Monday, June 30, 2014

From the Vault

Every Monday we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault. Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome new releases... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for him/her from the Book Depository

(To enter, follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)

 Today's Question: The 4th of July is only a few days away (for those of us in the states). What books have some of your favorite holiday scenes?

Alexandra - I feel like I reference Harry Potter in pretty much every Vault question I answer, but seriously, who DOESN'T want to go to the Yule Ball? (Also, I think Nearly Headless Nick's death day party sounds fun in a Tim Burton morbid kind of way!)
Matt - Harry Potter FTW!

Tracey - I am not going to say HARRY POTTER because I think my co-agents have that covered but, you know, HARRY POTTER. The only other book I can think of is A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which is sort of a tradition in my house so I’m both in love with the story and sick of it. I also remember loving the Christmas celebrations in LITTLE WOMEN, though I haven’t read that in some time.
Katy - NANTUCKET BLUE by Leila Howland has a most excellent Independence Day scene. And yeah… I’m right their with my fellow Operatives in their love Harry Potter holidays. 

Leigh - I'm thinking summer holidays, but the holiday scenes usually occur in the winter... hmm... I'll go with Matt & say Harry Potter FTW!!! Yay! 

Jaime - (July is a celebratory month in Canada too! July 1st is our big day.) Again, with HARRY POTTER. Any holiday in the great hall is pretty darn spectacular! For whatever reason, I can’t think of any other holiday scenes in YA books. Help?

Sarah - Well, obviously HARRY POTTER but outside of that I'm a big fan of the Gather (which is a big gathering, natch, and party with games and races and foooods) in Anne McCaffrey's DRAGONSINGER. Also, even though it's a gross display of extravagance, I'm not going to lie about how much I would like to hit up that capital party in CATCHING FIRE. Whether it's actually a holiday, I don't know.

Your turn! What's your favorite fictional holidays?

Monday, June 23, 2014

From the Vault

Every Monday we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault. Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome new releases... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for him/her from the Book Depository

(To enter, follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)

 Today's Question: Name a book or two that you luuurved while you were reading it, and then was let down by the ending?

Alexandra - I remember loving Nancy Farmer's 2002 novel THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION as a teen, but feeling that the end was rushed. However, she's recently come out with a sequel, THE LORD OF OPIUM, so now I have an excuse to reread the first, and whatever my teen self felt was unsatisfactory about the ending will hopefully all be taken care of in the sequel! :) (I also often wish that classics with romantic subplots, like NORTH AND SOUTH by Elizabeth Gaskell and basically every Jane Austen novel, had some making out in the end, but that's of course the result of my modern sensibilities clashing with what was appropriate for the time period. Hehehe.)

Tracey - Since I read LEAP OF FAITH by Jamie Blair, I haven’t stopped recommending it. Seriously, I should get commission for the number of times I’ve convinced someone to buy this book. Which is to say I love it. A lot. That said, it ended sort of abruptly for me. I wanted a couple more chapters for the story to wrap up. But don’t let that discourage you from reading it. It’s really great.
Katy - I loved Jamie Blair’s LEAP OF FAITH so much and even though the ending wasn’t a let down, exactly, I did want one more chapter. I felt so invested in the characters and their story and then it just ended so abruptly. Write a sequel, Jamie Blair! 

Leigh - OMG. Srsly, I think I block these out of my mind. Let's say... Mockingjay? I'm not sure why I'm suddenly on a Hunger Games tip tonight. I think it's b/c my oldest is finally old enough to read it, so I'm having to relive... LOL!

Jaime - I’m going to go with a series instead of a book here, if that’s okay. I loved DIVERGENT so, so much. It’s the book that actually got me writing! Tris and Four were just so awesome. Without going into details, I didn’t love the way the series wrapped up in ALLEGIANT. That said, I will always be grateful to Veronica Roth as well as Tris and Four for inspiring me to get writing!

Sarah - For me, I recently realized I'm not a big fan of Rainbow Rowell's endings. ELEANORE & PARK, but more specifically FANGIRL. And I LOVED FANGIRL. I just wanted the ending to be a bit different, or to have more. Specifically in regards to the fanfiction.

Your turn! What's your favorite fictional foods?


