Recently in YA novels Category

The Secret of a Heart Note

secretheartnote.jpegThe Secret of a Heart Note (Katherine Tegen Books, 2016) by Stacey Lee had me in awe of the author's imagination at creating characters with a unique ability. I love her descriptions of what Mimosa and her mom can smell as aromateurs, for example: "I clamp my lips, but the scent of my anger, like burnt rubber tires, blackens the space around me."

Fifteen-year-old Mimosa has convinced her mom to let her go to public high school versus being homeschooled, but she's having trouble balancing her duties as an aromateur with her seven periods of classes. When a client shows up whom Mim knows personally, its obvious she hasn't read his application, so Mom knows something is up.

What do aromateurs do? Help the lovelorn. "Clients come to us when they've tried everything to woo the target but can't get the fire going, whether due to shyness, insecurity, or even prejudice." Mim and her mom follow the Rulebook created by their ancestors. And the worst rule is "Love witches can't fall in love."

I loved reading the story of how Stacey was inspired to write this book. You can find it on the right hand side of this page.

This is Stacey's third book; now I want to read the others.


The Girl of Fire and Thorns

GirlofFireandThorns.jpegThe Girl of Fire and Thorns (Greenwillow Books, 2011) by Rae Carson is a wonderful YA fantasy. I just discovered book one of this trilogy and raced through it.

Sixteen-year-old Elisa has been chosen to be the Godstone bearer. But as the younger princess, the princess who keeps getting bigger and bigger because she eats when she's upset, she doesn't see how she can ever be used. Married off to a neighboring king, at risk from the enemy, Elisa goes on a journey that changes her and her whole world.

Loved this book and am looking forward to reading book two, The Crown of Embers (2012) and following it up with The Bitter Kingdom (2013). Why didn't I hear about this New York Times bestselling trilogy earlier?!

This was Rae Carson's debut novel and was a William C. Morris Award Finalist. The trilogy has been translated into other languages. See covers here. She's also written other stories in the universe, The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories (Girl of Fire and Thorns Novella). WalkonEarth.jpeg

Like a River Glorious, book one in the Gold Seer Trilogy, came out in September 2015 and is a YALSA 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick. More to add to my TBR pile. ;-)


Enchantress Sacrifice

Enchantress Sacrifice.jpegEnchantress Sacrifice (Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2016) by Denice Hughes Lewis is a YA fantasy with an interesting premise.

Destined to save her world, Elandra is born aware. She doesn't breathe air, but light. (It sounds odd, but works.) Her mind and body grow fast under the protection of her two guardians. When she has 16 seasons, it's time for Elandra to go out of the caverns and learn about the island. She must also learn how to control her sense of other's feelings, and discover her powers to save everyone from Aru. But there's other danger awaiting her--from her mother's tribe, the Kepyrs, and from her father's tribe, the Ice Lords. Sworn enemies, either tribe will kill her if they see her. Elandra wonders why she has to be the one to sacrifice herself to save everyone. Can't she just be a normal girl?

Told in present tense, the book is fast paced and compelling. A sequel is in the works--I can't wait for it to be done.

An interview with the author

1. Where were you when the idea for this book came to you?
At home. I always seem to have a dozen nebulous ideas for stories roaming around in my head. The idea of a baby being left in a forest and being raised by a monster was one of them. It wasn't until Suzan Noyes, playwright, screenwriter and artist extraordinaire, talked me into going to a writing retreat with her that I decided I needed something to read aloud. I wrote the first few chapters and the ideas kept nudging me to continue.

2. What inspired you to write this story?
I love fantasy--the unique and different. I wanted to write a story for teens who feel isolated and those who struggle with emotions and how to control them. I set it in a more confined world with higher stakes to highlight Elantra's choice between being selfish or sacrificing herself for the greater good.

3. How long did it take you to write this book?
That is a difficult question. Five years on and off. It was not a project at the top of my priority list. I also co-wrote two screenplays, directed three plays, worked on my picture books, attended writing conferences online and off, and added a middle-grade ebook to Amazon during that time. That doesn't count life that always sidetracks writing goals.

4. What challenged or surprised you about writing this story?
It's always interesting to see how a novel evolves and how our creative muses inspire us.
I just started putting words to paper for this book. It was the first piece of writing I
had ever done without an outline or plan other than how I wanted to start it and end it.
Later, I made a basic fifteen point outline described in Blake Snyder's book, Save the Cat. Although he wrote for screenwriters, his methods work well for any kind of writing. I used these points for the direction of the plot elements and the changes necessary for the
evolution and emotional growth of the character.

The most surprising was the change in the Daniel character. In the beginning he was not from the modern world. By changing him, I had the much needed conflict and a more interesting, stronger love interest. It didn't hurt that his desire to return home became the impetus for a sequel.

5. Why did you decide to self-publish?
I was a two-time graduate of the Institute of Writing Children's Literature before the onslaught of the internet. Although I submitted for years, I got the usual rejections. This was a time when I was the mother of two children and life was more important than a career. When they left home, I decided to devote my time to writing and screenwriting. It just seemed logical to self-publish due to the financial benefits and the differences in the time frame for reaching the public. Marketing is the major consideration for all writers, but these days, a writer is often responsible for most of the publicity surrounding his work even if he is published traditionally. All writers who want their works read have to learn marketing, whether or not they want to. Self-motivation and initiative are two other requirements to self-publishing due to the decision-making process. It is also important to me to have control over the physical appearance of the book after spending so many years with my mental image.

