Guest Post: Kaleidoscope Song deal announcement!

Suuuuuper occasionally, a fabulous friend of mine has such great news to share, but no blog to do it on, so I offer mine. And this is just such an occasion! If you’re not already familiar with Sarah (Fox) Benwell, well, read this post and you’ll see why one of my oldest and dearest publishing friends is someone you must get to know. Check out all the info behind your newest must-read below, compliments of one of my favorite YA authors!

I hesitated over this post, wondering whether I should go for a smart, professional announcement instead. Buuuut, that wouldn’t be the whole story, and the story is important.

A little while ago, I wrote a book.

I’ve talked a little about book 2 before – tiny teasers, hinting at a South African LGBTQ (yes, all of these) music book set in a township, all rhythm and first loves and finding your voice, all heartbreak and joy.

You might have heard me, too, talking about how I was warned that no one wants f/f. How much of queer culture and experience is still deemed too much for teen readers. How I cried myself to sleep for weeks because essentially that meant I wasn’t welcome on teen shelves, nor my friends, nor countless queer young people who deserve to find themselves.

Honestly, there was a point when I thought this book would never sell, and when I thought of walking away from publishing forever because I didn’t belong.

But I’m still here (thanks mostly to my brilliant CPs and Super Agent Gill, for talking me down from super high ledges, more than once). And I’m SO stoked to tell you how very wrong I was; that my brilliant, wonderful editor David Gale loves it just as much as I do.

I cried when he said yes. Not just out of relief that I was wrong, not just because someone believes in us and our stories, but because he gets it. We’ve had conversations about music and love and attraction and story, and we’ve talked about diversity and how important it is to do it right. He gets it, and I trust him to the end of the world and back.
KALEIDOSCOPE SONG is going to be a real book, published by Simon & Schuster in the US. And I could not be happier.

And hey, because I can finally talk about it, here’s a little bit more:

South Africa is loud. Listen. Do you hear the song and dance of it? The chorus of Khayelitsha life? Every voice is different, its pitch and tone and intonation as distinct as the words we choose and how we wrap our mouths around them. But everybody has a voice, and everybody sings…

Fifteen year old Neo loves music, it punctuates her life and shapes the way she views the world. A life in radio is all she’s ever wanted.

When Umzi Radio broadcasts live in a nearby bar Neo can’t resist. She sneaks out to see them, and she falls in love, with music, and the night, but also with a girl: Tale has a voice like coffee poured into a bright steel mug, and she commands the stage.

It isn’t normal. Isn’t right. Neo knows that she’s supposed to go to school and get a real job and find a nice young boy to settle down with. It’s written everywhere – in childhood games, and playground questions, in the textbooks, in her parents’ faces. But Tale and music are underneath her skin, and try as she might, she can’t stop thinking about them.

I’m so excited to share Neo and Tale’s story with you, I can hardly wait. But for now, I just want to say this – if you’re where I was, despairing, hurt and desperate, unsure that anyone will ever want stories like yours, please don’t give up. You’ve got this, and I want to hear your song.

Sarah Benwell Author Photo credit Jess Howley-WellsSarah (Fox) Benwell is a perpetual student of the world, a writer and adventurer, who holds degrees in international education and writing for young people, and believes in the power of both to change the world.

Sarah’s debut young adult novel, The Last Leaves Falling, is published by Random House (UK) and Simon and Schuster (US).

For more information check out www.sarahbenwell.com, or follow Sarah on Twitter: @SWritesBooks.

Dahlia’s Book Club: February 2016

Welcome to Dahlia’s book club, wherein I rec four books in each of five categories every month and hope that you read them. If you do, and you leave a link to a review for at least one of them in the comments, you’ll be entered to win one of three prizes every month – one entry per book. If you read and review* one in each and every category, you automatically win. The last weekday of the month is your last day to submit a review, and the length of the review does not matter, but it must be posted to Goodreads and Amazon or BN.com to be eligible for a prize. Simple enough, right?

