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My 5 Favorite Lines from Looking for Alaska by John Green

This is tough to do, but after combing through my copy of Looking for Alaska, here's what I've come up with:

  1. At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid and it hurts, but then it’s over and you’re relieved.
  2. In the dark beside me, she smelled of sweat and sunshine and vanilla, and on that thin-mooned night I could see little more than her silhouette…
  3. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating.
  4. For a moment, it was so quiet that you could hear the sound of not-breathing, the vacuum created by 190 students shocked out of air.
  5. “At some point we all look up and realize we are lost in a maze…”

Go here and here for more amazing quotes from YA novels!

The Staying Power of John Green's Novels

A quick glance at this week's New York Times list of best-selling YA titles will make one thing very, very clear: John Green's books have been on there for a long, long time. At number one is Paper Towns, which has remained on the list for an absolutely amazing 116 weeks! (And, being honest here, it's one of his that I haven't read, but I do have a handful of students currently carrying it around).

But even more awesome is the fact that both The Fault in Our Stars AND Looking for Alaska have charted for 130 consecutive weeks. I know a lot of people felt that after the movie had come out, the sales would decline, but here we are over a year later and it is STILL on the list.

Finding Friends in Fiction

Written by Grant Goodman, 5/14/2015 For many of us, writing comes from frustration and disappointment. We don't like what our world has to offer. We are haunted by past decisions. We look back at our ever-growing pile of mistakes and wish that somehow we could make them into something better.

I think that many YA authors still remember those scars and, with the perspective that comes with adulthood, they recognize how universal those growing pains are. I really, really wish that more people were like our YA authors. I think that far too often adults overlook the importance of empathy. Yes, it is easy to look at the problems that teens face and outright dismiss them. But that totally misses the point.

This is why good YA lit is absolutely vital. We need stories out there that offer a window into teenage life that teens themselves can recognize as authentic. One of the biggest crises of my youth was thinking that no one else understood what I was going through, not even my friends.

I found friends in fiction, Holden Caulfield, Ender Wiggins and Harry Potter standing at the lead of the pack.

I didn't have a rich YA landscape, though. I had already jumped into Dragonlance and Stephen King which mostly featured adults.

I'm curious: who are the YA characters you have found yourself identifying with?

My First Novel is Out!!!!!

Hello, readers! My very first novel, AGENT DARCY AND NINJA STEVE IN...TIGER TROUBLE! is now available on Amazon! It's available in paperback and on Kindle.

It's a story about secret agents, ninjas, robots, and ghosts. So if you understand that spin kicks, spy tech, and ghosts are awesome, then this is the book for you, no matter how old you are!

Cassandra Clare on Strong Characters and Where She Gets Her Ideas

This interview from Cosmo Girl isn't exactly new (it was done after City of Bones but before City of Glass) but it has some really great insights from one of YA's most talented authors, Cassandra Clare. My favorite part is:

I hope the fact that Clary is a smart, strong girl who faces down her fears will make readers think, She gets scared just like I would, but she still fights for what she believes in. And I hope it might even help them believe that they don't have to be perfect to fight for what's important to them.

Click that quote above for the link to the article!

My First Book is Out on May 4th!

Hello, readers! On May 4th, 2015, my very first novel will be available on Amazon!

I cannot wait for you to be able to read Agent Darcy and Ninja Steve in...Tiger Trouble!

It's a story about ninjas, secret agents, ghosts, robots, and adventure. You'll find spin kicks, sword slashes, and sneakery. There are rivalries, old grudges, and romances.

I suppose it's aimed at a 10-14 year old audience, but I honestly think it's suitable for anyone who still remembers how to be an imaginative kid at heart. So, let's say it's for ages 8 to 800.

Head on over to my official website for more info AND a free 50 page sample!

Here are the cover images:

tiger trouble back cover author name on spine

Guest Post on Shannon A. Thompson's Blog!

Know Your YA History: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Written by Grant Goodman, 4/8/2015 Dark YA starts with William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the tale of a plane full of boys that crash-lands on an island. The only adult (the pilot) is killed on impact and the kids are left to fend for themselves. What follows is a tale of adolescents torn between holding onto order and letting themselves become wild beasts.

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games for its starkly brutal critique of what war does to children, then you’ll find yourself swept away by Lord of the Flies.

The boys make early attempts at sticking together. They try to establish rules and they try to look out for the youngest kids of the bunch. But the longer they are there, the more they give in to their darker urges. Their clans split and they find themselves in a power struggle with one another.

Packs of boys become hunters and they are overtaken by bloodlust. They paint their faces for the hunt and in doing so, they change into catastrophically evil versions of themselves. The peaceful kids are trampled on (figuratively) or outright murdered (literally).

Like many popular YA stories, (catching) fire plays an important recurring role. First, fire is a way of signaling for rescue. Throughout the novel, though, the fire goes out or it burns too low, which is a fantastic symbol for the boys losing their connection to the rest of human society. At the very end, fire is turned into a destructive force, meant to force one of the boys out of hiding and into the waiting ambush of those who wish to kill him.

While Lord of the Flies isn’t necessarily classified as YA, it’s a novel about young adults and their tendencies and urges. When it was first published, it pushed the boundaries of violence and despair and decades later it remains as a milestone moment for books about young adults.

VIDEO: Scott Westerfeld on an Airship

I feel like a lot of people missed out on Scott Westerfeld's excellent novel, LEVIATHAN. It's an alternate history version of World War I in which the Germans have developed giant armored war machines and the British have found a way to reconstruct animal DNA in order to create battle-ready animal-vehicle hybrids.

