Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guest Post: “What about historical fiction?” by J. Anderson Coats

Please help me welcome Class of 2k12's J. Anderson Coats! She wrote THE WICKED AND THE JUST which was released on April 17th and has written a great post about historical fiction.

The other day, I went to Curriculum Night at my teenage son’s middle school, and I happened to talk with some girls in his language arts class about books. I asked them what they liked to read and I got the answers I expected – Divergent, The Hunger Games – but out of curiosity, I asked, “What about historical fiction?”

One girl wrinkled her nose. “No. Ew.”

I couldn’t resist. “Why not?”

Another girl was more tactful. “You know. School.”

Yes, I do know. And I don’t blame anyone raised on “social studies” and sanitized school-friendly history for that reaction. But if you like dystopian secondary worlds like these girls seemed to, let me tell you something: the best-kept secret about history is that the past is the ultimate secondary world.

You can’t get more dystopian than the rubber plantations in the Belgian Congo where they’d cut off people’s hands and kidnap their families to ensure that quotas were met, or the transportation of petty criminals to a prison colony on the other side of the planet. These things are real, and they give fiction a run for its money every time.

Here’s a little quiz: which of the following are plot summaries of recent YA novels, and which are actual historical events?

* The daughter of a gladiator must marry the fighter who kills her father and captures her dowry bracelet.

* When her wealthy husband dies, a teenage widow must climb on his funeral pyre with him and be burned alive, or else face recrimination, ostracism and destitution.

* During a seemingly unstoppable plague, a city closes its gates and forbids anyone to enter or leave, and any houses in which plague suffers already live are boarded up with the healthy and sick alike trapped inside.

* Girls who reach legal maturity are given a special tattoo that indicates their sexual availability to the entire society.


1 – Dystopian (Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines)

2 – Historical (pre-British India; the practice of sati)

3 – Historical (14th century Milan)

4 – Dystopian (XVI by Julia Karr)

Even if you got all the answers right, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the similarities between the past and fictional secondary worlds are striking. Our shared human past is filled with betrayal and revenge and despair and joy and stupidity, and one of the best ways to access it is through well-crafted, well-researched, engaging fiction.

The best historical fiction challenges readers’ assumptions about what “history” is, and how we in the present relate to people who lived the past. It doesn’t judge the past based on our modern standards, but it renders the past – where women were property and animal cruelty was funny - normal and familiar. It’s the same challenge faced by writers who set stories in other types of secondary worlds, but historical-fiction writers have the additional hurdle of social studies to overcome.

But the best historical fiction tells a good story, too, where characters we care about have to deal with some type of issue that feels relatable. It’s not just a chronicle of the stuff that happened. So much of history is interpretation. The narrative has to take evidence into account, but at its heart it’s still a narrative.

The best historical fiction is out there, and it ain’t social studies. There are echoes of the dystopian and traces of the stranger-than-fiction. There is tragedy and adversity and also hope, because it is human. The best historical fiction may surprise you.

Thank you so much to J. Anderson Coats for visiting. Remember you can pick up a copy of THE WICKED AND THE JUST today. You can also find her online at

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Giveaway Winners

Taken at Dusk Giveaway: 60 Caitlin Audet

The Immortal Rules Giveaway: 19 Jennifer Stewart Shaw

The winner has been notified and has 48 Hours to reply by email with a mailing address or a new winner will be picked. Thanks for entering and check back soon for the next giveaway!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Guest Post: Sarvenaz Tash

I'm so excited to welcome Class of 2k12's Sarvenaz Tash! When I first saw the cover for The Mapmaker and the Ghost I was smitten! I think, if it can draw my attention as an adult, it will be great for middle graders. Please help me welcome Sarvenaz!

Sarvenaz Tash
The Mapmaker and the Ghost
Bloomsbury/Walker, April 24, 2012

As is probably pretty apparent by the cover, The Mapmaker and the Ghost has a lot of characters!

I seriously had fun writing each and every one. You’ll probably see why once I introduce you to them. So starting with the girl in the bottom left corner and going clockwise, that is:

Goldenrod: The heroine of this story. Goldenrod is an adventurer and mapmaker and, even though her best friend has inconveniently moved away and left her a solo explorer, she’s determined to spend her summer vacation accurately mapping out her hometown. Just like her heroes Lewis and Clark once did.

Brains: As his nickname implies, is very smart. Unfortunately, he may not always use those smarts for a noble cause. His biggest hero is Nikola Tesla, an inventor who Brains thinks was unfairly overshadowed by the much more popular Thomas Edison.

The Old Lady:
Is…rather mysterious. She lives in a cottage by the forest. And that is all I’ll say about her for now.

No-Bone: Has the world’s bendiest spine! Doctors want to study it. Circus performers want to hone it. And the school’s other Limbo competitors have no way to compete with it.

Snotshot: Has some impressive, though perhaps gross, nose tricks up her sleeve. She’s clever and tough and ready to take on anyone who calls her a “girl.” Usually with the aid of her nose’s incredible aim.

The Ghost: He’s in the title so we know he’s pretty important and here he is in the flesh…er, or should I say in the spirit? Unfortunately, I will have to leave that one at that, too. But he does wear a most handsome maroon overcoat, don’t you think?

