Let’s Get Lost on a Starry Night as we are on a Conversion to Tease us into Falling into Place: Books of Wonder event

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On Sunday, September 14, 2014 I had the pleasure of going to Books of Wonder bookstore in Manhattan for the first time for their Debut YA Author panel event where I met the authors of, you guessed it, Let’s Get Lost, Starry Night, Conversion, Tease, and Falling into Place. What a panel! If you live in the NY Metro area, and haven’t been to Books of Wonder yet, my are you missing out! Books of Wonder specializes in Children, Middle Grade, and YA books. I came home with SEVEN books, all signed. Wait, you say, there were only five authors present. That’s correct. Books of Wonder carry an extensive collection of signed books that they do not charge extra for. I got two books signed by two of the authors present there that day (I’ll talk more about that soon) so I walked out with FIVE pre-signed books. I almost bought more, but this little piggy could only walk home with so many books.

The event, unfortunately, was rather small. Not too many people showed up to support these authors.  My friend Christine and I were still able to make friends with some great people, though. A crowd started to gather closer to the time the event was about to start.  I sat in the second row, so I was mostly able to see all the authors seated for the panel. Directly in front of me was Adi Alsaid, author of Let’s Get Lost– a road trip novel told in varying perspectives. It was one of the novels I got signed. I was very happy to meet him.  We’ll get to that later, though.

As the event started, the moderator immediately opened it up to questions.  The first question was “What inspired your novel?” Alsaid started first, as he was closest to the mic.  He spoke about being inspired by his own cross country road trip he took, from LA to Boston. Alsaid told a funny story where, on his travels, he met a homeless man he tried to give a glass of water to. The man proceeded to throw the glass of water at a tree, stating: “I have two rules: Never finish a drink. And never finish a cigarette.  He then continued to tell Alsaid that he was in the Guinness Book of World Records for Thumb Push-ups. As that isn’t really a thing, no one believed him. Construction workers now joining in on the fun. Eventually the man was paid over $2.00 to do said push-ups. He actually did ten thumb push-ups. Alsaid joked he has since tried and failed to do any.

He continued to talk about why he chose to have varying perspectives in his story, and none of them be that of his heroine, Leila. He said how you can’t get a complete grasp of a character if it is just his/her view. But, if it other people are giving multiple views on said character, you can truly understand her better. I really liked that idea, concept, and reasoning. I can’t wait to read the book when I’m not back logged with ARCs. His inspiration for Leila, which I loved, came from Amelie, the title character in the French movie of the same name. If you haven’t seen that amazing movie, you should!

Next up, was Isabel Gilles turn to speak. Unfortunately I have no interest in reading her book so I kind of tuned her out. Known for her memoir writing, Starry Night is her first foray into fiction writing, and young adult writing.  She talked about the difficulty she had writing it. She kept only writing two characters. Her editor kept telling her to write again. She also had parents appear in her novel often, joking, “I never realized parents are never in YA novels.” She said she wasn’t too familiar with reading them. For the male character, her inspiration came from singer Paolo Nutini, known for his hit song “New Shoes”.

Katherine Howe’s inspiration for her novel was one of the more interesting one’s as it came from an unlikely place– Meineke where she was getting her car repaired. There, she saw on the TV a news segment on a group of teenagers in Leroy, NY that were suffering from Conversion disorder, better known as hysteria caused on by too much stress. She couldn’t believe, even in today’s time with what seems like less things to stress about, Howe was saying, these teenagers were so stressed that they got hysteria. Hysteria! Something you rarely see happening.  This is the second book I bought and got signed. I am, again, completely looking forward to this. I loved her debut novel The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which is also about witches. Howe told me she even makes an appearance! I’m super excited.

Tease author Amanda Maciel talked about the real life incident that inspired her story. Her friend actually worked at the school at the time that the suicide happened. What really inspired Maciel to write the story, was the comment the friend made about everyone knowing the girl. That the suicide affects everyone. Maciel then wanted to write about not just the bullying, but how the loss of a student can be devastating to all, no matter how close you were to the student. Although I doubt I will read the book, I found what she said to be very interesting.

