Friday, March 29, 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes...

We're shaking things up here at YA Confidential!


The changes begin today, with the start of our new-and-improved posting schedule, followed by some giveaway-related news (!) and an exciting announcement regarding the addition of some amazing new YA Confidential Operatives and Spies. We can't wait to introduce them to you! 

Moving forward, you can expect a new YA Confidential post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as well as most Thursday. Topics will be as follows:

Monday 
From the Vault Monday (Answer our Question of the Day and get entered in our monthly giveaway. Winners may select a book from The Vault, or choose a book from The Book Depository)

Wednesday
Undercover Wednesday (All things YA-novel related: reviews, countdowns, cover talk, most-anticipated lists, etc... or, Blogger's Choice)

Thursday
Teen Feature OR Comment of the Month (Get the lowdown on real teen issues from one of our fantastic Operatives or Spies. And, check in on the last Thursday of the month to find out who our lucky Comment of the Month winner is.)

Friday
Fun Friday (Tons of cool stuff: Roundtable, Real Teen Answers, First Page Critiques, Ask a Dude...)

Don't forget to check back this coming Monday and Wednesday for even more fantastic news! 


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pretty prose :)


Every Thursday, we post a question for our followers--and at the end of the month, one of the commenters will be selected to choose a title from our Vault! Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome books... OR the book of your choice from the Book Depository!

To enter, follow YA Confidential and please make sure that your email address is linked to your comment in some way! (So we can get in touch with you :)

Today's question:
We have to ask this one periodically because, well, we LOVE pretty prose! What have you read recently with the prettiest prose?

Our Answers

Alexandra: I'm going to cheat and name an adult book. THE TAKER by Alma Katsu has great use of language and prose construction.

Jessica: JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman. Her writing always makes me stop and stare at the page while I'm reading.

Alison: I'm answering this question before the release of REQUIEM (Lauren Oliver—I'd read anything written by her), so I'm going with DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. Laini Taylor should win awards for her prose. Gorgeous…GORGEOUS writing, yet still so full of voice.

Copil: Pretty is subjective, of course, but the prettiest for me recently has been Railsea by China Mieville. I can stare and wonder and read and think on that isht all day, err day. 

Matt: The writer with the loveliest, most lyrical prose I know is Jessica Bell, but the novel I read of hers most recently is not out yet, so I'll have to go with Rouge, by Leigh Talbert Moore.

Your turn!



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Comment of the Month Winner!

Happy Hump Day! 

To help you over the hump let's announce and celebrate the 
COMMENT OF THE WEEK WINNER! 

There were so many great comments to choose from in March, but we finally decided on...

Suzanne_Writer’s comment 
on the DO YOU BRANCH OUT post...

“I'm a very eclectic reader. I'm currently reading Number9Dream by David Mitchell and Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza. While I do tend to stick with science fiction and fantasy, I'm not against a good literary book like The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon or a quirky contemporary by the likes of Cath Crowley. With such diversity in real life, how can one limit what one reads to a certain category or genre?

We agree! Which is why most of us read many different genres. And why we chose you, Suzanne, as our monthly winner. Please email us and let us know which book you'd like as your prize. You can either select a book from our Vault, or choose one to be ordered and mailed to you from the Book Depository. 

Thanks to all the commenters! We'll be choosing another winner for April--and every other month so don't forget to comment. 

Also, TOP SECRET INFO (burn after reading): we MIGHT be giving away lots of fun prizes next week to promote something epic and spectacular. Stay tuned...
 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Want Your First Page Critiqued by Teens?

Okay, so who doesn't want their target audience's feedback on their book? Every month, we offer that chance!

Send the first page of your YA novel to yaconfidential@gmail.com and one submitter will be randomly chosen to have their page critiqued on the blog by our teen spies! They'll reveal what they liked, what they didn't, and whether or not they'd keep reading! 

Deadline for page submission: April 2!

If you've submitted in previous months, but haven't been selected, feel free to submit again!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Ask the Passengers, by A.S. King


From Goodreads:

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions ... like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can't share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don't even know she's there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers' lives--and her own--for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society's definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything--and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.


King has great skill for crafting narrators who are a little bit weird, a good deal relatable, and a whole lot of awesome. Astrid Jones is a lot like many other of King's protagonists, except of course, she's totally different.