If a title’s in blue, it means I haven’t read it yet either – let’s do it together, shall we?

*To enter to win a prize, your review must be new. To be eligible for the Five Reviews Insta-prize, up to two of your reviews can be old, as long as they’re on they’re Amazon.

If you’re loving something you’re reading from the list, please share on hashtag #DahlBC!

YA Published Before This Year (Which, for this month, means before 2015)

*Reading/Reviewing the sequel, The Suffering, too, counts as well. Both = two entries.

**The sequel/companion, Behold the Bones, releases this month; reading/reviewing that one counts as well. Both = two entries.

YA Published This Year (Which, for this month, is a 2015-16 mix)

Out This Month+

+Anything in this category is still due by end of month for that month’s prize, but these books will continue to make you eligible for an entry for the next month. If you reviewed one of January’s books in this category, link in the comments to be eligible to win this month!

2016 Debut (Spec Fic is subject to the Out This Month rules)

Non-YA

*The sequel, Ravenous, releases this month; reviewing that will count as well

As for the prizes*:

  1. A hardcover of All the Rage by Courtney Summers*
  2. An ARC of Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake*
  3. An ARC of Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath*
  4. An ebook of The Distance From A to Z by Natalie Blitt
  5. A copy of the above book of your choice

*US only

#AuthorLifeMonth: an Instagram Photo Challenge for Authors

Tags

,

A bunch of months ago, a bookstagrammer made a cool photo challenge that revolved around author life. I absolutely loved the idea, but that particular challenge didn’t show off the kind of stuff I personally love to talk about as an author. (Not the fault of the bookstagrammer or anything! But I am not a fulltime author, so stuff that revolves around fulltime author life isn’t for me.) It did however, inspire me to make my own, and I did it for February because it’s how the timing worked out, and also, whee! Shortest month.

Hahahaha I completely forgot that in 2016, February has 29 days.

ANYWAY, this challenge only has 28 so feel free to do whatever you like with that final day. In the meantime, when I mentioned to other author friends that I’d done this, they suggested I put it up on my blog a little bit in advance so people could “prepare” and so that the challenge would be easy to find, so, voila!

If you’re an author, and you’re not on Instagram but wanna be, here’s a great way to get your feet wet! You just post an applicable picture that day, hashtag it #AuthorLifeMonth, and…that’s it!

AuthorLifeMonth

Feel free to interpret however you want; just don’t forget the hashtag, so the rest of us can find your posts!

Just to clarify a few that are getting the most questions:

  1. (1) You are more than welcome to participate even if you’re not yet published; just post pictures of your WIPs instead. For something like (6) or (11), you can post stuff you’ve created for other books, or what you’d love to see for yours…totally up to you.
  2. (5) Comp covers = the covers that inspired yours (or, if you’re not yet published, covers that would inspire yours for the WIP of your choice)
  3. (25) A pub-sib = someone else at your same publisher. An agent-sib would also be fine, or if you’re self-pubbed, do another self-pub book!
  4. (27) As I mentioned in the comments, please do post a signature that is not the same you use to sign official documents.

If you’ve get any other questions, please leave them in the comments!

xoxo, @MissDahlELama

Cover Reveal: Out on Good Behavior!

Now, you might be saying, “Didn’t you just do a cover reveal?” And the answer is, “Yes! Thank you for paying attention. You now know more about my bookish life than my parents do.” (In fairness to them, though, I’ve told them this series is off limits.) But this cover is just too adorable to keep from the world, so I’m putting it out there now anyway!

