YA Epic Fantasy

What’s on my bookshelf ? 6

Are you looking for Epic Fantasy novels that are suitable for Young Adult readers? Here are a few that I enjoyed reading…

So, on my bookshelf, you can find:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”... and the most famous YA Epic Fantasy book came to life in 1937.

The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams China

Han is a reformed thief in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Raisa is the princess heir of the Fells. In the Seven Realms, clans and wizards are about to start a war. That’s when the lives of Han and Raisa collide…

The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper

An immortal boy, six medallions created and hidden centuries ago, a Rider intent on gathering them and raising the Dark… an awesome read!

His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

“There are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children’s book.” Philip Pullman, in his Carnegie Medal Acceptance Speech (1996). Such a complex, beautiful book, for all ages.

That’s it for today… I have many other YA Epic Fantasy stories sitting on my bookshelf but they’ll have to be included in another post…

Any other books you’d recommend? Feel free to comment!

Book of the Week – 13

This week I’m reading The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. It was published in 2008 and it is the first novel in The Night Angel trilogy. As an epic fantasy book, it was nominated for the David Gemmell’s Legend Award and it is a New York Times bestseller.

I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to read this book, it is amazing! I really recommend it if you like gritty epic fantasy and great characters.

From Goodreads:

“For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.”

You can visit Brent Weeks’ website here.

A Writer in the Spotlight – Kendare Blake

This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! The idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published (and bestselling) authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. Today’s interview is with the ever awesome Kendare Blake, whose YA ghost story Anna Dressed In Blood is one of my favourite books.

 

Author : Kendare Blake

Genre : Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghost story, Horror

Website : http://kendareblake.com/

Blog: http://kendare-blake.livejournal.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/KendareBlake

Books : The Anna series: Anna Dressed In Blood (2011), Girl of Nightmares (released August 7th, 2012)

                  Sleepwalk Society (2010)

                   Antigoddess (released 2013)

My interview (13/07/2012):

On writing:

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes. Though I didn’t think of it as a practical option after I graduated from high school. I still didn’t think it was a practical option when I decided to do it after grad school. But by then I’d come to terms with the idea of being a starving artist.

When and where do you write?

I write when I have spare time. And after I’ve done everything else that could possibly need doing. (Master procrastinator!) My office is in my apartment and consists of a kitchen table, a printer, my laptop, stacks of books and sheafs of paper.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

No! And now I must go find wood and knock on it, and pet my black cat backwards.

What do you say to people who want to be writers?

Excellent! Books books and more books. The world needs ’em.

Can you tell us a little bit about your publishing journey? (the different steps and how long it took you to be published)

I’ll tell you Anna’s story. Which was not the first book I wrote, or the first book I sold. The first book I wrote (seriously wrote, not wrote during childhood) was the first book I sold, but it took forever.

I wrote Anna in about eight months. Queried agents for about two months. Got a few requests for fulls, and some rejections. Ended up with two offers of representation, both from amazing agents. One a smaller more boutique agent, and another with the backing of a big agency. Talked with both of them. Ended up going with the smaller agency. Anna went out on submission and was out for about three months. I think. We started getting nibbles around the month and a half mark. Some rejections. Went to a few editorial boards. Wound up with two offers, so I guess you’d call that a mini-auction. I went with Mel Frain, at Tor Teen, and she’s excellent and bodacious. Anna sold in April, 2010 and pubbed in August 2011.

 

On “Anna Dressed In Blood”:

What made you choose to write a ghost/horror story?

I wanted to play Silent Hill but was too scared. And I missed reading Stephen King and Anne Rice. When I was in London, I’d rekindled my love of the fantastic, with Joe Hill and Angela Carter.

What is striking about your book is its voice. Did you work a lot on that or did it come to you naturally when you started writing the book?

Cas’ voice came naturally. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if it hadn’t. He was real from the moment he hit the page. If he hadn’t been, I probably would’ve stopped.

To write this book, where did you get your inspiration from?

No idea. Anna’s name came to me first. Anna Dressed in Blood. And I thought, who’s that? Oh of course. She’s a dead girl who kills people. Hmm. Someone ought to kill her.

Cas is awesome. Anna is amazing. How did you come up with those characters?!

They sort of came up with themselves. I knew what Anna was, but not exactly who. She was a murderous ghost. A real badass. That side was easy. Her human part didn’t reveal until later. I knew Cas was a ghost hunter, with a knife. I knew he’d go after her, and that he was a loner. That’s about it.