She has a lot of questions, and not a lot of answers, but the fact that she even asks makes her the kind of kid you can really get behind. She's a bit of a philosopher too, and a personal friend of Socrates, which along with her ability to send love directly to airplane passengers 30,000 feet overhead, makes for the magical realism elements of this story. Well, that and she's a teenager who gets out of bed before six o'clock on weekends.

Astrid's narrative voice is straight forward, and it carries the reader through her tale at just the right clip, following her from her job as editor of her school's lit mag, through her weekend catering job, and to her awkward attempts at a social life.

Like most of King's books, Ask the Passengers contains some very astute observations about people. It includes possibly the greatest introduction to and description of a minor character I have ever read:

"There is no doubt this woman has hit on at least three million women in her life. And though she looks a bit leathery, and is dressed like the biker from the Village People (leather vest, boot-cut jeans, leather biker cap and engineer boots), there's something attractive about her because she's her."

See what I mean? Don't you just know exactly what Astrid means when she describes this woman? Don't you just want to hug her?

Of course it isn't all love. Astrid and her friends (and her family) go through some pretty rough times. Growing up in small town middle America can be a hard thing to do when you have a lot of questions. Especially if you have questions to which the only answers are paradoxes, like:

Nobody's perfect.

I would recommend Ask the Passengers to any fan of thoughtful, observant YA literature, but especially to readers who enjoy a contemporary setting that includes just a hint of fantasy.








The author, A.S. King, can be found at:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ask-A-Dude: TMI Edition!


Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Ask-a-Dude!

Remember, you can ask your own questions using the submission form on the right!


Today's question is:

  
Q: What's up with guys I'm dating telling me gross stories (fart, toilet & vomit themed, especially)?

A: ZOMG, that totes reminds me of the first time I went to Tijuana and. . .wait. I'm doing it, aren't I?

Sorry. No, I can do this, I'm a professional, I can answer this question, and I can do it without a single reference to anything foul, like, say, Spud's breakfast-with-the-parents scene from Trainspotting. 

MOTHER OF PEARL, I did it again, didn't I?!

Well, you can't blame me, you have to blame my father. He's the one who'd lift one knee and clench his fist whenever he farted. My brother and I thought this was hilarious, and Dad probably learned it from his father before him, who learned it from his before that. In fact, if we're pointing fingers (and if we are, then you should take a moment to pull mine), there's probably a common ancestor somewhere in the Lower Paleolithic who wowed his paelo-bros by gathering them in a circle and announcing he had discovered fire, an invention for lighting farts. I think it took another ten thousand years for fire to be used for anything else.
This might burn a little
Think about it. For a lot of guys, bathroom humor is the first thing dads and sons bond over. When I used to change my son's diapers, he would sometimes give me one of those cute little baby toots, the kind that sounds like Thomas the Tank Engine coming into the station. I'd swivel my head, looking around the room as if I had no clue where the sound came from, and I was rewarded with his tiny giggles, as delicate as unicorn burps.

That black smoke ain't steam
Now do you get it? Gross stories and vulgar jokes aren't just entertainment. To men they're patrilineal legacies, handed down from one stinky palm to the next. You shouldn't be horrified, you should be honored. It's no different from when we go down on one knee and hand you our grandmother's engagement ring, the one she smuggled out of the old country in her brassiere, and ask you to marry us. Same thing.

No? Not buying it?

Okay, fine.

Look, there are two main reasons why we do this sort of thing.

First, as I explained before, we start seeing terrible male behavior just after birth. We simply aren't exposed often enough to guys getting what they want through good behavior. Once we start modeling what we see, it's all downhill. It could be worse, of course. Going by the movies we watch and the games we play, you're lucky we don't show up wearing alien body armor, sucking Axe Body Spray from an IV, and offering to help your ex rob a pawn shop because it worked for Ryan Gosling.

Guys, the one exception to most rules is Ryan Gosling. No one really cares what he's wearing (although less seems to be better). Also, he and Channing Tatum are the only two carriers of a special enzyme that turns Axe Body Spray into the smell of a world-class baker who's ranked nationally in competitive full-body snuggling.
I would gay so hard for these two. (Sorry, honey).
But good behavior IS possible. Let me tell you a little story about my friend, Dong Everfardt*, half Chinese, half German, bless his heart. With a name like that, it would've been easy to just go with the flow, maybe come up with a few self-deprecating name-related gross-out jokes to show he didn't take himself too seriously. But he chose a different path. Instead of joining in with the fart jokes, he'd change the subject. He went against the flow, and you know what? Dude got a PhD, married a wonderful woman and has a daughter who's lucky to call him dad.