As I’ve mentioned, Out on Good Behavior is the third and final book in the Radleigh University series, and it is most definitely f/f, with a pansexual main character and a lesbian love interest. I wanted to make sure that was reflected on the cover, because actual romance covers for books featuring same-sex female couples are so incredibly few and far between. So, yes, it definitely breaks with the theme of the series a little bit, but I think it’s worth it! And, of course, credit for this beauty goes to Maggie Hall; at this point, most things in my life do <3

So, without further ado…

OutonGoodBehavior72dpi(1)

 

(For blind readers: the cover is two women – a blond and a brunette – lying on a blue-and-white plaid blanket. The brunette has a couple of colorful tattoos just above the neckline of her scoop-neck black T-shirt and is kissing the blond on the nose and holding her around the shoulder, revealing blue-gray painted nails. My name is at the top, and the title is at the bottom, with Behavior in a darker sea-green. For a description of the previous cover, for Right of First Refusal, click here to read the reveal on Catch These Words.)

Frankie Bellisario knows she can get anyone she sets her sights on, but just because she can doesn’t mean she should—not when the person she’s eyeing is Samara Kazarian, the daughter of a southern Republican senatorial candidate. No matter how badly Frankie wants to test her powers of persuasion, even she recognizes some lines aren’t meant to be crossed.

But when Frankie learns she’s been on Samara’s mind too, the idea of hooking up with her grows too strong to resist. Only Sam’s not looking for a hookup; she wants—needs—the real thing, and she’s afraid she’ll never find it as long as Frankie’s in her head.

Forced to choose between her first relationship and losing the girl who’s been clawing her way under her skin, Frankie opts to try monogamy…under her own condition: 30 days of keeping things on the down low and remaining abstinent. If she fails as hard at girlfriending as she’s afraid she might, she doesn’t want to throw Samara’s life into upheaval for nothing. But when neither the month nor Frankie’s heart go according to plan, she may be the one stuck fighting for the happily ever after she never knew she wanted.

You can add the book on Goodreads here!

What We Aren’t Talking About When We Talk About Feminism in YA

There are a lot of times I feel like we’re not having enough of the “right” conversations regarding representation, and one of most frustrating things to me is the way we discuss feminism in YA. While I do appreciate that sex-positivity is such a big part of the conversation, as it is something I am very pro, I’ve spent a lot of the past couple years feeling like that’s almost all of the conversation. (YA Feminist Chat, run by Justina Ireland, did cover several of the below topics; I definitely don’t want to erase that!)

(I also have a problem with how tremendously heteronormative* that conversation has been. Not only does that make it something that revolves around something requiring a guy**, but I also found when I wrote a post on YA Romances that pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test that I had to go through waaaay more m/f romances to find ones that passed than I did f/f. And before you say, “Of course, because the MC and LI conversing in that case would help them pass,” I only used books in it that passed via the MC and a non-love interest.

*And, as author Laura Tims pointed out when we discussed this on Twitter, allosexual-normative, as it leaves asexual feminists out in the cold as well. She also made other really great points, such as how sex-positivity benefits guys, so it’s not exactly shocking or super-impressive when they’re on board with this particular trait of feminism.

**Except when we’re talking solo sex, which is definitely a conversation I support. Was gratified to see it prominent in three YAs I read this year: The F-It List by Julie Halpern, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, and Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott.)

PS: read Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, because we shouldn’t be having any conversations about sex-positivity in YA without it.

I also think it means there are far too many things we’re not talking about, and therefore are not acknowledging are also parts of feminism.

Why aren’t we talking more about supportive girl-friendship in YA, and how few books feature it centrally?

(Some Existing Examples:The F-It List by Julie Halpern, Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore, The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen, Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, Run by Kody Keplinger, and, not to be a tool, but Just Visiting by me)

Why aren’t we talking more about how few YAs feature girls with particular passions in STEM fields, or business, or any other fields we see are still very much struggle with accepting women?

(SEE: Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky, Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee)

Why aren’t we talking more about how few sports romances in both YA and NA feature female athletes?

(SEE: Most of Miranda Kenneally’s books, Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill, Game.Set.Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli, Scoring Wilder by R.S. Grey, The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen, and Kulti by Mariana Zapata)

(This, by the way, is why I love ballet books despite having no interest in ballet – I think they absolutely kill it across the board in terms of showing raw ambition, power, and endurance in girls in a way we don’t see with any other occupation.