Monday, June 16, 2014

From the Vault

Every Monday we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault. Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome new releases... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for him/her from the Book Depository

(To enter, follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)

 Today's Question: Summer time also means grilling and picnics and fresh fruits (for those of us who live in the frozen north). What are some of your favorite fictional foods?

Alexandra - Every single candy described in Harry Potter. They have some pretty good approximations at Universal Studios, but I want to try the real, magical versions!
Matt - Pretty much everything in ASoIaF sounds great. Check out

Tracey - I’ve always wanted to try to make the November cakes from THE SCORPIO RACES. (Author Maggie Stiefvater has created a recipe, which you can find here.) 
Katy - Butterbeer! Yum! And even though gelato isn’t fictional, I recently read Kristin Rae’s WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN and it made me crave gelato like nobody’s business. 

Leigh - Anything chocolate works for me! Haha!!! Although I have always wanted to try Turkish Delight~

Jaime - The food in the HARRY POTTER books springs readily to mind, but I know it’s already been mentioned. (Pumpkin pasties and butterbeer both sounded SO yummy!) I remember thinking that the food in the Capitol in THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE sounded really good too.

Sarah - I love me some foods, especially if they're in fantasy books and are magical. I mean, obviously anything and everything from Harry Potter (Butterbeer definitely). I'm also a huge fan of Bubbly Pies from Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, specifically the YA DRAGONSINGER trilogy. McCaffrey shared the recipe (along with other recipes in her books) in THE DRAGONLOVERS GUIDE TO PERN and I've made them more than once because they are nummo.

Your turn! What's your favorite fictional foods?


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

GUY IN REAL LIFE, A Tandem Review by Sarah Ahiers and Matthew MacNish

Sarah and I are both big fans of Steve Brezenoff's books, and although I no longer live there, we both grew up in Minnesota, where GUY IN REAL LIFE takes place, so we thought it would be fun to do a kind of tandem interview/review.

Before we get to that, here is the jack copy for this book, from Goodreads:

From the acclaimed author of Brooklyn, Burning comes Guy in Real Life, an achingly real and profoundly moving love story about two Minnesota teens whose lives become intertwined through school, role-playing games, and a chance two-a.m. bike accident.

It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.

But they don't.

This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other's lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn't belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren't in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all.

Does that not sound wonderfully profound and entertaining? It is.

So, here are some questions I asked Sarah, and her answers:

1) As a girl gamer, how much online bullying have you encountered? I'm a man, so I haven't experienced much myself, but my girlfriend used to play with me sometimes, and the stuff she had to put up with was pretty disturbing at times.

Surprisingly little. Actually, none that I can think of. I'm mainly a console gamer but I've spent years playing Halo (soooooo much awesome Halo) and the most I've ever gotten is, "Are you a girl? Oh," and then maybe a friend request.

I don't know why I haven't experienced more. Because I know it's out there. It's out there in droves. I've just personally never experienced anything directed at me (and it's not like my gender is hidden. Both my profile pics and my avatar are chicks. And in Halo my Spartan is a chick as well.) So, yeah. I guess I've just been really lucky in that sense.

2) As a Minnesotan yourself, how much did the local angle increase your enjoyment of the book? And on the flipside, do you think much of anything would feel missing for readers who have never been to the Twin Cities?

Oh so much! I LOVED the Minnesota angle hard core. I was constantly thinking "Oh! I KNOW that place! And ooh! That one too! And I totally get what he's referencing here!" Kind of like when you see a friend on TV and you're like "I KNOW them!" and it somehow makes it feel like you're important too.

Though at one point Svetlana mentions that they drive to picturesque Blaine and I was like "Nope. No way in hell is it picturesque," but also I'm biased against Blaine for personal reasons and she could have easily been sarcastic too.

And no, I don't think non-Minnesotans would miss out on anything. Though I definitely pondered this while I was reading. I was just reminded of various other books that have strong, real place presences that I've never been too. It's almost like they become fictional. I mean, Cleveland could be Hogwarts for all I know, you know? I have no basis in the real life setting so I have to make it up in my head, and I'm sure that would be the case here for anyone unfamiliar with the Twin Cities (though everyone should come here. I'm just sayin' ...)