Guess how many times his wife has heard him fart after twenty years of marriage? Zero. That's right, boys, zero. So never accept there's only one way. If Dr. Everfardt can do it, so can you.

Graduates of the 'Everyone's Doing It' Finishing School might use modeling to excuse their derpy actions, but this still doesn't really explain WHY. 

Here's the real reason we act like morons, especially on dates, and extra-especially if we really like you.

We're insecure.

Holy sh!t, I said it! I really SAID IT! It feels so good, like a great weight lifted off my shoulders! I can finally go out as a self-actualized human DOING instead of just a mere human BEING! I'm FREE!!
21 Gifs With Shocking Twist Endings
Here I gooooooooooooooooooooooo
Ladies, you probably knew we were being insecure all along. It doesn't make it any better, of course, managing insecurities is kinda like bathing with soap, we should be able to do this, at a minimum, if we want a second date with you.

God forbid he REALLY likes you. Ugh, then you're in for the most horrific game of Jeopardy! ever. "I'll take 'Things I've Found in My Urethra' for $100, Alex."
Guys, don't, just don't. Ask yourself, is there some other story I can tell? Perhaps even one I've made up or cribbed from a Hallmark card? Hell, even stringing random words together is likely to be more effective. She'll think you're having an aneurysm and you guys can share the love over vending machine snacks at the emergency room. You're definitely more likely to get past the first date (or the "seven year itch," or your golden anniversary, or pretty much any random day) if you just talk about something else.

And no fair getting lazy once you're going steady (do kids still 'go steady' or do they just get His and Hers STD tests?). I know (Lord, do I know) the temptation is great after many years with a partner to bust out the story of the first time you had explosive diarrhea anywhere other than your bathroom. Actually, no one wants to know about the time you had it in the bathroom, either. Really actually, no one, except perhaps your doctor, wants to hear about it, full stop.
Doctor, here. I can confirm we don't want to know about it, either.
Guys, if you really, truly need to get these stories out, why don't you save them for your next airplane trip and tell them to the stranger sitting next to you? Ah, I can see a few of you nodding sagely, as if you've already encountered some of these evolved males on an oversold flight with no where to run.

Guys, you could also visit a Vulgarian Escort. No, not Captain Kirk's new female conquest in the latest Star Trek movie. Vulgarians are men or women paid to listen to your stories and pretend to be entertained. Actually, this is not a thing but in a capitalist society, it should be. Raise your hand if you'd pay to have your boyfriend visit a Vulgarian once a week?

Whatever the cause, clearly this is not your fault. On some level you might take it as a compliment since it's motivated out of anxiety borne of your intoxicating beauty.

Perhaps my conversation should be with the guys out there. Guys, if you're having trouble, I feel your pain. It's so haaaaard to not mention the time your balls got caught in your zipper. But I'm your bro, bro. So here's a simple flowchart, click on it and read it before your next date:
In case that's just not clear enough for you, here are some further guidelines:

On a date, it's ONLY okay to mention any of the four bodily humors if:
  • You found your partner on JuggaloMingle.com, the Insane Clown Posse dating site
  • You're the next contestant on The Bachelor and good taste has no meaning in your world (*cough* Jake Pavelka *cough*)
  • Your PhD dissertation was about potty humor in Victorian England
Even then, boys, keep it to a minimum and stop when the main coarse arrives. Seriously, no one wants to discuss your colonoscopy over beef medallions.

Guys, use some common sense, don't talk with your mouth full and remember to wear a rubber band around your wrist.

Ladies, if you really like him, let him have one fart joke as a gimme to break the tension. After that, if he mentions anything disgusting, reach over and pull back the rubber band as far as you can. Then let go.

As my old Mexican grandmother used to say, "Most of the good ones are taken. The rest will come around with a little operant conditioning."

Good luck!

*not his real name




Did Copil ever tell you about the time he found himself chained to a radiator in an abandoned insane asylum with only a rusty hacksaw to escape? OMG, great story. . .you can hear the rest on Twitter (@Copil).



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Fling!


Every Thursday, we post a question for our followers--and on the last Saturday of the month, one of the commenters will be selected to choose a title from our Vault! Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome books... OR the book of your choice from the Book Depository!

