I’m running a giveaway this week I’m running a lot of fun content about Imaginary Girls with Nicole the Book Bandit. As part of that, Nova has graciously offered one copy of Imaginary Girls to give away (winner’s choice, paperback or hardcover).
Giveaway is open to any readers over the age of 13. US only.
Giveaway will run from June 16 to June 21. Winner will be notified June 22. If I don’t hear back from the winner by June 23 I will pick a new winner from the entry pool.
This week has been really good. Work is going well. The only real problem is that my entire work are is essentially a reception black hole which is a bit annoying. I’ve motored through my review backlog and have posts scheduled through the end of August. I seem to be on pace with reading (I think, I hope!). I’m not allowing myself to buy any books until at least September because I really don’t need any after BEA and because I just need to stop buying all the books I want. This is posing a problem with Isla and the Happy Ever After but I’ll figure something out. (By which I mean I am pre-ordering Isla but then really buckling down.)
Not too much else to report. I’m trying to get back to my cross stitch project but it’s slow going which is part of why I stopped to begin with.
That’s the story. Hope your week was also copacetic.
Nicole and I take BEA very seriously so even with a relatively light Saturday schedule, we were at the Javits bright and early for the 9am opening.
Since we had some time to kill before being able to go on the show floor, I took some pictures of the main floor.
What these photos do not convey is how insanely crowded the Javits was on Saturday. The last day of BEA included BookCon–a component of BEA open to the public. (Last year this was known as Super Reader Day instead.) I love the idea of BookCon and I think it’s great to have the event open to the public. That said, BookCon was terribly mismanaged. During the day a volunteer told me that there were 6000 more registrants for BookCon compared to last year but also fewer volunteers.
To make matters worse, BookCon attendees were only allowed on part of the show floor (autographing and approximately a quarter of the exhibit floor) which created a terrible bottleneck. Although I heard a lot of complaining and horror stories, I didn’t have any bad experiences on Saturday except that it was painfully crowded in some areas (though very quiet in the non-BookCon areas).
After navigating the crowds, Nicole and I were once again heading onto the exhibit floor.
After passing the Penguin Book Truck it was time to hit the ground running.
On our way to HarperCollins we also saw a giant robot. So, basically another typical day at BEA.
Our first task of the day was milling around Harper waiting for Anatomy of a Misfit, Tape and Falling Into Place to drop. You might remember that Nicole and I were thwarted three times trying to get these books so it was very important both in terms of pride and because we wanted the books badly. Happily, that did work out.
After that it was time to brave the autographing area which was insane.
At this point we were able to see Daisy Whitney who was signing The Fire Artist.
After that we headed right over to Corey Ann Haydu’s line which was already quite long. Getting to her line also involved avoiding a giant mob that was trying to line up for Libba Bray’s signing.
But we made it.
After that it was another line hop to see Skylar Dorset signing The Girl Who Never Was.
Skylar Dorset’s signing marked the home stretch of our time in autographing. Which was just as well because we were getting frazzled.
Then it was a short wait for Claire Pernice signing her picture book Circus Girl.
I’ve already read this picture book and it was really quite fun.
After that Nicole and I elbowed our way out of the madness to the BEA area. We were both pretty much used up at this point so we decided to call it a day and bid farewell to the Javits for another year.
And that, dear readers, is how I spent Book Expo 2014.
Friday–aka BEA Day 2–was our worst day. Partly because it was super busy but also because, being suckers, Nicole and I were going to a book signing after Book Expo. This meant we had to bring books to the convention center. This meant we actually bought books. This also meant we would be going, and on our feet, for roughly twelve hours. Although it was not, perhaps, the best idea it was totally worth it in the end.
The day started, as BEA days always do, bright and early with a trip to the Javits Center where Nicole and I were poised to hit the exhibit floor right when it opened at 9.
Nicole and I were suitably chipper as we waited in line.
