Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Year In Books

So I was supposed to be participating in this blog fest where I spend several days discussing all the best things about the books I read this year. Unfortunately, that is not going to be possible due to a bit of craziness in the family holiday vacation this year. Sorry girls!! But I did, at the very least, want to give you all a list of the books that stayed with me in 2011. I read just over 250 books this year so for a book to really stay with me is a BIG deal.

(Note: I limited this list to YA books since it is mostly what I read. Also, not all of these were published in 2011, but I read them then so I'm listing them.)

Eighteen year-old Evan and his best friend, Davis, get beaten up for being loners. For being gay. For just being themselves. But as rough as things often seem, at least Evan can take comfort in his sweet, sexy boyfriend Erik--whom he’s kept secret from everyone for almost a year. 

Then Evan and Davis are recruited to join the Chasers, a fringe crowd that promises them protection and status. Davis is swept up in the excitement, but Evan is caught between his loyalty to Davis and his love for Erik. Evan’s lied to keep his two worlds separate. Now his lies are about to implode…and destroy the very relationships he’s been trying to protect.

He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her. 

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed. 

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is. 

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

She is pretty and talented - sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But... they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. 
Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

Boy, did Blink get off on the wrong floor. All he wanted was to steal some breakfast for his empty belly, but instead he stumbled upon a fake kidnapping and a cell phone dropped by an "abducted" CEO, giving Blink a link to his perfect blonde daughter. Now Blink is on the run, but it’s OK as long as he’s smart enough to stay in the game and keep Captain Panic locked in his hold. Enter a girl named Caution. As in "Caution: Toxic." As in "Caution: Watch Your Step." She’s also on the run, from a skeezy drug-dealer boyfriend and from a nightmare in her past that won’t let her go. When she spies Blink at the train station, Caution can see he’s an easy mark. But there’s something about this na├»ve, skinny street punk, whom she only wanted to rob, that tugs at her heart, a heart she thought deserved not to feel. Charged with suspense and intrigue, this taut novel trails two deeply compelling characters as they forge a blackmail scheme that is foolhardy at best, disastrous at worst - along with a fated, tender partnership that will offer them each a rare chance for redemption.
For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Will and Asheley have a troubled past. Their father left them when they were little, and their mother has just been carted off to an alcohol treatment center. Now, they have the house to themselves, and an endless California summer stretching out before them. Through alternating perspectives, they tell the story of how and why their lives spun violently out of control - right up to the impossibly shocking conclusion you'll have to read for yourself to believe.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christa Talks To The Teen Boy--At Last

So you all have waited a long time for this, but at last, here is the interview with my teenage boy (Well, not my teenage boy, but you get what I mean). Warning: this is a bit of a long one because I ended up harassing him on Facebook with way more questions than I expected.
I promised him I wouldn't put his picture on my blog. Sorry. 
I should tell you in advance that he is adorable and delightful but he is NOT a reader. Which is why I want him to read my books. As many of you know, getting boys to read is one of the BIGGEST items on my agenda and I will shamelessly coerce all of them to do it with promises of cookies and knitted Spartan hats if I must.

Which of the following books have you read?

a. The Hunger Games
b. Twilight
c. 13 Reasons Why
d. Looking For Alaska
e. Perfect Chemistry
f. Boy Toy
g. The Sky is Everywhere

17yo: I've heard of Twilight and The Hunger Games, but I've not read either of them.

What would you call these pants?

17yo: Tight Capris
For real? You wouldn't call them jeans? You'd say to one of your friends, "Did you see the capris that girl was wearing?" and not "Did you see the jeans that girl was wearing?"
17yo: Tight Capris

What would make you read a book over playing a video game?

17yo: If it was a homework assignment:)

Who is your real life hero? Who is your fictional hero?

17yo: Real life- Jim Lovell. Fictional- John Wayne.

(Side note: John Wayne! Isn't this kid adorable?)

Which of these two covers would you buy and why?

17yo: Of these two, I would choose the Wicked Lovely book because the kissing in the shower is a little much for me.

What type of cover would appeal to you?

17yo: Hmm...I really like simple covers. For example, for Econ I had to read a book called Naked Economics and I really liked the cover.

I know your mom read to you when you were younger and you were also an early reader. When do you think you stopped reading for fun? 

17yo: Maybe around 7th grade. I think it was because I started to do other things like football and the school gave us more books to read. The English class I'm in now doesn't require us to read books and I can't remember all of last years : / But for my stats class we could choose a book to read each semester. I read the book Bringing Down the House and Moneyball and I enjoyed both of them, especially Bringing Down the House.

What are some books you have read in English?

17yo: In the past we've read Catcher in The Rye, Harold and Maude, Portrait of An Artist, My Name is Asher Lev, Antigone, and Grapes of Wrath.

Did you like any of these books?

17yo: Ehh, not really, maybe Antigone. I might have liked them more if I was able to read them at my own pace. 

This is the part in the interview where I tell him about the book I'm writing and describe the crazy plot for him:)

17yo: That sounds intense.

Is this your way of saying "Wait to give it to me until summer, Christa."

17yo: Haha I could use a good book to read while Im waiting for a loop at caddying.

So that is the reality of what I'm up against. What anyone who writes for teenagers (particularly boys) is up against. Yes, there are teens who love to read (I have two other boy betas who are BIG readers), but I think that my friend here represents a fairly significant majority of boys. Feel free to correct me. It's highly unscientific speculation. But I am so very grateful for the chance to pick apart his mind. Thank you, my 17-year old friend!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Inside The Author's Studio With Elana Johnson

Hello friends! Welcome to another edition of Inside The Author's Studio. Today's guest is the fabulous author Elana Johnson. Her book POSSESSION is a dystopian book of awesome and one of you lucky commenters will receive your very own copy. (Side note: Elana is a bit of a personal hero for me. I contacted her when I first started writing and asked permission to post this interview on my blog. She is made of win.)

What is your favorite word? Shrub
What is your least favorite word? Fart
What turns your current MC on? Oh, man. How about wicked cool hair and a strong attitude? Yeah, that’s the ticket.
What turns your current MC off? Getting punched in the mouth and/or watching someone else kiss his girlfriend.
What sound do you love? The sound of rain falling on my roof.
What sound do you hate? Whining children.
What is your favorite YA quirk? I like lyrical writing, almost poetry in the text. No, wait. I like made-up words. No, wait. Strikeouts.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? World traveler.
What profession would you rather bathe in a vat of urine than attempting? Salesman.
If John Green exists and sits at your table at a SCBWI conference, what would you like him to say to you? “Dude…” Yeah, that would be enough.  

Thank you, Elana!! Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win POSSESSION.