SEE: Pointe by Brandy Colbert, Second Position by Katherine Locke, Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo, How it Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes)

Why don’t we have at least one major cheerleading book in YA or NA, something that takes a female-dominated sport stereotyped as fluffy and shows how much strength and endurance it really requires, a la Bring it On or Sweet Valley High books 112-114?

Why aren’t we talking more about the stunning lack of support for f/f books, despite the fact that they revolve entirely around girls?

(SEE in YA: If You Could Be Mine and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, pretty much everything by Malinda Lo and Robin Talley, Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley, Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour, The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie, Georgia Peaches by Jaye Robin Brown, Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst)

SEE in NA: Black Iris and Cam Girl by Leah Raeder, The Good Girls by Teresa Mummert, Take Them by Storm by Marie Landry, The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer)

Why aren’t we talking more about different kinds of mother figures in YA and what their choices mean for the female main characters?

(SEE: The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding, The Right Side of Wrong by Jenn Marie Thorne, Me, Him, Them, and It by Caela Carter, How to Love by Katie Cotugno, Life By Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos)

Why don’t we have more books in which girls embrace their body type, including when that type is fat?

(SEE: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, This Much Space by KK Hendin)

Why do we so strongly embrace Fantasy with physically powerful girls, but not contemporary?

(SEE: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley, Bruised by Sarah Skilton, The Distance From Me to You by Marina Gessner)

Why aren’t we screaming about titles featuring intersectionality from the rooftops?

(SEE: Pointe by Brandy Colbert, Vanished by E.E. Cooper, Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, Black Iris and Cam Girl by Elliot Wake writing as Leah Raeder, The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie, Huntress by Malinda Lo, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, If You Could Be Mine and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan, Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace, Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz)

Why do we think “feminine” is the opposite of “fierce,” and “feminist” the opposite of “soft”? Why do find characters who wield a sword but have a soft side to be unbelievable? Why do girls have to be all one thing to believable? Why do they have to have masculine traits to be bought as powerful?

Why don’t we talk more about internalized misogyny and the ridiculousness Cool Girl expectations so beautifully delineated by Gillian Flynn in Gone Girl (and shown excellently in its teen girl evolution in Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass)? (Also expressed in this really great post by Meagan Rivers.)

Why are we not having all these conversations nearly enough, and yet expecting things to get better?

Cover Reveal: Right of First Refusal!

Tags

It’s been a loooong wait, I know, but I’m excited to reveal the cover of my next NA novel, Right of First Refusal! Of course, this was designed by the fabulous Maggie Hall, and I love everything about it and how well it fits both the story and the series. Check out the beauty!

image

And in case you haven’t seen the blurb that goes with it yet…

On the lacrosse field, Cait Johanssen gets what she wants. Off the field is another story. Because what she wants is the school’s hot new basketball student-coach, Lawrence Mason, who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart in sports camp two years earlier.

But it’s Cait’s new roommate who’s got him.

Cait and Mase agree it’s best to keep their past a secret, but she doesn’t expect him to completely ignore their history…or how much it’ll hurt when he does. So when a friend on the basketball team asks her to pose as his girlfriend for a night, Cait can’t turn down the opportunity for distraction. (Okay, and a little spite.) But what starts as an evening of fun turns into a fake relationship with more lies than the usually drama-free Cait can handle, and it’s only keeping her from the one truth that’s nagged at her for years: Why did Mase cut her out of his life to begin with?

And is it really too late to get him back?

Right of First Refusal releases on March 15, but you can preorder it now!

Amazon B&N | Smashwords

Hope you guys love the cover as much as I do, and I can’t wait to share Cait and Mase’s story with you!

On #ReadWomen

There’s a Reading Challenge happening for 2016 which is essentially to read all female-authored books next year. In case it doesn’t go without saying, I am extremely pro supporting my fellow female authors. I also happen not to really read men, which isn’t something particularly intentional; they just tend not to write the books I’m interested in. I read 177 books this year, and only 10 or 11 were by men, although I bought many more that I hope to read in 2016.