What type of music did you listen to when you wrote this book?

I didn’t! I can’t write and listen to music that often. I usually end up just jamming, and nothing gets done.

What are you working on now?

Right now is that wonderful phase of juggle city! I’m halfway through the second book in my new series and the first one comes back ready for edits. So I’m putting aside the second this week to polish up the first.

The new series kicks off with ANTIGODDESS next August. It’s Greek gods in the modern world. Athena and Hermes and Odysseus and Cassandra. Dying gods at war and the teens who get caught in their mess. Very, Terminator. Or Terminator 2. Maybe just very Sarah Connor.

 

Reading advice:

Which authors inspire you now? Any YA books you would recommend?

Right now I’m halfway through WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson. Not YA exactly but holy shit. How have I not read this before? It’s a flipping masterpiece. Ominous and so beautiful. On the YA side I’m consistently inspired by the short stories of Holly Black, and by loads of others. I’d recommend reading her collection THE POISON EATERS and also…well, it depends what you’re in the mood for. Suzanne Young’s A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL is amazing. The sequel, A WANT SO WICKED is out now. Kristen Simmons’ ARTICLE 5 is harrowing. Deb Caletti’s STAY from last year…so many more!

Thanks for the interview Kendare!

Thank you for having me by the blog! And for the fun interview questions 🙂

Girl of Nightmares will be out on August 7th, 2012. Buy it on Amazon here.

Book of the Week – 6

Welcome to the Dystopian Survival Week Hop – Day 1 !

This Hop is hosted by Kristen @ Seeing Night Reviews and Ali’s @ Ali’s Bookshelf. It starts today, Monday, April 23th and it runs through Friday, April 27st.

There are 9 participating blogs and I strongly suggest you visit each of them because we all give you the opportunity to win awesome Dystopian books if you’re willing to take part in our challenges.

Today you can win Insurgent @ Seeing Night Reviews and The Maze Runner @ Ali’s Bookshelf.

Make sure to stop by my blog tomorrow as my challenge/giveaway will be open and you will have the opportunity to win The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

So, since it is Dystopian Week on the blog, my Book of the Week had to be a dystopian novel. I have picked Blood Red Road by Moira Young (published in 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry Books).

From Goodreads:

“Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetically minimal writing style, violent action, and an epic love story. Moira Young is one of the most promising and startling new voices in teen fiction.”

What are you reading this week?

A Writer in the Spotlight – Beth Fantaskey

This week again I was lucky enough to have a YA author give me an exclusive interview! The idea behind the “Writer in the Spotlight” feature is that published (and bestselling) authors are the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. Today’s interview is with the amazingly nice Beth Fantaskey.

Author : Beth Fantaskey

Genre : Young Adult, Paranormal Fiction

Location: Pennsylvania, USA

Website : http://bethfantaskey.com/

Books :

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (2009)

Jekel Loves Hyde (2010)

Jessica Rules the Dark Side (2012)

My interview (19/04/2012)

On writing

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

No, while I was growing up, I had no idea that I wanted to write, and I actually became a writer out of necessity.  When I graduated from college, I had no job prospects, so when a friend mentioned that a public relations office was hiring writers, I applied.  When I turned in my writing sample, the man who would become my boss said, “You know you’re a writer, right?”  I got hired on the spot, and that’s what I’ve done ever since – thank goodness!

When and where do you write?

I write in my home office, which is a messy space that fortunately has a nice view of my neighbor’s gorgeous garden.  I write while my three children are at school.  As soon as they are out of the house, I sit down to work. 

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

That’s an interesting question, because I think people experience that in a lot of different ways.  I do have days where the words don’t seem to flow naturally, or I really have to struggle for ideas.  I suppose that’s my form of the disease!

What do you say to people who want to be writers? How difficult is it to get published?

I always give people the same boring but sincere advice, which is to treat writing like anything else you want to be good at – meaning practice every day.  I get the sense that some people think writing is a “gift” that you either have or don’t have.  But in my opinion, it’s also a talent that you can develop with hard work and practice.  So I always encourage aspiring writers to sit down and work, just like you’d practice piano if you wanted to be a concert pianist, or do soccer drills if you wanted to be a soccer star.

I worked as a professional writer for nearly twenty years before I tried a novel, and I learned something every day on the job.

