Saturday, April 19, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Foretold, The Chosen One

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction.

Story: The Chosen One
Author: Saundra Mitchell
Summary: Corvina, the bastard daughter of the king, loves her half-sister Princess Lucia more than anyone in the world, so when Lucia falls ill, Corvina leaves the castle for the first time seeking the Fabled Cup to restore her.
Thoughts: When I first thumbed through this story, I was a bit apprehensive due to it's length - 40 pages? But as it turns out, I quickly fell into this fantasy and would have loved it to be longer! Corvina before, during, and after her quest takes readers through a wide range of emotions. While I've read two of Mitchell's historical novels which contain fantastical elements, this was much more like a traditional fantasy with a heroine who I was rooting for harder than ever because she's the only one who didn't know what she was capable of. Loved this story!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Foretold, The Mind is a Powerful Thing

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction.

Story: The Mind is a Powerful Thing
Author: Matt de la Pena
Summary: When Joanna gets an ominous fortune cookie on her sixteenth birthday that "The Hour Has Finally Arrived," she braces herself for the worst.
Thoughts: One of the reasons I enjoy short story anthologies so much is that they are a fast way to get to know authors whose work I've never read before, like a sample platter. This is my first time reading anything by Matt de la Pena and I really enjoyed this fast paced story. While I guessed early on where it was going, it didn't end up exactly like I expected and it actually leaves a lot open to the reader. Hopefully I'll be able to check out one of his many novels sooner rather than later.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

So Much to Squee About: Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Press, 2013

Cath's freshman year of college is off to a rocky start before she even gets to campus. She's a girl who doesn't do so well with change, but that's all that's happening lately. First her identical twin sister Wren doesn't want to live with Cath at school, so her new roommate is a surly girl whose boyfriend is always with her. Then there's her writing professor who doesn't like fanfiction, which is something Cath can't even comprehend. She may not be great with people in real life, but she's sort-of Internet famous for the Simon Snow fan fic she writes, and with the final book in the series coming out next year, Cath is racing to finish her own spin-off first. Plus there's Dad, home all alone  so of course Cath worries. Can Cath give up all the things she's comfortable with and knows? And does she even want to?

This is one of the most perfect books I think I've ever read especially in terms of having a story that is an honest, realistic portrayal of a freshman year at college. I see so much of myself in Cath that my heart ached. Roommate issues. Going to the same college as her sibling. Trying to find a place in her major. Being on her own for the first time. So many of the highs and lows typical of a college experience are here and I completely loved that.

Rowell has a gift for turning phrases and guiding her readers through the wide range of emotions that Cath comes to face over the course of 10 months. This is a relationship book in lot of ways, both romatically and platonically. Cath's relationships with her dad, mom, sister, and friends all get their turn in the spotlight in addtion to her first romantic love. What unfolds between her and Levi takes its time and made me swoon with the force of these shy but powerful Feels, and what was great is that readers got to see their relationship. Not just a first kiss at the end of a story, but seeing these two people grow and work together and fall first into like, then into love.

Plus I feel like I can connect with this story on a slightly different level because I'm a part of the Harry Potter generation, growing up with that series like Cath does Simon Snow. The last book came out in June 2007, a month after I survived my freshman year of college.

I can't remember the last time I was torn between being happy I was flying through an incredible book while at the same time trying to force myself to slow down because I didn't want it to end. (Actually, it was probably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.) So thanks, Rainbow, for painting an a true-to-life portrait of us fangirls, college, and the growing pains that can actually make us stronger. You can bet I'll be buying a copy of this one - it's one of those books I'll probably never shut up about and the only reason I didn't read it sooner is because my students always had it checked out :)

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Rainbow Rowell's Website
Rainbow Rowell on Twitter
Rainbow Rowell on Tumblr

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Foretold, Misery

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction.

Story: Misery
Author: Heather Brewer
Summary: Most residents of the gray town of Misery are happy to get their annual Gift from the local pychic, but this year Alek is apprehensive and it turns out he may have good reason to be.
Thoughts: I had a much better reaction to this story than the previous one in the anthology. The pace clipped along, the world and conflict quickly established, and there was something immediately relatable about the protagonist. I liked how the ending was both definitive as well as open ended - it's a difficult thing to pull off, but Brewer did it well and I think I actually prefer this over some of her novels.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Foretold, This is a Mortal Wound

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction.

Story: This is a Mortal Wound
Author: Michael Grant
Summary: Tomaso thinks he's done with his horrible teacher Ms. Gill when he moves across the country, but two years later she's back in a way he never expected.
Thoughts: This story was very short and very fast. Due to a fairly long tangent about Alexander Hamilton and a lot of details that didn't end up being terribly important, I was a little lost about its direction for a while, but things mostly came back together. This story read more like an anecdote - not terribly deep or thought provoking - and I'm not sure how it really fit in with the anthology's theme of prophecy and prediction, so this installment was just okay to me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Foretold, One True Love

Welcome to Short Story Saturday! Each week, I'll talk about a different story from the collection I'm working my way through and offer up some thoughts. I'm currently reading Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction.

Story: One True Love
Author: Melinda Lo
Summary: When Esslyt is born, a prophet has a vision that she meets her true love, she will be the down fall of her father, the king so he locks her away in a tower away from men for years, never considering the idea that Esslyt's true love would be the latest girl he is to marry.
Thoughts: This story was a sweet, lovely fantasy. Sword fights, tender moments, revelations and wrong-doing, and seeing love in its many forms. This story was also the absolute perfect length - while I have no doubt Lo could probably make a whole novel out of this if she wanted to, the pacing was perfect for a short story, with just enough to keep me on my toes. I got through this story quickly and it left me with a smile on my face.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Hello?

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on: Hello? by Liza Wiemer
From her agent's website:
Late one night, in a moment of deep grief, Tricia places a call to her deceased grandmother’s old phone number. She expects the click of a dial tone, a disconnect notice, an empty void, but she is thrown when another teen–too, up late and desperate–answers. It’s Emerson, and though the two are perfect strangers, Tricia senses a connection that runs deeper beyond the cross of telephone wires. 

Emerson expects to hear the voice of Angie, his overeager girlfriend, but is transfixed by Tricia’s tenderness and heartache. The two make a pact, thus setting the events of HELLO? in motion. HELLO? is the story of five small town Wisconsin teens who live on the shores of Lake Michigan: Tricia, who has lost her family, and trying to find her way; her over-protective boyfriend Brian, a potter; the perfectionist Emerson; the insecure and unpredictable Angie; and her impressionable best friend Brenda, an aspiring actress and screenwriter. 

Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian), HELLO? offers a textured account of five lives, and weaves together the stories of these teens into a compelling narrative of serendipity, fortune, and a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

In the interest of full disclosure, Liza is a friend of mine. We met at a book signing probably three years ago when this blog was in its infancy and I had no idea what I was doing or that a book blogging community even existed. Liza didn't care, though. She was immediately warm and welcoming, following me on Twitter within ten minutes and engaging me in a conversation about what I knew about the YA world from a librarian's point of view. She's been gracious enough to invite me to her Novel Luncheon the past 2 years, we hung out at ALA last summer, have gotten lunch, and she's been holding my hand through my own writing journey, cheering me on every step of the way. I'm so excited for this book of her's finally being published - She's a completely deserving person, and I'd want to read this book even if this woman hasn't fed me the world's most amazing risotto :) Hello? is currently slated to come out in 2015 from Spencer Hill Contemporary. Congratulations, Liza!

Liza Wiemer's Author Website
Liza Wiemer on Twitter
Liza Wiemer on Tumblr
Liza Wiemer's Book Blog