(ETA: Just to clarify! This is about ways I’ve seen people run with the original challenge, which was not about YA/the whole year. But I’ve been seeing a lot of people in the YA community talk about applying it to their year of reading, so this is in response to that. Sorry, that definitely should’ve been made clear at the outset. Thank you to everyone who pointed that out.)

However, I wanna talk about some issues I have with this challenge, and the general way we approach diversity in a way that often throws some marginalized people under the bus for others.

I’m not trying to talk anyone out of the challenge, and I do suspect that there are plenty of people who will probably make exceptions for authors who aren’t cishet white men, but I don’t want this stuff going without being said. These are my reasons behind not doing it, and things I think are worth thinking about, especially if you’re a blogger:

A) As someone who blogs about and recommends books, especially LGBTQIAP+ YA, the #1 most important thing to me to be able to rec are books with #ownvoices (“about-and-by”) representation. I’m not gonna rec only gay m/m YA written by women, and I’m not gonna miss a book in which a man writes his disability really well.

B) White women still do waaaay better in this industry than its few men of color do.

C) I don’t want any confusion when I say that there’s trans-exclusionary feminism inherent here; I know that people doing this challenge will read transwomen as part of it. (And honestly if If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo isn’t the top of your 2016 TBR, we should have a talk.)

What I have a big problem with is that regarding authors who were assigned female at birth and identify as genderfluid, non-binary, or men (which, before you’re like “Who is that even really?” – literally the authors of two of my most highly anticipated books of 2016, and the author of a 2015 I hope people will be picking up next year if they haven’t yet) your options are:

  • Read them anyway as part of the challenge, which is misgendering
  • Don’t read them, and ignore that on top of the experience of being trans in America, they’ve also lived the very female-presenting experience you’re aiming to reward with this challenge for decades

D) I think we under-support male authors who write female or non-binary characters, period. There is no bigger pushback they can possibly enact against toxic masculinity than putting a non-male-identifying character front and center in a story and saying, “This is someone who deserves a voice.” We know the importance of girls’ stories but we don’t talk about the importance of men writing them too, because it gets wrapped up in talk of “ally cookies” or whatever. And you can make that argument, if you want, but with toxic masculinity being at the source of so many of our hugest issues – the ones that hurt women the most – I will never stop placing support in that pushback, and in the few authors who contribute to it. Lord knows it’s not like they’re getting tons of awards for it either.

Again, this ain’t that many men (especially for someone who reads 85% contemporary), but to the ones who make YA a better place as far as I can tell, thank you <3

 

Dahlia’s Book Club: January 2016

Welcome to Dahlia’s book club, wherein I rec four books in each of five categories every month and hope that you read them. If you do, and review them, and leave a comment telling me where you left your reviews, you’ll be entered to win one of three prizes every month – one entry per book. If you read and review* one in each and every category, you automatically win. The last weekday of the month is your last day to submit a review, and the length of the review does not matter, but it must be posted to Goodreads and Amazon or BN.com to be eligible for a prize. Simple enough, right?

If a title’s in blue, it means I haven’t read it yet either – let’s do it together, shall we?

*To enter to win a prize, your review must be new. (Older on Goodreads is OK as long as your posting it to Amazon is new.) To be eligible for the Five Reviews Insta-prize, up to two of your reviews can be old, as long as they’re on Amazon.

If you’re loving something you’re reading from the list, please share on hashtag #DahlBC!

YA Published Before This Year (Which, for this month, means before 2015)

YA Published This Year (Which, for this month, still means 2015)

*Sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone; reading/reviewing counts for this one as well

Out This Month+

+Anything in this category is still due by end of month for that month’s prize, but these books will continue to make you eligible for an entry for the next month. If you reviewed one of December’s books in this category, link in the comments to be eligible to win this month!

