Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush...cool name, right? Fallen angels, creepy twists, foggy East Coast...all cool, right? So how come the name of the hunky male lead is "Patch!" Not cool. But that's just me.

No, there is a lot more to this New York Time's Best Seller, obviously. I read this book back to back with Fallen, and I have to say that Fallen comes out the winner. But it's close. Hush, Hush is a story about a young girl who meets a strange, yet alluring boy at school who treats her like crap. Sound familiar? Then crazy things start happening to her, and her friends, and her family. Until the big reveal...which we already know because its on the cover art to the book. Patch is strange because he's a fallen angel who has lost his wings.

Here's what I learned:

Names of characters matter. Lord Voldemort sounds sinister. Mr. Darcy sounds elegant. Edward sounds old fashioned. Eragon sounds fantastical. But Patch doesnt sound like a sexy shirtless alluring love interest. It sounds like a cat I had when I was little. (By the way Peeta is stupid too. Really, pita bread-bakers son?) But I digress. Names can be powerful. They can either get in the way and make your reader mad at you and want to put the book down, or they can make you fall in love, get attached, and really impress your reader if your smart.

Not to put seemingly important details into the story that never get explained in the entire rest of the book. A friend of mine told me that when you a read a book the author gives you details that are like little rocks that you put in your backpack on your way up the mountain. If you get to the top of the mountain and you have all these dang rocks that dont mean anything, you are going to be pretty pissed with that author. I felt this way about several rocks I carried through this book. Without spoiling anything...I will give one example out of the first chapter: her dad died sometime recently at the start of the book. I think she said something about it being foul play, or strange or something along those lines. But there is absolutely no explanation...just a vague feeling that something happened to him and somewhere, somehow we are going to find out how and why. But we dont!

Popular themes can be the key to having a successful book. I dont feel strongly about the writing in this book. Neither about the plot. Neither about the sort of unbelievability of it all. But what I do feel strongly about are fallen angels. I loved these parts of the book, like the prologue, that give some history behind the idea of angels. Where they originate, why they are here, why some of them fell. The Bible talks about them as being among us. So why not a YA book where they are really among us? I am convinced that this is what made this book sell like hot cakes. Fallen angels are intriguing. I want to read about them. I will keep reading about them. I will even read the sequel to this book "Crescendo"--because I want to read more about them.

I feel like this is my most cynical post yet. Oh well, they all cant be winners! Even though the NY Times List, and far better critics than myself say it is:).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fallen by Lauren Kate

A lot of people have compared this book to the Twilight series, and I see why: sexy love triangle, paranormal beings, and high school kids with secrets. Some have even said its a better version of Twilight because the actual writing is better. I dont know about that. I do know that I liked it. And I did think the writing was excellent.

But here is a really funny story about it:

I suggested to my friend Heather that she read this book. I told her the the premise of fallen angels is intriguing, the plot is suspenseful, and the ending has a good twist. She went out and bought it immediately. The next week she came to me and started talking about the main characters, and I got confused. She was using names that didn't sound familiar. I thought my memory was a bit foggy until she started mentioning a totally unrecognizable plot line. Long story short, she was reading a completely different novel titled The Fallen! Also about fallen angels.

Here's what I learned:

Make sure to suggest Fallen by Lauren Kate and not the other one since I have no idea about that one!

Beautiful writing goes a long way. Lauren Kate's prose is superb. Her descriptions of places, events, and emotions is at times intoxicating. You feel like your there, like your breathing the muggy southern air, like your pressing your body up against the V of a fallen angel. (Sorry Kenz, that was a little R rated:)

Mixing history in with fiction is creatively stimulating. Its like what Dan Brown did with The DaVinci Code: he took historical theory and placed them in a fictional story that was believable and plausible. This book takes biblical stories and presents them in a modern light. I found her interpretation on what could be with these fallen souls to be fascinating.

Cover art makes a big difference in the feel of the story. I think the picture on the front of the book is lovely and evokes a black and white, epic-feel to the whole thing.

