repeated references to an incident at camp in second grade, but nothing is every fully talked about. And when Jared disappears for days at a time and comes back with his evil side in possession, watch out!

The book definitely ends on a cliffhanger, and makes you wonder what will happen in the third. There are many references to the demon that possessed Lorelei when she was six, yet there were only little peaks within this book, so it’ll be interesting to see where Jones takes it. Lorelei still has her trademark humor and way of thinking, which makes the ride fun.

Book Review: The Curiositites: a collection of stories by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff

A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.

Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.

A world where fires never go out (with references to ice cream.)

Are you curious?

The Curiosities began as a writing experiment between three friends, popular YA Lit writers Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Breena Yovanoff.  And it ended with an awesome epic amazing curiously awesome collection of short stories.

The Curiosities is a fun look not only into the paranormal world, but into the world of writing and at a glimpse into the life of 3 friends who happen to be writers.  These stories are unedited and contain a variety of hand written notes throughout; in fact at one point, one of the authors circles a bunch of “it is” in one story and says that if she was editing the story, she would use more contractions.  Some of the other notes include:

“Full disclosure: I still don’t really know what this title means. But I liked how it sounded.” (p. 212)

“I almost convinced myself I could give this story a less unhappy ending, but that wouldn’t really be in keeping with the prompt.” (p. 78)

“Contrary to popular belief, this IS an ending.” (p. 10)

There are notes about the stories, notes about each other as a writer and fun things like a hand drawn diagram of Brenna’s brain, Tessa’s liver and Maggie’s heart.

Karen’s Pick for a Holiday Season Gift Book

There are other fun asides in this book, such as this list:

How to End a Story When You’re Stuck:
Kill Someone
Kill Everyone
Burn Things Down (apparently Maggie Stiefvater has someone inside her always saying “fire, fire”)
Make Them Kiss
Get the Paino Wire
Start Over
It Was All a Dream
End Mid-Sente . . .

Most of the short stories in this collection are good, unlike a lot of other short story collections.  But in many ways, that hardly seems like the point of this book.  No, this is a heartfelt look into the life of a writer and into a friendship – and it is truly quite glorious.  I really loved this book.  It is creative, interesting, and such an intimate look in the writing process, friendship, and the hearts (and brain and liver) of three very talented ya writers.

Here is my caveat: I don’t know about you, but my teens don’t really check out short story collections.  I don’t know why, but they don’t.  They never have.  And this book seems like a real fan’s book.  I imagine that the audience for this book is limited, maybe to three types of people: 1) those that are interested in learning more about the art of writing, 2) fangirls (and guys) – those who are fans to any one of or all of these ya authors and 3) me people like me who love a good story.  I can also seeing this be a huge success in the classroom as it kind of lifts the veil to the writing and editing process and behind the curtain you see the editing wizard.

To be honest, this is a 5 star book and I highly recommend it, with the above mentioned caveat.  And I think this is a great holiday gift book to anyone who would put themselves in the above categories.

P.S. – there is a really interesting twist on the zombie story in here.
So tell me, do your teens read short story collections, or are they dust collectors at your library too?/

What do I call that? Genre 101 with Georgia McBride

I love speculative fiction so much that when I started Month9Books, I added the commonly misunderstood term to our tagline: “speculative fiction for teens and tweens where nothing is as it seems.” Those of you who are genre fiction fans, and in particular speculative fiction fans, may already know what it means. But for those of you who hear only the “wah wah wah” of Charlie Brown’s teacher when I use it, this one’s for you.

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term used to encompass a variety of genres and sub-genres. The easiest way to understand what it means is to break down the word speculative. It has “speculate” in it. According to Barron’s Reference Guides Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus, to speculate means to “form an opinion without any definite evidence.” As a transitive verb, Merriam Webster says in essence, to speculate is to theorize or wonder. As in, I wonder what would happen if, or I think if  X happened, we would all do Y.

I like to say that speculative fiction encompasses all of the “what if” genres. Like, what if your boyfriend were a vampire? Or, what if you had to fight to the death on national TV so that your family and everyone in your district would survive? What if you found out you were a wizard endowed with the power to defeat the greatest evil ever known? The previous “what if” scenarios are taken from Twilight, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, classified as paranormal romance, dystopian fiction, and fantasy respectively, and all under the speculative fiction umbrella. See how easy that was?

Also included under the speculative fiction umbrella are science fiction, horror, high fantasy, urban fantasy, utopian/totalitarian, steampunk, and supernatural. I may be missing a few sub-genres here, but these are the most commonly referenced ones.

 The boundaries between these genres aren’t entirely set in stone, and many novels can be fairly classified under two or more of them. That said, below are my personal definitions for various genres of speculative fiction, as well as some examples of recent books, TV shows or films that fall into them.

Science Fiction: One of my favorite genres has been making a comeback in young adult literature. Though we tend to enjoy watching our science fiction (SciFi), including shows and films like Star Wars, Star Trek, A.I., War of the Worlds, and even Transformers,  those of us in children’s book publishing have also enjoyed titles like Across the Universe, Mila 2.0, Beta, Ender’s Game, and classics like Fahrenheit 451. Fans of science fiction might also like films like Minority Report; I, Robot; 12 Monkeys; Terminator; etc.