2016 Debut (Subject to the Out This Month rules for January)

Non-YA

As for the prizes:

  1. A signed copy of This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
  2. A The Conspiracy of Us paperback by Maggie Hall**
  3. An ARC of Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie
  4. A signed copy of Behind the Scenes (blue cover)
  5. A hardcover of Alice in Wonderland High by Rachel Shane
  6. An ARC of The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutski
  7. An ebook of Kasey Screws Up the World by Rachel Shane**
  8. The book of your choice from the above**

**Available internationally

2015 End of Year Book Survey

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, thanks to the lovely Jamie of Perpetual Page Turner! I live for this Annual End of Year Survey, even though it hurts my soul to have to narrow down responses.

These are always a little weird for me to do because writing the preview posts for B&N means that I read a lot of books far in advance – my reading schedule isn’t like most other book bloggers’ – and being an author means I might’ve beta read books two years before they come out. So, I’m sticking to books that were published in 2015 and that I read in 2015 (except where noted)!

2015 Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 177
Number of Re-Reads: Only partial ones
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary YA

  1. Best Book You Read in 2015:

Clearly I am going to employ the breakdown option:

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Discovering Delilah by Melissa Foster, which is f/f NA that turned out to be terribly biphobic. That was highly unfortunate.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

This releases early enough in 2016 that I feel okay using it! Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn was so, so bold, I was completely shocked that it got published as YA. Usually when you see storylines like that, you’re getting them at the tail end or something, when the MC is putting that behavior behind her. In this case, noooope.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I actually asked on Twitter, and the most common response was Cam Girl by Leah Raeder.

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

Started: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and The Young Elites by Marie Lu (both Fantasy)

Sequel: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (Fantasy); Trust Me, I’m Trouble by Mary Elizabeth Summer (Contemporary Thriller)

Ender: The Winner’s Kiss (I know it’s a 2016, but I didn’t read any others this year!)

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

YA: Marie Lu (read The Young Elites and The Rose Society)

NA: Katherine Locke (read Second Position and Finding Center)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee. Sometimes I try to clear my ARC shelves quickly by reading the first couple of chapters of things I’m pretty sure I won’t like, then giving them away to someone I think will, and I’m pretty sure I picked this Steampunk up in one of those fits. I then proceeded to read the entire thing in one sitting, tell my husband he needed to read it too, and buy the hardcover.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Actually, when I think about the book that made me feel the most incredibly tense the longest, other than The Winner’s Kiss, it’s Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed. It’s neither action-packed nor a thriller, but I found it highly unputdownable! And I definitely have to mention The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, which had me guessing (wrong) the whole time.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa, because I’d like to read it over with different expectations. It was too hard to appreciate it while waiting for it to turn into the bisexual love triangle the blurb seemed to promise, but there’s so much obvious good in it, too. Also, for happy-making reasons, The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

Etta from Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

Hmm, in YA, probably The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore? In NA, everything by Leah Raeder and Katherine Locke.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

All the Rage by Courtney Summers. So much about Life As a Girl I had just never unpacked until I read that book.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

Ash by Malinda Lo

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

“Her eyes widen and she shoves me back and then there’s a space between us, enough to paralyze me with all of the things I could do to her next. I could raise my hand and hit her in the face or bring my knee into her stomach, take a fistful of her hair and rip it out of her skull. You don’t get to do this when you’re a girl, so when the opportunity for violence finally presents itself, I want all of it at once.”
All the Rage by Courtney Summers

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

Shortest: The House You Pass on the Way by Jacqueline Woodson (160 pp) (Pre-2015 title)

Longest: Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas (464 pp)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

There is a point I probably should’ve seen coming in More Happy Than Not that I didn’t, and it just threw me and wrecked me and gutted me and everything you want from a book, basically.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

My #1 OTP that appeared in a book this year = Arin and Kestrel

OTP introduced this year = Shazi and Khalid

OTP that appeared previously but only coupled up this year = Julep and Dani

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Ollie and Moritz in Because You’ll Never Meet Me