3) One of my favorite things about Steve Brezenoff novels is that they often bring up important thematic questions (usually about identity, but not always) without being too obvious or heavy handed. I very much enjoy books that can entertain me at the same time they make me think. Do you agree? If so, what were some of the thematic questions that came to mind for you while reading G.I.R.L.?

Oh I think this book practically popped with thematic questions regarding identity especially, but in a good way. Like you said, not heavy handed at all and very smoothly done. Which is good because this is YA and YA really should be focused on identity. But I think it's clear that a big portion of this book is focused on identity as it relates to gender. Lesh plays a girl in a video game, a girl he created to represent a girl he's hugely crushing on and then later dates. And he loves being this girl. He loves the escapism, he loves the other guys in the game saving him and flirting with him and treating him like a sort of princess.

I find this extra layer extra awesome. I mean, the book would be great without it, but with it kind of tucked away as it is, it just really adds extra depth to the story. In fact, one of my favorite lines is related directly to this theme of gender identity, though I won't share because it's pretty spoilery.

And now, here are some questions Sarah asked me:

1) Music is a big part of the book. Lesh is not only named after Phil Lesh from the Grateful Dead but he's a metal head and Svetlana loves to listen to Bjork and classical. I know music is also a huge part of your own life. How do you feel the music in the book affected or impacted the story?

Well, I happen to know Steve Brezenoff a little bit from the internet, so I know that like myself, he used to work in the music industry, and you can really feel his knowledge of music bleeding through in his books. You should absolutely check out his blog series on his one hundred favorite songs.

Anyway, more to the topic at hand, I love the play on words in Lesh's name, both being named after the bassist from the Dead, and for having a last name that is literally Heavy Metal (I'm just glad his dad didn't turn out to be a TIG welder - look it up), and ever more so, I love love love the way that Svetlana talks about music. Not only because she enjoys Bjork, who I also personally adore, but also because she appreciates classical, which I have a soft place in my heart for because of my Father who worked for the Seattle Opera, and also because she has such a passion for music, and as a character, she really has no inhibitions when it comes to sharing and describing that passion to Lesh.

She does the same thing when sharing with him about gaming, and being the Dungeon Master of her group, or about embroidery, or about any of the things she loves. She is really a confident girl who seems comfortable in her own skin, which can be a real treat when reading a YA novel.

2) Lesh has moments where he struggles a bit with the idea that he's playing a girl in his MMORPG. As a girl I've certainly played my fair amount of male characters and never thought twice about it. Is this not the case for guys? Do you think Lesh's experience is more or less universal?

Well, first things first, I'm a gamer myself, and when I play RPGs, I often create female characters without thinking twice about it. Sometimes she's a Khajit, or an Orc, or a Dark Elf, but still ... female. However, I also have an extreme aversion to playing online with other human beings, and I think it's in that that the big difference lies.

Lesh plays a MMORPG, which means that he's playing a game with other people, who he has to interact with, and their expectations of him obviously are heavily influenced by the fact that they assume a player playing a girl would be a girl in real life.

I imagine that would feel weird. I mean playing games online with other people feels weird enough already, which is a big part of why I avoid it, but if you play with guild mates for a long time, getting to know each other,and they come to think certain things about you, and then ... you eventually have to decide whether to reveal the truth? That would be awkward, which is why it obviously makes for a great, tense bit of story.

3) And a Minnesotan question for you as well. As a former Minnesotan yourself, one who's been absent for a fair amount of years, were you able to place some of the locations and landmarks in the book? And if so, did that increase your reading experience?

Absolutely! I spent a lot of time in Minnesota as a teenager, and I even graduated from the very same high school that Svetlana and Lesh attend in the book, so it was quite a treat to read about all the placed they go, and feel such a sense of familiarity as a reader.

I mean, Midway, Frogtown, Crocus Hill, Summit, Mac-Groveland, those are all my old stomping grounds, and it makes for a vivid and pleasurable read to get to enjoy a book that includes so many places you know so intimately.

That's it for the tandem interview.

But I'm not necessarily done talking about this great book! It was one of the most fun and entertaining books I've read all year. It does pose some deep thematic questions, sure, but it's also very funny, and just full of wonderfully enjoyable things like rock concerts and video and role-playing game fantasy adventures.