First up was a quick trip past Penguin to get a copy of Zodiac by Romina Russell. After that it was over to Abrams to see A. G. Howard who was signing copies of Unhinged. Abrams always does things right at BEA–this year was no exception. Their booth was well laid-out, everyone was very helpful and courteous. Also: A. G. Howard is super nice. Now that I have shiny copies of both Splintered and Unhinged I’m even more excited about the series. Yay retellings!
Next Nicole and I tried (and failed) to acquire some books from a Macmillan drop, but it wasn’t meant to be. Neither was seeing Becca Fitzpatrick signing her new book Black Ice. BUT we happened to be at Harper at just the right time and heard someone asking, “Do you still have tickets for Kiera Cass’ signing?” She did. And even better, she had two tickets for me and Nicole. I can’t even articulate how great and wildly unexpected this was. It meant re-planning some of the afternoon but obviously Kiera Cass would be fit in. I mean, come on.
After that it was time to head over to the autographing area. Remember how I am now completely obsessed with Little Elliot in the Big City and went to great lengths to get that tote on Thursday? Well, Little Elliot creator Mike Curato was signing copies today. Obviously this was high priority. So high, in fact, that I even asked to take a picture with Mr. Curato. (You might have noticed that I don’t do that often with authors but obviously this was a special situation.) Suffice to say meeting him was everything I had hoped it would be and I am so excited for all of you to be able to read this fantastic picture book in August.
Having finally gotten everything it was possible to get with that adorable baby elephant, it was time for another signing. Next up was The Jewel by Amy Ewing. I actually don’t know much about this book but the cover is similar to The Selection and The Winner’s Curse which is enough to sell me. And a lot of other people based on the line for her autographing session.
The line was so big, in fact, there was even a sign for the “overflow” line. A sign which Nicole got to hold for a little while.
Eventually we did make it to the front of the line where we got to see Amy Ewing and get our books signed.
Ryan Graudin’s line, unfortunately was too long so Nicole and I next decided to heed the siren song of lunch.
After lunch things got a little crazy.
Also there was a car:
First up was Chelsea Philpot’s signing for Even in Paradise which is a riff on The Great Gatsby. Everyone was excited for this book. The line was crazy. I can tell you that first-hand because this time I got to hold the sign. Let me tell you, it was more stressful than you’d think.
After that, Nicole and I had to start planning for the BIG part of the afternoon which was Holly Black signing The Darkest Part of the Forest at 2:30pm. A line was, predictably, already forming. Nicole held places for that line while I ran over to see Lenore Applehans who was signing paperbacks of The Memory of After. Another long line but I did get to see her just before the cutoff.
Nicole and I tried and failed, for the second time today, to get copies of Falling into Place by Amy Zhang but it was not meant to be today (it would happen tomorrow though). Which left us with a lot of time to wait for Holly Black.
Nicole also once again had important sign-holding duty.
And that was totally worth it. I was reduced to non-insightful comments about her blue hair when I got my book signed, but that’s okay. Worth. It.
Next we made a quick stop at Macmillan where we scooped up Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini before heading over to the Harper booth.
At Harper we happily waited in line with our shiny tickets to see Kiera Cass. I just recently finished the Selection trilogy, which I loved, so I was quite excited about this. The whole thing is a bit of blur but I did get a picture with Kiera Cass.
And everyone got a beautiful chocolate covered cookie. Kiera Cass was signing The One which, as the title suggests, involves a rather important wedding so all of the cookies were decorated as either brides or grooms. In another bit of luck I got a “bride” and Nicole got a “groom” cookie so we could create this adorable photo:
Still totally pumped from meeting Kiera Cass AND Holly Black, Nicole and I split up. While she went to see Molly Idle, I headed over to Simon and Schuster to meet up with Cecelia and Ginny where we all waited to meet Scott Westerfeld. I love Scott Westerfeld and I’m very excited about his new book Afterworlds even with it being 600+ pages so this was really a thrill–particularly since I didn’t even think I’d be able to touch his line. But I did! And I have photographic evidence!