I want to read the second book Torment asap. It just came out and I need to make room for it in my TBR pile. This is a most def read.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

RWA Conference in Park City

This weekend I went to Utah for a writer's conference with my fabulous friend Erin Summerill. It was the slc chapter of Romance Writers of America. Although I didn't totally fit in since there were mostly adult romance writers there (even some Erotica writers...ooh, yea I know:) I had the best time. First of all Park City is gorgeous, and so was our resort hotel. Second of all, I learned so much. Here it is:

I learned that you don't have to be single to mingle! Uhhh, I mean network. My friend Erin invited me to stay in her room with two friends of hers- Julie Donaldson and Jaime Mormann. Wow, do I feel grateful to have met them and become their friend. So my three rommates are well on their way to fame and fortune, and I'm lucky enough to know them and glean some of their talent and wisdom. Julie is the next John Bytheway for Deseret Book and is about to pick up a national market agent because she knows how to work it (even if it takes throwing up in front of said agent to get it done), Jaime is the next Martha Stewart (but a younger more chic version) who is impressive on so many levels, and Erin is the next big breakout YA author because she is hilarious, ridiculously talented, and agents and editors love her. I learned a lot from these girls.

I learned that agents and editors are awesome, and I want one. They come from NY and CA and they want to help, they want debut authors, they want great ideas and good writing. I got to fetch a Diet Coke for super agent Laurie McLean, and she gave me her card with a note on the back to send her my first three chapters. She is probably the nicest agent I've ever met and I really hope that me, Erin, Julie and Jamie get her to rep us all one day:!

I learned that the authors who are successful are dedicated, hard working, tough as nails, and have been so for years and years. I also learned that they are mostly really humble approachable people (mostly anyway).

I learned I need to go to more conferences just like this one. It was fantastic. Thanks Erin!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

Okay, I did this one totally backwards. I went to see the movie before I even knew it was based on a novel. And although Zack Effron, with his baby blue eyes and his incredible V with his shirt off (if you dont know what this is...I'm not telling you), was major eye candy...it wasn't exactly my favorite. I did cry so hard that I had to use my shirt to wipe my emberassing elephant tears away, but in the end I was like, "Ehhh, whatever."

However, the book was a completely different experience for me. And here's what I liked:

I learned that attention to detail in the setting, and choosing a setting that is mysterious and interesting, are very important. Although some books do good despite awful surroundings (Mockinjay I'm talking about you and your underground cubicles and overground desolation), this book flourishes because of its setting. The whole story takes place in a sleepy, yet fascinatingly historical, little fishing town in Massachusetts. A real city, that the author moved to for a while just to research btw. Most of the story takes place in a cemetary overlooking the tempermental sea. It is spooky, enthralling, and for lack of a better adjective: Halloweeny. By that I mean, kind of dark, but light enough to capture the imagination of the holiday. It is not scary by any means, it is just haunted. And I loved spending a week or so there as I read. October would be a great time to read this book, come to think of it, as I always pictured it to be autumn in the forests Charlie and his brother haunt.

I learned that when authors try to explain the supernatural world around us in a new creative way, it is captivating. Ben Sherwood is a smart guy, a former producer of ABC News and impressive journalist, and he captured me with his point of view on death. We all wonder where our loved ones go when they die, right? Some of us think we have a pretty good idea. Well, his take on it was thought provoking for me, and opened up a new way of thinking about the afterworld.

I learned that self-sacrifice is a powerful way to create memorable characters. Charlie, the protagonist, is utterly willing to sacrifice himself for the ones he loves...and that makes me love him. It didnt hurt that when I read the book I was picturing little ol' Zach and his killer V (that makes me sound like cougar doesn't it?...oh well), but I was always pulling for Charlie. But seriously Charlie is a good dude, a good brother, and a good love interest. Warning: there is one love scene that got rather steamy, but it was short and didn't really bother me.

But the conflict was good, the pacing ayite, and the writing excellent. I really enjoyed this book, and I hope you do too.