Star Wars helped make science fiction popular. But today purists may ask whether certain works are really science fiction or are something else. The answer, IMHO, lies within the name of the genre itself. I like to say that science fiction is a story that presents circumstances and outcomes that would not be possible outside of the realms of science and/or technology, and often a science or technology not yet created. In other words, a world where robots replace service personnel, or a where inter-galaxy travel is possible, or where clones are standard fare, would not be possible were it not for imagined future advancements in science and technology.
Fantasy: Another favorite of mine, this genre includes stories that are made up of fantastical occurrences (superhuman powers, magical creatures, etc.), and characters, beings, and settings that seem to come from the imagination and folklore, rather than from scientific fact or speculation. Generally, comic books fit into this category. Fantasy normally unfolds due to magic or some other supernatural force, and may be set in either the real world or in an imagined one. Most fantasy involves a quest or adventure. Some of my favorites include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Emissary, which releases in December, 2013. On TV, look for shows like Once Upon a Time, and check out films like Snow White and the Huntsman, Avatar, and The Avengers.

Paranormal: This includes stories where supernatural or otherworldly elements influence the outcomes and occurrences in a story, whether those elements be a force, a being (person), or an idea. The genre is often associated with otherworldly beings, such as vampires, angels, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, etc. Some of my favorites include Shiver, Anna Dressed in Blood, Rot and Ruin, and A Shimmer of Angels, which releases January 29, 2013. On TV, look for The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf, Arrow, 666 Park Avenue, and Grimm, Heroes (no longer on the air). Check out films like Underworld, Wrath of the Titans, Hellboy, and The Mummy.

Dystopian: Some of you were first introduced to this type of book via The Hunger Games. These stories show the evolution of characters as they navigate a society in which conditions are less than ideal, or even the complete opposite of a utopian (or ideal) world. Other examples include Breathe, Divergent, and one of my favorites: Lord of the Flies. On TV, shows like The Walking Dead, Revolution and Falling Skies represent the dystopian genre.
High Fantasy: This genre, like other fantasy, usually includes magical or imaginary events and ideas, but it is also normally set in a fantastical or alternate world other than what we understand to be the “real” world, whose existence may or may not be acknowledged. Some of my faves are The Girls of Fire and Thorns and Graceling. In both book and film formats, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are also standouts.

Steampunk movies like the (IMHO) ill-conceived Wild, Wild West (starring Will Smith), or one of my favorites, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, have never really caught on. I fear the same is true for books set in a time when steam powered the world, although titles such as Leviathan, Boneshaker, and Clockwork Angel lead the pack in young adult and are wonderful examples of how to use steampunk elements to drive a story.

Next time we will devote an entire post to one of my favorite genres, horror!

Georgia McBride
Georgia loves a good story. Whether it’s writing her own, or publishing someone else’s, story is at the heart of everything Georgia does. Founder of YALITCHAT.ORG and the weekly #yalitchat on Twitter, Georgia spends most of her days writing, editing, or talking about books. That is, of course, when she is not reading submissions for Month9Books or Swoon Romance.
With a particular interest in and passion for genre fiction, Georgia seeks to fill the gap left by major publishers who may have had their fill of paranormal, horror, and fantasy novels. And it’s a good thing, because Georgia has never met a vampire, angel, or werewolf she didn’t like.
In Month9Books, Georgia seeks to create a niche imprint that publishes deeply emotive works for teens and tweens set in worlds not too unlike our own.
Georgia is seeking middle grade stories with heart and engaging characters who experience life a bit differently. She especially enjoys mysteries, fantasy, and superhero and antihero stories. For young adult, Georgia seeks works that make readers think, and aren’t afraid to be smart, different, or off the beaten path. She is especially interested in genre mash-ups, and welcomes character-driven, coming of age stories with a romantic element. Fangs and zombies welcome.

TRW: Romancing the Paranormal

As a teen librarian who knows their trends, you know that books like Twilight and The House of Night series are as popular with teens as chocolate and pizza.  What you may not realize is that they have a long and distinguished history within literature dating back to 1764.  Paranormal romance, a subset of romance that has beings of the supernatural (ghosts, demons, angels, werebeings, vampires, etc.) falling in love/lust with us mere humans, actually comes from Gothic fiction.  The first Gothic stories were written by Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, and Clara Barton.  The Romantics took over, with Lord Byron giving us the archtype of the hero in our current paranormal romances:  a man of loneliness and mystery, a villain that detests himself for what he is, yet seems unable to change until the heroine makes her appearance.
The Victorians added their twist on it, with The Penny Dreadful serial fictions leading the way.  Enter then Edgar Allan Poe, who brought back more of the macabre, madness, and mystery into the mix.  The Bronte sisters as well can fall into paranormal ancestors, with ghosts in various stories as well as The Madwoman in the Attic.  Most current teen paranormal fiction falls into the genre of urban fantasy, where things blend the magical and mysterious in with the supernatural.  And when you think about it, most superhero comics and graphic novels, all time travel books, and those featuring psychic abilities would also fit in paranormal romances- not just things that go bump in the night or howl at the moon.  I’ve listed below some of my favorite books and series; share yours in the comments!