In this video, Westerfeld takes you with him on his trip to learn more about the real-life airships that inspired the ones in his novel.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z44bV-P2eCU&w=560&h=315]

Veronica Roth's Next Novel Series

According to the New York Times, Veronica Roth's next book series will see its first release in 2017! She reveals that the story will be in

 "'the vein of 'Star Wars' and will tell of a boy's 'unlikely alliance' with an enemy."

I know that many of you are pumped for the upcoming movie release of Insurgent and now you have even more to be excited about!

Here's the full article.

Report: YA in the UK, France

Written by Grant Goodman, 3/2/2015 Today I was wondering what the YA sales charts for Amazon look like in other countries.

I found the best seller page for teen Science Fiction and Fantasy on the Amazon US site, the Amazon UK site and the French site, too.

Let’s check out how they differ.

First, the US site:

028 image 1 US

It appears that people are really interested in finding out more about this mermaid’s sister. It’s a title I’m not familiar with…and, actually, I don’t recognize two, three, or four. Looks like I have some catching up to do.

My guess is that with the Insurgent movie only three weeks away, those books will all find their way into the top five.

Let’s look at what’s happening in the UK:

028 image 2 UK

It seems that in his native land, Harry Potter is still the king of YA literature. And it seems that they also have taken a shine to the mermaid and her sister. The Hunger Games is selling well and James Dashner has his Maze Runner finale in the top six. The UK site, however, also mixes in children’s books, which is why book number five seems very much out of place.

Finally, to France:

028 image 3 france

Suzanne Collins is dominating the charts, no question about it. In fifth place is Alain Grousset, a French sci-fi author with a novel about a boy who lives on a tower that is one hundred floors high. In sixth is Christian Grenier, whose book is about two warring clans: one that believes in screens while the other believes in reading and writing. (I hope both of these will make their way to American shelves!)

VIDEO: Neil Gaiman Reads "The Day the Saucers Came"

This is my favorite Neil Gaiman poem. At least, right now it is. This is a poem, as Neil puts it, "about the end of the world...or maybe it's just about paying attention to things."

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBJVGwmswZI&w=560&h=315]

WHAT'S NEXT: El Deafo by Cece Bell

deafo I have learned to trust book recommendations from authors I love.

Patrick Rothfuss led me to Catherynne Valente and to Peter S. Beagle.

Now it's time to trust Rick Riordan.

The pen behind Percy Jackson recommends the graphic novel El Deafo, by Cece Bell:

Cece Bell tells the story of a young girl (rabbit?) growing up with a severe hearing impairment. She does a great job tackling the subject with humor and pathos, letting us see the world through the narrator's eyes (and hear through her super Phonic Ear). Along the way, we meet pushy friends, clueless peers, helpful teachers, not-so-helpful siblings, and a whole cast of other characters that any kid can relate to.

VIDEO: Raina Telgemeier's Graphic Novel, SISTERS

Raina Telgemeier is the author and illustrator of several excellent graphic novels that you absolutely have to read. SMILE was her first and it's her story of a terrible fall that caused her to lose her front teeth, but also about what it's like to go through school when you're also dealing with heavy dental surgery.

DRAMA was her second, all about a high school drama class and the somewhat awkward search for relationships there.

SISTERS is her most recent and it's about...well, just watch the video below and she'll tell you all about it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqy49S48tEQ&w=560&h=315]

Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and You

Written by Grant Goodman, 2/16/2015 Time travel. Rocket ships. Wizards. Dystopias.

You will meet many people in your life who look down on “those kinds of stories.” They are the serious types. They believe in their serious literature.

We can let them believe in that.

They can have their stories about sad people in sad cities. Because, honestly, we read those books, too. Every now and again, we need a palate cleanser, a waystone that lets us step back into our own world.

The deep truth is this: we like other worlds. We like worlds that don’t already exist.

Besides, the biggest milestones of human storytelling tend to be about magic and dystopias.

The Odyssey is full of witches and sea monsters and Cyclops. Beowulf fought a dragon. Shakespeare filled his plays with ghosts and wizards and prophecy. Mary Shelley brought the dead back to life. Jules Verne sent humanity to explore the moon long before John F. Kennedy was born.

Reading fantasy and science-fiction connects us to the roots of the world. The desires to explore and to escape and to imagine are built into us.

That’s why we need Suzanne Collins to send us into the arena. That’s why we need Darren Shan to show us the hidden world of vampires. That’s why Ray Bradbury once wrote, “I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

So go ahead and dive into sci-fi and fantasy.

But don’t be afraid to dip your toes into realistic fiction, either. There’s excellence to be found there, too.

LINK: Gayle Forman Investigates "Dark" YA

Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay, just put out an article in TIME magazine. She dives head-first into tackling a tough topic: why do teens prefer literature that explores darker topics like war, abuse, and mortality.

My favorite quote is this one:

New brain mapping research suggests that adolescence is a time when teens are capable of engaging deeply with material, on both an intellectual level as well as an emotional one. Some research suggests that during adolescence, the parts of the brain that processes emotion are even more online with teens than with adults

In other words, it's more than likely that teen brains are more receptive to stories that trigger intense emotions.

Read the full article here.

LINK: Marissa Meyer's Top 10 Books/Series of 2014

My guess is that some of you know about Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series. You know, the one that starts with Cinder.

She went ahead and listed the 10 best books/series that she read in 2014. Since she's a YA author, you already know that she has great taste in books.

Check out her list and add all of those titles to your stack of books to be read.