To enter, follow YA Confidential and please make sure that your email address is linked to your comment in some way! (So we can get in touch with you :)

Today's question:
Happy spring!!! If you were a teen (or if you ARE a teen) which character from which book would you want to escort you to a spring fling dance?

Our Answers

Jessica: I feel like a lot of the YA guys I've read about recently probably wouldn't actually dance with me, and a dance date who would actually dance with me would be a must! I think right now I'm going to go with Sai from THE REECE MALCOM LIST. He would look amazing in pictures with me, but also wouldn't be afraid to dork out on the dance floor and sing along with all the songs. 

Katy: Jonah Griggs, obviously. He's my default answer for all romantic "Which YA character...?" questions. :-) 

Alison: Haha. One? I'd need five limos for all the YA guys I'd want to escort me. Normally, I'd narrow it down to  Heath Luck (HOUSE OF NIGHT), but since he's dead reincarnated in a different body, I'd curl up in my limo next to Gansey (THE RAVEN BOYS). And Adam Wilde (WHERE SHE WENT). Peeta. Fang (MAXIMUM RIDE) James (AUDREY, WAIT!) Jonah (JELLICOE ROAD). Michael and Kaleb (HOURGLASS/TIMEPIECE).
Okay, I'll stop. Apparently, I'd have a very packed limo.

Copil: I'd ask Iko, the artificial intelligence from Marisa Meyer's Cinder. Robots are hot plus having the tensile strength of depleted uranium might come in handy when someone tries to cut in on the dance floor. 

Matt: If I was a teenager, I would want to go to a dance with Baker Trieste, from Sex and Violence, by Carrie Mesrobian.

Sara: Keefe from the MG Keeper of the Lost Cities. When he’s a few years older. Or Jonah, like Katy said. Oh, oh, oh! Or Cassel from Holly Black’s Curse Worker series. Or pretty much any of the Raven Boys boys…

Your turn!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Undercover Wednesday :: THE LIST


So, I'm a *little* late to the party on this one, but I recently read Siobhan Vivian's The List, which came highly recommended by several friends, and I was so impressed I just had to share my thoughts on this book.

From GoodreadsAn intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.


I found The List to be fast-paced and full of authentic voice. The story takes place over the course of one Mount Washington High Homecoming Week, beginning on Monday, the day the infamous list is posted. 
It's a long standing, carefully guarded tradition, one that's dreaded by some and revered by others. Eight girls are named -- four deemed the prettiest of their class, four deemed the ugliest -- and from there the story jumps from protagonist to protagonist as each girl's life slowly unravels in the wake of the list. 

Admittedly, the idea of eight narrators gave me pause. Going in, I was pretty sure I'd have a hard time keeping all the girls organized in my head, and I was certain I lacked the emotional depth to care about all of them equally. But, Vivian does a fantastic job of giving each girl a unique storyline and background -- distinct friends, varying relationship statuses, compelling family members. It was easy to keep everyone straight, and easy to empathize with each individual's situation.

I went into this book knowing I'd feel bad for the "ugly" girls, but I was surprised at how much sympathy I felt for the "pretty" girls. Nobody has an easy go of it in The List. Every girl feels the sting of a public label, and every girl has to come to terms with the fallout of being openly and unwillingly judged. In addition to struggling with her friends, family, and/or boyfriend, each girl must also face up to her self-image and her personal standard of beauty as it relates to the standards of the people around her: 
What makes someone beautiful? Is beauty what a mirror reflects back at us? Is beauty something we feel inside? Something we emote to those around us? Whose job is it to make us feel beautiful?

There's an element of mystery to The List, one that propels the story forward as the eight girls move through Homecoming Week: Who was responsible for writing and distributing the list? Each protagonist has her suspicions, and the new principal, young and relatively hip, is dead-set on finding the person responsible. As the week came to a close and the story began to wrap up, I had a pretty good idea of who authored the list, yet I was so absorbed with the girls and their stories, I was happy to keep turning pages. While the novel's ending didn't shock me, it was certainly satisfying and definitely made me think.

I found The List equal parts entertaining and profound. Siobhan Vivian manages to do what many contemporary young adult authors attempt but never quite manage -- she impart very important messages about individuality, peer pressure, popularity, social norms, bullying, and conflicting ideas of beauty without ever coming across as preachy. 

The List is a definite recommend!


 
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