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

All the Rage by Courtney Summers, but I really, really have to shoutout Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz, Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu, and What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi here

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, which I would never in a million years have picked up if Melissa Albert, my editor at B&N, hadn’t pushed it on me.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Liv from The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

Either Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert or The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes. I loved a lot of debuts like burning, but those were the two whose writing made me say “I cannot believe these are debuts” over and over again.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Winner’s Trilogy

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi and Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash. So much love for those books.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

How to Be Brave by Kathy Kottaras, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley, and Cam Girl by Leah Raeder all did. And, they’re 2016s, but Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker and This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang did as well.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Play On by Michelle Smith. I know it’s so hard for a small press book to get the love and attention is deserves, and I wish I could do more for this one, because I think the way it represents depression is so, so important and lacking in YA. Also This Side of Home by Renee Watson, which discusses gentrification and different expectations on and approaches to being a black girl. This book is criminally under-read and oddly under-recommended by diversity advocates, in my opinion.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Drowning is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa. There was a lot in that one I’ve never seen in YA before. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I keep finding new things to appreciate about it.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

All the Rage by Courtney Summers, and no, it definitely does not mean I didn’t like it!

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

Book Baristas!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul, which reads, in its entirety:

THANK YOU FOR BEING EXACTLY THE HOMOEROTIC TOXIC FRIENDSHIP YA I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Ehhh I don’t really have these, so instead I’m gonna go with a guest post I did for Queer Romance Month, calling Becoming My Own Audience.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I loved doing a panel at Teen Author Festival on series with Marie Rutkoski, Sarah Rees Brennan, Kass Morgan, Seth Fishman, and Barry Lyga, with David Levithan moderating.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

Oh man, I did a lot of new and cool stuff this year – I gave my first workshop, moderated my first panel, released two books…2015 was scary but good to me. Probably my favorite was the LGBTQ YA panel I did with Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera, Lindsay Ribar, and Michael Barakiva at McNally Jackson, though.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

By views, my top post of 2015 was actually one from 2014: It’s Not Just You. Of my 2015-authored posts, it was How to (Effectively) Show Support.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

YA Recs for the Gang at Sweet Valley High

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Meg and Gillian‘s crazy artistic talents

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

YA: As I Descended by Robin Talley

NA: Bad Boy by Leah Raeder

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh and The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

Reading: I’ve been waiting to try the Raven Boys series until it was all released, so I guess there’s no more putting it off!

Blogging: I actually have been big plans on that front I’m gonna keep hush hush for now, but you’ll know it when you see it.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (which I also blurbed as an author), The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie, and If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, and of non-debuts, The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas and Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore.

That’s my year! How was yours?

Top Ten of 2015 #3: Sci-Fi and Fantasy YAs

Happy Top Ten Wednesday, a thing I made up because I refuse to condense my faves into only ten because this year’s books were just too damn good. So, four lists!

You can click the links above for the first two lists. And now, here are my fave Sci-Fi and Fantasy YAs of the year!

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (sequel to The Winner’s Curse, which I also read in 2015)

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement… if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

The Rose Society by Marie Lu (sequel to The Young Elites, which I also read in 2015)

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

Bestselling author Marie Lu delivers another heart-pounding adventure in this exhilarating sequel to The Young Elites.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Greta is a duchess and crown princess—and a hostage to peace. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Go to war and your hostage dies.

Greta will be free if she can survive until her eighteenth birthday. Until then she lives in the Precepture school with the daughters and sons of the world’s leaders. Like them, she is taught to obey the machines that control their lives. Like them, she is prepared to die with dignity, if she must. But everything changes when a new hostage arrives. Elián is a boy who refuses to play by the rules, a boy who defies everything Greta has ever been taught. And he opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the system they live under—and to her own power.

As Greta and Elián watch their nations tip closer to war, Greta becomes a target in a new kind of game. A game that will end up killing them both—unless she can find a way to break all the rules.

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject’s body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 14,354 other followers