Toe Jam: You may not know it to look at his dirty face, but he’s actually the richest kid in school with an army of chauffeurs, butlers, and personal chefs at his disposal. Along with the world’s most impressive collection of sock fuzz.

Spitbubble: Is a bit on the mysterious side as well. He’s the oldest of the kids and the leader and he’s well known for his icy black glare.

Lint: Is very muscular and athletic and has been drinking protein shakes since he could hold a bottle. He’s not necessarily very bright but, together with his best friend Brains, they make one big, strong, smart—and sometimes scary—team.

Birch: Is Goldenrod’s little brother and perhaps her biggest fan. Whatever she’s doing seems much more fun than being stuck at home all summer. Especially once he’s already beaten all of his video games.

To learn more about Sarvenaz visit:

I want to thank Sarvenaz for visiting my blog and telling us all about her characters. I can't wait to meet them April 24th when the book is released! I hope you add this to your list!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Houston Blogger Meetup - Update

Houston has some truly amazing events. One of which is Houston Teen Book Con where teens will have the opportunity to meet 27 authors this year! Some of the Texas bloggers will be in town and the Houston bloggers are planning to meet up for dinner. Everyone is welcomed! Please sign up below so we know what size table to ask for.

If you can be there between 8:00 - 8:30 that would be great!

Confirmed for dinner:
Katie + (Emmy & Rachel) 2
Kelsey + 1
Kristina Ladybug Girl
Amy Rose
Christine + ?
Amy DJ Librarian
Jessica Capelle
Hip Mama Jenn +3
Trinity Faegen
Michelle Zinc
Jessica Spotwood
@SharonMorse +1

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guest Post: Thirteen Things Learned From Taken at Dusk by CC Hunter

I'm thrilled to welcome Texas's own CC Hunter, who is guest posting about her new book Taken at Dusk which is available in stores today. I met CC last year at one of her book events and she's one of the sweetest authors around and has the best Texas accent. CC isn't just guest posting, she's also giving away a copy of Taken at Dusk!

Thirteen Things Learned From Taken at Dusk by CC Hunter

  1. The only thing worse than trying to help a woman with amnesia remember her name and life is trying to help a dead woman with amnesia remember hers.
  2. Be careful what you wish for—you might just get it . . . and the reality will probably not be anything like the fantasy.
  3. The person you think is your enemy could just turn into a friend who'll do anything to save you.
  4. The scariest thing in the world isn't ghosts or rogue vampires bent on murder—it's falling in love.
  5. Explaining why you have a skunk curled up in your arms to your mom and your old best friend is as easy as eating a brownie while brushing your teeth.
  6. We all make mistakes, which is why it's so important to practice forgiveness.
  7. The only thing worse than a pissed-off shape-shifter is a pissed-off shape-shifter in love.
  8. Sometimes the earth really does have to open up and swallow you whole before you can accept the truth that's right in front of you.
  9. Vampires have no sense of humor . . . especially when they get turned into a kangaroo.
  10. Free will gives us choices, but even making the right choices can't change destiny …and learning to accept that can be the most painful lesson of all.
  11. People aren’t always who they say they are, even if you really want them to be.
  12. Sometimes when you try to save someone, they end up saving you instead.
  13. Never get between a dragon and a warlock on the war path.

I love number 7! I want to thank CC Hunter for taking time out of her busy schedule to visit and for generously providing the giveaway.

Giveaway: All entries must be via rafflecopter.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Giveaway: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen
Release Date: April 24, 2012

About the book
You will kill. The only question is when.
In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive.

Unregistered humans cling to the fringe, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.

Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.

About New York Times Best-Selling Author Julie Kagawa:
To pay the rent, Julie worked in different bookstores over the years, but discovered the managers frowned upon her reading the books she was supposed to be shelving. So she turned to her other passion: training animals. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full-time. Her third novel, The Iron Queen, became a New York Times bestseller and her debut novel, The Iron King recently won the RITA award for best young-adult fiction novel of 2010.

Julie now lives in La Grange, Kentucky, with her husband, two obnoxious cats, one Australian shepherd who is too smart for his own good and the latest addition, a hyperactive papillon.

Giveaway Time:

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is one of the books I have been dying to read since last year when she first announced the project. Julie is the author behind the Iron Fey series, which really just kept getting better and better with every book, so I'm sure Immortal Rules will be just as great, if not better. I want to thank Harlequin Teen, Julie Kagawa, and Karen with Media Masters Publicity for providing the giveaway. Good luck to everyone and if I were you I would pre-order this just to be safe!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Neversink Winner

Entry #6 Jess K.

The winner has been notified and has 48 Hours to reply by email with a mailing address or a new winner will be picked. Thanks for entering and check back soon for the next giveaway!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April To Read

So here is my schedule of what I plan to read this month. Feel free to join me and then we can discuss. Also I am always up for taking recommendations. If you check my blog often you will find I add and remove books just depending on my moods. What are you reading or looking forward to reading this month?

Currently Reading:

Reading Soon:

Finished Reading: