Saturday, October 25, 2014

From Where I'm Standing [16] - Roadside YA Tour

It's been quite a while since I've gotten to go to a book event, but on Friday the 24th I got to attend the Nashville stop of the Roadside YA Tour! It was held at Parnassus Books and featured four amazing authors: Tessa Gratton, Natalie C. Parker, Bethany Hagen, and Julie Murphy!

Traffic was horrendous in Nashville so instead of visiting some places before the event, we (my mother and I) decided to go straight to the bookstore even if we were going to be extremely early. It worked out though and we got great seats.

The moderator was the amazing Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal, and she did a great job. She asked fantastic questions and got the authors talking easily, making this one of the best panels I've ever seen.

So much was discussed that it's hard to recap everything, so here is (in short) what I learned:

L-R: Courtney C. Stevens, Julie Murphy, Natalie C. Parker, Bethany Hagen, Tessa Gratton

Natalie C. Parker is a BAMF. Not only is her day-job title incredibly long (like a paragraph) and she is crazy-smart, she's also fun and witty and sweet. I've been following her career since 2011 when I participated in her Call Me Icarus critique project, which was really enlightening for me, so I've been looking forward to buying her book and seeing her for quite a while. She even recognized me (by my name because we were both Parkers).

Julie Murphy is a woman after my own heart. So much of what she said about her life and writing process connected with my own and it was encouraging to see her success. Her sense of humor felt so much like mine and I loved how she had woven some of her own life experiences thematically into her book.

Bethany Hagen is multi-talented --- librarian, author, mother, and 3-time karate black belt. I loved how she spoke on the legitimacy of the teenage experience, and she also had some great writing advice: keep writing no matter what, because your Moment may come when you least expect it.

Tessa Gratton is scarily intelligent, and she's still as hilarious as the first time I saw her. Her writing advice was not only the funniest (because of how expressive she is), but it was also my favorite of the night: if you don't love what you're writing, you're DOOMED.

If you get a chance to see these authors in person, I highly suggest you take it. It was worth the trip and even my non-bookish mom, who's never been to anything like this before, had a great time. You can find links to the Goodreads page for each book below. Happy reading quirks!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

For Fun [4] - Spooktastic Reads!

Hey quirks! In just a couple of weeks it will be Halloween, so to get in the mood for the spookiest time of year, how about some spooktastic reads! Below is a list of books I've been reading this month, as well as some all-time favorites that are just the right amount of creepy. Share your spooktastic favorites in the comments!

Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin
Messages in blood, faces in mirrors, disembodied voices, and a myriad of other horrors haunt Mara Dyer. I recently re-read the first book and then the second book in a handful of hours because they are SO GOOD, so you get all the spooky you could ask for in a very awesome story, and the final book comes out on November 4th!  I <3 M.A.D.N.E.S.S.

The Revenant and The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler
Sonia Gensler is one of the most under-hyped authors, and I can't stand it because her books are not only intelligently written, but they are spooky and mysterious and perfect escapes into the (half-fictional) past. She weaves together history and the supernatural so well that you feel like these things could have really happened, and I fly through her books. Luckily, we'll be getting another one (this time contemporary!) next fall!

Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson
Ghosts, ghosts, and more ghosts! Also mysteries, murders, and heart-wrenching tragedies! I love this series, except for, you know, when Maureen Johnson is ripping my heart out. Okay, I love it then too. I can't wait for The Shadow Cabinet, which doesn't come out until next February.

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
In an effort to diversify my reading, I wanted to read a book that was translated into English. I have had some of Zafon's books on my TBR, but they are series books that weren't currently available from my library, so when I stumbled upon this YA standalone, I jumped on the chance to read it. I had no idea what I was getting into, but this story is beautifully written but supremely creepy. If it were made into a movie, I don't know that I could watch without my covering my eyes at several parts. It's like a Spanish mash-up of Frankenstein and Phantom of the Opera, set in mysterious Barcelona and I loved every second of it.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I love this book. It is so weird and mysterious and Gaiman-y. It follows a boy named Bod, who grows up in a graveyard and is raised by a various cast of non-living/non-human persons. It starts out being strange then moves to spooky and then hits some action that has you feeling like you're running through the tombstones alongside Bod, and it is so much fun.

Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan
I could have easily put several of Duncan's other books on this list, but this one is creepy from page one and holds until the very end. Supposedly a movie is in the works for it and if so, that is one scary movie I will be seeing.

Jasper Dent series by Barry Lyga
If you like more danger thrills than supernatural chills, Barry Lyga's series about a boy raised by a serial killer is probably for you. These are totally contemporary and read like dark mystery-thrillers, exciting and creepy (especially when Jasper's dad is involved), but with that YA twist.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
The short stories of Poe are some of the creepiest ever. I have a hard time deciding which is my favorite (though I'm partial to "The Black Cat"). Add in the fact that he is credited with creating the mystery genre and it's easy to see why he's one of my all-time favorites. As for The Phantom of the Opera, this one I came to read after loving the movie version, and while the film is full of drama, the book takes up the crazy and creepy to another level, making it a lot of fun to read.