Next it was a quick stop at Isabel Gillies’ signing of Starry Night.
Then it was time to retrieve out bags and, like the suckers we are, head over to Books of Wonder.
Books of Wonder had a great panel set up with Garth Nix, J. L. Armentrout, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Gretchen McNeil, Maggie Stiefvater, A. G. Howard and Alethea Kontis.
Now, my love for Alethea Kontis knows no bounds. Garth Nix, as I mentioned, is almost never in New York. I had a copy of Splintered just waiting for A. G. Howard to sign it. And, through sheer happenstance, I managed to acquire a copy of all of Maggie Stiefvater’s YA books. SO even though it hurt my soul to go to a book event right after being at a book convention, this really was a no brainer. And, believe it or not, Nicole felt the same way. So we dutifully headed over to Chelsea.
Now, the event was very crowded and I was already very tired so I can’t share much in the way of a recap beyond saying that all of the authors were very smart and charming.
I was very excited to get my full set of Old Kingdom books signed by Garth Nix.
A. G. Howard was delightful and had necklaces with key and lock charms for every reader.
Also Alethea Kontis looked fabulous. (I am so excited to read Dearest!)
And Maggie Stiefvater stood on the table. (She’s such a rockstar. One day soon when I have more time I have to finish all of her books. I’m also ashamed because I forgot to tell her The Scorpio Races is my favorite of her books not The Dream Thieves–although I also loved that one. It just gets confusing when you have a stack of books to get signed and have been awake for twelve hours!)
And with that, finally, day two of BEA came to a close.
Thursday started bright and early with Nicole meeting me at my place. We had breakfast with my mom and Nicole dropped off some items she’d need the next day (AKA our twelve hour day where she’d be sleeping over) before heading out. We decided to go crazy and cab it to the Javits center which is a decision I stand by.
Since we did not go to blogger con on Wednesday, the day started with badge pick up at the press office. It was off hours at the press office so there was no line. I got to share the pain with the gentleman who processed our paperwork when loud music started blaring from the exhibit floor. That, happily, stopped before the show opened.
Thursday was easily my most stressful BEA day because all of the authors I wanted to see were signing at the same time. However, I was prepared because that’s how I roll. Nicole and I were on line and ready to head into the show floor well before 9am with a clear plan: stop by the booths for publishers who had books we were seeking to get drop schedules (for when books are given away) or to see what was already out all while heading to the autographing area.
Along the way I managed to acquire an arc of Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers from the lovely people at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Since this was one of three books I came to BEA specifically to get, let me just say it was a very good start to the day. (Later in the day Nicole would surprise me with an ARC of Dearest by Alethea Kontis (again from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.)
After that it was a bee-line to the autographing area. While Nicole went to get Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien I dutifully waited in line–a full hour early–for Garth Nix. Two things to know about Garth Nix: He’s Australian so he is almost never in New York for signings. He’s also releasing a prequel to the Abhorsen books called Clariel which he was signing for only a half hour. While I held the line, as it were, for myself and Cecelia (from The Adventures Cecelia Bedelia) and her sister Ginny, Nicole went to some other signings.
The wait was worth it though as I got to chat with Cecelia and Ginny (luckily no one yelled at me for holding places because they came so early!) while we waited.
After Garth Nix, the three of duly went to see Caragh M. O’Brien. I haven’t read the Birthmarked series yet but since my dear friend Kaila is a superfan I am very excited to get to her newest one.
That first hour was probably my most stressful time at BEA because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do everything. But I did and after that, the day continued to be made of win.
I lost track of Nicole for a while when she went to see Rainbow Rowell and get a signed copy of Landline (I was still working through the Nix and O’Brien lines). Afterward I wandered the floor a bit but it wasn’t quite the same without someone to keep me company.
Eventually we reconnected and did some exploring. I got some totes at this point including an Epic Reads one from Harper.
At 11am we headed back to the autographing area in the hopes of meeting Steve Brezenhoff who was signing Guy in Real Life (he was also wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt which I’m sure Nicole will point out in her own recap). His line was longer than anticipated but still totally manageable and he was super nice!
After that we tried to catch Amy Plum signing After the End but, as expected, her line was soooooo long we had to skip it. We did stop by Scholastic for a rather intense drop of Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater which was worthwhile of course. I even got to meet one of my fellow twitter-ers, Nikki Mutch, who does publicity at Scholastic. Yay for real life meetings with internet friends!
Then it was time for lunch which is always thrilling at BEA because it means we can sit down!
Our mid-lunch wanderings also revealed this year’s lego masterpieces: Boba Fett and Chewbacca from Star Wars fame.
Thursday afternoon was relatively quiet compared to the morning. Our first stop was Tara Altebrando’s in-booth signing of The Battle of Darcy Lane because Nicole is a super fan and I am also a fan (pro tip: Darcy Lane is a street, not a person. Now you know!). This was a bonus because I also got to see Valerie Howlett–a publicist I have worked with before from Running Press.
After seeing Tara, I had a very important thing on my schedule at the Macmillan booth. After getting Mortal Heart and Dearest, this might have been the most critical part of my non-signing day. I needed a Little Elliot in the Big City tote bag. I cannot stress enough how fantastic this picture book is or how glorious the actual tote bag is. To better underscore the point: I needed this bag. So yes, I did wait roughly twenty minutes milling around the Macmillan booth to make sure I got one. And it was everything I hoped for.
After that we headed back to Autographing where, amazingly, Aaron Becker did not have a huge line while signing Quest. This was a great turn of events obviously.
Magnificent tote bag and Quest in hand, it was then time to head to the Science Fiction Writers of America booth where, thanks to Twitter, I knew that Sarah Beth Durst was signing copies of her new book for adults The Lost. Since I had already given away my arc and since I like seeing Sarah, Nicole and I decided this was a great plan.
It was actually even better than I hoped because Sarah knows me from twitter and book signings and interviews now so we even got to chat. (This was days before starting Shiny New Job so I even had exciting news to share!) Sarah is delightful and The Lost really is a clever book so I recommend you check it out.
After Sarah signing it was back to the autographing area. Since Famous in Love was high priority for both myself and Nicole, seeing Rebecca Serle next was a no-brainer. Rebecca had injured her shoulder but she was looking very stylish with a scarf sling and did stamp every book with a very glamorous R.
Next it was time to see the Steads–Rebecca and Phillip Stead–picture book authors and illustrators extraordinaire. This year they were signing A Sick Day for Amos McGee and Phillip was also signing Sebastian and the Balloon. I always find the Steads very snazzy and like to pretend we have a bond since Erin used to work at one of my previous places of employ. Also, who doesn’t love A Sick Day for Amos McGee?
By the time we finished with the Steads, Nicole and I discovered any signings we had been considering had lines too long to fathom so after one more trip around the exhibition floor it was time to bring our first day of BEA 2014 to an end.
Tessa Gratton is here today to talk about her newest book The Strange Maid (out June 10!). The Strange Maid is Gratton’s second book in the United States of Asgard and features a female protagonist who makes a deal with Odin to become a Valkyrie. Since we all know I like highlighting strong, proactive, awesome female characters on the blog, Tessa is here to write about strong women both in Norse myth and The Strange Maid. (And also there might be a giveaway at the bottom of this post. Just saying.)
Without further ado, here’s Tessa:
To talk about strong women in THE STRANGE MAID, I have to start with my favorite one from Norse Mythology: Signy Volsung.
From the Volsunga Saga, Signy was the twin sister of Sigmund, the star of the saga and father of the more famous Sigurd. When she’s young, Signy’s father marries her to the evil king Siggier, about whom she says “My heart does not smile with his” as a warning. After the wedding, Siggier invites Signy’s family to visit, but treacherously he kills her father and captures her brothers. She arranges for them to be put into stocks instead of executed, but every night a giant she-wolf comes and eats one brother. Each one dies this way until it’s Sigmund’s turn. Signy has a servant spread honey onto Sigmund’s face so that the she-wolf licks him instead of eating him, then she helps her brother escape and hide in the woods.