I could go on about a lot of the other elements, but it's actually said much better than I ever could at both Stacked and Guy's Lit Wire.

You can find out more about the author, Steve Brezenoff, at:

Have you ever read a novel that was so explicitly set in a place you have lived, and know intimately? Did it add as much richness to your read as it did for Sarah and me? Share your thoughts in the comments, but if you love YA Contemporary, or gaming, or authentic romance, I would highly recommend you pick this book up.

Monday, June 9, 2014

From the Vault

Hi All! Sarah Here! I'll be taking over the From The Vault posts for Katy. It's tough boots to fill because she asked some awesome questions, but I'm up for the challenge.

Every Monday we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault. Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome new releases... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for him/her from the Book Depository

(To enter, follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)


Today's Question: Summer time means summer flings! What are a few of your favorite book romances that didn't last? 

Matt - Evan and Baker in SEX & VIOLENCE.

Tracey - I will always be a fan of Celaena and Dorian’s relationship in THRONE OF GLASS. It doesn’t last, but I’m just as sad about that as Dorian is. I’m still crossing my fingers Celaena comes to her senses in one of the sequels.
Katy - Spoiler alert — Katherine and Michael from Judy Blume’s misleadingly titled FOREVER… I thought those two were adorable and even though their demise was probably the most realistic outcome for that novel, I wanted them to last!

Jaime - There is one particular romance that I loved so much, but due to a Really Bad Turn of Events, didn’t end up lasting. Vague much? Problem is, I can’t say who and from what book/series because it would be a HUGE spoiler. And then, of course, there’s the two from that YA book-to-movie adaptation that just came out. Wow, I suck at this.
Leigh - Hmmm.... tough one. I mean, they usually last--LOL! Can I be cheesy and say Katniss + Gale, because I'm still ticked. #TeamGale 

Sarah - I love how I ask my first question, and then am kind of stymied by it. Like Matt said, Evan and Baker from SEX AND VIOLENCE is a pretty good one. I'm also going to go with Felton and Aleah in I'M WITH STUPID.

Your turn! What's your favorite summer fling that didn't last?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

May Comment of the Month Winner!

May had some great From the Vault questions and we received some FANTASTIC comments from all of you. Thank you to everyone who participated this month!

And now for our favorite comment...

We asked you the following question: Lots of movies based on YA novels debut this summer. What's your favorite YA book-to-movie adaptation?

And REBECCA said:

"My favourite YA book-to-movie adaptation has to be The Fault in Our Stars.
Let's ignore that gross tagline, okay?

Before you jump to conclusions either with envy or into thinking I'm delusional, let me 
explain. I was very lucky to have the chance to see it a month before it releases and I can without a doubt say it is absolutely incredible. Here's a review of my (already) mini-review:

• If you've seen Divergent, you'll know Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort play brother and sister. But once the movie began, my mind forgot all about that because these two? They ARE Gus and Hazel. To a T.

• The acting is superb - Ansel and Shailene did a fabulous job and so did the supporting cast and every single actor.

• The movie is sad (as expected) but boy, I was not ready for the amount of laughing and grinning and chuckling. It is funny. Prepare to craugh (cry/laugh) a lot.

• For two whole hours, my mind was on nothing but the movie; I was completely captivated. I can't remember the last time this happened which is saying something.

• I felt like it captured the book perfectly, but that it also stood beautifully in its own right as a moving, heartfelt film.

So - enjoy seeing it with your own eyes next month. In case you can't already tell, it's not to be missed."

I know a bunch of us here at YA Confidential are SUPER excited about seeing this one, so we're happy to hear it was so good! Thanks for the awesome review and congrats, Rebecca! Just send us a quick email at yaconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com with your book choice from The Book Depository and your mailing info, and we'll get it sent off to you ASAP. Thanks again for taking part in our From the Vault Mondays!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Happy Pub Day PUSH GIRL!!!

