Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Reads: Grave Mercy

I've been steering clear of YA lately, mostly because I'm trying to keep my MG* sensibility while I revise my current MG manuscript, but when I heard people mention Robin's newest book, I HAD to get a copy and read.  I'm a huge fan of her MG Theodosia series, but this YA is completely different.  And oh so good!

Grave Mercy
by Robin LaFevers

For: Teens

Genre: YA fantastical historical romantic adventure (aka hard to categorize, which is awesome)

Published: 2012

Description: Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Why I liked it: I am not a huge fan of anything dark, so I was a little nervous when I started this book, since it begins in a very dark place and promises more darkness throughout.  But this story is not about assassination and death and darkness as much as it is about Ismae coming to terms with herself and her past, and how she finds her own path forward.  And the romance in this book is real and deep and not gratuitous (which I appreciated immensely).  I highly recommend this to anyone who loves historical romance with lots of intrigue.

Do you have any other suggestions for YA historical romance or historical adventure with a romantic twist?  Please share, because I am ready to read!

And happy weekend reading!

*Because someone always asks, MG stands for middle-grade, books written for 8-12-year-olds.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Announcing the first ever MSFV Success Story Blog Hop!

Some of you may remember that a million years ago I entered my first page in the Secret Agent Contest held on the Miss Snark's First Victim blog.  I was declared the winner, whisked my full manuscript off to that month's Secret Agent, and he signed me a few months later.  I was the first direct success story from one of her contests.

Now there are almost two dozen authors who owe their agent success stories (in part or directly, like me) to Authoress and her MSFV contests.  Some of us are still waiting to sell and others have gone on to critical acclaim, but we're all one big, happy MSFV family.  So many of us have come together to help promote each other in our first ever blog hop.

For the first two weeks in August, a different author will post an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories.  There may be giveaways involved, too.  Or so the rumor goes.

So, from August 1 through August 15, check in on the following blogs and celebrate Authoress and her Success Stories:

August 1--David Kazzie (@davidkazzie)
August 2--Leigh Talbert Moore (@leightmoore)
August 3--J.Anderson Coats (@jandersoncoats)
August 4--J.M. Frey (@scifrey)
August 5--Elissa Cruz (@elissacruz)
August 6--Amanda Sun (@Amanda_Sun)
August 7--Kristi Helvig (@KristiHelvig)
August 8--Leah Petersen (@Leahpetersen)
August 9--Monica Bustamante Wagner (@Monica_BW)
August 10--E.M. Kokie (@emkokie)
August 11--Monica Goulet (@MonicaGoulet)
August 12--PeterSalomon (@petersalomon)
August 13--Sarah Brand (@sarahbbrand)
August 14--Angela Ackerman (@angelaackerman & @writerthesaurus)
August 15--Tara Dairman

For you Twitter people, get more details and tidbits by following our hashtag, #MSFVSuccessStory.

I hope you enjoy the blog hop!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happy 1st Anniversary to #MGlitchat

This summer has been insanely hectic.  I keep meaning to post more often here, but it's all I can do to get my Friday Reads up.  But it will get better soon.  (I hope.)

Anyway, one of the things that has been keeping me away from this blog is my good old Twitter chat for those who love middle-grade books, #MGlitchat.  Our 1st anniversary is upon us, and my chat team has been hard at work devising the coolest chat giveaway in the history of chat giveaways.  We will be handing out 16 giveaways, in fact, from author and agent critiques to books to art and jewelry.  And it all happens TONIGHT.

So, if you are at all inclined to read or write middle-grade, you might just want to stop by and join in the celebration.  To join in, use the hashtag #MGlitchat, and we will be handing out prizes randomly to those who do.  There will be a few that require being the first to answer a question, but the majority will be handed out to those who simply use the hashtag during the chat hour.

The fun begins at 9pm Eastern.  (That 6pm for you Californians.)

I hope to see you there!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Reads: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

I discovered Alexander McCall Smith's novels years and years and years ago, and I still periodically check the shelves for any new ones he may have written.  This was the first one I read, which is why I chose it over some of the others ones I like just as well.  I can't remember how I found it, other than I was at the library at the time.  I was probably browsing the shelves for a good mystery, and it had the phrase "Detective Agency" right there in the title.

But I quickly found out this wasn't your normal detective novel.

It was better.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith

For: Adults

Genre: Mystery, Detective Fiction

Published: 1998

Description: This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.

Why I Liked It: I was sucked into the culture of Botswana from the first page.  I loved how the book's slower paced mirrored the slower pace of life in Gaborone.  And I also loved that a mystery could be so slow and still be thoroughly enjoyable.  I loved sharing every single moment with Mme Ramoswe and the people around her.

Do you know of any other slower-paced (but in a good way) detective mysteries?  If you do, let me know in the comments below.

And happy weekend reading!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Reads: The Prince Who Fell From the Sky

This brand-new book promised all sorts of wonder, and though it was very different from what I had envisioned, it still delivered.  It makes me wonder if I should look up the author's other works.  Hmmm....

The Prince Who Fell From the Sky
by John Claude Bemis

For: 8-12 yos

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, Postapocalyptic Fiction

Published: 2012

Description: In Casseomae's world, the wolves rule the Forest, and the Forest is everywhere. The animals tell stories of the Skinless Ones, whose cities and roads once covered the earth, but the Skinless disappeared long ago.

Casseomae is content to live alone, apart from the other bears in her tribe, until one of the ancients' sky vehicles crashes to the ground, and from it emerges a Skinless One, a child. Rather than turn him over to the wolves, Casseomae chooses to protect this human cub, to find someplace safe for him to live. But where among the animals will a human child be safe? And is Casseomae threatening the safety of the Forest and all its tribes by protecting him?

Middle-grade fans of postapocalyptic fiction are in for a treat with this fanciful and engaging animal story by the author of the Clockwork Dark trilogy.

Why I Liked It: I thought this was a fresh take on postapocalyptic fiction, since we see this entire story from the point of view of animals instead of humans.  It was interesting to watch how they related to the human boy, and to see how the author weaved in "human" understanding but still kept the animals animals.  Plus there were a few surprises for the animals that I found entertaining (since, as a human reader, I knew something the animal characters didn't).

Do you know of any other middle-grade fiction like this?  If so, please let me know in the comments below.

And happy weekend reading!