Years later Signy sends her son to the woods to Sigmund so that together they can kill Signy’s evil husband. But when Sigmund declares her son is unworthy, Signy has him killed. Sigmund declares her youngest son unworthy, too, because of his evil father, and kills him. To get a strong, worthy son, Signy changes her shape into that of a sorceress and goes to the woods to sleep with her twin brother Sigmund. They sleep together for three nights, after which she goes back to the castle pregnant. Nine years later she sends her son to Sigmund and together they plot to kill the evil king.
Once the king is dead and the castle burning to the ground, Signy tells her brother about the incest and then walks into the fire, knowing her magic and quest for vengeance has left her no right to live now that she’s succeeded.
She is so bad ass.
So when I tell you I named the hero of THE STRANGE MAID after her, because that’s her ideal strong woman, you can have an idea where I’m coming from.
My Signy is a girl who, in a fit of grief and fury, makes a dangerous bargain with Odin, the god of madness and sacrifice, to become his first new Valkyrie in a hundred years. To Signy, being a Valkyrie means embracing death and madness, and because of that, she worships the old, wild Valkyrie like Signy Volsung, or like Valtheow who fought at Beowulf’s side to defeat Grendel’s mother, or Skuld who wove cloaks out of her enemies guts.
But in the modern United States of Asgard, being a Valkyrie has come to mean a different kind of strength: the eight Valkyrie on the council are strong in the arts of politics and history, they are mediators and celebrities, they deliver Odin’s words to the president and Congress, but they no longer ride at the head of armies, they no longer revel in death and sacrifice. They are Odin’s Voices, not his violent weapons. Signy thinks they’re weak because of it, and wants to revolutionize the image of what it means to be one of Odin’s Death Choosers.
It was fun – and hard – for me to write about a teen girl struggling with what strength means for women in her culture, partly because it’s such a hot topic on the internet these days, and partly because I was writing about a warrior culture that is like our own, but not quite.
The current surge of writing strong girl characters is an overt response to hundreds of years of literature in which girls and women are weak because of their biology and psychology. It’s hard to use the phrase “strong female protagonist” without remembering that it exists because the default archetype of women in Western literature has for so long been weak.
In my alternate America, the oldest literary women characters are the Valkyrie. They were queens and monsters and mothers and wives.* Not the other way around. They rode on wolves and chose which warriors deserved immortality. Over time that image not only diminished and was relegated to Hollywood-style caricatures and revisionist history, but was actively put down by the Valkyrie themselves in order to find new methods of power in service to Odin. THAT is the problem Signy faces: she must be a weapon and a voice by embracing the dark parts of herself and history without becoming a monster like the troll mother stalking her.
Signy must find a way to be not either a hero or a villain, but somehow both. It’s hard for anybody, but for a girl – so often forced into a false dichotomy of virgin or whore – sometimes it feels impossible.
So that’s what I wrote my book about. Also troll queens, riddle-masters, and kissing.
*this is where I could go on a ten minute rant about the best analysis of Beowulf I ever read, which basically stated it was a poem all about the ladies. If anybody wants a blog post about THAT, just let me know. :D
Thanks again to Tessa for the awesome post. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m even more excited for this book!
Now about that giveaway:
Tessa has very kindly offered to giveaway a copy of The Strange Maid here on the blog.
Giveaway is open to any readers over the age of 13. US only.
Giveaway will run from June 9 to June 13. Winner will be notified June 14. If I don’t hear back from the winner by June 15 I will pick a new winner from the entry pool.
Nikki knows her life isn’t a dream come true. Even the thought of seeing her mother makes Nikki’s skin crawl. Her step-father is in jail. Nikki is a high school drop out.
But she has her friend Bird and her job at the hair salon.