The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  Werebeings, demons, vampires, and Shadowhunters descended from angels, plus secret siblings, crossed lovers, and secret crushes, including an all ages GLBT romance.  Oh, yes!

Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  When Ethan starts waking up from dreams that connect him to the new girl Lena, things start to take a turn, but are they for better or for worse?

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa.  In the first part, Meagan is half faery, half human, and needs to claim her magical bloodright.  In the second, we follow Ethan, her brother, who must battle the vengeful Forgotten.

The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr.  Aislynn, who is mortal,  has always seen the fairies, even when she wasn’t supposed to.  Her gift leads her on more and more adventures through the different courts as the series grows.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.  Karou has a chance encounter with the angel Akiva, and her world starts unraveling around her- black handprints on portals, and memories coming back to life.  Will it be for good or for bad?

Tithe series by Holly Black.  16 year old Kaye learns her lineage- she’s a changeling pixie- and a move to New Jersey brings her into a plot to free her people but puts her life on the line.

Fallen series by Lauren Kate.  Luce, sent to boarding school, finds that Sword and Cross holds more for her than schooling; rather, fallen angels and her long lost love.

The Immortals series by Alyson Noel.  Ever and Damen, separated through different lifetimes, struggle to be together as they are intended.  

Madison Avery series by Kim Harrison.  Meet Madison, dead from a car accident after going to her prom. Oh, and she’s also a reaper.  Makes things a bit complicated to explain to her dad, especially with a light reaper, a dark reaper, and a guardian angel following her every move.  Oh, and school.

Prom Nights from Hell.  Think your prom was bad?  Try these stories on for size- but be warned, it’s not always a happy ending.

TPIB: Paranormal Romance – Angels

Without a doubt angels are hot right now in YA fiction (Paranormal Romance).  You have the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and now the Embrace series by Jessica Shirvington – just to name a few.  So I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with some angel crafts that weren’t incredibly hokey (angels out of paper plates – oh my!) and yet weren’t wicked expensive.  Sure, we could do variations of some of the same things we have done before; I mean, angel wings will work nicely in bottle cap jewelry or marble magnets or what have you.   But then a great idea was staring me right there in the face on the cover of Embrace . . . you could make 3 dimensional book covers with angel wings using your teens as models.

I don’t have all the right tools at home to make a great step by step photo montage of this craft for you, so bear with me.  But in the end, you will use a photograph of your teen (preferably with their back facing the camera) and nothing more than white paper, scissors, glue and photo shop to create your own book covers.  You will only need photoshop (or any software that lets you add text to a picture) if you want to add book “titles” and “authors” onto the photo, with the author being the teen’s name.

This is the book cover look that inspired this craft activity

Step 1: Creating the initial photograph

Take a picture of your teen, preferably with their back facing the camera

My initial photograph

After downloading the photos to your computer for printing, you can add any text at this time if you would like.  I think it would be fun to use their favorite angel book title – or have them make up one of their own – and put it on the page.  Think of those fake magazine covers they put you on the front of at amusement parks.  You can also put the teen’s name on the photograph to indicate that they are the author.  For the really creative, put together some fake cover blurbs.

After you have your photograph looking the way you would like, print.  Color is preferable (and teens are more liekly to have color pics) but black and white would still work.  Black and white book covers are cool, too.  Look no further then Lauren Kate and Becca Fitzpatrick to see how cool they can be.

If you wanted to skip all of the above you could just ask your teens to bring a 5×7 or 8×10 photograph of themselves to the event, but it would need to be a full body shot.

This is what your final tribute cover will look like, but with 3-d papercut wings as opposed to clip art

Step 2: Making your angel wings

Fold a plain white sheet of paper in half

Cut along the folded the basic shape of what you would like your angel wings to look like.  There are a lot of good examples if you just do a Google image search for angel wings.

Before unfolding, cut any addition flourish you want inside to make the wings look the same.  Pretend you are cutting out paper snow flakes

Unfold and then cut your angel wings down the center line making two distinct wings

 Then glue them with craft glue onto your picture to add a 3 dimensional affect

 To make your picture a more sturdy wall hanging, you may want to glue the photograph itself onto poster board, cork board, etc.

If you use a forward facing picture, you will need to cut small slits on the photograph and glue the wings on the underside of the photograph through those slits so it appears as if the angel wings are coming from behind the teen.  And as you can see, I cut various types of wings to test the waters.  The key is to get the right size/proportion for the photograph you are using and bigger is definitely better as it is easier to give it more detail.

If you need another activity to do at your event, I found this great wire jewelry craft at Imagination-Jewelry.

Image and instructions at

Let me know if you do this, I would love to see pics. And be sure and add any additional craft ideas you might have in the comments.  I am now off to practice my angel wing cutting.

Read my review of Embrace by Jessica Shirvington here
You can find much better examples of paper cutting at the All About Paper Cutting blog