On the opposite spectrum, author of Falling into Place, Amy Zhang talked about her novel where her character, the school bully, tries to kill herself because of the fact. I read an ARC of this novel back in June and loved it! I also met her in June at BEA, so it was nice to see her again. She even remembered me! She talked about how her inspiration came about, with initially writing the novel as a short story with a love story with Isaac Newton (there is a lot of odes to him in the novel!).

As the questions went on, the panel grew more livelier. Topics covered were bullying, whether or not they would be friends with their protagonists, and writing in general. Finally the signings arrived! It was so great to finally talk to Amy Zhang, Katherine Howe, and Adi Alsaid. The three of them were super nice, friendly, and very good talkers. As I had been a fan of Howe’s for over three years now, it was great to finally meet her. I did a little fangirling. I did. I’ll admit.

 

Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!

*Stay tuned for more  event summaries coming soon. Next up is a Literary Scavenger hunt!*

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Physics Meets Suicide: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang Book Review

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Falling into Place

By: Amy Zhang

Released: September 9th, 2014 by Greenwillow Books

Length: 304 Pages

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction- Mental Illness Suicide Attempt

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: BEA

 

Liz Emerson planned the perfect suicide–a car accident. But, she failed to understand the physics of it. Instead of dying, she landed in the hospital, in a coma severely injured.  Narrated by a mysterious person, revealed at the end perfectly, you are taken on a journey through the days before the attempt, the days of her recovery, and brief snapshots of her life as a child. It’s part heartbreaking, part tearjerker, and a hundred percent worth reading.

Despite the sad subject matter, this novel was able to be beautiful. The writing was close to lyrical. Everything about the novel was meticulously done. I am shocked this is a debut novel. I believe Zhang has a bright future in writing ahead of her. If she was able to beautifully capture something like suicide that is often done messy, I can’t wait to see what hard topic she will tackle next. This specific topic is often hard to write about. Yet, the way Zhang wrote Liz made me understand her in a way writers don’t often do. In Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, he tackled suicide in a way that the character blamed everyone; and, even inserted a dead joke. Zhang handled everything delicately from the way her friends, family, and crush reacted, to the feelings and self-destruction of Liz; and, then the act. It wasn’t done brutally. It wasn’t done in a way you would hate the character. It wasn’t graphic, either.

Then there is the narration itself. While I loved the character develop and the way Zhang tackled this sensitive issue, what really captured me was the creative narration. When you discover who the narrator is, it will blow your mind, it’s that creative. I loved the twist. I didn’t expect it at all. It made sense, too.  Made me love the book that much more, too.

I can’t rave enough about this book. I truly loved it.  It’s worth reading.

Waiting on Wednesday BEA Style

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, where we can share upcoming releases that have us excited!

For my Waiting on Wednesday, that I normally never do, I am doing it BEA style and will be listing the top six books I am hoping to snag a copy. I need to clear some shelf space for all the books I will hopefully be getting for myself, not including those I am picking up for friends.

Here goes nothing.

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  1. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer: If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

    She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

    But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

    Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss. 
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Falling into Place by Amy ZhangOn the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect?

3.                                                                                                                  18465503

Dark Aemeilia: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady by Sally O’Reilly:  The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth’s royal court. The Queen’s favorite, she develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.

A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will—or worse, making a pact with the Devil himself.

 

4.                                                                                                        11373953

Green Girl by Kate ZambrenoGreen Girl is The Bell Jar for today—an existential novel about Ruth, a young American in London, kin to Jean Seberg gamines and contemporary celebutantes. Ruth works a string of meaningless jobs: perfume spritzer at a department store she calls Horrids, clothes-folder, and a shopgirl at a sex shop. Ruth is looked at constantly—something she craves and abhors. She is followed by a mysterious narrator, the voice equally violent and maternal. Ruth and her toxic friend, Agnes, are obsessed with cosmetics and fashion and film, with boys, with themselves, and with each other. Green Girl is about that important and frightening and exhilarating period of being adrift and screwing up, a time when drunken hook-ups and infatuations, nervous breakdowns, and ecstatic epiphanies are the order of the day.

5.                                                                                                     17453303

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King: WOULD YOU TRY TO CHANGE THE WORLD
IF YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD NO FUTURE?

Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities—but not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she’s never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way…until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person’s infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions—and what she sees ahead of her is terrifying.

A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

 

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The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

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