Is it better to outline and plot your novel or “go with the flow”?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I tend to go with the flow.  I like to know where a  story will start and end – especially in terms of how the main characters will develop – but beyond that, I just let the rest come out naturally.  I honestly don’t think I could stick to a plot, because it seems like new possibilities always open up as I write.  For example, I’ll leave a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter, and suddenly I see new directions to take.  I envy people who can create detailed plots, though.  I think that’s probably a more sane way to work! 

Do you set goals for yourself as you write?

I generally strive to finish one chapter each day, but hopefully achieve more than that.  One chapter (mine are usually short) seems like an achievable goal – and not overly intimidating – so I think about that as I sit down at my computer.  However, in the back of my mind, I’m also expecting to go past that mark.  I guess that’s my way of breaking down the big job of writing a complete novel by looking at it as a series of small steps.

On “Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side”

To write this book, where did you get your inspiration from? Were you aware of the coming vampire trend in YA literature when you wrote it?

Honestly, if I’d been aware of the trend, I probably wouldn’t have written the book.  I had no idea that the market was already getting saturated, because I didn’t read YA lit before I started writing for YA readers. 

The inspiration actually came from my family.  My children are adopted, and sometimes we wonder what their birth parents are or were like.  Maybe doctors?  Farmers?  Teachers?  Who knows?  That gave me the idea to write the story of a grounded, logical girl who discovers that her birth parents were different from anything she could have imagined – and how that rocks her world.  I took that to the extreme by making Jessica’s birth parents vampires, because they are very close to “human” in terms of appearance and habits, and therefore almost within the realm of believability, but “monsters,” too.  That’s how I ended up writing about vampires.

Jessica and Lucius: How did you come up with those characters? Are they based on real people?

None of my characters are based on real people.  I swear, they just sort of spring to life, fully formed, as I write about them.  Vampire prince Lucius, in particular, was a vivid presence from the minute I started writing his first letter home to his uncle.  It was as if he walked into my office and began dictating to me – which seems like something he’d do.  Within the first few seconds, I felt like I knew everything about him. 

What type of music did you listen to when you wrote those books?

I live close to a small university with a radio station, and that’s what I usually listen to while I work.  It’s mainly alternative rock.  I definitely have to work to music, which seems to be true of most writers, don’t you think?  I guess it’s such a solitary job that you need some company. 

What are you working on now? Is it another “Jessica’s” book?

I am actually working full time on my doctoral dissertation.  I took a break from school to write my three novels, but if I don’t finish this year, seven years of education are down the drain.  I really want to finish my degree, so I’m hustling. 

Reading advice

Which authors inspire you now?

I’m still inspired by the classic English-literature canon, which is reflected in my books.  For example, my character Lucius Vladescu loves literature, and in the first book does a rather dramatic classroom report on Wuthering Heights.  And, of course, my second novel, Jekel Loves Hyde, is a modern interpretation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I guess I’m a traditionalist.

Which YA books would recommend?

You know, as I mentioned before, I didn’t really read YA lit before writing a YA novel – and I still don’t read it.  Before, I just didn’t know much about the genre, but now I deliberately avoid that whole section of the bookstore because I don’t want to be influenced by what other YA writers are doing.  I just want to make sure that I’m always writing in my voice and style, and never subconsciously being swayed by other authors’ works.  I know there’s a whole incredible world of YA books waiting out there, the minute I’m done writing for young adults, though!

You can follow Beth Fantaskey on Twitter and learn more about her books on Goodreads.

 

Waiting On Wednesday – 4

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Today I have chosen Underworld by Meg Cabot (expected publication: May 8th 2012 by Point). It will be the second book in the Abandon trilogy, which is a retelling of the Persephone myth.

From Goodreads:

“From #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot, the dark reimagining of the Persephone myth begun in ABANDON continues … into the Underworld.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance . . . on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there . . . and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.

And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape.”

What are you waiting for this week?

Book of the Week – 5

This week I’m reading Eve by Anna Carey. It is a YA Dystopian novel published in 2011 and the first installment in the Eve trilogy. I have had it on my bookshelf since last Fall and I thought it was time for me to dive into it, since Once, the second book in the series, is due out in July 2012.

Goodreads on Eve:

“Where do you go when nowhere is safe?

Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose–and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in “Eve”‘s timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.”

Check out Anna’s website: http://annacareybooks.com/

What are you reading this week?