YA Confidential wishes the happiest of book birthdays to...
Push Girl by Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill
From Goodreads - Kara is a high school junior who’s loving life. She’s popular, has a great group of friends and an amazing boyfriend, and she’s a shoe-in for homecoming queen. Even though her parents can’t stop fighting and her ex-boyfriend can’t seem to leave her alone, Kara won’t let anything get in the way of her perfect year. It’s Friday night, and Kara arrives at a party, upset after hearing her parents having another one of their awful fights, and sees another girl with her hands all over her boyfriend. Furious, Kara leaves to take a drive, and, as she’s crossing an intersection, a car comes out of nowhere and slams into the driver’s side of Kara’s car. When Kara wakes up, she has no memory of the night before. Where is she? Why are her parents crying? And, most importantly — why can’t she feel her legs? As Kara is forced to adjust to her new life, where her friends aren’t who they seemed to be and her once-adoring boyfriend is mysteriously absent, she starts to realize that what matters in life isn’t what happens to you — it’s the choices you make and the people you love. Co-written by “Push Girls” star Chelsie Hill, whose real life closely mirrors Kara’s experience, this novel will open the eyes of readers everywhere who have never met someone who lives with paralysis.
Oh, this book! I have so much love for it – not to mention its co-author, my friend and retired YA Confidential Operative Jessica Love. I'm so excited for the world to finally meet courageous, determined Kara and her fabulous friends!
In Push Girl, Kara’s been dealt an incredibly challenging hand. She’s facing all sorts of struggles, struggles most people have probably never even considered. But Push Girl is so much more than the issue book it first appears to be. It’s a hopeful, honest, uplifting story about change and friendship and taking a stand. It’s about healing and traveling unexpected paths and — while Kara hates this word — it’s inspirational.
Kara is such a likable protagonist. While she goes through (understandable) stages of grief and anger and self-pity, she’s ultimately a tenacious girl with an unshakable spirit. Kara’s fight to come to terms with her paralysis is heartbreaking, hard to read at times, but there’s so much joy during the scenes in which she preservers, changing people's minds about paralysis, what it means to be different, and the true meaning of the word inspirational
Push Girl is emotional and deep, but there are plenty of fun moments, too. And, it’s incredibly well-written. I think you’ll love this debut as much as I do!
Find Push Girl at AmazonThe Book DepositoryBooks-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble

Enter to win a hardcover copy of Push Girl courtesy of Jessica Love...
(Open internationally!)

Monday, June 2, 2014

From the Vault :: Summer Reads

Every Monday we post a reading/writing-related question for our followers, and at the end of the month, one lucky commenter is selected to choose a title from our Vault. Whatever we have available: ARCs, signed books, awesome new releases... OR the monthly winner may select any one book to be ordered for him/her from the Book Depository

(To enter, follow YA Confidential and make sure your email address is linked to your comment in some way. We'll need to get in touch with you if you win.)

Today's Question: What's your favorite beach/sunny day read? 

Matt - Beaches make me think about sand. Sand makes me think about digging. I'll say HOLES by Louis Sachar, and ROTTERS, by Daniel Kraus.

Sarah - Honestly, whatever I'm reading at the time. I don't really have a sunny day read, which is weird because I definitely have winter reads. I guess I'd prefer to read something lighter in the summer, but also I pretty much just go through my TBR pile until I find something I'm in the mood for.

AlisonIn the spirit of being lame and weird, my beach day preference is a paperback. Easy to hold and fold back while getting my tan on. J That, and I really don’t care for my precious hard covers to get all sandy! But honestly, I don’t really have a favorite. I just add whatever I’m reading to the beach bag and go. :-)

Tracey - This makes me think of books with beachy and summer settings, which makes me think of one of my all-time favorite contemporary YA series, the Summer trilogy by Jenny Han. What I love so much about the series is that while the first book, THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY, was great—really, really great—the next is even better. And the last book of the trilogy is the best. Also, there are cute brothers, a growing-into-her-skin girl, and kissing.

Jaime - My favorite sunny day reads are surprisingly both by Morgan Matson: AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR (a pretty epic, super swoonworthy road trip read) and SECOND CHANCE SUMMER (heartbreaking, but well worth the read for the way it deals with the topics of love and loss). Basically, I will read anything Morgan Matson puts out based on my love for these two books.

Katy - Totally piggy-backing off of Tracey's and Jaime's responses. Yes, yes, yes to Morgan Matson and Jenny Han! My most recent summer-set read was Kristin Rae's WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, which I thought was adorable. Who doesn't want to tour Italy with cute boys while eating tons of gelato? 

Your turn! What's your favorite beach/sunny day read?

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