6. Who are some of your favorite authors?
As a teenager I liked mystery and only read Nancy Drew books. I grew up loving movies and Disney. They made my imagination soar. I read the classics in school, but it wasn't until I was married that I started reading fantasy. I find my greatest favorites belong to the English writers who write for young people. They have so much more history, geography and myth to draw from. C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper and J.K. Rowling are some of my favorites. I write full-time and don't read as much as I would like. Marissa Meyer has my awe for her Cinder series. To escape and laugh, I enjoy Janet Evanovich and her mystery-numbered series. There are so many good writers in all genres, that it's a feast for all readers and I do regret not being able to read more. Right now I gauge my reading choices on what my 14-year-old granddaughter is reading since she's in tune with the most popular fantasy writers who are very good.

About DeniceDeniceHL.jpeg

Denice Hughes Lewis is a wife, mother and grandmother who loves kids, animals, movies, theater, nature and especially adventures in unlimited imagination. She's an award-winning ebook author and screenwriter. When she isn't writing, she's walking her Pomeranian dog, taking care of her 31-year-old blind pony and her 150-pound goat. Her other interests include writing plays and music, art and directing for the stage.


Shadows

ShadowsRMcK.jpegI can't believe I missed reading Shadows (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013) by Robin McKinley. I love how the book opens:

"THE STORY STARTS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A fairy tale. I hated my stepfather.
It's usually stepmothers in fairy tales. Well, equal time for step-fathers."

Teenage Maggie lives in Newworld, where they "don't have magicians, evil or otherwise." She lives with her mom, stepdad Val, little brother Ran, and her dog Mongo. She can't tell anyone about why she dislikes Val., whose from Oldworld Afterall, Newworld is about science and one shouldn't be afraid of shadows even if they do have extra legs.

I enjoyed the teen speak of Maggie and her friends, the origami folding, and was made nervous by the shadows and other things I'll let you discover for yourself. It would be one spooky movie! This is my newest favorite book by Robin McKinley.

You can see her other books at her website. My other favorites are Deerskin and Sunshine. deerskin-100.jpeg sunshine2008-100.jpeg

You can also read Robin's blog, Days in the Life*,
* with footnotes
here.

A Time to Dance

a-time-to-dance-cover-large-file.jpegA Time to Dance (Nancy Paulsen Books Penguin Random House, 2014) by Padma Venkatraman is a novel in verse that takes one directly to life in India. Veda has a passion for dance, Bharatanatyam dance specifically. Not that her mother approves. And now that she's won the competition her career can really start off. But a tragic accident takes the teen's right leg below the knee. How can she still dance with only one leg?

The story is inspirational as we accompany Veda on her journey of recovery. What Veda says sums it up, "...dance isn't about who you are on the outside. It's about how you feel inside."

I love what Padma says on her blog about books being more than mirrors or windows--read it here. You can hear Padma herself on her website in the Q&A section, plus there are TV interviews here.

I already recommended Padma's book Island's End here. Her first novel, Climbing the Stairs, is set during WWII.

The Secret of a Heart Note

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Enchantress Sacrifice

Shadows

A Time to Dance

Scythe

The Scourge

Written in the Stars

Poppy

the impossible knife of memory

Bottled

In the time of the Dragon Moon

The Chance You Won't Return

Ship Breaker

Uprooted

Not in the Script

All the Bright Places

This Girl Is Different

An Ember in the Ashes

Tunnel Vision

How It Went Down

Thrills and Chills - The Third Twin

Eerie - Sorrow's Knot

Draw or Die - The Rithmatist

Not just a Mystery Weekend - Suspect

Dangerous Impersonation - The False Prince

Girl in Trouble - The Rules for Disappearing

Shaping Her Own Fate - Passion Blue

Fated to be Useless? - Firstborn

Secrets! - The Pledge

Ultimate Fractured Fairytale - Enchanted

A Cat Lover's Novel - Cat Girl's Day Off

Fantasy AND Humor - The Last Dragon Slayer

The amazing Laini Taylor - Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Eye-opening Historical - Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

Not Your Average Greek Myth - King of Ithaca

Amazing Historical - The Year We Were Famous

Fascinating Premise - Wake

Fascinating problem - Flip

Whose life? - How to save a life

Historical YA Giveaway - Second Fiddle

Another time and now - Blessing's Bead

Another place - Island's End

Powerful Story - After

Memorable Story - Tell Me A Secret

Twist after twist - White Cat

Distinct voices - Blink & Caution

Great first line - Split

Very Very Good! - Crunch

Very Interesting - The Everafter

Hard to put down! - Divergent

Murder in Space? - Across the Universe

Another great heroine - Girl, Stolen

Another Very Good Book - Absolutely Maybe

Unputdownable Fantasy - The Demon King

Humorous SciFi - The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

Historical Fantasy - Plain Kate

Facts just slip into your mind - The Red Umbrella

How could you not care?

Focus, shoot! - Flash Burnout & hold still

Book Felt SO Real - memoirs of a teenage amnesiac

Book Plus - Invisible i - The Amanda Project

Fantasy Sequel - yea! - The Timekeeper's Moon

Book 1 - glad more is coming - Shiver

Steampunk and Darwin - Leviathan

Emotional Book - Rubber Houses

Modern Fantasy - The Demon's Lexicon

Powerful Book - Hate List

Please let me slap the father! - Candor

Unforgettable - Unwind

Parental Discretion Advised - Jumping Off Swings

Companion Book - Eternal

Character Growth - Red Glass & Mexican WhiteBoy

Modern-day Retelling - Beastly

Powerful story - Right Behind You

Must read - The Hunger Games

Fantasy to Love - Graceling

"we become what we have to be" - Nation

Catching Up on Reading - Book of a Thousand Days

Murder Mystery, yet so much more - Perfect Shot

Couldn't Stop Reading - Elsewhere

Prepare for fun - Once Upon a Marigold

Science Fantasy - Enchantress from the Stars

Novels in Verse - Seeing Emily

Limits not reached - Downsiders

Hooked by Voice - Stuck in Neutral