More importantly, Nikki has Dee. Everyone tells her that Dee is no good but Nikki doesn’t believe that. Not really. How can Dee be anything but perfect when he looks so good and makes Nikki feel like this? He even has her initial tattooed on his chest.
When Dee does the unthinkable, Nikki is drawn into a crime that will shatter everything Nikki had taken for granted in her less-than-perfect life. After spending so much time wrapped up in Dee’s world, Nikki isn’t sure what it will take to stand on her own in Criminal(2013) by Terra Elan McVoy.
Criminal is a finalist for the 2014 Edgar Awards for Young Adult Mystery.
In a departure from her lighter fare, McVoy presents a gritty, evocative story of life in the wake of a shocking crime. The novel bends notions of right and wrong while also artfully exploring the idea of complicity as Nikki comes to terms with her own role in Dee’s crime.
Nikki is a flawed, often naive, heroine who has tried to make the best of the blessed little life has given her. She turns a blind eye to Dee’s many faults. She makes mistakes. She is impulsive and quite foolish.
Despite these shortcomings, Nikki’s growth throughout the novel is impressive. While she does not always make the smartest decisions, Nikki is a survivor. Although Criminal is touted as a mystery the main story here is really one about a girl trying to find her way. Even with all of the obstacles she has to face, readers will close this book with a sense that Nikki will make it through.
Possible Pairings: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, Blank Confession by Pete Hautman, Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
My detailed BEA Recap post is coming BUT in the meantime I thought I’d do a quicker post about the books I got!
So here I present the books I got in beautiful picture form:
Highlights from the above: Afterworldsby Scott Westerfeld which is signed and which I am reading now. (It’s going to take a while obviously.) Holly Black’s newest (signed!) and The Jewel which became a bit of a point of pride after constantly being thwarted in attempts to get it. Also that bottom blurry one is Sarah Beth Durst’s Chasing Power–more on why that’s awesome in the recap!
Here’s the rest:
Highlights: The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney and Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu–both of which required me to navigate the super crowded BookCon area. Also: Falling into Place which became another point of pride.
ABove are the picture books. Highlight without a doubt is Little Elliot in the Big City. Read it as soon as you can guys!
Not shown: Salt & Storm, The Young World, Belzhar, Famous in Love and I think some others which is weird because I thought they were in the photos. Anyway, that’s what I acquire from BEA and will be reading in the midst of my committee and review books.
In a different life, in a different story, she might have been named Nataliya or Natasha. She might have lived in Russia her whole life and never even thought of Brooklyn or yearbooks or cameras.
But in this life, in this story, her name is Naomi. She was adopted by a couple in Brooklyn and–although she won’t remember it for a while–she does think about yearbooks and cameras.
It starts with a coin toss. If Naomi had picked tails she never would have gone back for the camera. She wouldn’t have tripped on the stairs and hit her head. There would have been no ambulance and no amnesia. Naomi would remember her boyfriend and whatever it was they had in common. She’d remember the lives her parents have been living. She would remember her best friend Will and why he calls her Chief and keeps making her mix tapes.
But Naomi picked heads in Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac (2007) by Gabrielle Zevin.
Broken into parts titled “I Was,” “I Am,” and “I Will,” Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is a nuanced, thoughtful story. With Naomi’s amnesia at the center of the plot, this book asks interesting questions on the ties that hold a family together and what happens when the context that makes two people friends (or more) is suddenly taken away.
Elements of music, photography, and book design theory all add an artistic feel to this story that will hold special appeal for creative readers. Zevin’s writing is as sharp and insightful as ever while Naomi finds herself all over again during the course of the novel. With a keen focus on Naomi’s relationships as well as her romances, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac is a delightful ode to friendships as well as an unexpected love story.
Possible Pairings: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough, Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner, Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, Two Summers by Aimee Friedman, The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson, The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver, Stealing Henry by Carolyn MacCullough, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood, Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle, Cloudwish by Fiona Wood, Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee, The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon